This is the first issue of the magazine Parasite Art. This magazine was founded to investigate the emergence of a new artistic form that follows the aspect of parasitism in its strategy and practice. Parasite Art, as introduced in this magazine, expands into a variety of fields and uses a range of strategies. With this issue, we want to start a journey of new discourse and exploration.
The starting point of this magazine was my own artistic practice, where I explored various aspects and tactics that were often difficult to describe through the theoretical approaches I found amongst the vast canon of aesthetic theory. Consequently, this first issue is mostly based on the reflection about my last artistic intervention Penthaus à la Parasit and a big proportion of it revolves around my personal bias and interests – However, I hope that the inclusion of various authors widens this personal vision.
Another aspect and motivation for this magazine is to analyse the artistic practice of activists and show not only how parasitic strategies can work within this field, but how Parasite Art can also be a reflection ground for this.
Finally, this magazine is an attempt to produce knowledge out of artistic practice. It is too often the case that there are no resources available to reflect, structure and systemize artistic experiences and the work you have done. This magazine, therefore, is a starting process of artistic research addressing the phenomenon of Parasite Art.
As we will discover in this magazine, Parasite Art acts as a parallel to its given systems and a phenomenon of borders. It bridges and brakes the dialectic of hegemonic orders simultaneously. It lives from the host, and of the host. It affirms and destroys. This paradoxical situation is the starting point of this magazine.
Parasite Art leaves behind the endless discussion between the traditional aesthetic concept of the autonomy of art and its claim for an emancipatory practice through social and political engagement. It seems obvious that artistic value, which used to be determined by the artist’s formal and aesthetic decisions, is increasingly identified by its social value, which is determined by political and ideological decisions. However, the Parasite aesthetics does not want to favor these positions. Instead, it takes these categories as a material to work with.
The Magazine chose the term Parasite Art in reference to different practical experiences and theoretical thought. First of all, the term refers to the french philosopher Michel Serres and his book “The Parasite,” published in 1982, which defines the parasite as a social phenomenon and unfolds a communication theory that builds on information and irritation.
With its irrational DNA, Parasite Art also refers to Chantal Mouffe and Oliver Marchart, who see the creation of conflict and counter-hegemonic methods within artistic practice. The magazine Parasite Art wants to explore the new ways in dealing with the concept of audience, the autonomy of art and the questions surrounding counter-hegemony.
The magazine is divided into two sections – but it also grapples with other genres in between. After introducing a portrait of the parasite and its emerging history, the first part of the magazine focuses on the political and activistic aspects of Parasite Art. Starting with the gap between activism and art, the author Carlotta Wald elaborates on the ambivalenz of social practice and how the Penthaus is on the edge of 1) being only a symbolic intervention or part of the service industry which replaces the state, or 2) actually supporting an exchange of knowledge and cultural transformation.
Kollektiv Raumstation evaluates the lack of participation in the project and questions the symbiosis of art and activism by highlighting the difficulty of individual authorship. The text Parasite Strategies talks about the experiences of the artistic intervention of the Penthaus à la Parasite and structures its core strategies which might be used for other activist and artistic interventions in the future.
Elisa Bertuzzo writes a letter to the artist, where she reflects on appropriation and the parasite as a political strategy. She talks about the singularity and the similarity of the supposefully counter-hegemonic and anticapitalist practice of the parasite and shows its similarities to neoliberal tactics. She suggests an expansion to the term symbiosis or more precisely, holobionts – which means “entire beings”. She introduces the holobionts as a way of breaking with the concept of singularity and she describes a vision of vibrant assemblages with other holobionts which cohabit and work collaboratively.
Alexander Sacharow finally analyses the pragmatic political effect of the Penthaus à la Parasit. Thereby he focuses on three analytical aspects: The parasitic agenda setting, the parasite influence of decisions and the parasitic incubation of networks.
In the second part of the magazine, rather than focus on its political and social implications, the aesthetical and philosophical questions of Parasite Art are discussed.
The focus essay of this magazine suggests a definition of Parasite Aesthetics based on four categories: Parallel Practice, the Production of Irritation, the Pick-up Audience and the Aesthetic of the Border. The article claims that Parasite Art has to be seen as relational and not materialized as an art object due to the fact that the relational context of an artwork always changes. Parasite Art does not fit as a label for artworks.
The following articles expand into a variety of fields: The parallelism of parasitic and queer practice is first highlighted by the art historian Tonia Andresen with a focus on the `in between‘ acting ground of queer and parasitic practice that have a tendency to irritate the given order. Both concepts have been viewed as ‘negative terms’ which escape from all clear definitions of binary logic and dissenting opinion.
The cultural scientist Nikolas Egberts calls counter-speculation as the opportunity to introduce uncertainty and therefore he sees it as a possibility to break the expectation of probability (speculation) in terms of exchange value. Opening situations of uncertainty is part of every parasitic practice because it operates with the unseen, the unknown and the disorder.
The sociologist Nina Tessa Zahner talks about the “Quasi Objekt” which represents the network of the situatedness and expands in-between materiality and discourse. The Quasi Object can escape the singular intervention by bridging, for example, the housing situation of different economic and political contexts.
Judith Siegmund elaborates on the „Bespielen der Grenze“ (playing of the border) and makes the argument that an emancipatory practice won´t be any more the attitute of ‚fuck you‘, but rather the purposeful concern.
The article of the political philosopher and aesthetic theorist Marina Martinez Marteo introduces parasitism in terms of Gegen/Wohnen (Counter/Habiting). She unfolds the thought that the parasite has to be a critical intervention in the closed space of home. This means that the normative reproducing space of the closed home becomes the target of parasitic practice. Therefore, she claims Gegen/Wohnen (counter/living) as an interesting search for new forms of cohabiting.
The artist Rafaella Constantinou speaks about Parasite Art as a juxtaposition between art and activism and elaborates on the paranthesis between these two poles. She then expands to her title Para-citing the civic which installs fluidity and ambiguity as an important aspect of Parasite Art.
In this first issue, the magazine focuses on the aesthetics of Parasite Art and proposes a new concept of Parasite Aesthetic. It observes the phenomenon of the parasite in its visual, philosophical and strategic levels and as an opening for discourse and discussion rather than a ready made concept. Despite this, I am nevertheless happy to be able to present this first issue and would like to thank all contributors and collaborators. It was great to work together and I am looking forward to future discussions. As a final note, it is worth mentioning that the first issue of Parasite Art is bilingual because the intervention took place in Germany and many authors are native german speakers.
Jakob Wirth – Editor