Standing at the Crossroads of Nowhen and Neverwhere
Once, it was the province of Fascism to aestheticise politics, and the province of the radical left to politicise aesthetics; but as all melts into air, these simple distinctions have long since ceased to apply. Naturally, a decay of sorts comes into play in observing the methods and mechanics of the 20th century.
In Iwan Wijono’s performance for A Crossroads, it seems altogether fitting that we should begin with the group consumption of callow media which historicises and romanticises the struggles of American upheavals at the turn of the millennium; not quite temporally distant enough to be re-appropriated by the vicious cycles of fashion, the grungy typefaces and pompous narration possess a quaintness which is amplified by the antipodean scale of physical distance – the miracle of the transubstantiation of sound and fury to clinically dissected key signifiers; neutered tropisms.
By placing his actions and movements in the context of the World’s Wildest Anti-Capitalist Protests, Wijono suggests the framework by which we are to read them; that he is part of the stories of struggle projected on the wall. This media-borne contagion, one supposes, is meant to imbue Wijono’s actions with validity and legitimacy; however, the model of contagion also allows for transference in the other direction, introducting the possibility of his actions as the de-legitimisation, not of the actual protests, but the subsequent media packaging.
The violence of the end of the performance, as contextualised by the protest video, seemed altogether rote. Consisting of a sparse selection of standardised tropes, the actions seemed censored in real-time, as if in some diminished reality, underscored by the abrupt jump-cut from shattered glass to polite applause. In a particularly fitting dénouement, the spattered banknotes were promptly (if daintily) collected by the crowd.
Iwan Wijono’s performance is part of A Crossroads, which is on at the Institute of Contemporary Arts till the 26th of March, 2011.