Pavilion: Diarmuid Costello and T. J. Demos

On March 30th and 31st in London, screenings, and talks by Diarmuid Costello and T. J. Demos.

Comment by Gillianholding.


With the general context of ‘globality’, we will look at the question of (in)stablity of identity and the status of conceptual anomaly. How can current reformulations of aesthetics help us with this? Does art render the invisible visible? How might art combat xenophobia? Can it act as a training ground for xenophilia? Is it able to elude power relations and domination? At the same time, can we self-reflexively use familiar structures as irienting ‘fixing pegs’?

“Diarmuid Costello will work with one of Adrian Piper’s rarely seen ‘meta-performances’ that re-presents and comments on her earlier work My Calling Card (No.1), in dialogue with two quite different audiences. In the work, Piper describes a small business card that announces the fact of her blackness (which, as a light skinned black woman, is not obvious). She hands out the card when a racist remark is made in her presence as a reactive guerilla perfomance for dinners and cocktail parties.

“Costello will discuss how Piper’s meta-performances are indicative of her attempts to flush out unwitting or disavowed xenophobic aspects of her viewers’ encounters with her works, the relation of these pieces to Piper’s broader practice, and how her philosophical work helps (if it does) to understand the stakes, commitments and assumptions of her art practice. Piper is a conceptual artist whose focus is the legacy of slavery for racism, and the fear of assimilation, in the American context.

“TJ Demos will respond to Renzo Martens’ film Episode III: Enjoy Poverty(2009) in relation to his own research on the relation of contemporary art – including practices from North America, Europe and the Middle East – to the experience of social dislocation and political crisis, where art figures in ways both critically analytical and creatively emancipating.

“Martens’ film proposes that the poverty-stricken of the Congo ought to learn to capitalise on the Sub-Saharan African aid and poverty industry. The film establishes that images of poverty are the Congo’s most lucrative export, generating more revenue than traditional exports like gold, diamonds or cocoa. Martens’ film is the third in a series of works that try to make visible a world obscured by its own image.”