Collected Art Writing (2020–2021)

Zoe Barcza / Birth Refusal / Bianca D’Alessandro / 27 May — 3 July 2021

“Unlike propositional logic, first-order logic is undecidable (although semidecidable), provided that the language has at least one predicate of arity at least 2 (other than equality). This means that there is no decision procedure that determines whether arbitrary formulas are logically valid. This result was established independently by Alonzo Church and Alan Turing in 1936 and 1937, respectively, giving a negative answer to the Entscheidungsproblem posed by David Hilbert and Wilhelm Ackermann in 1928. Their proofs demonstrate a connection between the unsolvability of the decision problem for first-order logic and the unsolvability of the halting problem” (Wikipedia)

The Turing machine has a computability problem when it reaches the halting problem, where a machine will loop and cannot self-terminate. Zoe Barcza depicts a fantastical overdrive of representational painting, underscoring the limits of computability and therefore any first-order predicate logic.

“Falling outside the parameters of conventional philosophy, the concept of hyperstition subscribes to what French post-structuralists Deleuze and Guattari have broadly termed schizoanalysis. Unlike conventional philosophy, with “its predilection for Platonic-fascist top-down solutions,” explains Nick Land in Meltdown, schizoanalysis avoids seeing ideas as static (1995:2). Rather, it favours an approach that sees ideas as diagrams that are “additive rather than substitutive, and immanent rather than transcendent: executed by functional complexes of currents, switches and loops, caught in scaling reverberations” (1995:2). Primed to create what Deleuze and Guattari have termed Bodies without Organs (BWOs) — namely metaphorical exploration devices of the kind crafted by engineers, artists and even junkies to ‘map’ new cognitive territories — schizoanalysis denotes a technique that can be utilised for analysing hyperstitions. The BWO, like a hyperstition, indicates an inchoate flux of deterritorialised energy; a speeding up. After all, the investigation and crafting of novel directions for culture, implied by BWOs and other types of schizoanalysis, necessitates an investigation of the very mechanisms of cultural overdrive or meltdown. Fictions that explore these areas are in themselves hyperstitional, functioning to speed things up and bring about the very condition of apocalypse.” (

Barcza paints bodies that transform into bodies without organs, contrasting the neurotic-fascizoid pole with the schizoid-revolutionary pole. The immanent hypersition feedbacks into an autopoietic manifestation of the fictional narrative. Barcza exposes the limits of any apophantic amphibology between the ontic and the ontological by satirizing the neurotic mannerisms of taste economy and the Wittgensteinian “neurotic obsession for rigor”. The Lacanian Idiot-King is exposed as what he prohibits. The King of England cannot be called an idiot or you will be beheaded. The interdiction only reinforces the truth that the censored discourse reveals that the King is in fact an idiot. Everything points to the truth of what is prohibited. Barcza in one work identifies with her subcultural identity (the show is also called “Birth Refusal”, a Wolf Eyes side-project), but only as a parody of itself, where the Butlerian imitation of the sign (for example, the performance of drag) becomes realer than real. But Barcza clenching for authenticity becomes a maniacal over-identification with a neurotic credos, which self-destructs and reveals the insidious hyperstition, just as fictional as capitalism or Christianity itself, namely, the logocentric phallocentric pole of the Noise-Tyrant: an encyclopedic perfectionism and structurally systematic ontology. In Barcza’s own words, the paintings are “gratuitous images that self-destruct.”

Levinas’ critique of Heidegger’s project is a point of departure for Barcza, where the subject is inverted and not constituted through its relation to ontological taxonomy and the order of connections from word/entity (to finite mode of access) to Being, but rather reversed and constituted through the Face of the Other and its silence. The Infinity which escapes Totality. The limits of first-order predicate logic expose fundamentally unsolvable problems, which could only be the radical alterity of the Other, within the subjective-computationalist phenomenology. The uncomputable problems are satirized here in Barcza’s paintings through an explicitly sexual discourse, which points to the jouissance/pain/pleasure which exists prior to any symbolic language and moreover, what she refers to as “the hope for strange powers,” through the possibilities of pataphysics, surrealism etc which precede rationality. But Barcza is fully aware of the pitfalls of such a magical swindle! She directly references The Final Unfettering (a translation of the German text Handbrevier für Hochstapler (Handbook for Swindlers)) in the “strange powers” quote appearing in one painting. Maybe her bodies are actually being contorted into functionalist Turing-complete descriptions of mind, as opposed to a naive magical realism, and by extension, the chaotic-deterministic dynamism of such an intersubjective system, be it the weather or the stock market or heat transfer (or, for that matter, any system predicated on Brownian motion) has a virtual potentiality in its medium-specific generativity of the flow, production, desiring-machine. This medium-specific generativity eventually constructs fictional narratives such as Landian hyperstitions, in its intensification, scalability and memeification. The bodies are mere allegories for the codes which we digest, be it the Wojak or the Chad or Stacy, in today’s Societies of Control.

Barcza inhabits a painterly idiom that post-ironically achieves the same medium of virtual potentiality, through her oedipalizing the very codes which frame her canvases, i.e. codes of the internet, capitalism, the alt art world ideology of cynical painting vis-a-vis the dominant ideology of bluechip galleries, the network/painting beside itself. Through oedipalizing this sediment, she achieves a seamless transition between form and content. She paints the codes which frame the subject/artwork within the subject/artwork as the material for subjective depiction itself. In her paintings, Barcza flippantly oscillates between depicting structuralist Mirror-Stage scenarios (but as a ruse) or alternatively, post-structuralist Deleuzo-Guattarian desiring-machines.

“The importance of the concept is indicated by Lacan’s description of objet a as a semblant that fills the void left by the loss of the primary object. If we can explore the nature of this semblant, we shall be able to come to a better understanding of some aspects of objet a. For Lacan a semblant is an object of enjoyment that is both seductive and deceptive. The subject both believes and doesn’t believe in semblants but in any case opts for them over the real thing because paradoxically they are a source of satisfaction, better than the real thing that one avoids any encounter with at all cost. Or more accurately, because the semblant fills a lack, we should say that the semblant comes to the place where something should be but isn’t, and where its lack produces affects focusing on anxiety.” (

All in all, Barcza’s paintings depict bodies which are either mere Semblants in a Borromean knot of desire (neurotic-fascizoid pole) or mere Bodies Without Organs which have suspended their neurotic functionality/organs (schizo-revolutionary pole). But once again, bodies which are constituted from the material detritus which we inhabit — the very codes which determine us abstractly. Whether you decide to pursue the phantasm of the Real or a productive partialism of the body, i.e. structuralist or post-structuralist, is all semantics. (Semantics over the infinite excess of fundamentally uncomputable systems of relation.)

–Eric Schmid

Zoe Barcza & Joe W. Speier / “Selficide Squad” / Galerie Schmid /

Selficide Squad is a direct affirmation of the underground art scene ethos — torn between subculture and Kunstacademies. Zoe Barcza engages in an eclectic dynamism culling a niche aestheticization of magazine culture which, as an attitude, traces as far back as Franz West. Joe Speier elides positive definitions of subjectivity through his refraction of the subject back onto itself and insertion of a depersonalized Self (he calls the works portraits).

Barcza is a true artist in her raw unfiltered works and creates a zone of pure expression, yet calculated at the distance between the mediated ideology (enframement of Plexiglass square) and luster immediacy of materiality (expressionism in the painting/collage).

