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Standing at the Crossroads of Nowhen and Neverwhere

March 11, 2011

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.

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