Control, Control, Control

Inspiration for decorating those bland dorm room walls

Inspiration for decorating those bland dorm room walls

” These are the societies of control, which are in the process of replacing disciplinary societies. ‘Control’ is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future.” (Deleuze 1)

This ominous quote by Deleuze of Borroughs caught my attention and made me ponder my very existence or at the very least my ecology of artists who display and sell their artworks on the street. In what ways do we think these artists are subject to these societies of control that Deleuze states is ever present? On the one hand, we think, hey yeah these artists are bohemian they don’t follow any rules. These artists are free to draw as they like, display as they like, do as they like much like an artistic Charlie Sheen or maybe just a sane Charlie Sheen. On the other hand, we question if they are not just part of some large conspiracy of homeless street artist network looking to con doe-eyed tourists into shelling out cold hard cash. It turns out that these street artists dwell in both these societies in varying degrees.

On West 4th street near the basketball courts made famous by riotous b-ball showdowns and unusual appearances of Chris Brown. These is an woman named Joanne who sells graphically designed shirts that she conceptualized, designed, and and created herself.  Heidegger would say that this is her “genuine thinking” at work, that her thinking of these artwork concepts was the connection into bring forth the thinginess of things or rather bringing the beingness of being (Heidegger XIV). After speaking with Joanne it seemed that she was not necessarily part of the disciplinary society that Deleuze describes as an enclosure that imposes on the individual a set of rules. Joanne describes how she displays in a variety of locations including Times Square, various retail stores, and pop up galleries to name a few. yet, interestingly this does not preclude Joanne from Deleuze’s description of a society of control. Joanne’s work is part of a larger initiative on her part to raise money for her organization Dream Society Foundation who partners with Graine De Bitume, a humanitarian society that brings arts education to rural communities in madagascar. Joanne spoke to be about the need to raise money for both her clothing company and the organization. Deleuze posits that the distinction between both the two types of society may be the monetary system itself that subscribe to. It is in this way that these street artists are anchored down from simply doing as they choose. For as Deleuze describes these individuals are no longer “discontinuous producers” but rather bound to “orbit a continuous network” (Deleuze 2).

Sentenced to life under payroll

Sentenced to life under payroll

It will be interesting to see in what varying degrees each street artist will be bound to societies of control. There must be artists out there who more concerned with pursuing their interests in art outside of the looming veil of profits and revenues.  In a sense at these individuals are not so much masses as Deleuze describes or even appendages of a machine as Karl Marx even more darkly presumes. Rather these street artists do in fact exert a level of autonomy unlike what is regularly experienced in controlled and regulated world of gallery art.

Evan Lin


~ by evnlin on September 24, 2013.

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