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REVIEW: EXPENSIVE DEATHSTYLE
In his new project, Santiago Vernetti invites each of us to redefine “selling out”. Repackaging commodified party culture in Los Angeles to make it appear palatable to intellectual scrutiny, Monsieur Vernetti’s images of lost children slide down our corroded psychic arteries easier than a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks.
The superficiality of a youth culture obsessed with AND TRAPPED BY an oversaturation of images, readily available for consumption, causes excessive narcissism and a preoccupation with oneself (not to mention an unpleasant feeling of self-consciousness when one realizes that one is being watched or observed, the feeling that “everyone is looking” at oneself, i.e. paranoia). This leads to a state of constant performance in the struggle to secure a public identity. Private identity has dissolved giving rise to self-branding and the art of discrimination. In laymen terms, what Facebook pictures do I choose to associate with myself? How do I craft a profile that accurately reflects the identity I am trying to sell?
But if all is performance than EDS and FB could be seen as historical documentation of a never-ending, continuous spectacle. Mr. Vernetti gives us each front row tickets to the Fall of the Times New Roman Empire. His website gives public access to a fun house of seemingly perverted mirrors. It is only after a deeper glance do we see the truth: each picture is a portrait of Dorian Gray.
Party photography on the internet as vehicle for the dissolution of celebrity // or // a hypocritical exercise that participates in the creation of celebrity albeit an illusory one // or // things I go to, and the people I see there as platform to launch a moonlighting career // or // just something to pass the time… ::Santi Vernetti::
…this time however I come as the victorious Dionysus, who will turn the world into a holiday…Not that I have much time… ::Nietzsche, Letter to Cosima Wagner::
Indeed, as reported in his mythic death/rebirth: unable to recognize himself in the vague and distorted reflection produced by the mirror, Dionysus nods his head in a vain search for his own image and identity. The Titans interpret this action, in its telling motions and gestures, as his consent to be sacrificed. They kill and dismember him, and then proceed to boil and broil his flesh. After which they party. Dismemberment can be unserstood psychologically as a transformative process. It is original unity submitting to dispersal and multiplicity for the sake of realization in spatio-temporal existence. Party Photography as a dissolution of celebrity is a psychological transformation of a non-event: The Autonomous Zone:
Stephen Pearl Andrews once offered, as an image of anarchist society, the dinner party, in which all structure of authority dissolves in conviviality and celebration… The media invite us to “come celebrate the moments of your life” with the spurious unification of commodity and spectacle, the famous non-event of pure representation. In response to this obscenity we have, on the one hand, the spectrum of refusal and on the other hand, the emergence of a festal culture removed and even hidden from the would-be managers of our leisure. “Fight for the right to party” is in fact not a parody of the radical struggle but a new manifestation of it, appropriate to an age which offers social networking sites as ways to “reach out and touch” other human beings, ways to “Be There!”
Pearl Andrews was right: the dinner party is already “the seed of the new society taking shape within the shell of the old” (IWW Preamble). The sixties-style “tribal gathering,” the forest conclave of eco-saboteurs, the idyllic Beltane of the neo-pagans, anarchist conferences, gay faery circles…Harlem rent parties of the twenties, nightclubs, banquets, old-time libertarian picnics–we should realize that all these are already “liberated zones” of a sort, or at least potential TAZs. Whether open only to a few friends, like a dinner party, or to thousands of celebrants, like a Be-In, the party is always “open” because it is not “ordered”; it may be planned, but unless it “happens” it’s a failure. The element of spontaneity is crucial.
The essence of the party: face-to-face, a group of humans synergize their efforts to realize mutual desires, whether for good food and cheer, dance, conversation, the arts of life; perhaps even for erotic pleasure, or to create a communal artwork, or to attain the very transport of bliss– in short, a “union of egoists” (as Stirner put it) in its simplest form–or else, in Kropotkin’s terms, a basic biological drive to “mutual aid.”
::Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.::
Primitive / Occult Revival in Modern Æsthetics
What is clear now is that the West’s fascination with the primitive has to do with its own crises in identity, with its own need to clearly demarcate subject and object even while flirting with other ways of experiencing the universe. ::Bell Hooks::
We find ourselves in an uncertain state. We seek structure and security. This mediated world increasingly produces feelings of alienation and loss. In our desperate attempt to understand our own nature, we seek the company of others. Obsessed with the material reality of the flesh we long to touch one another. The intimacy once conferred by community and religion in tribal life has dissolved into a state metaphysical restlessness. We travel from city to city but all is the same. Italo Calvino recognizes that, “arriving in each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.” What we look for is value and meaning. “What is the meaning of life?” The question cannot be answered in this form because it confuses objective, abstract meaning with subjective, living meaning. In this case, it is an actual or possible derivation from sentience, which is not associated with signs that have any original or primary intent of communication. Occult imagery, with its emphasis on the unknowable and its use of highly potent symbols allows exploration without limitations.