INSTITUTION poetic address for underrepresented women

On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 12:54 AM, Brian Fuata <bri%$$*#@%%%m> wrote:
Institution by Zoe M. Robertson
Performed, following Elvis Richardson's Countess Report at Artspace - Sydney, on Thursday 25th May, 2017

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Z.O'Mahoney <>
Date: Thu, May 25, 2017 at 9:03 PM
Subject: Fwd: Institution
To: Brian Fuata < bri%$$*#@%%%m >

On Thu, May 25, 2017 at 8:42 AM, Z.M. O'Mahoney <> wrote:

The institution, this act of establishment and all that must entail.. Here we find ourselves once more, much more a mirror to society than any visceral act of unsanctioned art could ever have achieved, necessarily repeating and entrenching the shortcomings and prejcudices of society, something even inherent in representitive programming, where one must be more than implicitly female, more than implicitly diverse, only those among us speaking to a crisis of white heterosexual middle-class cisgender masculinity ever having managed to have spoken to their condition, without being pathologised, without being othered... and yet my male counterparts are the minority... the adored minority. It seems strange to only be speaking on one front, only the one obvious condition marking the necessity of my continued disenfranchisement and yet this disadvantage is very real, and I have suffered because of misogyny and ableism.

Where you're the lover, you're the man, you've given me s little that you've got me self-policing

Belaboured by unconscious, autonomous factors that drive our every interaction, from those inherent in the language that we use to the products we use both to perpetuate and augment our existence. With further mechanisation, human beings in the so-called “developed” nations are driven further towards immaterial and essentially aesthetic labour that is mostly focused on the “self” in the express desire of self-perpetuation, as for those outside the ruling classes work, and so enfranchisement, are increasingly precarious. The nature of contemporary work and its increasing scarcity would appear to lead to societies of mass-isolation servicing a competitive drive towards asserting one’s specific humanness and worthiness for qualitative analysis from a peer group of thus empowered strangers through social media. A realised dream of the sixties, where everyone is an artisf, because, while we work much more than ever before, actually there is nothing to do. This aesthetic labour is feminised in its helplessness, because inherent in the notion of labour is a gender bias, making effective representation a battle against essentialism.

Where you're the lover, you're the man, you've given me so little that you've got me self-policing

The excuse that I may not be understood as promoted against my speaking for myself... echoed in institutions over and over and I have gone to turn against them as anti-intellectual only to realise that deliberately obtuse works are perfectly acceptable, just not coming from me, something specific to me that should be perfectly arbitrary... These statistics that we are confronted with.... how the directors of institutions are largely male, though, who would even know where they came from when looking at the almost exclusively female workforce in the arts... and so one cannot but conclude that the misogyny is something that has been internalised... as so many of us have lived these experiences, and I am certainly no darling for having spoken in the same way as all the favoured men folk... and I don't want to make anythign any more difficult for another woman again, and so I don't see how I can even hold on anymore... Not seek some alternative that more than obfusation is a true obscurity, when I can't go on pretending that being asked to engage with the wider art world is in any way meaningful when it so much chooses to reflect what is and not what can be, what can be better.

Where you're the lover, you're the man, you've given me s little that you've got me self-policing

Delimited limitations caused by incursion from an outside world of absurd inflation

A work without specific ends but with seemingly endles means

to work and never to have

paying for what was taken indirectly from the majority, the right to live and die by one's own means and efforts

this alienated economy

beset by unrecovered losses of millenia

alternatively-viewed enterprise

labour saved until it simply is not, until it is tranformed for no real reason

but for the sake of a rationalisation competely independent of thought

how possible it had become,

it was made to the lesser impact

the undoing of the bonds of exploitation

how impossible it had becoem to see anything in any other terms

bonds as anything other than something to be traded

Where you're the lover, you're the man, you've given me s little that you've got me self-policing

I have not dealt with an institution that has not made me utterly despondent. I have watched while contemporaneously I have and I am being written out of the present, and I have comforted myself with revisionist history. Left well enough alone, alone and well enough, letting the day lie as it fell. And the day lied. Speaking to all this pettiness and my petty helplessness while witnessing a rising homelessness crisis, wondering how a woman could avoid the victimisation of an abusive partner when it has become almost impossible to rent an apartment, I have no ties and even I can't get away. No, I don't care about your art, I know what it represents, European art was ever hopelessly representational, and its aspirations aspirational and in very real terms oppositional to community and to any labour feminised and so made cheap. When I am standing in front of your art and seeing the cost of production and I am overwhelmed by that you have most certainly failed to seduce me into forgiving your complicity in this system. There are offices upon offices of those employed in the service of culture so expensive that it can have nothing to do with art. And so many work never to make anything, touch anything, or do anything in the world. If the job of an institution is presumably to institute, to make it happen, why do so many people work to do it all so expensively? S inefficiently? And you know, I used to think that when I wrote proposals, even exegeses, that if I railed against the way things were I was treating my audience with respect, unlike the contempt shown by those following the rules of professionalism, I was assuming that appealing to humanity, to everyone here who is trapped in this mindless redundancy would be seen for what it was, a gesture of good faith, but I have had too much faith in ordinary humanity.

I don't think that I have any poetry left in me.

Where you're the lover, you're the man, you've given me s little that you've got me self-policing

We speak of bodies as places of production, but the contemporary understanding of the “Western” body is not production through physicalisation where it is “content” that is created: that which is contained… not bodily but as a projection. Our body, our bodies are not contained, our physicality, our physicalities exist beyond our image. The confusion is one of referent and realisation; a theory of language could never conceive of its source. The Body Politic1 is that really there is none: there is no physical constitution of statehood, corporations do not amount to the sum of their parts, monarchs and plutocrats are not those best placed to decide the direction for and of the people. We hang onto the language of power long after all its imagery has been reduced to empty metanarratives, those Hollywood actors of similar, inoffensive ordinary handsomeness, white male artists a bit smarter than their peers expected to usher in the next movement (my bowels)... The institution playing it all out ad nauseum while the world burns...

Where you're the lover, you're the man, you've given me s little that you've got me self-policing

Zoe M. Robertson, “The Suspension of Judgement”, 2014. Chewed bread (sculpture), haidressers’ (Liga’s) mirror, red wine and bird bath. Dimensions variable. Photo by Andrew Haining. From exhibition “Human Resources” (collaboration with Andrew Haining) at 107 Projects, Redfern, 2014.