The Art Assassin 2

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang, or a portrait of the artist as a young failure…

A Portrait of the Artist as Joan of Arc, or the Ideological Provocateur: Irene Caesar, Artist Represented by Alexandre Gertsman Gallery

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Irene Caesar: Self-Portrait as Joan of Arc, 2010, archival pigment print, 62" x 94", limited edition. Courtesy of Alexandre Gertsman Gallery.

Irene Caesar: Grady Turner contributes to the collective sub-conscious (right of diptych), 2010, archival pigment print, 62" x 85", limited edition. Courtesy of Alexandre Gertsman Gallery.

Irene Caesar: Grady Turner contributes to the collective sub-conscious (left of diptych), 2010, archival pigment print, 62" x 85", limited edition. Courtesy of Alexandre Gertsman Gallery.

ASSASSINATION: Over the past year and a half, I have become a wonderful friend with a Russian-American provocative conceptual photographer named Irene Caesar via Facebook. Her combination of Renaissance lighting within her evocative backgrounds with a human foreground as well as a postmodern humor becomes this surrealistic admixture of a dark commentary on how viewers view fundamental ideas within the contemporary art such as personal emotional response to the dehumanization of today’s works and a stark reminder about the critique of commercial photography as an empty gesture to the void of the gamut of emotions within the dialogue between viewer and artist. Her brilliantly flagrant use of nudity and shocking bodily and facial gestures within the performances of her models within these photographs have earned Caesar broad respect from her audience.

Her series which include “A New History of Ideas in Pictures” and “People of Art as Objects of Art” include complex recreations and sampling in the hip-hop sense of the word of famous paintings and sculptures from art history including Rodin as well as Rubens smashed up with ironic props such as cheese puffs that the famed art critic Arthur Danto holds within a disposable baking pan, etc. Here the models include art critics as well as close friends where the viewer can see the personal side of these erudite celebrities; the thin line between the famous and the unknown becomes more tenuous than ever within Caesar’s framework of how the contemporary art world is constructed. After all, art regarding the art world could become too dated if it is too topical but Caesar’s works avoid the pitfall by focusing upon seminal topics such as the conflict between image and spiritual identity as well as the cult religion of contemporary artworks as intellectual fetish.

If you have any questions about any of the conceptual photographs executed by Irene Caesar, please contact Alexandre Gersman Gallery at gertsman@agcontemporaryart.com or at (646) 344-1325, Grant Gallery at tatianagrant@grantgallery.com or at (646) 479-8815, Eduard Planting Gallery at info@eduardplanting.com or at +31 20 320 67 05, Natasha Akhmerova Gallery at info@barbarian-art.com or at +41 44 280 45 45, or at Aragon Gallery at info@aragonartgallery.com or at (212) 529-7194. (Note that you can find her website at http://www.irenecaesar.com too.)

qi peng: Who you are and what you do?

Irene Caesar: I am a provocateur involved in ideological struggle.  I create provocations to test major concepts of human civilization.  I work within various contexts, from philosophy and journalism to conceptual art.  My objective is to clarify or illuminate the struggle of ideas, so that man can clearly see the existential implications of his ideas or dogmas.  As an artist, I am engaged at the moment in the production of absurd performances documented by photography.  I ask participants to enact some idea in front my camera – not to illustrate, not even simply to visualize, but to live through the realization of some concept, to recreate imagery and emotions that this concept produces in the reality.  During the shoot, I direct the actor via verbal communication and through the intense emotional connection with the participant.  We create together the conceptual continuum in which we both go through the intense intellectual and emotional transitions. In other words, my actor and I create one field of energy.  We are both immediately responsive to its variations, and work together on the creation of the strongest expression of the concept.  This is similar to painting: the slightest variations in the mind of the painter influences the slightest movements of his hand, and, so the slightest movements of his brush.  There is no interruption of the energy flow between the mind of the painter and his medium.  Analogously, my connection to my medium is immediate, intimate and uninterrupted.

This approach is very different from the conventional photography, which uses its medium purely mechanically and simply takes equipment-produced imprints from the exterior reality. I create experiences, not simply photographic stills.  These experiences are so intense and dynamic that my actors forget about my camera, and live, for the time of the shoot, in a more charged and meaningful reality than their everyday life.  That is why, though my images resemble staged photography, the performances I produce have nothing to do with the static and artificial nature of Tableaux Vivants.  The ultimate purpose of my art is to help people clarify their ideas via visualizing them in the most expressive intense way. I work as a painter who paints with light — and this light is not simply the physical strobes I use.  My studio strobes are just one of the physical carriers of the light I produce to illuminate the meaning of human life.  The series I produce are the encyclopedias of human ideas and emotions linked with them, designated to serve as a prophylactic textbook for living one’s life in the most illuminated way.  I call my art the art of illumination.

qi peng: How would you describe your most recent project and its objectives?

Irene Caesar: My most recent project is called “People of Art as Objects of Art.”  It is a gallery of conceptual portraits of art crowd produced as absurd performances documented by photography.  The project is an ideological provocation to illuminate the art concepts of the major art schools of the 20th  and 21st centuriesy, which are taken to be beyond critique and ridicule, and to validate them against the value of a human being, and, specifically, the value of human suffering.  The project is an intimate glance at the emergence and materialization of these key contemporary art concepts, as if these concepts have just appeared in the mind of an artist.  I ask artists, actors and art critics to enact some art concept – to literally create a pop art, suprematist, abstract, etc., artwork in front of my camera.  The portraits are certainly ambivalent.  They offer a viewer an opportunity to playfully transcend the gloomy seriousness of institutional art theory and art criticism, and laugh at the pretences of the major art schools in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Laughter goes from subtle irony and friendly giggle all the way to burlesque sarcasm.  The objective of the project is to laugh away the art, which lacks compassion and is indifferent to human suffering, whether this art is ready-made or raw-made.

The portraits ridicule the very idea of the art school or art group, like abstractionism or pop art.  First of all, an art group puts a creator into a Procrustean bed of a specific norm in order to control and castrate his creative freedom.  Secondly, and most importantly, an art group with its pretence of creating some pseudo quasi-reality of its own sensibilities simply separates an artist from the world, instead of revealing him to the world and the world to him.  Art group is a kind of a cage, a zoo for people who express themselves in some inadequate way.  They force upon themselves some cognitive impairment that makes them perceive people as consisting of angles, or dots, or drips of paint.   Yes, it is quite admirable to get a sudden revelation of seeing people as angles.  This is what the method of estrangement is about: it refreshes our sensibilities and attracts attention.  If an artist has a message, he will be heard.  But the trick is that when repeated, the effect of estrangement is lost.  And if the artists persist in propagating this so-called new vision, which is not new any more, this is when the artists put themselves into the caves and zoos of artificial sensibilities on a mass scale.

qi peng: Do you think that herded effect in art has taken on some new, more frightening forms recently?

