Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bjärnë Mëlgäärd, Hot Topic

I wish I could liken Melgaard's work to offensive NSBM/RAC pillars like Absurd, Skrewdriver or the Blue Eyed Devils, in a way that many seem to have done. But I can't, it's art; it's "about" shit, where something like the n-bomb is a provocative citation of "reality" that serves as fodder for the shoah that is contemporary art, for the neoliberal dilettantism that conflates cultural expression with social extremism. Yet what does it mean when so many of Melgaard's collectors and critics interpret his work as "real," as art that is profoundly intimate with its controversial content? Much like a heinous ass like Santiago Sierra, Melgaard offers the "real" in its predictably undesirable form, not dissimilar from the Bud-loving rednecks (note Melgaard's new fav shirt) who constantly besiege the socially normative protagonists in horror flicks like The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or even Hitchcock's Psycho. The convenient confusion of economically impoverished social worlds as traumatic signifiers of psychopolitical reality is a consensual hallucination that has far too long been unquestioned by art's trans-metropolitan discourse. An art patron who collects affected painters like André Butzer and Jonathan Meese may endow Melgaard's social hallucinations as connotative of some reality "realer" than the contemporary art world's. Or a writer for Texte zur Kunst may cynically observe Melgaard's militant "psychosocial" expressivity—the mean-spirited insecurity that revels in the subjection of others—as the "hard truth" of contemporary art's convivial glosses.

Yet both apprehensions of Melgaard's work leave unchallenged the lack of responsibility that is the by-product of his insecurity-fueled prowess; the victim who refines their victimhood into an expressive technology synchronous with the machinations of mainstream cultural production. This is rather than, say, re-performing this victimhood as a critical platform for exploring alternative social and economic valuations—which is possible without making "Manifesta art." Melgaard's cultural war against the heteronormative social values of the Obama age is the same cultural war waged by the media industries who build retail markets around anti-social behavior, self-mutilation, parental-advisory stickers and eating disorders, industries who refined the Helms-era controversies of Kathy Acker and Ron Athey into the Bush-era lifestyle stores of Spencer Gifts and Hot Topic. This is why I can't link Melgaard's provocations to the ultraconservative forms of (sub-)cultural production, like the actual hate of Angry Aryans or Afrikankorps (or even the antagonistic posturing of the Frogs or Boyd Rice), but rather to the market-friendly tantrums of Slipknot or Jeffree Star, artists who are latter-day billboards for the age-old refinery of shocking subjectivites into desirable (primarily youth) lifestyles; artists who are veritable "kid-whore" manufacturers. No wonder Semiotext(e) didn't publish Melgaard's novel, like these two musical acts, it sounds terrible.

What is hate when its communicative vector is synchronized with an economy of limitless capital, rather than a subcultural hate whose communion is limited by capital scarcity? That mainstream coverage of these hateful acts is relegated to a journalistic documentation of this music's political criminality rather than the thoughtful cultural analysis granted to an artist like Melgaard gives a clear indication that whatever Melgaard's hate-laced "politics" are, they require quotation marks.



ps If you're looking for a "good" time read Sotos and forget Bjarne of Norway...

3 comments:

  1. I just want to say that I really liked Bjarne's manuscript and his work in general and this isn't the reason why we didn't publish his book. The reason is that we don't do artist's book and that we're small and that we can't publish that many books.
    Best,
    Hedi
    Semiotext(e)

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  2. tanks for the factual clarification. bjarne seemed very saddened by this "smallness" you describe.

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  3. hey his work is dull---no matter how many nigs--it is just really dull-- it seems to want to be Whitehouse or Sweet Movie--but it's 30 years too late and not as well crafted as those....just dull--thanks for the nice writing AO---yeah Busta was way off in her TZK article about BM but right on about BR.

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