Aesthetics in the Post-pandemic Times

/, Literature, Blesok no. 136/Aesthetics in the Post-pandemic Times

Aesthetics in the Post-pandemic Times

In the simulation, the CAPS virus – which he describes as a cousin of SARS, “but somewhat more transmissible like the flu and somewhat more deadly” – is presented as resistant to any existing vaccine. The scenario continues to develop as follows: Scientists are rapidly looking for a vaccine, but in the meantime, citizens have rebelled.

 “That scenario, is extremely realistic”- said Dr. Eric Toner from Hopkins University – “We don’t have a vaccine against SARS, MERS, or the various bird flu viruses that have emerged in the last decade. That’s because vaccine development is slow and difficult if there is no immediate market for it.” – said Eric Toner. In the simulation, the fictional coronavirus resulted in the deaths of 65 million people within 18 months – surpassing the deadliest pandemic in history, the 1918 Spanish flu.

To date, 10 months since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have about 60 million infected and about million and a half of the dead.

Let me go back to my starting question: “Is there a profit in creating a catastrophe? when there was no profit in disaster prevention? This time – take a look at recent artistic and performance interventions.

Aesthetics in the pandemic world is necessarily the ethics of a new kind of engagement that goes from a “quarantine diary” to a street protest and its main topic is how to bring the word into the media space of the post-pandemic world and how to fight for freedom of speech?

We ask ourselves: What draws people out of isolation to the square? Are we witnessing the bloody return of “old” themes of class, racial and gender struggle?

The Moscow metro asked police to investigate an incident involving “pranksters” who filmed a “prank” (hidden camera) about passengers’ reactions to sick Asians and people in protective suits.

The coronavirus outbreak has triggered a wave of “social experiments,” as Russian bloggers like to call their “prank” videos. The Pranksters, of course, caused controversy on the public sphere: some people claimed the videos were silly way to exploit an unfortunate situation, while others thought it was fun.

Almost no one remembered to think about whether there was a message in the prank; an incentive for those who take everything for granted to finally start thinking.

The pre-corporate web is gone, and the mechanisms of subversion have changed alongside the alternative culture styles, and practices of engaging the audience in disrupting institutional and hegemonic orders. The paradox is in the fact that  public perception of (h)activists still depends to a large extent on the news-narrative constructed by news outlets owned by large media corporations. There are several strategies that attempt to minimize the effect of counter-hegemonic discourse ranging from re-appropriation of originally subversive ideas by mainstream media to labeling (h)activists as vandals and terrorists because they communicate with their public through “staged disruption”.

Culture jammers of the “post-truth” times (those that resisted the financial lure of the world of viral marketing) are perceived as representatives of the “toxic prank culture”, but what is even more devastating, they could no longer count on the minimum of civic intelligence necessary for an average citizen to understand the prank. The biggest enemy of h(activism) is not the fact that Internet is no longer as free as it used to be; we see it more in that “feel-good-deceitfulness” related to the concept of Infotainment promoted by mainstream media, but also by governmentally subsidized public TV services.

Direct democracy, self-organization, cultural “counter-projects” in the post- industrial world, the impact of the counter-public sphere on the practice of democracy – these are some indicators of change. On the other hand, we have different symptomatology: non-political forms of networking resulting in a myriad of groups concentrated solely and exclusively on issues of their primary interest.

The concept of the unitary World, paradoxically, becomes illusive with greater online access to information. Our world – as Lippmann said – gets out of reach, out of sight and out of mind.

It is said that three times repeated lie becomes the truth. Then how come a hundred times repeated Inconvenient Truth, by some miracle, never gets accepted as such in a society like ours?


Sibila Petlevski
In Zagreb, November 27th 2020

AuthorSibila Petlevski
2021-04-03T19:31:05+00:00 March 31st, 2021|Categories: Essays, Literature, Blesok no. 136|0 Comments