Irene Caesar: The zoo-effect became outrageous in the mass society.  In Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, the art group was almost a family.  There was an immediate exchange of ideas, and the possibility of breaking through the wall of art to the compassion towards a specific human being.  There was an ability of playfully transcending the regimentation of an “art school” such as cubism.  A human being was not yet consumed by the abstract noumenon of “art.”  That is why Picasso played art groups, not the other way around.  In a mass society where the immediately personal connections between the artists of the same “art group” are broken and alienated, an “art group” amounts to “herd-effect.”  The herded art becomes self-referential: instead of creating one’s own unique vision, an artist makes in his art works some infinite regressive comments on the already existing artwork.

It seems that art should have overgrown the herded effect with Chuck Close. When at Yale, he decided that the most important thing for him was the creation of something never seen before.  But my recent visit to the September 2010 opening of Dan Colen at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, New York, convinced me of the opposite.  It was a bit of a shock to contemplate crowds and crowds of reverential public coming to pay respects not even to the sixth degree of plagiarism, but to the six hundred sixty sixth degree of plagiarism.  One could also call the phenomenon of herded art “the China-effect.”  Dan Colen has simply made some slightly varied replicas of the original art concept, in his case – of abstract expressionism.  He took this concept out of the historical and cultural context, which made this concept emerge organically and necessarily.  The only reason for making these paintings was the present market value of abstract expressionism as sellable art.  Respectable as it may look, this kind of art is profanation, prostitution, and copyright infringement – the seasonal sale of still born babies.  Or one could also call this phenomenon “Second-hand-store-effect”: art concept is multiplied to fill the market, because there are buyers who cannot afford the original art concept, but are willing to pay for the second-hand art concept.  Gagosian Gallery probably does fine; but, sorry, its goods have a stink of being used.

qi peng: Why do you think it is important to oppose the herded effect in culture?

Irene Caesar: The herd-effect in culture goes way beyond art.  Art gives a concentrated expression of culture – its meta-language.  And what people say with this meta-language is very important.  This language forms the very existential fabric of their existence, from the grand geopolitical relations of the states to the minutest details of inter-personal relationships.  It expresses human attitudes toward all the aspects of human life in metaphoric and symbolic forms, which become tokens of conceptual and emotional discourse beyond art.  Art as meta-language is a tool, weapon, and environment which either creates or destroys human life.  Besides the issue of plagiarism, which belongs to the domain of art per se, the herded art is the reflection of culture that has lost its compassion to human suffering, and has become the machine of dehumanization.  Instead of being a language with connotations, allusions and riddles, art became the production of objects; the craft – instead of the meaning-making.  And, in the mass society, it assimilated the modes of production based not on unique creation but on mechanical multiplication.  And mass art multiplies not simply the dead objects – it multiples mechanical, “dead,” modes of perception.  It multiplies dead souls – people who perceive reality not in the mode of uniqueness, but in the mode of the herd.  Making their sensibility machine-like, people on their own transform themselves into dead objects, usable, sellable, and disposable.

The herded culture is nothing else than a killer’s instinct aestheticized in various kinds of herbariums – in short, the cult of death.  Look at Damien Hirst’s passion for the intricate treating of corpses and leaches eating those corpses; his gluing the myriads of dead butterflies to the surfaces of the art world; his cabinets of medicine, which are rather the cabinets of disease than of treatment; his infinite rearrangement of colored round spots, which takes pleasure in the fact that it can never stop; his glamorous decoration of skulls – all this fascination with death, with skull and bones is, in the worst scenario, the most characteristic manifestation of the sick, dying, rotting and stinking culture, which is also going positively mad; or, in the best scenario, its ridicule.  Evidently, the hit in Hirst’s medicine cabinets are psychotropic drugs — anesthetics, anti-depressants, tranquilizers, and stimulants – which produce and stimulate zombies on a mass scale.  These zombies lost an ability to feel pain and joy – one’s own and that of other human beings.

qi peng: Can you speak more on how your project “People of Art as Objects of Art” combats the dehumanization of art?

Irene Caesar: My project “People of Art as Objects of Art” aims to articulate the meta-language of art as the language of inter-personal relationships in unique situations – to restore and encourage compassion and love between people.  Because live people are unique and life situations are unique, the art vision should be unique.  If art aims at true compassion, it cannot fail to be unique.  My project shows how ridiculous it is when art purports to be a self-aimed language of an art zoo.  All the portraits in this project proclaim that the end of traditional art and traditional art criticism, and even the end of the more liberal notion of the “art crowd” is here.  Now, before it is too late, is the time to recall and restore the importance of art in the culture in general as its meta-language of compassion.  I strongly believe that we need to discredit the major schools of contemporary art if they appear to be herd or even automatic phenomena — the machines of dehumanization, of propagating indifference to human suffering.  We should reevaluate them and decide once and forever whether they add to human life or subtract from it.  If they are poisonous and deadly to human life, we need to finally laugh their ghosts away.

Though intentionally ironic, the laughter of the portraits in the project “People of Art as Objects of Art” is in no way a rejection or dismissal of artists who belong to these major art schools of the 20th and 21st centuries.  On the contrary, these portraits put these art schools next to a man who created them — they put a creation next to a creator, relentlessly comparing the value of a creator with the value of his creation.  These portraits show that man’s value is immeasurably higher than the value of art, and that man himself is much more interesting than the art he creates.  These portraits make the creator himself realize this.  When a creator meets with his creation not in the way of the serious allegiance to some art dogma, but in a way of the absolute/absurdist creative freedom, he cannot but realize how ridiculous it is of the art world to put the value of his art higher than the value of his absolute creative freedom, i.e., his own value.

This realization goes beyond the irony towards the pretentiousness of this or that art school: it opposes the overwhelming striving of our culture in general to put a finite product of one’s labor or creative process above the laborer or creator themselves – to put a “thing” above a “man.”  When art aims at “a thing,” rather than “a man,” it becomes the powerful instrument of dehumanization.  When culture appreciates “a thing” more than “a man,” it inevitably transforms “a man” himself into “a thing” – an object of utility or pleasure on the market of buy-sell.  Objects are usable and disposable in the cruelest inhuman ways, and art of the 20th century seems to be the subtlest tradition of the objectification, usury, abuse and disposal of man and everything human.  It is indeed one long but successful process of losing compassion, and one’s humanity.  With the exception of some rare outbursts of humanism, major art schools of the 20th century killed the man.  This one is the most horrible holocaust, the most terrible concentration camp, and gas chamber.  The ultimate purpose of these portraits is to make this realization final.  This truth is not a laughing matter indeed, and the laughter in these portraits is inseparable from pain and bitterness.

qi peng: If you reject “herded art style,” what is your individual style and how does it differ from the herded art styles?

