Aleksandra Mir

Communism

Art Monthly, #284, London, March 2005
By JJ Charlesworth

Communism
20 Jan - 12 Mar 2005
Project Art Space, Temple Bar, 39 East Essex Street, Dublin - Ireland

In 1902 Lenin published What is to be done? , a rallying call to the growing Russian social-democratic movement and also a fierce and provocatively practice, party organization, and the relationship between a revolutionary party and the broader mass of working people: all at a moment when there was everything to play for in the struggle to overthrow the Tsarist state. A century later, and a common reply to Lenin's dead injunction might be, 'we're not sure, but we might make more art'.
Project's curator Grant Watson has commissioned an ambitious exhibition of new work that attempts to give shape to today's confused relation to radical politics and the possibility of social exchange. However, because artists are often no clearer than anyone else on such questions, a presentation of artworks commissioned in response to the term 'communism' is bound to be an uneven, fractured thing. If Lenin's What is to be done? Was the opening for an unequivocal setting-out of a strict agenda towards a clear political goal, today the question vibrates with uncertainly and contradiction.
'Communism' is wise to this, recognizing that this term in particular contains all the debilitating loss of certainty over the means an ends of communism that, for those in the West, erupted with the events of May 68 and continued to unravel until the end of the Soviet Union two decades later. The responses to questions of collective action and desired outcome are in this exhibition of a humbler, localized and more playful tone, not requiring too much or too many. ...
In such an impasse, melancholy is inevitable, as in Aleksandra Mir's reworking of Dubliner Jim Fitzpatrick's famous poster of Che Guevara, the faded optimism of every 60s student dorm amended with the equally faded image of that triumph of white heat technology, the now defunct Concorde. ...