In Procession, a group of musicians and activists in a provincial shipyard town are walking along the main street leading down to the Volga river, wearing paper hats. This work references a metaphor from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s book Multitude, who compare the collective complaints and requirements of organized protest movements to a choir singing in harmony, with every person pursuing their own particular goals in the fight against globalization. This interpretation of Multitude is ironically suggested by the cacophonic structure of procession. The musicians either play in harmony or discordantly, while the roaring activists are trying to imitate them, and some passersby who happen to join them follow the procession until they all finally immerse themselves in the river. It also refers to the totemic story of the Ship of Fools, which identifies the symptoms of times of change, and—as a contemporary symphony—to the parable by Ted Kaczynski bearing the same name. This work problematizes the situation of a society following a “leader” who makes populist gestures of greeting during the procession, but is blind behind the mask and follows the hints of a sly eminence grise. This political score was executed in 2015, before Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro came to power in the United States and Brazil respectively, and long before people covered their faces as a precaution against COVID-19. As many intellectuals suggest, global crises and uncertainty lead to the rise of right-wing populism. Byung-Chul Han, for example, observes: “As is widely known, fear is the cradle for autocracy. In a crisis, people long for strong leaders again. Viktor Orban is benefitting massively from it. It establishes the state of emergency as normal. And that is the end of democracy.” Not surprisingly, those same countries governed by right-wing politicians (and “strong” populist authoritarian leaders) are the ones where the COVID-19 situation is worst and that can’t cope with the pandemic due to lack of accessible healthcare. Our “Ship of Fools” is going to sink.
u/n multitude is a community of artists and music historians, whose practice is inextricably linked with the performative and public activities. The authors call their works «political scores». Music in this case is a kind of lacuna for understanding social and historical conflicts through experiencing the moment in its duration. Music and performance become the politics itself.
Ivan Isaev (1986) is an independent curator, based in Moscow. He currently serves as the Curatorof Garage Studios, Garage MCA in Moscow. He was the Curator-in-residence at Ausstellungsraum Klingental, Basel, in 2018. Previous projects have included, co-initating theplatform blind_spot in 2017. co-founding «Triangle» curatorial studios in Moscow. from 2014-2016, as well as a participating in the Infra-Curatorial Platform at 11th Shanghai Biennale in 2016. He has also served as the Curator of platform Start, Winzavod, from 2014-2015, and curated the exhibition “Leaving Tomorrow”. He is a Curatorial Intensive Alumni, participating in the Moscow Intensive in 2014.
Notes for Tomorrow is a traveling exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI) and initiated by Frances Wu Giarratano, Jordan Jones, Becky Nahom, Renaud Proch, and Monica Terrero. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, VIA Art Fund and ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.
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