Essay: Unsovereignty

 Steven Parrino, Spin-Out Vortex 2, 2000, enamel on canvas, 182 x 182 cm

Everywhere is under lockdown. Nobody knows how things will look on the other side, but for the foreseeable future the travelling circus of the international art world has closed up shop. So, time to think about what a new constitution of art might be like if we toss out established ideas about art’s relationship to the political. Maybe then we can finally begin to imagine the eclipse of liberal values and tell the fable of our unsovereign lives.

… Maybe it’s an unwarranted leap over a practical, emotional response to the current COVID-19 lockdown and the surrounding aura of panic, but the whole situation of late – read: avoiding contact with strangers, sudden decrees that give off notes of authoritarianism, etc. – has me thinking about my own fixation on the subject and its borders in a different light, through the framework of sovereignty. The interlocking, at times wholly conflicting, sovereignty of nations amid a global health crisis and the economic one to follow; the sovereignty of individual states and regions, of metropolises like New York City; the sovereignty of the subjects blithely traversing them; and the sovereignty of subjects who purport to traverse them slightly less blithely: artists. …

– This text appears in Spike #63. You can buy it in our online shop –