Umělec magazine 2006/1 >> "The powers of transparency" vs "the shadows cast by reality" List of all editions.
"The powers of transparency"  vs  "the shadows cast by reality"
Umělec magazine
Year 2006, 1
6,50 EUR
Send the printed edition:
Order subscription

"The powers of transparency" vs "the shadows cast by reality"

Umělec magazine 2006/1


Solvej Helweg Ovesen | box | en cs

“Illegal Speech, Illegal City” was a boxing-match surrounding the conditions of cultural production conceived by the US artist, Ross Cisneros, for the opening of the 9th Baltic Triennial, Blackmarket Worlds (BMW), CAC, Vilnius, 9.24. 2005.1
“Illegal Speech, Illegal City” offered —apart from an exciting bout of boxing — a series of statements covering the topic of cultural production in between the twilight zones of the “powers of transparency” and “shadows cast by reality.” The speeches discussing the borders of licit and illicit activities in the city of Vilnius, “an old city in the new Europe,” were put forward by the two thinkers, Normunds Kozlovs (a Latvian sociologist) and Gintautas Mazeikis (a Lithuanian philosopher). “Illegal Speech, Illegal City” was a performance of right-hooks and word creation, in an atmosphere of aggression and tension— the rawness of capitalism developing in the gloomy underworld of Post-Soviet Lithuania.
The boxing game was fought by artists who trained for one month, Ross Cisneros and Mindaugas Lukosaitis, with accompaniment by the Belarusian drum troupe, Drum Ecstasy. The three strong group performed adjacent to the boxing ring, stimulating the game with their vociferous intensity, which roused the audience surrounding the ring, and got the blood of the boxers pumping.
“Illegal Speech, Illegal City” epitomized central issues of this year’s Baltic Triennial, which was an exhibition held “against consumerism,” and which in many ways also formed a critique of the “powers of transparency,” understood as a tool of democratic control, one that demands access to every social activity through its symbolic representation. Why? How?

“Illegal Speech”

In between the boxing-rounds, the speakers, Kozlovs and Mazeikis — both specialists in transformation issues within the Baltic countries — stepped into the ring, one after the other. Their critique firmly hit home as the thinking-fighters flew into the ring to create the flux of the slugfest. Drums then relayed over “illegal speech,” as words were resurrected to circumvent the battered bodies...
What is illegal today in terms of exchange of goods, words, and actions in Lithuania? In the second half of the game, Gintautas Mazeikis, perspicuously stated some hard facts: “Today, there are unwelcome activities in Lithuania comprising many areas of criminality, from smuggling and human trafficking (mostly women) to the confusion of public and private interests and the mysterious mafia. […] Unauthorized norms include corruption, maintaining clan relationships, local alcoholic customs, criminal convicts and drug addicts. Displaced faith and rituals include all non-Christian occult rituals and ceremonies, shamanist trances and divination rites. Finally, the most prohibited activity is the instigation of revolution.”2
Looking at what is defined as “unwelcome and prohibited activities,” in a state, is the opposite of asking what is legal? Asking what are the “unauthorized norms” brings you to mention the unmentionable: the illicit habits of a culture. Mapping shadows and borders of a governing state ideology, “the legal symbolic order” reveals two systems that constitute each other (licit and illicit). It also reveals a dialectic that a state in political transformation creates with history (“most prohibited activity is the instigation of revolution”). On another level the “illegal speech” acts revealed how customs of cultural production and distribution change, as a result of political transition. Mazeikis describes an example of how a certain black market phenomena like film piracy contributed to a small cinematic revolution as follows:
“In the 1990s, it was possible to purchase all software and audio and video in Lithuanian markets. Ultimately, film piracy contributed to non-profitable old-fashioned Soviet cinemas changing their activities or going bankrupt. This stimulated the spread of new audio-digital equipment and instigated the development of multifunctional small cinema theaters and new ways of watching videos.”3
Following this line of argument, the black market has been a base for self-organization, distribution, for seizing possibilities, as well as acting as a site of freedom for cultural producers in Lithuania. But it is a risk to merely romanticize the black market. For the local culture scene, as to the outside world, the reflection of the base of cultural production in relation to ideological concepts governing the production apparatus is a relevant exercise. Therefore, the critical discourse on the “powers of transparency”, which as a concept refers to the abstract, democratic “control tool,” is an accomplishment of both this “boxing-lecture,” as well as this year’s Baltic Triennial. To pursue transparency as a utopian concept, a concept that for a long time has also penetrated institutions, language and subjects in “old Europe” and which has now become normalized in these part of the world, is an interesting contribution to the discourse of varying kinds of civil surveillance. Normunds Kozlov argues at one point:
“(The) European model of the welfare state as the social contract between labor and capital does not work in the East: it appears in the legislation without an implementation. Such model implies responsible egalitarianism and the inclusion of every sector of society in the public via indoctrination of inner discipline for participatory common reason. Eastern Europe on the contrary in reality is adapting the American way, letting the market decide who is eligible for participation (…)”4
Considering the cultural producers in Post-Soviet countries, this statement seems to explain both a dependency and creative freedom that they have enjoyed in relation to their own thinking and doing. On the other hand, it explains the harsh and – to the welfare states incomparable — forms “autonomous” and “liberal” markets take in the Post-Soviet counties. Eventually, “illegal speech” make transparent the necessary dialectic and parallels between old and new economic realities, the need of shadows and the existence of non-symbolic, unrepresented reality for the sphere of cultural production. “The symbolic world does not reflect all the possibilities of the shadow cast by reality,” as Gintautas Mazeikis puts it.

