Biella, Italy, June 2008

Marko Stamenkovic

Dear Michelangelo,

Thank you for your Invitation.
It has been a while since you approached me by reasons of Writing a Text for your Artist’s Book.

Was it my fault that I could not have replied to your request in a due Time, or it was the Lack of our previous Communication that made us wait for it so long?

I want to believe that we should have had more frequent and more profound Meetings and Discussions regarding our Subject. Cooperating on a project-basis involves much more time and energy, I think; as well as more joint Engagement, Exchange of personal and professional Information, and Transfer of commonly achieved Results into a form that could satisfy all the parties involved in the Working Process.
What do you think?

This is maybe the Reason why I have decided to approach you in such a personal way, in an epistolary form of a semi-private Letter that we should share with others, those who might not feel sceptical enough to read it. Would you agree?

Or, let me put it differently, please: do you think there is a possibility for an Agreement, once we could confirm that the desirable communication has always been a missing part of this process?

In the end, we must reach the level of Sharing and Opening this missing Private communication into the Public realm of our future anonymous Audience. What do you think?

Besides, I must admit that the way I used to write does not satisfy me in the same manner anymore. Maybe I have realized, just recently, that if we are to accept the need for Change, the only way to perform it is to realize it within the very process of our personal working habits, and in the broader working framework of our fellows who feel and act alike. Being part of the Multitude (of invisible micro-groups and narratives that, already for several decades, have constantly been trying to oppose the dominant ways of being, and to participate in the production of another imagery and another type of discourses than those easily recognisable and constantly reproduced for the sake of Production) I believe that, both you and me, have reached certain levels to have a pause in order to make Another Step. Where will such a “new” step take us? I have been asking myself all these weeks after receiving your letter of Approach. Whatever the case is: we are approaching the very last moment before our final Deadline, I believe. We are approaching the very last moment…

I do not want to sound too apocaliptic, though – please do not get me wrong. After some forty years or so, the world has already witnessed too many “deadlines”, as we all know it: from the “ultimate” quests for better working and living conditions in the post-fordist era through the need for social change and an increase of anti-globalization movements, up to the point of celebrating the anniversaries of recent historical events, their successes and failures, that still perpetuate our ideas about the possibilities for transformation on a worldwide scale. And what have been the results in the end?

This whole year, twothousandeight, has been marked by an Anniversary, the anniversary of an event that neither of us has actually witnessed in its full original power, have we? We only feel like having been put into a situation that obliges us to catch only the traces, the bits and pieces of spectacularity and glory of another Media event, the one standing for “a revolutionary change” in the post-war history of our civilization. I wish I was wrong: or it is just about my reluctance to accept any “anniversary” as a point of reflection. I am not quite sure…

There is something perverted in the human need to repeat a Ritual of celebration, a collective Ceremony of bringing memories back one more time when ciphers get their rounds and recall the past. Why not celebrating them every day? Why not breaking the ceremonial, almost Religious, modes of being at all, and having a possibility (for each and everyone of us) to recognise and perform the positive effects of emancipatory historical events in our Everyday Life, instead?

I am doubtful, I must admit, about the effects of the kind of writing I am supposed to perform here. “Which kind?”, you might ask; “I asked for a text that, based upon your reflection on a series of photographs selected from my Personal Archive, would give your Personal Perspective on the socio-political conditions that have brought necessary changes to the world after THAT moment in history that we must recognize nowadays, nothing else! Was it so difficult to do it?”, you might add.

If I am not wrong, those photographs have been arranged according to a clear time-based structure: starting from the late 1960s they are giving an overview of the last four decades in a way that inscribes your own self, and the memory of yours, into a broader socio-political context of that period. It is, for sure, an interesting way of putting things together; quite a rare one, if I may add, for a young artist of your generation. Being a Citizen of your own country, there must have been many exciting things going on around. Imagining Italy at the times around the beginning of your “personal” archive, and thinking of Italy nowadays, I cannot stop believing in a continuous line of energy and wisdom that has been transferred to these days by the powers of Operaist movement, for example… You know what I am trying to say, right? Many would probably disagree. Many would just keep silent, I guess. Especially now, when the “new” political forces are taking over not only in Italy but all around Europe… Maybe we should ask one of those (Undocumented) persons who, in the south of stivale, fear and wait to be deported from the country? The Deportations from Italy have been quite a Spectacle these days, right?

Whatever the case is, my Question remains: how are we, you and me, supposed to take our Positions with regard to the historical facts and waves that have determined not only our childhood (it was 1977, when it all started? Or it was much before also in Italy, but it came out of Invisibility by the time that we were born?) but also the effects and counter-effects of our lives once we all finally “grew up”?

The kind of Writing I am Performing here serves certain purposes, you must agree; those that fill a Gap in an empty space of a book that still needs to be made; to be assembled, proofred, edited, designed, printed, published, distributed, promoted, bought, read, consumed, thought and re-thought, critically reviewed in one of those colourful glossy art magazines at the tobacco sellers’ shop windows and in the beautifully, so beautifully arranged and designed bookstores within all sorts of art-venues, worldwide. Nonetheless, when I think about the destiny of a Book (the object I fetishize and adore, if I may allow myself such an “intimate” confession at this point), I still feel a bit sorry for all those objects being EXPOSED and displayed in the end, to the eyes of Consumers, after following such a complex and relation-based Chain of Production.

How do you feel about that?

Dear Michelangelo, whatever the changes brought by the masses of our common ancestors have been in the past, let’s not take them as something that has been behind our backs in order to practice the Memory about them. Let’s not talk about them. Let’s not construct a relation with them, as if they were somewhere at a distance, far behind or in front of us, waiting to be realized. Let’s not make them look even more distant then they historically already are, in terms of time and space that divides us from them, and vice versa.

Instead, let’s perform them every single day, day by day, through our particular working processes and within our individual living conditions, so that, at some happy point of our lives, we could feel that the changes have already been happening and we have already been picking up the fruits of their Constant and Gradual growth.

This is only our first step towards the Cooperation we have imagined.
And I would like to thank you for having been Included.

Yours, Marko