Speier uses mirrors to entrap the viewer into an object-relations schema, where the participant is forced to engage with the artist’s unresolved detritus and fragments from his studio. The viewer, at times, literally sees their reflection broken up by the shards of broken glass. The entirety of his project is held together by his aestheticization of Messianism (depersonalized subject splitting between ideation and de-aggrandizement as triangulated through the motifs of mirrors, figures, glue, spices, ink-pens, etc). Agamben called the borderline personality the “as-if” personality, harkening back to Adorno’s “as-if” Messiah in Minimia Moralia (as Jacob Taubes once said). The aesthete, essentially. The aesthetic project engages in a contemporary transposition of the fin-de-siecle aestheticism of say Huysmans or Valery, but now situated in the trends of post-post-Internet new materialism (without the uncritical brutish clay, bread or rock fetishism ongoing today in contemporary project spaces). Speier distills the raw simplicity of the material from the immaterial via the stroke of pen, via the stroke of brush, via the stroke or splatter of glue/spice/paint into a formalist typography directly synthesized from the contemporary climate of echo-chambers of jpegs re-sublating their own tinge of hand-assembled materiality directly from their immaterial imbuement, but Speier takes it further by, now meta-stabilizing the countless permutations of post-post-net-art into a simple elegant material solution, specifically a formalist one (a la post-Krebber / Shimizu return to abstraction).

Barcza pays homage to the masters through her refined technique a la Polke, Roth, Kippenberger, Oehlen, von Heyl, Koether, West. Franz West is a point of commonality for both Speier and Barcza, as seen in the materialist sublation of itself in order to declare its own spatial phenomenology without the overly didactic pretense of American minimalism and instead thrown into the circuitry of a system of motifs (think of West’s sculptures and installations). Chaimowicz or Broodthaers were probably the origin (of the built systems of motifs in postmodern art), but still much too refined in its materiality. Reference seems to be the key then if materiality is to still be rough and inexact (it follows a Roth/Kippenberger/Oehlen axes instead). Reference to what? Reference to a whole tradition of contemporary art-making that isn’t prudish about getting your hands dirty, but still not in an offensive Dubuffet aestheticization of outsiderdom which seems popular and trite today. Much more calculated in terms of the telos of the system (and not some careerist telos). The telos of the virtuosic artist-hero who could literally be the plot for a Bildungsroman. But obviously not as naive as spilling your melancholy and drunken rage into a Kippenberger painting. Barcza is Cool-Hand Luke. And Speier is distilling forms from the cosmopolitan project-space (if you will) “nous”. Barcza is self-aware to an extreme extent, so much that she is clearly a trailblazer in a, dare I say, Genzkenian way of novelty (the only precursors to mind are Jana Euler or Lucie Stahl but Barcza seems so aware of the beaten path that she verges toward neurotic overidentification in her methodical painting and toward ironic abjection in her collages and works for this show).

Formally, Speier and Barcza both work within the frame of the square and it works masterfully for this show, which is staged on what is essentially a table, with the backdrop of the entire Chicago skyline beside it. Once again, this contextualizes both Speier and Barcza within both a cosmopolitan context, but one that is also willfully subcultural (in a Frankfurt Stadelschule or Baltimore Springsteen kind of way), given it’s an apartment gallery in Chicago, and historically, Chicago’s minimal relation to commerce in the Fine Arts / Fashion (as America’s Third City).

–Eric Schmid

Jesse Sullivan / Castles III / 04.10.2021 / Apartment 13 Gallery

It all starts with being traumatized by art people. I was 15 going to noise shows and I had a 17 year old girlfriend. Maybe it’s too hard to explain because I’m afraid of actually being myself. When I got introduced to the NYC night life, I was too afraid of the rich kid trust fund drug addicts. I was too afraid of the pretty women. I was too afraid of fashion. But I moved to NYC to go to college because I was obsessed with high vocabularies within experimental music and addicted to the lifestyle. Am I worried about being cavalier and blunt? Someone already tried to call me a right-wing incel. But actually it goes much deeper on a psychic level of desire. This is some shit when you are in love with the work and everything else is just a perk. This is metaphysical shit. The metaphysics of being authentic in a Lil Uzi Vert universe. Maybe I was precocious and Jesse was precocious too. I was going to a math program for gifted students, while I went to ambient and noise shows with 20-year olds on the weekend. I went to the art BBQ here in Chicago for Golden Age when I was 17 or 18. But I still haven’t come to my point. Maybe I was thrown into the NYC art world and I was crying at the Watermill Auction Benefit (for Robert Wilson) because the director was cold and mean-spirited. Or maybe I interned at Real Fine Arts when I was 20 and I was too afraid to even go to the opening of the show I was sitting in on. I went to the closing party and my mind was just focused on the vision. I had just made an artwork for Yngve Holen and Marlie Mul’s online platform. I was more happy and content with how many people liked the Facebook post than actually meeting new people at a show. I had passion.

But it goes much deeper. It actually is about being larger than yourself like when you have become a legend and people gossip about you. Maybe I am too nice a guy to actually talk to someone that I have a crush on because I become self-indulgent and self-flagellate. Maybe I’m too anti-social. Like I am a fantasy football coach for Bernadette Corporation. But when it comes to the actual big leagues, I’m a shy fly on the wall. It may be because we spent so much time in isolation and didn’t have friends before. Or we went through periods of being exposed to this world and we couldn’t come back from it. It traumatized us. And we were thrown into the high stakes fashion-based art world. Maybe I couldn’t compete with myself in the LES art world that was a plane ride away from Frankfurt or Berlin. Maybe I had to self-sabotage my career because I was afraid of all the fake friends and I knew my only way out was to ostracize myself by idealizing a bunch of ice queens from afar. But there is such beauty in Beatrice according to Dante. He only met her twice. But maybe we picked women that it was unrealistic to work out and we prefered the dejected, rejected isolation. That was our safe space. We were comfortable there.

Maybe I was trying to make a name for myself and play the game. And I had to drink the pain away. I couldn’t be vulnerable and be my higher self around these catty socialites. So now I’m getting back to the basics. As Drake says, I want to take it deeper than money, pussy, vacation. Maybe the only way out of it is to focus on the work and work tirelessly like Dieter Roth or Martin Kippenberger. Does that make us reactionary? What if I told you that the Ivy League Manhattanites would exclude me from their soirees and wouldn’t even talk to me at the rooftop party. What if the local hipster wouldn’t think you’re cool unless you have a sleeve of tattoos and beard and they find you too nerdy because you talk about Deleuze and Heidegger, which they haven’t even heard about. What if the only people that accept you for being based are the people that are post-woke and post-clubkid.

Maybe I’m obsessed with a girl right now named Beatrice. And she reminds me of the best qualities in my ex-girlfriend. My ex-girlfriend revolutionized my sexuality and my relationship to women. She destabilized a lot of fixed constructs. Honestly, I think I am a third-wave feminist in Judith Butler’s sense of jouissance/play. What if I realized that I really value people with integrity. Someone who is self-deprecating. But also genuinely innocent. Someone who has a bashful allure. And can have the driest sense of humor. Someone who respects and empathizes people naturally. My ex-girlfriend was most attracted to my brazen search for true love, but also my belief in true artwork. I spent a whole semester in Berlin hanging out with the Post-Internet crowd and didn’t have sex once. But I digress.