Irene Caesar: My conceptual photography is not reducible to one fixed style.  But my artworks are recognizable by some common trait, which I define as meta-style.  I can describe the creation of the meta-style on the example of the portraits in the project “People of Art as Objects of Art.”  These portraits place the art style as an artificial cultural construct into a real situation when a live person creates a piece of art.  On one side, they depict the art creation in accordance with some art concept, like suprematism or pop art — how the creator of art gets consumed by some art concept not only intellectually but also emotionally when he transforms it into reality.  On the other side, these portraits make a specific point of depicting the life situation of art creation that is bigger than art itself.  The situation of creating art places art into the context, which is wider than art, and inevitably makes a viewer look at art from aside.  I call this situation the event of art enactment, or art enactment.  This situation is in between art and life; and, in fact, all my artworks are of this nature.  The situation of art enactment and a creator himself as its focus inevitably transcend the narrow vision of a single art concept.  Life is multidimensional – it is not reducible to its representation by this or that art school.  And this collision of artifice with life itself creates a truly absurd effect.  It reveals the ridiculousness of putting the value of art above the value of creator.  This kind of absurdist laughter excels even the style of absurdism itself, because it drops any pretence to an art style, and is capable of laughing even at the very style of absurdism as some artificial mannerism.

Moreover, I exaggerate this collision between artifice and life.  I am looking for the unexpected context or situations of art creation.  In fact, this is precisely how art is created – via unexpected associations that cannot be logically or rationally explained.  Thus, the nature of art creation is essentially absurdist.  But the fixation on some specific “herded art style” as a fixed angle of vision stops the free absurdist play of associations, and in fact destroys art.  To expose and ridicule “herded art,” each portrait in the series dislocates some familiar art concept from its customary cultural context, and places it away from the herd into some shockingly new context.  These new context becomes a counterpoint to the too familiar art concept, and, so, shows it in the unexpected light and gives it a completely different perspective.  This new perspective allows both the portrayed man and the viewer to view the art concept from inside, but also forces them to look at this art concept from aside, in order to judge its relevance to the urgencies of human life.  And, because these portraits look at an art concept from inside the concept and outside the concept simultaneously, they are essentially polyphonic and ambivalent stylistically and conceptually.  This ambivalence and polyphony of vision are the essential features of the meta-style – the style of “art enactment.”

I refuse to belong to any art style or art school.  I allow myself complete freedom in the choice of my artistic expression.  I look at different art styles simply as means to express different emotional states.  I believe that the strict attachment to only one art style is the ridiculous reduction of all the infinite emotional states to just one emotional state, and, so, the loss of the emotional richness of expression.  In different art works, I utilize the wide palette of art styles from the theatre of Stanislavsky, critical realism, expressionism, surrealism, buffoonery, circus, romanticism, mannerism and pop art without making them into one dominant art style.  And because I show the existential emergence and the development of some concept from one emotional state into another, I inevitably combine different and opposite art styles in one and the same portrait.  The clash of art styles expresses the clash of different and opposite emotional states – the vitality and dynamics of the inner life of man and the dialectics of his interaction with his social environment and other people.  I follow my vision, and it is beyond the very notion of the art style.  And, ultimately, I refuse to make my unique vision into some idiosyncratic set of clichés – my own “art style.”  Nonetheless, my artwork is recognizable, just as I am recognizable as a unique free individual.  I seek uniqueness – the uniqueness of my every artwork. The world exists only via unique phenomena.  Classifications made by the art crowd, tradition, style are simply fictions of the rational mind, only the points of reference.

qi peng: How would you describe the process of creating the portraits?

Irene Caesar: I wouldn’t call the participants of the project the sitters for they act rather than pose.  The participants – some well known NYC art critics, curators and artists – enact in their portraits not only a specific art concept, but also the philosophical, moral, socio-political and existential concerns of such artists as Kandinsky, Malevich, Warhol, and Hirst.  That is to say, each portrait attempts to re-create some very specific continuum of culture that inspired these artists to create this or that art concept.  The project is an exercise in very intense compassion.  The participants of the project re-live the lives of these artists in their own ways, and literally go through similar emotional and intellectual turbulence.  Every image in the project is a photographic recording of the most climactic moment in this emotional and intellectual turbulence.

The very set-up of the shoot provokes the participants to manifest this turbulence with no reserve – to outburst pain, sorrow, melancholy, inspiration, fury, irony, etc.  I function as a director, rather than simply as a photographer.  My function as a director consists not simply in creating the provocative set-up, but also in creating the overwhelming emotional atmosphere – the energy field – to help participants arrive at the climax in self-expression.  When I shoot I constantly speak in a suggestive or encouraging manner.  And I make my suggestions in a highly emotional way.  I myself go through the same emotional and intellectual transformations as my actor, through the same acceleration of emotion towards its climax.  When my actor cries, I cry too.  When he laughs, I laugh too.  When I laugh and cry, my camera shakes so much that I am grateful to use an automatic focus.  The verbal encouragements I give act like enchantments or hypnotic suggestions.  They put not only the participants into trance, but also myself.  I define my approach to shooting as interaction rather than as documentation or staging.  I believe that this interaction increases the force of individual expression manifold.

Let me explain more what I mean when I say I approach photography as a painter.  I have much more engagement with my medium than a photographer, or even than a staged photographer who choreographs his actors according to his vision.  The painter has an immediate connection with his medium — his mind gets extended with his arm, and his arm gets extended with his brush, and brush gets extended with paint smearing across the canvas.  The minutest movement in painter’s mind immediately influences the movement of his arm, the movement of his brush, and the movement of the paint across the canvas.  When I shoot, I have the same intimate and uninterrupted connection between my mind and the minds of my actors.  The minutest movement of my mind immediately produces the movement of my actor’s mind, and — the intensity and intention of his emotional outburst.  The work in the photographic studio is usually understood as the ability to control the amount of light bringing the image out of darkness.  My own work in the photographic studio consists more in controlling the amount of light produced by my mind and the minds of my actors than simply in controlling studio strobes.

qi peng: Could you give some specific examples of how this interaction between you and your actor happens?

Irene Caesar: For example, I asked Arthur Danto to enact the central idea of pop art – the transfiguration of the common place.  The image is called “Arthur Danto with Wise Puffy Cheese Doodles.”  It depicts Arthur Danto with horribly orange cheese puffs in a big silver baking pan right next to his mouth.  The image would have been extremely grotesque if not for the grimace of intense suffering on Arthur’s face.  Arthur is an old man and he is in constant pain.  The grotesque collides with sorrow.  This collision of two opposites increases their intensity many-fold.  This intensity validates pop art against the value of human suffering.  The portrait proves that the value of a man called Arthur Danto is immeasurably higher than the value of pop art.