Win Win

“Illegal Speech, Illegal City” played with the fact that sport, as such, is often seen as a major marker of national identity and mentality. Throughout the boxing-match the American, Ross Cisneros, aggressively attacked his Lithuanian rival, who took up the defensive when being stalked around the ring for the first few rounds. The fatigue did not seem to effect him, and Lukosaitis, the Lithuanian, persisted. Whilst grappling he almost knocked out Cisneros. This, unfortunately, seemed to wake-up the American, who while getting agitated, had let down his defenses. While Cisneros gained respect, maintaining sharp reactions throughout the rounds, Lukosaitis appeared to build up aggression, which he released in precise and dangerous blows in the last rounds. Eventually, at the end of the fight, the rules of the match, the competition and national projections were “dissolved” as the judge declared a win-win situation.
Will the future game of art only be about removing ourselves from the symbolic order, erasing information instead of accumulating symbolic capital? That, it seems, is one of the ways to avoid being consumed…

1 Blackmarket Worlds was curated by Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy (NY), Raimundas Malasauskas (LT) and Alexis Vaillant (F) and took place 9.23 - 11.20.2005.
2 Gintautas Mazeikis, ‘Illegal Speech, Illegal City”, CAC 9.24.05. Text also published in the weird but true book, “Twilight Zones: Between the Legal Symbolic Order and Illegal Reflections of Reality”, Revolver, 2005, p. 134.
3 Ibid, p. 135.
4 Normunds Kozlov, excerpt of lecture ‘Illegal Speech, Illegal City’, CAC 24.9.05



There are currently no comments.