This show is about metaphysical painting. I could tie in Malevich or Di Chirico. But the paintings were all made in the past 2 or 3 years, based, while listening to Lil Uzi Vert. Maybe Jesse was exposed at an early age and didn’t know how to process it all. Maybe he could have made it big. He was the right-hand man at Freddy’s. Maybe we prefer to play the video-game version of this nightlife because people are social elitists. Maybe we prefer to be noise elitists. Or painting elitists. Or movie elitists. Or philosophy elitists. Maybe we have more control of our output when we command from afar. Rather than being a socialite, present. We command through our absence. Maybe we needed to shed ourselves of all the wrong friends, the friends who would judge us for being crazy. Maybe we realized that we didn’t know how to tell the clout-chasers from the real ones. But now that we are uncool, you can pick them a mile away. All my friends are dead.

–Eric Schmid

One Moment Please

Nina Cristante
Kaspar Müller
David Ostrowski
Karin Sander

Triest (NYC)

November 3–24, 2020

In a direct refutation of the bourgeois individualist liberties of solipsistic development of individuated criteria for aesthetic judgement, “One Moment Please” problematizes the notions of craft and “goodness” through a reflexive awareness of the conceptual legacies of Lucy Lippard (et al) and through the transmutation of such dematerialized performances of didactic language games ultimately arrive at the possibility of broad strokes of contemporaneity which de-ontologize today’s naturalized post-cybernetic production of affect, hyper-circulation of codes, hybridized assemblages of market economy/democracy. The ossification of this nebulous condition demarcates the limits of receptivity and production, in a time when snobs of the neo-avant-garde have been outmoded by their mere recourse to apophantic meanings of ontologized faktums of an axiological registrar. For example, through the individualized aestheticism of “good art” in hipster coffeeshop bohemias. The refraction of this (global) condition onto itself creates an aesthetic registrar which is valuated not according to the hermeneutic circle of craft or originary onto-theological meaning (Heidegger), but rather a pragmatic rule-based emergentism, where “goodness” or any authoritative invocations of “mystical access” is completely beside the point. This reduction of affect to a post-emotive relation between “knower” and “knowed” problematizes the interiority of the classic subject of say St. Augustine and deracinates the epistemological framework for the assessment of supposed autonomous art. This movement away from technological enframement (Heidegger) toward the inhumanism of “eliminative materialism” (Churchland), whereby the autopoetic dimension of art is its expression manifestly as/qua the underlying processes of “societies of control” (Deleuze). The desublimation of figuration, representation and craft (in the metaphysical sense of pictorial truth) is quietly ontologized by the material as its negatively defined enframement of aesthetic categories (see the mechanical reproduction of David Ostrowski’s painting, through the negative device of mesh banner) to achieve the recursive constitution of the “body/mind” (or even “soul”), but only as a de-ontologized appropriation of neo-Platonic categories of consciousness (the “body/container”, e.g. of canvas, of diptych/mesh banner, of mandala). But clearly, to the contemporary citizen, said hermetic poetry of pre-modern categories via modernist allegories is merely an unscientific parable a la Borges. “One Moment Please” should instead be analyzed as a topological heuristic to manifestly express the local-global continuum by which access to a local singularity (Karin Sander’s canvas, for example) can create a global phase shift (the networks, geography and logistical systems which are invoked through the shipment of the package-cum-painting). After the advancements of catastrophe theory in the 70s and more importantly, its twin sister chaos theory, the contemporary neuroscientific view was to view the subject as a sequence of “phase shifts”. This notion originated in topology with manifolds with regional discontinuities (catastrophe theory). The initial conditions of such a differential field/system has huge ramifications for the convergence or divergence of the attractor of a system. In the Luhmannian sense of a systems theory (of culture), which is reflexively recursive, the system achieves patterns through autopoiesis itself. For example, the synchronicities of street light systems within a city or non-Gaussian outliers such as black swans in the stock market. The initial conditions (time=0) of said original categories serve as a window into the fractal geometry of a simple Euclidean construct becoming complex-valued, such as a mere triangle (a pre-modern symbol) becoming reiterated onto itself into a Sierpinski triangle (the global epistemological landscape). Following Reza Negarestani, such conditions should not be confused with mere “ontological monism”, but rather the “nature-culture” dyad is an epistemic distinction.

–Eric Schmid

Dustin Hodges & Israel Lund / Galerie Schmid /

The removal of the aura of the work of art was Benjamin’s polemic in the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Israel Lund and Dustin Hodges create mechanical works through either silkscreened negative photographic processes or recreations of the imaginary of an academic tradition through a choice function of its techne.

The axiom of choice was problematic for many mathematicians when Zermelo assumed it in his proof of the Well-Ordering Theorem. The axiom permeates much of modern mathematics. The proof of the existence of a basis for a vector space requires the Axiom of Choice for example. Lund’s “analog.jpg” (in his own words) destabilizes the over-mechanized social relationship to technology through a thorough examination of the materiality of digital abstraction. Simondon criticized Norbert Wiener’s cybernetic paradigm-shift because of its overreliance on the classification of Das Ding through its species and genera.

Similarly, Hodges dips into the well of techne, when he appropriates the work of Dieter Roth through his own recreation and rendering. The axiom of choice assumes the same extensional definition that troubled Russell with the impredicative definition of set theory, the same extensionality that was used for the arbitrary definition of a function from the domain of sets to the target of sets.

Hodges and Lund work to create a subject albeit through the removal of subjectivity. Through thoroughly examining objectivity/the canon, both artists work to destabilize the extensional presupposition of techne thereby carving out the Real and creating a space for the intensionality assumed when Russell famously said: “To choose one sock from each of infinitely many pairs of socks requires the Axiom of Choice, but for shoes the Axiom is not needed.”

Through manipulating the fabric of post-digital abstraction or filtering the work of art down through a poetry of forms and the history of the imaginary, Lund and Hodges “clone” (in the Laruellean sense) a de-ontologized philosophy, a non-philosophy, a philofiction, which suspends the sufficiency of the decision of the ontological faktum which is presupposed by the empirical datum. Through the freedom of the category of “Man-in-person”, both artists articulate a non-thetic duality between digital/analog, actual/virtual, form/matter, contemporaneity/history, without indulging into the weight of either pole (which would tacitly make a presupposition about the empirical ground upon a-priori background).

With the Yoneda Lemma, it is possible to view categories in terms of the explicit Hom sets, i.e. as only all the morphisms between objects. The “arrows-only” view allows one to examine a tree without reference to its internal semantics, but merely in how the tree is related to other objects (the tree is related to the soil, the tree is related to the apple, the tree is related to its roots, the tree is related to oxygen). Lund rigorously explores the materiality of the pixel in its relationship to other pixels and Hodges, the materiality of the techne of our imaginaries through related histories.

Reza Negarestani writes, “The approaching of the concept or the local site from its adjacent environment and alternative perspectives is the gesture of the Yoneda Lemma in category theory. Yoneda Lemma is a phenomenologically trivial tool, but it nevertheless possesses a formidable power to reverse-engineer local concepts by way of their neighbourhood, by way of their outside. A point is nothing but the pointer that points to it. The actual mark is a pointer endowed with a limit, just like the mark that the tip of a pencil leaves on a piece of paper. Once the point is understood as a pointer, the concept of point can be made via an infinite recursive descent: A point is a point is a point is a point … ad infinitum. 8 Each pointer can be decomposed to a concatenation of different sets of pointers or addresses. The concept of the point is nothing but an alternating collection of gestural/perspectival pointers (arrows or morphisms). There is indeed a functionalist underside to this definition of the concept qua a local site: If what makes a thing a thing is not what a thing is but what a thing does, then we can decompose this activity or behavior (the behavior of the concept) into operative perspectives or possible activities that make the behavior of the concept in an inferential network. The study of the concept and its construction overlap, as they become part of a controlled exploratory approach.” (Where is the Concept?)