My other portrait of Arthur is called “Arthur Danto helps Damien Hirst with his spot paintings,” and it depicts him when he throws the colorful plastic eggs up from the same baking pan, while the camera catches them in the mid air.  This image opposes the inhuman indefiniteness of meaning in the mechanically created abstract pattern to Danto’s famous ability for the intellectual focus, called lovingly by the art crowd as Danto’s gravitas.  This opposition creates an absurd effect, which reveals that a man is more interesting indeed than the indefinite play of the abstract pattern.  When I was shooting this portrait, I was shouting “Higher!  Higher!” — so that Arthur would throw plastic eggs high enough for my camera to catch them in mid air.  It was so loud and ecstatic that Arthur’s wife Barbara, resting sick in the other room, came out to inquire what it is all about “Higher! Higher!”  Revealingly, these words refer not only to the attempt to throw the plastic eggs higher in the air, but also to the aesthetic solution of the portrait, in which the most ridiculous, grotesque collides with the sublimity of human genius, and the latter dominates in the hierarchy of meaning.

My portrait of Vitaly Komar is done in co-authorship with Vitaly as his idea and performance directed and produced by me.  The portrait is called “Vitaly Komar contributes to Transhumanism.”  Transhumanism believes that humans will gradually progress to become post-humans, the waveforms of life with their bodies being purely prosthetic.  Accordingly, they believe that abstract art is the only art that corresponds to the post-human stage.  The portrait consists of five images, in which Vitaly is depicted with his head sticking out of the round hole in the middle of his abstract painting called “Mandala.”  Five images show different stages of how Vitaly rotates “Mandala” around his head while going through some very intense emotional transformations.  The composition of the portrait is built of one central piece with four stages surrounding the central piece in the configuration of a cross.  The objective of the image is to demonstrate that the value of unique experiences, and of a unique man who goes through them is incommensurably higher than the estranged impersonal value of the abstract universal mandala.

When I was shooting this portrait, and he was rotating mandala around his face, Vitaly recalled the most significant experiences of his life.  For example, in the central piece, he recalled being an infant at the moment of getting out of his mother’s womb with a horrible cry.  This piece depicts Vitaly yelling with his mouth totally round in the round hole of the mandala, with his round glasses increasing the roundness of his outcry.  Among other things, Vitaly recalled how his only child, his son died recently in his arms in Moscow.  He recalled the tenderness of his mother.  We spoke about my own most intimate experiences.  The shoot was very intense emotionally, on the edge of tears and laughter.  When we parted, Vitaly embraced me, and stroked my back as if I was his only child, with tender words of compassion.

qi peng: Quite a few portraits in the project “People of Art as Objects of Art” are done in the nude.  This is striking because these are quite well known people.  What is the role of nudity in this project?

Irene Caesar: I use nudity in this project and elsewhere as electrical shock therapy.  Nudity is usually associated with pornography or eroticism, explicit or implicit.  Nudity in my artworks is beyond eroticism.  Some of my nudes are explicitly non-erotic or even anti-erotic.  Often I depict bodies that cannot be sold as sex objects, or I depict nudes engaged in activities that are incompatible with erotica, or I depict emotional states that extinguish lust.  Nudity in my portraits emphasizes humanity – humanity on its own, stripped off any objects.  This kind of nudity is released both from shame and from sensual bodily pleasure.  This kind of nudity juxtaposes man as a live being to dead objects, and shows the ridiculousness of transforming man into an object of sale, sexual gratification or aesthetic appreciation.  This nudity bares soul, not only the body.  It calls for compassion, not consumption.  There is only one more artist in the history of art, whom I know to treat naked body like this – Lucian Freud.  But almost all of his nudes are too drowsy.  Because of the monotonous drowsiness of his portraits, Freud still does not overcome the depiction of man as an object on display.  He does not make a break-through towards the depiction of man as a subject, an agent with a free will.

One of the nude portraits in my project “People of Art as Objects of Art” is my portrait of David Gibson, called “David Gibson contributes to Abstract Expressionism.”  David is depicted naked when he is spitting breadcrumbs out of his mouth, and my camera catches them in the midair.  Drips of bread create an abstract composition, uncannily reminding of Pollock’s paintings.  The portrait is a parody on the uncritical idolatry of abstract expressionism.  It demonstrates that abstract pattern is indefinite in its meaning, and can be legitimately interpreted as the total grotesque of breadcrumbs, first chewed and then spitted out of the mouth.  The portrait laughs at the ridiculous pretences of abstract expressionism to value its indefiniteness of meaning more than the definiteness of human form with its clarity of suffering and compassion.  Nudity plays crucial role in delivering this message.  David’s nudity is not the nudity that is offered to a viewer as some forbidden spectacle.  David reminds of the ancient Bacchus in his ecstatic revelry.  Bacchus’ ecstasy is about being god-like (half-divine, half-human) — that is, being a creator.  Bacchus’ nudity is natural to his state of mind.  It is the manifestation of his almost divine freedom – the conviction that he, as a man is more valuable than any objects of culture, like clothes, or like drips of paint on canvas – he, as a creator, is more valuable than his creations.  And in this state of natural freedom, man rejects the dead artificiality of an artifact that has lost its connection with vital human needs.  He realizes that he is above any cultural code, like making nudity a shameful taboo.  He goes beyond culture.

My other artwork from the project “People of Art as Objects of Art” is even more exemplary in this sense – diptych “Grady Turner contributes to the collective sub-conscious.”  It depicts a heap of nude bodies, with all the limbs tightly intertwined.  Such heaps of nude bodies are associated with group sex scenes.  But, while sex is never disinterested and unconditional, the objective of this image is to express the disinterested and unconditional intertwining of minds within the collective subconscious.  Our minds are of the vibrational, wave-nature, and they are interconnected whether we realize this or not.  This merger of minds within the collective sub-conscious goes beyond eroticism.  The left part of the diptych depicts the positive state of the collective subconscious: I asked participants to touch each other not in the erotic manner but like a loving mother touches her child – with unconditional disinterested love.  The right part of the diptych depicts the negative state of the collective subconscious: I asked participants to break free from the knot of the collective subconscious.  Literally, it meant to break free from the entanglement of nude bodies.  The participants scratched and pushed one another, trying to pull their own bodies out of the heap of bodies.  As a result, this part of the diptych expresses the explosion of negativity — hatred, fear, despair, aggression, fury, etc.  It shows the inevitable price of the individual freedom.  Nudity in both parts of this image is simply necessary – it reveals the healing or killing openness of man’s mind to the minds of other people.  Our minds are more naked, more vulnerable, more defenseless in front of the negative or positive infringement of the collective sub-conscious, than a nude body inside the heap of nude bodies.  So I would call this kind of nudity “the nudity of mind.”

