Juan Francisco Maldonado


There is this beautiful tale by Thomas De Quincey called “Of Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts”. If we spoke in terms of what happens in art today, we might not be so worried about the tag “fine” on it (“it” being artistic murder), without which, some of the ironic taste of the phrase would be lost. And yet, murder could be considered as one of the possible platforms in which art can be produced, if we think with (I think it is) Deleuze, that art’s aim is to produce new (or at least different) experiences. Apart from the obvious legal issues, there is yet a little obstacle to make that kind of art, and that is imposition. A form of art that bases its modes of production in imposition or produces it in any way supports a totalitarian politics implicitly. In the current times, in this contemporary society, that cannot be accepted. There, an apparent contradiction lays, and so, I reformulate: Art’s aim is to produce the possibilities for new experiences, but the experience itself can only be produced by the relation between that possibility and an active participation of the spectator. All forms of murder, even, so to say, “consensual” murder, are, in the very core of the action, an imposition.

But suicide, instead… Suicide is to self-portrait what murder could no be to a way of art. A question left: self-imposition? For you to decide; perhaps a “self-imposition” is not inherently political, since it (obviously) does not (inherently) involve others.

If we think of our identity as something multiple, shifty, un-unanimous, product of external and always partial processes of subjectification instead of thinking about it as a subject by itself, the classical concept of a self-portrait is an impossible task, except in the frame of a prefabricated mask built in representation. There, the portrait would be the mask of a mask.

Perhaps death is our only “ontological certainty”, as it were; and therefore, the only moment when we could think of identity as such. Being conscious of the production of it, and further, actually producing it ourselves could give our “being moment” not only the flashing light of what any death is by itself, but also an unfolding presence of a being, being presented independently of representation. A selfportrait in flesh, in the words of Bowie. If we accept these ideas, the only possibility we have to practice the self-portrait is, inevitably, suicide.


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