After recent work with the Curry-Howard correspondence, it is possible to define a propositional logic which is based on an intensional definition, based on a constructive type theory thanks to the work of Per Martin-Löf. The construction of a logical statement is through its demonstration which serves (by way of its invocation of a type) as the proof of the existence of the statement itself. Lund and Hodges construct an intensional definition of subjectivity that “carves nature at the joints” (Plato) of the material of our over-mechanized techne, freeing a pocket of “free will” (the artist as axiomatic choice function) remaining after our instrumentalized bodies.

–Eric Schmid

Joshua Boulos / Poi Dogs-At Play / Triest /

The hybrid (of nature-culture) was advocated by Bruno Latour in We Have Never Been Modern, claiming that such a dualism never existed and that people and social agents should not study specialized totems of nature or culture respectively, but rather everything (politics, science, opinion, discourse, art, popular discourse and specialist discourse) has been mixed together. It is no longer tenable to accept the modern, post-modern or anti-modern positions. This exhibition is a melange/bricolage of varying discourses/artifacts that attempts to pluralize meaning and break any distinction between high and low, commodity and pure art, comic and tragic, nature and culture, dispersion/distribution and central authority, central banking and crypto, content and form, style and originality, codified systems and subjective singularity.

— Eric Schmid

Eric Schmid & Adam Revington / 2 Person Show / Triest /

January 30 — February 19, 2021

“Just like the desert that is one and the same and precisely because of its homogeneity we don’t have access to its landscape, the monism of nature does not allow us to know nature without organizing an epistemic breakage. Ontologically, nature does not distinguish itself from itself. Monism is in this sense an ontological reality that demands a necessary epistemic strategy: Exactly because of this excess of informational homogeneity — a desert that is one and the same everywhere — we can’t immediately approach nature or navigate it. The nature-culture division is an epistemic division, not an ontological one. From the possibility of epistemic traction, this division is necessary and far from rigid. It provokes approaches to nature hitherto unimagined. To claim that everything is nature is at best an indulgence in the vulgarity of the obvious and at worst, a complete blindness to the epistemic conditions through which we are able to progressively make sense of nature.” (Reza Negarestani)

The de-ontologized metaphysics of transmodernity (see my prolegomenon) requires a mode of navigation which does not posit any apophantic (I’m smarter than you/I used to listen to that band) amphibology between being and Being. Rocco Gangle has compared it to Jean-Luc Marion’s God without Being. The ontological pariah is he who authorizes himself in the theological-political authority that the King once did as both celestial and corporeal Godhead — the community of believers and the body of the King. Such a pariah exhibits a systematic exclusivity of a modernist ideal (good taste, high brow, rights to being flippant, being passively authoritarian about culture, I heard that band first, mysticism) which undermines not only the subaltern and the Other, but is according to Negarestani, an “indulgence in the vulgarity of the obvious” at best or a “complete blindness to epistemic conditions” at worst since the ontological becomes not political, but rather nature and culture become the ontological; nature is presupposed by the cultural, cultural superiority becomes a divine birthright of coronation: nature is approached as a world full of meanings and stories.

My prolegomenon hopefully begins a project divorced from the question of the ontological and diving straight into epistemology. Epistemology may be our only hope. 2 Person Show navigates a multiplicity of different mediums and conceptual premises. We are at least 5 generations after the conceptual legacies, with Conceptual Art, Postmodern Art, Neo-Conceptual art, and then ‘Painting Beside Itself’. All of this is passé but we still can gain traction with the tools and vocabularies they provided since it’s history. This show hopefully presents a possibility for the Buchlohian tautological experience of the conceptual idea or its reinvigoration in the 90s (Christian Philipp Mueller, Andrea Fraser, Peter Fend, Mark Dion, Nils Norman)…BUT…now with the hindsight of the reactive responses of a tradition of materialist artists today basically following a parallel trajectory beginning with Martin Barré before Conceptual Art and culminating in a re-materialization of the art object after a big Turn in Conceptual Art with Broodthaers (Michael Krebber, Michael E Smith, Stephan Dillemuth, Emanuel Rossetti, David Flaugher, Heike-Karin Foell and even Christopher Williams arguably).

“Trying to understand nature without an epistemic division, solely through the ontological monism, is an appeal to mysticism. It results either in an ineffable conception of nature or an image of nature as a reservoir of meanings and stories about itself. Once we insist that the world is a repository of meanings, that it has stories to tell the subject without any demand for the subject to create a necessary epistemic condition, then we have already committed to conserve a stable relation between the knowing subject and the world. The world is always facing the subject as if it wants to tell a story, there is no need for the subject to destabilize its given status, to epistemically uproot itself so as to procedurally navigate the landscape. The subject of the world as a ready-made object of experience and a reservoir of meanings is quite stubbornly an anthropocentric and conservative form of subject even though it claims to be completely the opposite.” (Reza Negarestani)

Good taste is only invoked as an artifact of its distanciated self within the frame of mechanized picture with a distanciated border (taking after Christopher Williams; in this show, see the Etsy band t-shirts in white matted photo frames) or within the frame of a post-conceptual painting which suspends the impotency of the formalist truism through its distanciation of such rigidity, sterility and pristine (yet impotent) precision (taking after Heike Karin-Foell; in this show, see the paintings with collages of Fontana & Vienna around 1900 with Sharpie formalist marks). If we are stuck in a contemporary realm of “the move”, the key may be to not only destabilize codification and trends, but also bear in mind the legacies which could be metaphysically deflated from the original context of their modernist/avant-garde/neo-avantgarde program/utopia. The blatant commercialization and industry behind the art world, where “artists are no different these days from doctors or lawyers” (as Antek Walczak said), is anthropomorphized here in a series of personal photographs, but only as a means to de-ontologize any personal politics of theological-politcal authority, as to expose oneself within the constraints of an elliptical autobiography (after Danh Vo). For the collaborative painting, I picked the fabric (thinking of Krebber or von Bonin) and Adam painted on it (thinking of the Viennese Aktionists). Then Adam made drawings which resemble fragments of drawings, which have denied a certain self-sufficiency of pictorial representation. Maybe if we remember the stories which the world is telling us, we can uproot ourselves and destabilize those meanings and stories and actually navigate epistemologically. Being hyper-aware of yourself, how you treat others, your intentions, your influences, your precedents, society, industry, and your psychology, but also science, the news, music, art, applied mathematics, cybernetics and varying epistemes without indulging in belief of some ostensibly objective Truth determining your subjecthood (i.e. being completely aloof — an asshole with a superiority complex really into ‘Werner Schwab the Good’ — or completely blind — a mystic, sell-out, or ‘Lulu Lemon normie’). Maybe the ‘axiomatic method’ is our way out of shitty metaphysics.

— Eric Schmid

Emma McMillan / Galerie Schmid /

Emma McMillan paints portraits of her friends. This show consists of photocopies of the drawings of Eric Schmid leading up to her final painting of the gallerist. I am honored to be considered her friend. Emma is very generous with introducing her friends to her other friends. It felt important to do this show here in Chicago within the ivory tower of my home, the John Hancock Center.

