We went to see the exhibition Politization of Friendship and hoped that it could spark some questions, that would be important for us, and could, at the same time, serve as a starting point for this blog. We recorded our talk. Here is an excerpt:


A: Friendship is everything that avoids such instrumentalisation. It is the negative side of relations. What happens when friendship is "used" to produce something? Friendship is commonly referred to as producing the common, that it forms something positive for society. Friendship is exclusive, relationships can form on the basis of benefits, yet they may also be based on completely irrational things. When we joke amongst each other how well we fucked each other's mothers, pure nonsense, uselessness, that is also friendship.

T: This of course isn't necessarily so. Friendships aren't only formed among the subversive. On the alternative scene. What about friendships among conservatives? These probably do not produce socially subversive effects? Or friendship should be thought differently, as something which is subversive in itself...

A: Friendship as the flipside of the common. Friendship is in a way apolitical, contrary to notions of the common or society, which bare a distinctly political character. Friendship establishes bonds amongst individuals, which although unstable and thus necessitating constant repositioning of those involved in such a bond, may not produce anything positive for the political good and the bond will continue to thrive. The same cannot be said for a society. Perhaps it is better so say that friendship is no longer friendship the moment it produces something. Then it becomes comradeship, brotherhood, for instance when it produces a political position or a side in a struggle for a goal. It is also connected with love, but the love that says: "I love you more than others", which is in a sense destructive for the community, brotherhood or comradeship.

I: This is Žižek's point as well; a choice for someone without any (meaningful) reason; we give preference to someone from the crowd.

T: Friendship in the example of friends that work together is not the side that produces, is productive – this may be where the difference between friendship and a collective may be discerned. The collective or group activity has an agenda, it has to make a compromise so that it may produce a common project. Friendship is, on the other hand, more of an exchange that has no apparent goal and is not necessarily productive or useful. It is more about the exchange "here and now". In a way, it is an antagonistic exchange, something based on disagreement and not the necessity for a goal or final product. /.../ The text of the exhibition establishes this distinction, but presents only those friendships/parts of friendships that have produced something. In short, only products of collectivity are exhibited, not of friendship.

K: This is certainly so in some cases. But I would say that the exhibition perhaps – only because it is inevitably caught within the logic of representation – documents friendship. In such a case, documents of friendship function as its products. Friendship, if understood as something unproductive/not necessarily productive, transforms into a collective; if, that is, distinction is made on the basis of productivity.


»>Did we, who went to see the exhibition as friends, now (when we represented the documentation of our friendship here, on this blog) become a collective?«<



I: It may be the other way around as well: first as a political (activity?) and then later as friendship...

A: That you befriend someone in a fight.

T: We ourselves have the same experience with Neteorit, where a common activity builds and strengthens our relationships as friends...

K: But this exhibition doesn't really politicize friendship. It isn't only that it (doesn't) question the relation between politics and friendship, but in this concrete example, I understand politization also as an intervention from the curator(s), something connected with analysis, that is not just a contextualization of presented friendships. The question is what is the curator's – except for the selection, which is already undoubtedly a (political) intervention – input here? Do curators do anything else/anything different than select and juxtapose?

T: The selection is indeed questionable (perhaps unclear?) – why these projects? There are many similar ones, I suspect...

K: The selected projects aren't exactly new either. The question reappears: Why can this subject appear as relevant now? Why projects from a specific socio‑political context (except for very pragmatic and banal reasons)? What exactly does this kind of actualization of past projects (in the context of artistic production) mean? And so on...

A: It does seem strange that so many "old" projects have been included...

K: This is why I think it is a kind of a "brand exhibition". It may be inappropriate to question why this exhibition now, here and so on, if we at the same time don't connect it with the narrative of art, established by MG+MSUM; the historisation of the "dissident alternative" artistic production, which was made in more or less "repressive" political frames. I don't find this ultimately as a problem, but it is of key importance that this narrative was established (and probably still is) in relation to the projection of western art production and institutions, which was happening under very different circumstances of production. My question is whether this is a continuation of continuity, which is deeply embedded in the struggles in the global art market? In connection, we may also question the relevance and mission of our central institution for contemporary art, but not in the way our "local artistic opposition" questions it, as in why does the central institution not historicize the current production within the national framework rather than from "our" position/embedment: how is this relevant for "us" (although: who is this we)?

T: Yet our position/embedment is not given in advance, but is constituted exactly through questioning this narrative. Perhaps this "us" is established precisely though answering the question you pose. Or rather, it is partly already established by posing the question: Is the narrative in which this exhibition positions itself relevant for us?

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