My portrait of John Haber, called “John Haber contributes to Minimalism” goes even further in its criticism of abstractionism than my portrait of David Gibson.  It depicts naked John cutting in cold fury the pages from glamour magazines with life-size faces of beautiful girls.  His scissors mutilate girls’ faces, slashing their lips and eyes and ripping their noses and ears apart.  What happens outstrips the cruelty of Jack the Ripper.  Strips of slashed faces create a minimalist composition in the air, and John rips girl’s faces apart in order to produce a piece of minimalist art.  The image states that the enjoyment of human deformation in abstractionism is identical with the enjoyment from mutilating in sadism.  But the cruelty of abstractionism outdoes the cruelty of a serial murderer, because it transforms the individual perversion of a serial killer into the respectable social institution of art, into cultural fashion, ideological creed, and a habitual way of thinking.  Abstractionism cultivates a taste for mutilation and total indifference to human suffering, which ensues from this mutilation.  It is the aesthetization of murder that Jack the Ripper simply did not have time for.  And even more: abstractionism lacks compassion not in the way as Jack the Ripper lacked compassion, but in the way as machine lacks compassion.  It is inhuman.  John’ nudity in this portrait is the powerful reminder that John Haber and Jack the Ripper are not machines, not objects – they are human, live, even touching in their humanity.  Thus, the portrait is ambivalent – it goes beyond satire.  It preserves compassion, and intensifies it by colliding a man and a machine.

qi peng: There are two portraits from the project “People of Art as Objects of Art” that are done in the nude and can be considered sacrilegious – the portrait of Larry Litt as a naked Orthodox Jew and the portrait of A.D. Coleman, touching himself nude on Easter Sunday.  Can you explain how your concept of “the nudity of mind” works in these portraits, and whether they are indeed sacrilegious?

Irene Caesar: My portrait of A.D. Coleman, called “The Easter Sunday of A.D. Coleman” clarifies my concept of the nudity of mind further.  This portrait was shot on Easter Sunday 2010 in Allan’s house on Staten Island.  It undertakes the illumination of the major concept of culture — the value of man.  The image shows how nude Allan is touching his right hand with his left hand.  He is completely focused on this action.  Even more, he is consumed by almost religious reverie towards his nude body.  His contemplative ecstasy is irreducible to just auto-eroticism (though eroticism is surely present): it is the climax of self-appreciation that goes beyond self-interest.  This Easter portrait is sacrilegious from the standpoint of the institutional religions.  Nonetheless, it is close in spirit to the Hellenistic apostolic and Gnostic Christianity, or Buddhism with their belief in the immanence of the divine in the world.

I agree with Aristotle that mind is identical with the object of its thought.  When mind thinks of the infinite Light, it produces the infinite wave or vibration that coincides with the infinite Light.  That is why people go to churches – to participate in this unison with the infinite Light.  This identity with the infinite Light is very important for human life.  It has healing effect; it literally saves and grants life, love, and success.  But it is not necessary to go to the Church to achieve this.  That is why the early Christianity or Buddhism teach that man can achieve the identity with the infinite Light on his or her own.  So Christ taught that the church is inside us, and Buddha achieved Enlightenment, i.e., illumination or the identity with the infinite Light, despite the ritual – inside the very routine of common life, simply sitting under the tree.  That is what Allan is doing in this image – he coincides with the infinite Light.  He arrives at illumination, enlightenment, revelation that is higher than any institutional church of the present time.  This ultimate illumination consists in the realization that the infinite Light (called God by religion) is immanent within the world and the man.  Nudity in this portrait is necessary because it emphasizes that any finite objects, including clothes, dissolve when man identifies himself with the infinite Light.  Allan’s nudity is the nudity of his mind coinciding with the infinite Light.  The nudity of mind is the infinity of mind.

Another portrait-in-the-nude from the project “People of Art as Objects of Art,” which might be considered by some to be sacrilegious, is my portrait of Larry Litt, called “Larry Litt Contributes to Realism.”  It depicts Larry as a naked Orthodox Jew, who still has his hat on.  (In between, this portrait does not express Larry’s or mine religious convictions.  We both, as conceptual artists, use role-games to produce ideological illumination).  I asked Larry to think of all Jews burnt in gas chambers in the concentration camps during the World War II.  Larry sits with his legs wide open, his hands on his knees, and with his huge eyes turned up to the heavens.  Nudity in this portrait is necessary because it emphasizes that man is bare-naked – completely open, vulnerable and defenseless — in the ruthless flow of history.  Nudity here also emphasizes that man’s suffering and sorrow is bigger than cultural codes, norms and taboos.  When an orthodox Jew thinks of all Jews burnt alive, his mind produces the wave that encompasses all those burnt alive.  This flaming wave of sorrow burns any finite objects, including clothes.  So the true, realistic depiction of the Orthodox Jew, mourning his tribesman burnt alive, should show him nude.  That is why this portrait is called “Larry Litt Contributes to Realism.”  The nudity of body is the symbol of the nudity of mind.  And there is nothing sacrilegious in this nudity of mind.  It is sublime.

qi peng: You tend to use props in your shoots.  What is the role of props in the project “People of Art as Objects of Art” and your other projects?

Irene Caesar: I use props as symbolic objects.  I create minimalist conceptual continuums for my actors to enact some concept.  These continuums are rather situations than simply set-ups.  I produce action and experience, rather than simply a scene.  If my actors do not act upon themselves, they act upon some symbolic object.  This object symbolizes the very essence of the specific conceptual continuum – either directly, literally, or indirectly, metaphorically; either as a contrasting symbol or as a complementary symbol.  The super-hero fights with plastic; two old people look hypnotized how water is slowly poured down like a thread of life; a nude woman holds red tinsels in between her legs.  The symbolic object has two functions.  It engages actor in the conceptual action, so that actor concentrates all his attention on this action.  As a result, the symbolic object takes actor’s attention off camera.  That is why my images look genuine though the action is more often than not is unnatural, absurd.  Action with the symbolic object creates the closed continuum around the actor, as if his own world.  This world has its own purpose, its own time and space.  I am a part of this continuum as its participant rather than an estranged viewer.

For example, my portrait of Dan Cameron from the project “People of Art as Objects of Art” utilizes a children’s construction kit.  The portrait is called “Dan Cameron Contributes to Suprematism.”  The portrait was done on the day when Kandinsky created his first abstract painting.  It depicts how Dan, a very well-known New York curator and the former director of the New Museum, is destroying a structure that he first builds out of a children’s construction kit.  Bright-colored cubes and rectangles fly to all sides creating a suprematist composition caught by my camera in the midair.  The composition of the geometric shapes from the children’s kit in the air perfectly reminds of abstract compositions by Kandinsky or Malevich.

