Vhutemas/Archetypi

NOTES : writings by Graeme Revell from the insert sleeve of the LP


VHUTEMAS° / ARCHETYPI

We are experiencing remarkable collapse in the belief in the secular motif of progress. As every attempt to remake culture form imaginmary beginnings falls in ruins, we begin to experience it as an abyss - a culture darkening, running out of time.
            Elias Canetti: "Everything becomes faster so there would be more time. But there is always less and less time" - The Province of Man.
            Paul Virilio: "History disappears in the form of the instant." Pure War.
As the last figures of sacred symbolism are dissolved in the undifferentiated total visibility of profane culture, where renewal has lost its purgative capacity, in the evernewness of consumption, there is the suggestion of a collective desire for Return. The need for symbolism supersedes the desired acquisition of reality in the product, and the most common manifestation is the reappearance of gods in a New Fundamentalism.
            Mircea Eliade: "When the sacred manifests itself in any hierophany, there is not only a break in the homogeneity of space; there is also a revelation of an
absolute reality opposed to the nonreality of the vast surrounding expanses. The manifestation of the sacred ontologicallv founds the world." The Myth of the Eternal Return.

            Today art has supplanted religion as the locus of symbolic creation, and inherits from it its unique capacity to arrest the passage of time. The problem for the
artist is no longer one of representation versus abstraction, this drama having been played out at the beginning of the century. Rather one of representation versus     simulation. History itself is nothing but an immense model of simulation - a linear model instigated by the Church to indefinitely postpone the occasion of Earth of the Kingdom of God. In these cultures or religions which deny the passage of historic time, reality is expressed by entrenchment in ritual, myth and ceremony. In the Middle Ages, heresy was the immediate requirement of the Kingdom of God, the refusal of time in the intellectual or mystical experience. Heresy in the political economy of the sign consists in symbolic representations which aspire to timelessness, more than to mere simulation. Representation is unavoidable since even the purest semiological element if it exists at all, always signifies something.
                        Gaston Bachelard: the poetic image "can plumb the depths before disturbing the surface" of consciousness.
 
 

            The Industrial Revolution began the process of division of labor between art and technology; the dissociation of the conception from the execution.
Bauhaus/De Stijl/Vhutemas attempted to reconcile the two but only succeeded in the abstraction of social relations already at work in the political economy of the industrial and post-industrial age. In an era where the image and even the symbol reign supreme as means of social organisation (witness the use of mythology in recent advertising) all that remains for the artist is to take personal control over the creation of mythologies. The artist thereby replaces priest, magician and shaman in "the, midnight of time’s destitution" (Heidegger)
Mircea Eliade: "All that essential and indescribable part of man that is called imagination dwells in realms of symbolism and still lives upon archaic myths and theologies. It depends upon modern man to 'reawaken' the inestimable treasures of images that he bears within him and to reawaken the images so as to contemplate them in their purity and assimilate their message" Myths and Symbols.

            The 'banality of history' insinuates itself in the meager posturings of new “expressionists”, "romantics," "social realists," "abstractionists," "mysticists." In the twentieth century all are mere simulations of monuments that only formerly had validity.
                        Adorno: "Everything is forgotten in a world of commodity."
            This forgetfulness induces confusion of natural and supernatural, mysticism and realism. The holy trinity of sex, death and religion and the identification with the primitive or barbaric are invoked to simulate "other" worlds (i.e. this world in the past) rather than being archetypical stirings.
            The true artist's search for what Rilke called "the Open" is that for a foothold where history can mutate with the archetypical and the mythical. Of course the artist can neither avoid time itself nor its absence (in the enternae of archetypes); he is always and at all times both in and out of time. We receive inspiration from Joseph Beuys's resonant, time-warped archetypical structures, redolent of both ancient and modem mythologies.
            Art has synonymous with the description of the artist him/herself, rather than something that might be considered his/her values. Art and the artist create each other simultaneously. This is Hegel's sense of "the power of beings to act in accordance with their representations" and any judgement of a work of art becomes also a judgement of the artist himself.
                        Maurice Blanchot: "The artist is ineffectual. He has no space in the world. It is not that he belongs to what we ordinarily think of an another world. If he is allied to the sacred, this is because he belongs neither to this nor to any other, but to the 'other of all worlds' in our own."
            Try to remember; create memory anew.

°Footnote: Goethe: "Narnes are but Noise and Smoke, Obscuring Heavenly Light" (Faust, I). Vhutemas (1920 - 1927), the Russian equivalent of the Bauhaus and De Stijl, founded on the theories of Vladimir Tatline. We invoke its name in our title because within the group several different currents were able to co-exist. Contrary to dominant Constructivits, the architectural group ASNOVA (including Lissitzky) polemicised against utilitarian requirements, tending instead towards the expressivity of the image, a dynamic new form.
We wish to write no manifestos, to produce no new movement, nor a programme for a stylistic current. The artists who appear on this record do not necessarily share common ideas and aims. They all, however, share the following modus operandi:
                        i) to constantly evade all attempts to delimit their boundaries and to categorize their fields of interest;
                       ii) to retain the means of production and self-representation in their own hands;
                      iii) to work together in the common spirit of friendship and mutual respect. "Each thing is merely the limit of the flame to which it owes its existence" - (August Rodin)