I moved back to Chicago in 2015. Shortly after, I met my ex-girlfriend and she introduced me to her friends here in the local art scene. I eventually dropped out of the local contemporary art scene and my ex-girlfriend doesn’t even identify as an artist anymore. She probably has the most integrity (as a creative person) of anyone that I know in Chicago. Honestly, after we broke up in 2018, we both just dropped out and faded into our quotidian lifestyles. But I don’t want to drag her into my personal story so much.

When you live in Chicago, a lot of artists graduate from the local art school and are faced with the challenge of integrating themselves into the contemporary art world. This unfortunately leads people to make compromises in terms of their practice — they become “enterprise-oriented” or put differently become selective about who they hang out with, who they drink with and who they do drugs with. A lot of artists end up moving to New York or LA or Germany.

What if when you get a break in your career and you start showing at Neue Alte Brücke and Vilma Gold, the art students suddenly want to become your friend, even the ones that may have cast you off as crazy before. I want to stay true to my vision and ideas and if that means that I lose friends, I’m okay with it. I realized that my friends here did not actually care about me — they didn’t want to check up on me. During the year leading up to my hospitalization in 2019, all of the art students had essentially ghosted me. Personally, it becomes too tiresome to deal with an artist who is only interested in status and makes mediocre work and doesn’t have the decency of a human connection with you, i.e. empathy.

There seems to be an alternative art ecosystem that has developed since the Internet in cities that do not have commerce. Project spaces are interconnected by one email or DM. Artists fly out for the weekend to San Francisco, Toronto, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia. Again, cities without the high-finance of investment banking and the art commerce of Chelsea/Tribeca. And the artists who do have the keys to these small spaces rally behind each other in an incestuous circle-jerk. It becomes more apparent that certain types of white privilege, i.e. being a soft-spoken white guy, are preferred. Ultimately the narrative behind all of the work en masse is “my team is the best team” and the minor league system is thus built.

Other than this alt ecosystem, the actual advancement of culture in Chicago is basically relegated to the institutions. Emma was talented enough to have a solo show at the Atlanta Contemporary. In my opinion, she could eventually have a show here in Chicago at an institution. Because Chicago is a fly-over city, the coastal regions end up taking the torch in terms of the advancement of the fashion-based art world, even institutional critique. Chicago becomes a place to visit for a weekend when some chic artist has a solo show at the Renaissance Society and there is little if any integration with the surrounding community of the Chicagoland area. Similarly, the Art Institute hires curators from bigger cities and gives artists that have more international acclaim the exhibitions, e.g. Anne Imhof, a Städelschule graduate.

My own position relative to these power structures is to fortify myself within the ivory tower of pure mathematics and contemporary philosophy, and hopefully have the time to work on experimental music and my art practice. I do have some friends that continue to keep it real here in Chicago and know of some local artists who I still respect. Emma has an especially authentic art practice and I am honored to exhibit her at my apartment gallery.

–Eric Schmid

Eli Ping / Galerie Schmid /

It troubles me to think back to a time when I lived in a basement apartment where I couldn’t even stand up all the way and I had a drinking problem. Eli was the first person-cum-gallery to seriously consider my work. He gave me my first solo show. Before that, Ben Schumacher had put me in a group show at Croy Nielsen and Jared Madere put me in the Bed-Stuy Christmas show. I don’t talk to Jared anymore. Ben is still a good friend. But Eli has always been on some Dad level shit.

Eli would invite me to Christmas parties at his In-Law’s house when he was in Chicago. He invited me to his fourth of July party when he lived in Williamsburg. He let me take a bath at his house when I thought I had scabies.

Running the apartment gallery was my way into the art world. In the course of one year, I showed everyone who was cool at that time (or at least who I thought was cool) plus my friends. But Eli always said that what he found fascinating about my work was that I was concerned with the inside and the outside, who is included and who is excluded.

I lived for those nights out when I was in New York. I still remember the afterparty for Win McCarthy’s show at Off Vendome where we were upstairs and there was a point when I was in control of the music and people told me to turn off Xeno & Oaklander. Or I remember the night when Ben bought a hotel room in Chelsea because he had just had a solo show at Bortolami and invited everyone over and I remember people were stealing the alcohol from the mini bar. Or I remember, on the night of Ben’s opening, there was an afterparty at a bar and there was free food and drink tickets. I had a crush on the intern at Bortolami and Lauren’s friend Nadia tried to help me talk to her. But when the time came to approach her, I was too afraid to go up to her. So I pulled some line I had seen on Youtube and said “Put your number in my phone”. Ben told me “do not contact her” because I was mixing business and pleasure so I left it alone. Or I remember the night of my solo show at Eli Ping Frances Perkins and I was dancing like a fool. Jonathan DJ-ed techno music and everyone ended up leaving. I got so drunk that my friends (Carlos, Elaine, Ben, Eli, Deanna, Peter, Mike and Jonathan) were dragging me on the floor like I was the dead guy in Weekend at Bernie’s. Eli bought me an Uber home.

It was never about sex. Those nights were the only time that I felt part of a community. In the course of two years of partying in NYC, I only had 1 one-night stand and also one ex-girlfriend. By default, I am an introvert, so my response to the anxiety of social situations was to get really drunk and then turn into a complete provocateur, which was opposite of how I am normally. I lived for the debauchery of the night, but it was also incredibly self-destructive because I felt miserable and emotionally dead inside.

Eli took a risk and let me curate a four-floor group show at the Harlem space of his contemporary art gallery in 2016, which he had to eventually shut down. I had just moved to Chicago and it was my first time back in NYC. I remember driving to NYC with my friend and my ex for the opening. My friend and I were newly sober and it was a serious challenge being at the opening. It was completely packed. And my friend, my ex and I had to leave early because we couldn’t handle it. Now that I live in Chicago (in a condo that my parent’s own), my life has turned into a hermetic life and I still get flashbacks when I’m trying to go to bed. I very much prefer being emotionally regulated and self-aware, as opposed to being some type of wannabe enfant terrible.

Eli has always kept it real with me and has reminded me that family is more important than everything else. This exhibition consists of photos of Eli’s family. Eli has always cared about me. And he would buy me lunch at the Tortilla Factory in Bushwick when I couldn’t even afford to go out. I love Eli so much. I love you, Eli.

–Eric Schmid

Ilenia Madelaire / World Gallery World /

The space of Raymond Pettibon and Nieves Books is characteristically unpopular in the high art canon. (But who is to dictate the dominant discourse after the rise of postmodernism?) For this reason, it operates in the nexus between the Art Book Fair, zines, skate parks and coffee shops. The absurdism of parochialist aesthetics has a liberatory possibility in its direct refutation of the fashion-based art world and the cultivation of an insular safe space, but has characteristic underpinnings in social authoritarianism (its downfall). But there still remains the fact that Pettibon is represented by David Zwirner and he, as well as Karl Wirsum, provided a bashful originality that transcends the provincialism of most aping replication, directly through bluechip capitalist mobility itself. This potentiality hearkens back to Robert Gober and the American sensibilities which were a direct response to the Eurocentric avant-gardists. After the demise of the dominant modernist discourse and the emergence of postmodern wastelands, the hope for a direct engagement with modernist culture is the provincial emulation of “art galleries” and “(street) fairs”, which socio-politically/aesthetically remain fixed to its localism, but simultaneously provide hope for a younger generation of naivete in the face of the confusing proliferation/splintering of subcultures. There remains a structural homology to this dream of a unified dominant discourse in the new sincerity and earnestness of twee or “support your local music scene,” albeit “big fish, small pond”. The dream of following Jo Baer’s dictum “I am an insider and an outsider” is the characteristic modus operandi of Wirsum, Pettibon, et al. The necessary contextualization within the international art world, which could be rejected locally, should be followed in the hopes of informing the cosmopolitan nous.