I asked Dan to think about the cosmism of Kandinsky and Malevich, who conceived of their abstractions as of creating and destroying the worlds.  The portrait collides cosmos with the children’s construction kit — the most intimate and fragile with the most global.  This collision emphasizes that the meaning of the abstraction is indeterminate – indeterminate in its message, scale and purpose.  And this indeterminacy of meaning makes abstraction ambivalent.  Any image of Malevich can be interpreted as a composition made of the children’s construction kit, or as a garbage can being emptied out.  Any abstract image can be essentially reduced to a joke or a trifle or a child’s play.  Nonetheless, this portrait is not grotesque.  I asked Dan to think of the cosmism of Malevich and Kandinsky in the context of the recent catastrophe in New Orleans (with which Dan deals in his art non-profit).  Dan’s face expresses solemn inspiration – genuine awe in front of human tragedy of such a scale.  This concrete (not abstract) thought makes meaning determinate – definite in its message, scale and purpose.  The portrait makes it evident that image (painting or photograph) can be meaningful only when it combines both the particular and the general – both the abstract and the representational forms.   This combination of the abstract and the representational reflects the very nature of human thinking – going in induction and deduction from the particular to the universal, and vice versa. This thinking is exactly what Dan did.  He actually took some time before every take – to concentrate on thinking as such before action.

My portrait of Valera and Natasha Cherkashin is called “They put on White Gloves.”  The portrait depicts how they are sitting on the floor, both in white gloves, with their legs and arms intertwined in a tight knot, and with their fingers intertwined with each other’s hair.  They are caught in the moment when they are totally consumed with moving each other’s hair with their white-gloved fingers.  This intertwining of all the major structural elements of the image creates a symbol of two minds intertwined.  White-gloved fingers moving the hair make the entire intertwined knot of two people move and vibrate.  Faces express the moving state of the mind, when it dwells on the other mind.  Paradoxically, the symmetry of four white gloves expresses both the uniformity of two minds, and their desperate separateness.  Fingers tenderly moving the hair of the beloved make the entire image very intimate, but the gloved fingers leave the tender unity ultimately unachievable.

qi peng: To start off on a lighter note, what are some of your favorite artists, books, television shows, sports, art magazines, toys, video games, movies, and other cultural artifacts that you wish to share with your fans of your work here?

Irene Caesar: My favorite artist is Hieronymus Bosch.  I admire his ability to create cosmic visions that show the reality and the mind from all their sides.  In fact, my next project “Apocrypha” will continue the same tradition.  I will create large murals consisting of many story lines in one and the same art piece. I will first shoot these story lines in the studio, and then combine them via Photoshop.  I would love to produce this project both as prints and paintings. I am attracted to this conceptual approach because I believe that it is impossible to express any side of reality, including the mind, without showing its opposite. I go even farther than that. I believe that it is impossible to use the expressive power of some style in art without colliding it with the opposite style in one and the same artwork, for example colliding non-representational vision with the representational one.  For me, abstractionism, expressionism, realism are simply different stages and forms of materialization and dematerialization of energy.

My favorite books are books on philosophy and esoterics.  I have Ph.D. in philosophy and am a specialist in ancient Greek philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics. My art is inseparable from my philosophy.  I am the ideological fighter, and I participate in the ideological struggle in all the forms available and interesting to me.  Philosophy helps me to formulate the struggle of ideas in the most clear argumentative form.  And art allows me to stage probabilistic / prophylactic situations, in which people enact these ideas.  In this way, art helps me to see the existential consequences of the ideas before they get enacted in real life.  I am a philosopher-artist, rather that simply a philosopher and an artist.

Recently, I got interested in the ideas of post-humanism, and, by implication, got engaged with philosophy of science. In fact, I became an exclusive representative of the celebrity Russian molecular biologist, Dr. Peter Gariaev, the Father of Quantum Genome.  His revolutionary research promises the treatment of human illnesses via DNA quantum matrices, including illnesses, which are incurable now.  His theory provides the most systematic and fundamental explanation of human life.  I believe that without its understanding, it is impossible to function as a human in optimal way, whatever you do in your life.  As a mystic, I came to the same conclusions at the end of 1980s.  His theory is the scientific ground for my philosophy and art.  My entire life is a systematic whole based upon ideology, which finds its justification in his scientific data.  Here is its very short overview in relation to art.

Matter constitutes only 4% of everything that exists; the rest consists of waves or vibrations.  Energy vibrations constitute the holographic quantum contexts or matrices, mathematically and linguistically expressible.  Quantum contexts are called by some the info-matter, or informational quantum fields of energy.  Our DNA are antennae that both transmit and receive the informational vibrations.  DNA are engaged in materialization and dematerialization of energy in the human body, synthesizing and metabolizing proteins according to these quantum contexts.  I believe that if art does not conform with this process, it becomes the powerful mechanism of dehumanization and self-destruction of humankind.  The essence of this process is precisely to go all the way from the matter (representational art) to the vibration (abstract art), and vice versa.  If this process of materialization and dematerialization of energy is interrupted and got stuck on some stage (on the stage of abstraction, or the stage of representation), it becomes self-destructive.

Besides books on philosophy and mysticism, I also like Russian classical literature — Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and others — and precisely because it has the quality of the universal vision possessed by Bosch. I spent a few years listening to audio books on my iPod almost non-stop — while driving, cleaning, resting, riding public transportation, doing yoga, etc., and I found nowhere in the world literature the same powerful strive of the disinterested service for the sake of the common good, as I found in the Russian classical literature.  This systematic vision of the society was first expressed by the Ancient Greeks, inherited by Romans, and then passed through Byzantium (the Second Rome) to the Ancient Russia, which became The Third Rome — the true heir of the Ancient Greece and Rome.  To my great disappointment, I rarely find the vision of the society as a systematic whole in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition or culture in general, including art.  In the US and UK, the systematic vision of society is often substituted by pragmatism, utilitarianism, and social Darwinism — the values that were considered by the Ancient Greeks and Romans to be barbaric and vulgar.  As regards Europe with its continental philosophical tradition, I often see there the caste and racial narrow-mindedness of the hierarchical world-view.

I do not have a favorite television show, for I do not watch TV in order to preserve the outsider quality of my attitudes. But I am a news freak, and can watch news 24/7 when I get hold of TV.  Because I participate in the ideological struggle, I preserve and sustain a very vulnerable sensitivity to everything happening in the world.  In fact, visual art, philosophy and literature are interesting to me only to the extent they express the struggle of the ideas.

