As part of the RE:PUBLIC exhibition taking place at TBGS my class and I have been roped into staging our Politics of Participation classes in the window of said gallery for four weeks now. It has not been a particularly pleasant experience and though well intentioned, having class in a window does not bring you any closer to the mythical public. If anything, once situated in the window the window becomes more of a barrier than it ever had been, indeed its all you remain aware of. But I’m not here to criticise the premise of such a venture; it certainly meant well and perhaps why there was so much ill-feeling towards it was because it held a deeply utopian hope; that is, if we have class in a window no one (outside) will feel intimidated to join us and we’ll all just have a great time talking about Derrida. Obviously naive but what’s the harm in that??? As an exercise it interests me. How can we construct utopian ideals through art if this failed? I mean ‘utopian’ in the loosest sense here, in the way that all art is capable of appealing to our better side though its’ means may differ widely. Subjectively speaking perhaps this is always the case. However once this gets marketed at a ‘public’ cracks begin to appear, how do you market utopia for the multitude? As we noticed with our four week stay at TBGS, our activities were not dependent on those of the public- we managed fine without a noticeable non-ACW presence. And they also managed just fine without coming to discuss Derrida, or Chantal Mouffe for that matter.
And so in protest, on our final day in attendence at TBGS we left the wooden tiered seating behind us for the very last time and went to the pub (to continue our discussion). In The Politics of Friendship Derrida talks about a collective idealism concerning the notion of friendship which demands that we admit ‘there is no friend’. Possibly in the same way, through an idealism concerning the construct of the ‘public’ we thus collectively had to admit that there is no such thing.No friendship either. Bit of a grim day.