–Eric Schmid

Özer Koç / World Gallery World /

Sigmar Polke. Jess. HC Westermann. Junge Wilde. (Neo-Expressionism). (Pointillism). (Modern Art). (=Ciphers of Regression?). The development of taste and a relation to the dominant avant-gardist discourse allows a freedom to freely execute works in a hurried manner in the hopes of a single unified thread throughout an artist’s entire oeuvre, what they may call the Gesamtkunstwerk. An art critic had once said in a New York magazine that one of Polke’s moves could provide a whole career for a lesser artist. What differentiates Polke, Roth and Kippenberger from their contemporaries Antonius Hockelmann, Rainer Fetting, and Helmut Middendorf? Was it a confidence? Was it hubris? Was it self-awareness? Was it taste? Was it conceptualism? The illusion of a dominant modernist discourse in postmodern art is either terribly self-indulgent/impotent or it is a beacon of hope, a Prometheanism enframing Reason. In the final analysis, the development of a growing semiotic system, which could genealogically trace back from say Manzoni and Mario Merz (neo-avant-garde) to then say Duchamp and Max Ernst (avant-garde), is admirable as an axiomatic framework. But because of Gödel, it was shown to be incomplete. Is contemporary art actually belated as Foster criticizes in The Return of the Real? Is this not the dream, we should seek out, a unified totality? OR would this engender political consequences as Buchloh writes off the historically determined repetitions in Ciphers of Regression. Or does, as Foster suggests, the contemporary practice come from the Future? Are we witnessing a temporal re-ordering where bodies and materiality are re-emerging after both the simulacrum / intertextuality of the 80s, the stark conceptualisms of the 90s and the painterly minimalism of the 00s? Danica Barboza, Robert Bittenbender, Zoe Barcza, Ser Serpas.

–Eric Schmid

Sean McGaughey / World Gallery World /

A coterie of Surrealists broke from kitschy-pop surrealism. Documents was the journal/home for the renegade Surrealists. This exhibition mimics the drawings of Artaud and the paintings/drawings of Giacometti. Artaud in his Theater of Cruelty manifests the idea that the stage should be a cacophonous chaosmos which envelops the audience. These paintings manifest the deconstructed subject into what really constitutes the empirical present, larval brushstrokes for a larval subject. Deleuze’s notion of the larval subject, grounded by three syntheses of time, would later extend into his work with Guattari. The individuation of the poetic future organically into the larval subject of the present foreshadows his work on the rhizomatic multiplicity of the postmodern subject (also an organic concept). One or several wolves. Are we many wolves (yes) or merely an atomized autonomous thinking being/mind? The cacophony would destroy the structuralist foundations for a neurotic subject that contemplated the inner Wolf-Man. This show contemplates the same issues that faced Francis Bacon or any artist who had to reconcile with the World Wars. (The instability of a Descartian cogito.) But what are the contemporary tragedies? The decentralization of networks and node-ification of the subject in “Societies of Control” means that we are constantly faced with the question of the philosophical alibis for technological market democracies. The liquidity of markets and the cybernetic homeostatic system are the metaphysical underpinnings of the individual today…what Gilles Châtelet calls the “average man” — “neurolivestock” to be herded by Big Data companies and then (“you name it”) every corporation.

–Eric Schmid

Piero 1/2 Botta / A wild memory / World Gallery World /

Bataille’s Story of the Eye. Base Materialism. Libidinal Economy. Post-Internet Art. The Jogging. Darja Bajagic. Crystal Gallery. Andrea Dworkin. Jeff Koons and Cicciolina. Lynda Benglis Artforum Advertisement (1974). Christine Tien Wang. Silvia Federici. Pierre Klossowski. Lacan. jouissance. Deleuze & Guattari. Desiring-machines. Lack=Desire. Capitalist exchange-value.

“The usefulness of a commodity vs. the exchange equivalent by which the commodity is compared to other objects on the market. Marx distinguishes between the use-value and the exchange value of the commodity. Use-value is inextricably tied to “the physical properties of the commodity” (126); that is, the material uses to which the object can actually be put, the human needs it fulfills. In the exchange of goods on the capitalist market, however, exchange-value dominates: two commodities can be exchanged on the open market because they are always being compared to a third term that functions as their “universal equivalent,” a function that is eventually taken over by money. Exchange-value must always be distinguished from use-value, because “the exchange relation of commodities is characterized precisely by its abstraction from their use-values” (127). In capital, money takes the form of that equivalence; however, money in fact hides the real equivalent behind the exchange: labor. The more labor it takes to produce a product, the greater its value. Marx therefore concludes that “As exchange-values, all commodities are merely definite quantities of congealed labour-time” (130).”

Sex. Partialism. Image economy. Essentialism. Organs without bodies. Zizek’s Diet Coke. Coffee with no milk vs. Coffee with no cream. Existentialist absurdism. Roles. Property rights. Commodity Fetishism. Housing markets. Fiat money. Fully Automated Luxury Communism. Disidentification. Structural Marxism. Althusser/Ranciere/Balibar/Badiou. Emancipation. the State. Accounting Apparatuses. Ideological State Apparatus. Base effects Superstructure and vice versa. The Psychotic vs the Neurotic. Bodies without Organs.

Text: Eric Schmid

GEORG SILI / Chairwoman 1985–1987 / World Gallery World /

The Expressionists had to flee from turmoil within Germany. Emil Nolde was a Nazi. Ernst Ludwig Kirchener went to Switzerland. The Degenerate Art exhibition was some of the best art happening at the time according to art historian Pepe Karmel. The problem with Expressionism bothered Krebber as a young impotent painter. He studied with Lupertz and then became the assistant of Georg Baselitz. Krebber comments upon the Michael Werner Gallery program in his lecture Puberty in Painting. This latent psychic pulsion haunts him and the post-Cologne art world.

This exhibition presents women on chairs. The hysteric chaired woman was famously depicted by Balthus in his “La Chambre (The Room)”. Capitalism is not fundamentally, at its base, predicated on monetary exchange, but rather, at its root, pulsion:

“Lyotard exposes the libidinal complements to monetary exchange and the economy. The capitalist economy is a total externality, but our critique of it doesn’t situate us beyond its externality, because our impulses and desires are unconsciously inscribed in the production of this alienated externality. We might think that we can resist the logic of capitalist production, but our libidinal pulsions happen to be in tune with this economy: we are unconsciously invested in it, and this is manifest in various forms of our behavior, labor, leisure, communication, exchange, and production. The macabre dimension of this argument is that according to Lyotard, the critique of capitalism itself is not at all free from the pulsions and desires that produce the capitalist condition. The libidinality scattered over the social body of capitalism permeates anything produced under its regime — including anticapitalist critique. One can decipher to what extent capitalism is part and parcel of life by looking at the way jouissance and phantasms circulate within the framework of production and exchange. Lyotard sees in capitalism “the return, but unaffirmed and unrecognized, of what it rejects — libidinal intensity in the heart of neutralized exchanges.” The nature of spending money, of exchange and production, reveals the way libido works. But it also confirms that capitalism is libidinally desired, even if it might be theoretically and conceptually denounced. According to Lyotard, what we regard as creative intensity or subversive desire ultimately becomes currency and exchange. It’s not that we necessarily desire commerce; rather, we need the surplus attraction or estrangement that accompanies material culture and artistic production. Desire constructed via surplus is intertwined with surplus value, and hence with an economy molded via surpluses of various kinds — phantasmatic, sexual, libidinal, financial. That makes capitalism’s power stronger, but also reveals that jouissance (enjoyment) is not necessarily liberatory. Quite the opposite: it resides within the logic that seems to be contrary to it. Individually experienced pleasure or pulsion may be inseparable from the desire for power and domination.” (Footnote 1)