I have no interest in watching sports or playing video games simply because I live for the end-result, and game for the sake of the game does not engage me. This is the mind-set I have, and in this sense, my life is very frugal and ascetic. But I have a few stuffed toys in my room, yes, and my buddy says I am a very affectionate rabbit…

As for the movies, I like extreme entertainment, which is both emotionally and intellectually very intense, like the movie “Irreversible” by Gaspar Noé.

qi peng: Do you have any recent galleries or exhibitions that you have seen and would recommend to us?  What things in those shows inspired your artistic eye and tastes?

Irene Caesar: The only memorable show I have seen this year was the solo show of Marina Abramović at the MoMa.  It might seem we are very close in what we are doing.  We both stage some conceptual action in a very minimalist manner, trying to achieve the most intense expression of some important idea.  For both of us, art is the weapon of ideological struggle, and we both are ideological provocateurs in creating important and extreme, even shocking images.  We both shoot explicit nudity not only for the erotic, but also for non-erotic images.  My art and her art are ideological subversions against the institutionalized Church, and had we belonged to the Christian Church by birth, we would have been both excommunicated.  We both aim at the enacted universal vision — transpersonal and transhistorical — which in its intensity becomes a new type of magic ritual.

Nonetheless, there is a crucial difference between the two of us.  Marina has taken the left path of magic. I clearly sense in her art the presence of the dark force.  Her art produces the zombie effect — all those forcedly or repetitiously moving automata only looking like humans — humanoids without individuation — cyborgs; all this fascination with sculls and bones as symbols of sacrificing one human being for the sake of another one, more powerful.  Yes, it looks fascinating as an art exhibit at the MoMa — but just imagine a drunken Bacchante who tears apart the flesh of her own infant son with her teeth.  Not only does Marina Abramović depict the coded people transformed into the living dead, but her entire exhibition was a black magic ritual of putting the audience into trance, and influencing the viewers on the subconscious level in the direction of the dark force.  Yes, the show was powerful…. But the effect was not the liberation, individuation and revelation of the mind — enlightenment.  The gruesome effect produced was the establishment and re-enforcement of the machine-like, zombie-like mechanisms of the mind.

In fact, the lower animals are the more exemplary cyborgs than any cyborgs of Sci-Fi literature. They function automatically, on the sub-conscious level.  They are manipulated by the external forces, superior to their understanding.  It is very important to realize that the exploitative / predatory social mechanisms are functioning like machines — via lowering the human minds to the level of the beast, that is, the biological machine, bio-computer.   Accordingly, the populations of the lower animals are the more exemplary expressions of social Darwinism than any social Darwinism that humans are capable of.

In this respect, I believe that Adonay and Lucifer, Christianity and Satanism are the sides of one and the same coin.  They are both rooted in the alienated, machine-like hierarchy. If a man renounces his power over himself for the sake of some superior power, whether of the Christian or the Satanic nature, he does inevitably turn into a machine, manipulated by the superior force — that is, he lowers himself to the level of the more primitive animals.  That is why Satanism is always a left path in magic. Both the institutionalized Christianity and Satanism serve for submitting people to the power of the strong, and transforming them into slaves.

Contrary to this, the right path of magic is the gate to the quantum reality, which has the quality of non-locality. This was very well expressed by Nicholas of Cusa, who stated that the universe is entirely in its every point. Quantum physics expresses the same vision in its postulating the holographic nature of everything that exists, with every part of the universal hologram, however small, having the blueprint of the entire universal Matrix within itself.

This vision requires the abolishment of the hierarchy, of the division of people into priests and laymen, along with the rejection of initiation and its gradations in mysticism, and, overall, the abandonment of the institutionalized forms of religion and mysticism.  The connection to the eternal and infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient universal info-matter, which has quasi-mind of its own, can be only unique for every unique human being. Everybody is entitled to his or her own religion, and mythology.  In other words, religion and mysticism should be transformed into the forms of creativity — similar to the forms of art and art making.

All this said, I consider Marina Abramović to be more dangerous and destructive than the institutionalized Christianity — in creating slaves and transforming humans into machine-like beasts on the sub-conscious level.  She is my worse adversary than the holy inquisition.  She subverts the right path, and falsifies the quantum matrices of info-matter. Her destructive subversion is much more subtle, than Christianity, much more enticing and manipulative.  In the Ancient Greece, philosophers despised the Cult of Bacchus / Dionysus, which became the foundation of Luciferianism of the freemasonry.  Enlightened ancients rejected it precisely for making the human mind dark, sub-conscious, beast- or machine-like.  Dionysian mysteries were the marginal cult practiced by the most uneducated and unrefined — by the plebs or those who are slaves by nature.

In its ritual of communion, Christianity inherited from this disgusting cult the belief that one can achieve the oneness with the Highest Power via literally eating the flesh and literally drinking the blood of the half-divine half-human God Bacchus / Dionysus. Satanism differs from the institutionalized Christianity only by making this belief LITERAL — that is performing a real sacrifice, and eating real flesh and drinking real blood.  To paraphrase this, Christianity differs from Satanism only by masking this bestial ritual in eating the implied flesh and drinking the implied blood.  But alas, the eating of flesh and the drinking of blood is what the lower animals do, and it has nothing to do with the immediate (a priori) knowledge of the non-local quantum reality of the vibrational info-matter.  I will never forget the self-portrait of Marina Abramović sitting over the heap of half-eaten bloody bones that are so big that they look like human bones.  She wears a black garment of a witch… But, indeed, her dress can be a black garment of a nun, against whom she protests… Or it can be a uniform of the SS officer.  How is the taste of human blood, Marina?

qi peng: Do you have any favorite cuisine or dishes that you enjoy?  Considering that food is essential for the artistic soul, what things do you enjoy about meals either prepared in a restaurant or home setting?

Irene Caesar: I eat based upon my knowledge of physiology and medicine. I put this knowledge above taste and sensual pleasure, and I am very disciplined in this sense. I eat mostly raw — organic food, and consume big quantities of vitamins.  I am a vegetarian, though I eat fish once in a while.  I strongly believe that food is very important for sustaining artistic ability — not simply in the sense of refining and training sensitivity and taste, but, rather, in the sense of providing the correct types of energy in sufficient and balanced amounts.

qi peng: Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around New York City, where you are based out of or anywhere else that you wish to recommend us?  What are the qualities that you enjoy best about the places that you have chosen?