Add new comment

Recommended articles

There’s 130 kilos of fat, muscles, brain & raw power on the Serbian contemporary art scene, all molded together into a 175-cm tall, 44-year-old body. It’s owner is known by a countless number of different names, including Bamboo, Mexican, Groom, Big Pain in the Ass, but most of all he’s known as MICROBE!… Hero of the losers, fighter for the rights of the dispossessed, folk artist, entertainer…
Intoxicated by Media Déjà-vu / Notes on Oliver Pietsche"s Image Strategy Intoxicated by Media Déjà-vu / Notes on Oliver Pietsche"s Image Strategy
Goff & Rosenthal gallery, Berlin, November 18 - December 30, 2006 Society permanently renegotiates the definition of drugs and our relationship towards them. In his forty-five minute found-footage film The Conquest of Happiness, produced in 2005, Oliver Pietsch, a Berlin-based video artist, demonstrates which drugs society can accommodate, which it cannot, and how the story of the drugs can be…
Nick Land – An Experiment in Inhumanism Nick Land – An Experiment in Inhumanism
Nick Land was a British philosopher but is no longer, though he is not dead. The almost neurotic fervor with which he scratched at the scars of reality has seduced more than a few promising academics onto the path of art that offends in its originality. The texts that he has left behind are reliably revolting and boring, and impel us to castrate their categorization as “mere” literature.
An unsuccessful co-production An unsuccessful co-production
If you know your way around, you might discover that every month and maybe even every week you stand the chance to receive money for your cultural project. Successful applicants have enough money, average applicants have enough to keep their mouths shut, and the unsuccessful ones are kept in check by the chance that they might get lucky in the future. One natural result has been the emergence of…
27.07.2014 19:39
Where to go next?
out - archeology
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
Josef Jindrák
Who is S.d.Ch? A person of many interests, active in various fields—literature, theater—known for his comics and collages in the art field. A poet and playwright foremost. A loner by nature and determination, his work doesn’t meet the current trends. He always puts forth personal enunciation, although its inner structure can get very complicated. It’s pleasant that he is a normal person and a…
out - poetry
THC Review and the Condemned Past
THC Review and the Condemned Past
Ivan Mečl
We are the fifth global party! Pítr Dragota and Viki Shock, Fragmenty geniality / Fragments of Charisma, May and June 1997. When Viki came to visit, it was only to show me some drawings and collages. It was only as an afterthought that he showed me the Czech samizdat publication from the late 1990s, THC Review. When he saw how it fascinated me, he panicked and insisted that THAT creation is…
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
birthing pains
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Zuzana Štefková
Expanding the definition of “mother” is also a space for reducing pressure and for potential liberation.1 Carol Stabile The year was 2003, and in the deep forests of Lapák in the Kladno area, a woman in the later phase of pregnancy stopped along the path. As part of the “Artists in the Woods” exhibit, passers-by could catch a glimpse of her round belly, which she exposed especially for them in…
Books, video, editions and artworks that might interest you Go to e-shop
From series of rare photographs never released before year 2012. Signed and numbered Edition. Photography on 1cm high white...
More info...
220 EUR
The volume year contains 7 issues. The magazine is in Czech language and has an English conclusion.
More info...
11 EUR
Limited edition of 10. Size 100 x 70 cm. Black print on durable white foil.
More info...
75 EUR
Toxic Pfarding, 1995, acrylic painting on paper, 33 x 21 cm, framed
More info...
470 EUR


Divus and its services

Studio Divus designs and develops your ideas for projects, presentations or entire PR packages using all sorts of visual means and media. We offer our clients complete solutions as well as all the individual steps along the way. In our work we bring together the most up-to-date and classic technologies, enabling us to produce a wide range of products. But we do more than just prints and digital projects, ad materials, posters, catalogues, books, the production of screen and space presentations in interiors or exteriors, digital work and image publication on the internet; we also produce digital films—including the editing, sound and 3-D effects—and we use this technology for web pages and for company presentations. We specialize in ...

Citation of the day. Publisher is not liable for any mental and physical states which may arise after reading the quote.

Enlightenment is always late.
CONTACTS AND VISITOR INFORMATION The entire editorial staff contacts

Arch 8, Resolution Way, Deptford
London SE8 4NT, United Kingdom

Open Wednesday to Saturday 12 - 6 pm


Office: +44 (0) 20 8692 5157

Ivan Mečl, +44 (0) 7526 902 082


Shop, +44 (0) 20 8692 5157

Former papermill area, Nádražní 101
252 46 Vrané nad Vltavou, Czech Republic, +420 602 269 888

Open from Wednesday to Sunday between 11am to 6pm. From 15.12. to 15.1. only on appointment.


Potsdamer Str. 161, 10783 Berlin, Germany, +49 (0) 1512 9088 150
Open Wednesday to Saturday 2 - 7 pm



Divus New book by I.M.Jirous in English at our online bookshop.