This exhibition explores the phantasms and jouissance that are at heart of capitalism itself. Balthus and his brother (who wrote Living Currency) were polymorphous perverse and crafted a theory of pulsion, which later influenced all of the post-structuralists (Lyotard especially) and even, the whole program of cynical artists who wish to contain and master pulsion with a nonchalant and aloof anti-capitalist critique (Reena Spaulings Gallery). The Expressionists were the first to expose the psychic orgone theater. The inside is haunted by these ‘ciphers of regression’ because ultimately, the outside always becomes the inside first and foremost.

Footnote 1:

Text: Eric Schmid

Eric Schmid on St. Francis LP (April, 2021):

Recital / / LP Released on April 14th, 2021

The St Francis Prayer is an AA prayer recited for serenity. Where there is hatred may I bring love. My relationship to my ex girlfriend Liv was one of the most beautiful relationships that I’ve had in my life. This release is about resolution. Derek Baron once compared it to Deleuze’s horizontal plane of immanence, formally-speaking in terms of composition. What if people want to reinforce vertical social hierarchies? What if I am alienated from society for being neurodivergent and people keep me at a distance because they are afraid of my intensity. People become afraid that I will push their buttons. Liv wholeheartedly believed in my art practice and we had a non-communicative love where we each completed each other in some aspect that we both lacked independently. My experience in the art world was that of being constantly petrified because people ignored and scorned me. What if there are abstract structures which have alienated me, say “the semantics of hanging out” (as Emma McMillan called it) or the art world business standard of networking where art professionals exclude people without clout, but also preserve moral normalcy through tone-policing. I.e. They ignore the crazy and angry-sounding just because they don’t sound convincing/proper enough.

When I look back at my failures, I feel shame and pain. I acted out a lot with different people. But at the same time, the whole journey was a solitary ride. And Sean McCann gave me a chance when no one else would release my music. I think this record speaks for itself. It comes from the heart.

What I realize today is that I mistake my freedom for subjugation. Sometimes I idealize neurotypical manic pixie dream girls because I feel like I am lacking something. I don’t feel validated by myself. What if I try to find the type of socially-fluid people who will help me ostensibly triumph over these alienating structures (through their complicitness) when in fact they themselves merely mimic abject ways of living from their neurotypical preppy lifestyle. Am I an authentic artist? Is my work a memoir of the blind as Derrida says?

What if being frenzied with passion means you lack internal validation? And your way out is to constantly be in overdrive, tireless working yourself to the bone. But what if you have all the answers inside of you? And you are totally in control of your exposure, your friendships, your involvement, your audience, your community, your vision, your convictions, your project, your artwork, your collaborators and who you let in or who you keep out?

What if you were excluded from the noise community because the gatekeepers thought you were a nobody and you went to shows and stood in the corner because you were too afraid to talk to the noise tyrants. And what if they all of a sudden now want to talk to you because you released on Recital but they were still confused about what you were doing because it was too vanguard. What if the art world didn’t give the time of day to Recital except the true heads who knew about Loren Connors, Philip Corner, Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins and Eric Anderson and now the art critics love Recital. What if people in the art world respected my work, but no one in the music world did.

The St Francis list is our attempt to collect what we think is good taste. What if someone can assimilate power in the art world merely for being an advantageous tactician? And what if you made work for 6 years and never exhibited it because you were an art follower and hadn’t quite established your own vocabulary? What if the younger artists unknowingly make work that looks like Post-Internet Art or looks like Real Fine Arts or looks like Alexander Schroeder’s (of Galerie Neu) art collection. What if people are floating like a signifier without being anchored in aesthetics and art history? The St Francis List is our attempt to bring back meaning to this world of ours.

Eric Schmid / Fall River MoCA group show / supplemental text

What if you curated the group show of 2017 which had every cool artist working at that time, Real Fine Arts artists, Lomex artists, Bed-Stuy Love Affair Artists, Städelschule artists, Gandt artists, Svetlana artists. And what if you threw it all away because it was way too much pressure to maintain.

What if your career in the art world is operating as an (urban) legend?

Growing up with a single mom was difficult. What if all you wanted since your childhood was to be accepted? In 2011, I went to a bunch of GHE20 G0TH1K shows and danced the nights away, getting fucked up and too afraid to talk to random girls; there never was any consummation. But all I really wanted was to sit at the cool kids table. All I wanted was to be accepted. Sex wasn’t the priority. (I think I’ve had about 2 one-night stands while living in New York over a period of 6 years).

When I interned at Real Fine Arts, I went on an informal date with one of the artists and was way too shy to really get to know her. We hugged when I left her work and we didn’t hang out a second time. I think I’m still on good terms with the person, but I haven’t talked to her in years. I really respect her as an artist. But I digress.

I was talking to Alex Boland about what if people see me as de-fanged/neutered because I don’t have a dismissive/aloof attachment style. I told Alex that him and I are very similar because we both have integrity and convictions, but we can also come across as heady intellectuals, which could be misconstrued as being a soyboy. But these categories are invented by right-wing incels in order to accommodate for their failures within a (bad/failed) model/ideology of seeing hot women as status symbols to validate losers who need such an “accomplishment” of hooking up.

Alex told me to focus on my craft, which is basically one day becoming a mathematician. But generally there is a barren feeling in my stomach, where I feel so deprived of emotional intimacy from people. My sponsor said that all we really want is psycho-social integration, which essentially means to be part of a community.

Maybe I have a distorted relationship to reality where I always see the glass as half empty. Where I can’t take a compliment and think to myself that the person doesn’t really mean it.

My aspirations to study algebraic topology, category theory or differential geometry give me a sense of purpose and meaning in my life. But am I going to die alone, living some ascetic ideal?

My obsessive tendencies to perseverate can make me a productive artist, but it can also make me a neurotic romantic candidate (and sometimes, when I’m off my meds, downright psychotic). But what if I enjoy the fantasy of indulging in some imaginary partnership with someone? Lately, the writing has helped me become more articulate about the real reasons that I behave certain ways. But what if I don’t want to give up the obsessive behaviors because it is my comfort food? Alex said that I need to find activities to replace those old (maladaptive) coping mechanisms. Right now, taking baths and going for walks have been my biggest relaxers. But it is so hard to let go. And I know that, if I were living alone again in an apartment without my mother to check up on me, I would regress into old behaviors.

Maybe I really need a support network to keep my grounded in reality and grounded in self-care and grounded in self-love. Right now I have a revolving cast of people I talk to on the phone, Josh, Jesse, Harry, Ben Green, Lauren, Max, Hewson, Eli, Aaron, Israel, Alex, my therapist, my counselors, my psychiatrist. But it still doesn’t feel like enough.

Maybe these are archaic deep wounds that can only be solved by going to therapy.