Irene Caesar: I use local Barnes & Noble as my office, simply because I cannot stand sitting at home for the entire day, and I like its vast brightly lit spaces, and the constant flow of people.  I am highly sensitive to the quantum matrices, and Barnes & Noble is a powerful battery of highly intellectual energies.  I like also to hang out in galleries, MoMa and the Met.  Till 30 years old, I have lived in Peterhof, Russia, the summer residence of Russian Emperors.  I walked every day in magnificent parks, designed by the Imperial designers on a grand scale; among nude Greek and Roman statues, each one being a world famous master-piece of art; by the beautiful fountains and centennial trees.  This beauty kept me in the state of awe all the daylong.  This awe is more than artistic inspiration or meditative tranquility.  I owe to this place everything that is great in my mind.  It is still with me, wherever I go.  And I look for the places similar to this Imperial grandeur — vast, sublime, powerful, beautiful on the edge of being transcendent.

qi peng: Do you have any favorite hobbies, which you enjoy in your spare time?  How do these activities inform the work that you pursue?  With your personal interests, are your artistic projects a mirror of those hobbies you enjoy best?

Irene Caesar: When I do not work, I am listening to the classical music non-stop.  I agree with Aristotle that music harmonizes mind on the level of quantum matrices.  But I do not think it is a hobby.  I am incapable of having any hobbies.  It is not simply that I do not have time for anything else besides my work.  Even when I am not present in the museum or gallery, and when I am not creating my art, I am still in the studio.  I experience life as my studio.  And my art studio is rather a disputation hall, where I examine my every idea.  Even more — I like the extreme states of stress and pressure; I am over-worked every day.  I cannot live without resistance and going against convention and routine.  I am a fanatic by nature – I always pursue idea fix; and my art and philosophy allow me being a fanatic in the least destructive way.  My only true desire is to make a great contribution into the development of humankind.  I would do what I do even had I known that I could be killed for it, or could die poor and unknown.

qi peng: How do you think that the new media, ranging from video art to Internet-based projects, will impact people’s appreciation of paintings and photography, which seem to be part of a more traditional and established media, and which are interacting now with new media in terms of visual motifs and archetypes?  Do you feel that as people interact with new media, they will be able to critique the clichés of mainstream media and have a profound understanding of what it means to be human in a world where relationships are created on MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube?

Irene Caesar: In the 1990s, Russian conceptual artists Komar and Melamid produced so-called Elephant Paintings by making elephants create abstractions.  It was a nice joke about the automatism / mechanization implicit in abstract art, because the lower animals are true biological machines — cybors without individuation.  But, at the present moment, Internet ridicules abstract art in a much more effective and merciless manner.

The Internet provides the ultimate multiplication for any work of art, from the ancient to the modern.  And when you see not two, but two million two abstract pieces of art on the Internet, you but understand the repetitious, automatic, inhuman and anti-human nature of abstract art.  It is even more clear to a digital artist, who like myself, uses computer programs like Photoshop for post-production.  Computer programs for visual arts reveal that nobody would ever know for sure which abstract work of art on the Internet is created by the computer according to a specific algorithm and which abstraction is created by a human hand.

I would say: machines pushed mechanization out of art, out of human thinking.  Internet begs people for individuation and human touch.  You can be noticed on the Internet social networks only if you are highly individuated, simply because of the new nature of social networking.  The old routine of self-promotion via participating in sex, drugs and rock-n-roll within a selected circle of gallerists and art collectors does not work any more.  The so-called “art crowd” is gone — for good.  A highly individuated artist can create his presence in the art world in the matter of a month via the Internet social networks — something that required years and years before.

The same goes for personal relationships.  It only seems that the Internet social networks encourage people to go virtual instead of creating real friendships and real love relationships.  Contrary to this common illusion, had you attempted to control the informational stream on a social network, you would inevitably acquire some kind of transpersonal vision.  You learn how to see the whole of the other person just in one or two posts on Facebook or Twitter.  You learn how to see different stages of virtual disguise, and how to distinguish the real from the pretended.  When you achieve sufficient multiplication in interacting with virtual friends, you cannot help but see the virtual or pretended friendship as a kind of prostitution (shallow satisfaction for shallow interaction).  On the deeper level, what is happening with social networks is indeed natural selection.  People, who will go completely virtual in the near future, will become the parts of the computer Matrix, and lose their humanity.  They will be more controlled in the future, than they are controlled now.

Sooner or later, your attempt to control social networks will make you see them as a systematic whole. Then, you cannot help but notice that what is happening now is the very REAL consolidation of society via the game-like virtual space of social networks.  Social networks are used as the most extreme form of political and ideological census.  This virtual consolidation of society is a new form of the old struggle for the class and race survival.  It is the most radical consolidation of the human society than ever before, because the coming transition is most radical – the transition into the post-human society via the current technological revolution of nano biotech and quantum genetics.  People of power – and they dominate social networks — are gathering information on people and ideas on a scale unimaginable just a few years ago.  They are testing various paradigms of the coming post-human society in direct and indirect discussions within virtual think tanks.  They are implementing highly efficient ideological and political provocations and subversions, like the Twitter revolution in Iran, and Facebook revolution in Egypt, which was started and fueled on Facebook.

The transition to the post-human society is so serious that Facebook witnesses how the most powerful open their ears to anybody capable of contributing to a think tank notwithstanding caste and background.  There are two paradigms of the post-human society to choose from.  The first model is so-called Matrix.  Its major characteristic is the division into two races: rulers and slaves, who are distantly controlled via bio nanobots capable of rewiring even their brains if needed.  Control over the society via nanobots presupposes the existence of super computer — the powerful artificial intellect, which will be capable of keeping and manipulating all the data.  According to the prognosis of leading scientists in cybernetics, this artificial intellect will become self-conscious and more powerful than human intellect within our lifetime.  I believe that this delegation of power to the artificial intellect will create a danger of termination for human race à la Terminator movie.

The second scenario is the mastering of quantum genome. This model of the post-human society is based not upon the merger with the machines and artificial intellect, but upon the acquired or recalled ability of controlling the matter via vibrations (waves) on the quantum level — and first of all, via our own DNA, which are the vibrational antennae.  I believe that this model is superior to the first one, though it has also some dangers of abuse.

In this context, the mission of art is to document humanity in its present form — before it gets changed.  Art should finally transcend its enchantment with dehumanization, mechanization, and automatism under the disguise of pop-art, minimalism or abstractionism — all these infinite and senseless play of non-representational shapes and drips of paint, or made-in-china readymades.  Art should finally turn to man as its inspiration.

qi peng: Do you have anything else which you would like to share with your readers and fans of your conceptual photographs and upcoming exhibitions?

Irene Caesar: I will have a major mid-career solo show at the Moscow House of Photography this year, which is the important art museum in Europe.  In April, Eduard Planting Gallery, which exclusively represents me in the Netherlands, will show my artworks at the Artantique Art Fair in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at qipengart@gmail.com

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Written by qi peng

May 14, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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