Lauren Burns-Coady & Robert Bittenbender / Galerie Schmid /

It’s unlikely that anyone will be able to get anything past a Meerkat without them noticing, though it’s equally unlikely that they will let you know if they are onto your game. Lauren says I will see or intuit something about a person and then I’ll create a circumstance where the person will “out” themselves as being hypocritical or contradictory. People say one thing but will behave in another way. attitude-behavior correlation paradox.


Lauren thinks that I have a purity to what I’m doing that is childlike.

Adults can be very disingenuous. Children’s perspicacity is underrated. ask stupid questions. Lauren noticed that I (un)intentionally set people up with challenging situations, tests. My persistence exhausts people’s composure, revealing something else in them. People construct and maintain political social identity, but when their guard goes down, they may act differently. The quest for the perfect environment through the self­ holding and self-hiding of composure, at its most excessive, insulates the individual from ever allowing the recognition they seek.

I believe Lauren validates me for being myself. She listens to what I have to say and her feedback is always constructive. She’s been incredibly forgiving and respects me as a person, intellectual, and artist.

Lauren said I can tune my ego out and be truly self-effacing. Her and I have a not-finite patience with each other. There’s always the possibility of an extension. I really open myself up to Lauren in a way that I don’t and wouldn’t do with other people. I believe Lauren really sees me as different and extremely interesting. There’s a real recognition and appreciation of divergence.

She said I stir the pot and provoke in order to get a response. I create caricatures of my own pain in other people so that I can see it performed back at me. For example, she has also observed that I never really express anger in a visceral way, but that I use writing to incite anger in other people, as a way to break their constructed identity or get a response that is uncharacteristic.

But I believe Lauren sees the provocation is all in good faith. I poke at the bull, which is, concretely, white privilege. I.e. when white people have a soft-spoken nonchalance. She phrased it as the soft violence of etiquette.

Lauren said she has had to learn how to act in accordance with the dominant communication styles in certain vocational circles, so that she wasn’t perpetually Othered. import theory of subjectivity. I end up challenging the authenticity of the learned behavior and confront people with an ultimatum, which is essentially to choose between committing to your privilege or putting an effort to be genuinely sympathetic and empathetic — -to grant legibility to the Other’s form of expression. charitable read.

Lauren noticed that I am hyper intelligent with regards to this affective intelligence. To point out someone’s inability/refusal to read someone who is emotional and not rational. The non-affect associated with power. But at the same time, Lauren thinks that I am hyper-rational with my studies in pure mathematics and also philosophy. The affective then becomes intertwined with the hyper-rational and the hyper-rational becomes affective. emotion and reason are not truly distinct, they are perhaps identical. imposing and reinforcing a distinction is a power move.

I make work that is hyper-referential and niche and people become frustrated because it’s neither technical nor accessible. Because people want something that is measurable but what they get is a bricolage of high vocabularies, synthesized anew. Maybe my work isn’t scalable to a commodity-level and that frustrates viewers who are looking for digestible narratives. Maybe my obsession with Cologne and German art is unreadable to a larger more populist art viewership. I made a Josef Strau joke with a recent work, not necessarily knowing whether all of my friends would get it.

My recent writing has exposed myself, which has been helpful. But I can be extremely judgemental of myself, which can make me feel worse about myself. But I believe Lauren is genuinely empathetic to my suffering, even to the point where she wants to empower me for something which, at least according to a system of employment, would be considered a disability.

Lauren’s work is truly underappreciated and she makes work about high vocabularies in a less pretentious context. Robert is also a saint.

Michael Pollard & Graham Vunderink / Galerie Schmid /

Mike had once said that I depend on others for validation. I think as a result, I am constantly looking for people to bounce my identity/work off of. This coupled with a deep childhood longing for intimacy because of childhood rejection makes me instrumentalize my career for a partner. Somehow as a child, it was ingrained in me that I should be married to someone who comes from a higher socio-economic class and I think this has resulted in me longing for a partner who has status, which would make me look better to people. But I end up longing for attractive socialites who don’t reciprocate because (what it feels like is that) I’m not good enough or essentially I don’t have a dismissive-avoidant attachment style. What ends up happening is that I become gaslit by the neurotypicality of a preppy socialite and I end up feeling like a freak / weirdo because I’m incapable of playing it cool and adopting a super normative lifestyle (albeit maybe the dudes have messy cool haircuts and look super adrogynous but they actually seem undeservingly self-satisfied).

I think my desire for intimacy can help me adapt to the plethora of untrustworthy people in the art world. I think I have an empathic ability to detect people who are genuine and sincere. Usually the people are art-adjacent types who can be vulnerable in relation to my Otherness and are not threatened by my alterity and can be uncool/vulnerable in a genuine way, which makes them cool. I was telling Robert Bittenbender that these people are a triple-threat when a person can be uniquely/definitively talented, but also genuinely understanding, but also put on a theory-hat and become an intellectual. I think Robert is like that and so is Alex Boland. What I have recognized from my recent trip to NYC is that merely having the same esoteric taste in music does not necessarily mean that you are on the same wavelength as someone else. And maybe (as my friend Ben Green was saying) it’s also important to have a sense of humor or maybe it’s important to also know about contemporary art or maybe it’s important that someone should be able to be self-effacing and make fun of themselves or maybe it’s important that they should not make fun of someone for being too nerdy about liking mathematics or philosophy.

I believe that I am a hopeless romantic and that I keep my eye on the prize and genuinely wish that I could relate to dream girls on a deep emotional level, even if it were to mean the relationship was completely Platonic and we ended up just caring about each other deeply. I think I have a lot of trust issues and I am deeply afraid that someone is going to use me, so I end up keeping transactional-type friendships at arm’s length. The image in my mind is Petra Von Kant from the Fassbinder film where she is flipping out at the end. I think I also have a fear that people are going to leave me behind, so I end up preemptively ending those relationships because I am afraid that they will assimilate cultural capital and that I will end up being too uncool in their game for power. Maybe I had to have a breakdown in order to rid myself of most of the transactional friendships I had in the art world (because then they would feel they can’t extract anything from me). But I still have acquaintances today where I think the friendship is transactional and I just go along with the exchange. You give a little. They take a little. They give a little. You take a little. But I don’t like to let people know that I know that I am being manipulated. I think I pretend to people that I don’t know, but really I know. Sometimes the people even prioritize people who have more clout than you and they will make it seem like they are your friend, but they prefer to hang out with the person with more clout over you when they have to decide what to do over, say, Frieze Week. It’s nothing personal actually, it’s just the competitive spirit of capitalism. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, which is ironic, given people’s Marxist press releases, which espouse egalitarianism and non-competition. Maybe even some people will not treat you with love and respect because other people have deemed you uncool within the Symbolic Order and they are so complacent/insecure that they can’t think for themselves.

My most recent trip to NYC has made me feel validated and heard for who I am and made me realize that I am not crazy. There are more people in NYC who know about Christian Philipp Mueller or who know about Friesenwall or who know about Laruelle or who know about Hermann Nitsch. Or maybe they don’t even know about Edition Telemark, but maybe they are socially fluid and they accept you for being an artist’s artist and think you are just as socially cool as they are. Or maybe they haven’t heard about Regional Bears, or maybe they have (who knows), but they genuinely respect people into the philosophy of mathematics or maybe they don’t actually follow the ideas because it’s too intimidating but they respect you for pursuing your own intellectual island and they don’t judge you for the things you had said during a mental breakdown and love you.

Collective voice: Sonic, textual, visual communications and actions —