They Shoot Horses, Dont They?

Marathon Addiction



The term marathon mostly appears in connection with curatorial and artistic formats characterised by a specific temporal mode, extra long duration stretched in hours, days, weeks or even months. (1) Also typical is the inner structure consisting of a self-imposed set of rules and bound to prolonged timing, creating a test of endurance and concentration for the participants and for the audience. Often set in unresolved oppositions between the staged and improvisational, constructed and real, marathon brings interdependent states of restlessness and lassitude, astonishment and numbness on the scene, (2) which can be seen as ambiguous corollary of contemporary obsessions with productivity.

Perturbing commonsense of appropriate behaviour, it exists as a flow of paradoxes on cultural, social and temporal conventions, focusing on the interplay between regulation techniques and our subjugation to them. In the age of multitasking and hyper speed, in which the notions of persistence, patience and duration become obsolete, the insistence on selected activities and long duration appears maddening. Because of the abundance of time, marathon formats are out of grasp to some point, motivating questions and imagination what actually happens, what is consumed or missed during the event, and also, what can be later reconstructed on grounds of video-, audio-, photo- and textual documentation.

They seem characteristic of diverse trends in contemporary culture, race with time and struggle for time, reflection on overproduction and commodification, inquiry on subordination and empowerment, regulation and freedom to act. Seen as disruption in symbolic norms and discourses of political or socio-economical power, marathons resemble modes of civil disobedience and collective protests in the form of sit-ins that deriving from the sixties recently gained a global prominence in mass demonstrations. The sense of collective connection of formerly unknown people and the immediate temporal experience that sometimes creates estranging effects of intimacy and warping of time are similarly described in both formats. (3)

In the art field, marathons often emerge as test sites of the individual and social body, its supports and bonds, shedding light on subjection processes and power inequities inscribed in subject’s positions and relations. (4) In this respect they are related to endurance and body art practices, making vulnerability of performers and oddity of tasks and actions palpable, but they are deprived of the heroic and cathartic overtones characteristic for early performance art. (5) Rather than using body primarily as an object, they stress it as an intermediary towards the spectator. Moreover, their prolonged timing imbues them with a quality of life. It enables overlapping of art, life and work processes, where the time of work’s realisation and the time of its reception collide. This suggests a performative turn toward life, its procedural and relational expressions. (6) The protagonists are exposed in an anti-idealistic way, distanced from the elitist and paternalistic connotations of the art world and more closely connected to the everyday.

Both cases in study, the curatorial activities by Hans Ulrich Obrist – the marathon series started in 2005, and the artistic work by Tehching Hsieh – durational performances, made between 1978 and 2000, are unprecedented works of this kind. Highly demanding, at the time of their emergence standing in contrast to the social and cultural standards, they experiment with modes of temporality, expressions of real time and lived experience, albeit through different perspectives and in different ways. Through rigorous acts of self-affirmation and self-negation, T. Hsieh tackles existential questions, exploring the possibility of freedom in art and life and potential of blurring the structural distinctions between the two domains. The system of rules and psycho-physical difficulty to perform them are pushed to the edge, rendering coercive powers in the interspaces of the individual and social. Hsieh’s work is highly embedded within his position as an illegal immigrant, coming from Taiwan to USA in 1974 and not gaining legal status until 1988. His performances, mostly realised without audience existed at the edge of public visibility, and wider media and professional attention came quite recently. (7) On the other side, H. U. Obrist begins his marathon series as an already known figure in the international art world, becoming prominent through his ongoing interview series and open exhibition model, do it. (8) In contrast to Hsieh’s solitary duration, marked by withdrawal from institutional support and visibility on the scene, Obrist’s discursively directed Marathons, engaging a sheer of prominent professionals, are not imaginable without the institutional setting and public view.

Both cases are not analysed in regard to the specificity of their concepts, but rather in reference to the peculiarities of their temporal structure and means of expression, and in doing so in a wider context of performing the symptoms of contemporary culture bound on the notion of self-governmentality and its twisted states of self-exploitation and self-affirmation. In this respect, the presence of marathons in the creative industry, and connotations of the format in popular culture, should also be mentioned. Mainly known as a competitive activity in sports, placing the body under extreme exertion in order to bring down new records, the marathon enters wider prominence in late twenties. In the field of mass culture the notorious embodiment of the marathon are marathon dances of the Great Depression, an American phenomenon of the twenties and thirties, described in the novel They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1935) and later recaptured in the film of the same title (1969) (9) Its contemporary equivalents can be found in various TV offers and Internet services, like reality series and survival shows, primarily reinforcing their entertaining and tuning function, staged between real life and its simulation. (10) Often discredited as stultifying and empty, the marathon is seen as a sort of doping for numerous spectators, a seductive extension of mediated time offering handy impressions of free choice and unlimited possibilities. The protagonists appear in the double role of actors and puppets. They accept a previously structured and restricted set of rules in order to expose themselves to higher and harsher demands and make anything necessary to partake in the promised, symbolic or actual profit.

A marathon seen as unquestioned obedience to the socio-economic and cultural imperative, (11) to the self-generating loops of production and consumption and the constant rhythms of pressure, seems to be a modus operandi migrating into larger spheres of life. It resembles the mode of the self chosen precarization, (12) in which one believes that she / he masters her / his own relations but actually just contributes to the reproduction of conditions of neoliberal political and economic system. “This situation of self-precarization is connected to experiences of fear and loss of control, feelings of insecurity through the loss of certainties and safeguards, as well as fear and the experience of failure, social decline and poverty. Also for these reasons, ‘letting go’ or forms of dropping out and dropping off of hegemonic paradigms are difficult. Everyone has to remain “on speed” otherwise you might fall out. There are no clear times for relaxation or recuperation. This kind of reproduction has no clear place, which, in turn, results in an unfulfilled yearning and a continuous suffering from this lack. The desire for relaxation to “find oneself” becomes insatiable. These kinds of reproductive practices usually have to be learned anew. They are lacking in any self-evidence and have to be fought for bitterly against oneself and others.” (13)

In alignment with this reading originates the question whether marathon formats in the art field can be considered a possible way of undoing the time imposed by the capitalist interest, its privilege and our disciplined responses. Focusing on the internal sense of time, which (…) does not originate in objects but in ourselves, in how we experience being alive, (14) marathons might offer a critical agency, exposing the normative conditioning of social bonds and questioning the desirable matrix of self behaviour.


1. Durational Aesthetics and the Time Machine


1.1. Put the Authority of Time on Hold

Digital technology and the Internet can be used as a reference point for shifts occurring in the last two decades and affecting a larger social sphere. Its fast evolution reflects the multiple identity’s parts and its interconnectedness, continuously re-established in various virtual spaces and within the currently prevalent working mode of 24/7. Moreover, the digital context mirrors a modification of attention ability, replacement of the bodily contact with the domain of technical image, alteration of sociality, transformation of time and linear thought, signalling the crisis in the ways we perceive the passing of actual time. (15) The capitalist regulation enabled by the consolidation of clock time in the period of industrialisation, subjecting human time to definitive and homogenising measure, is in the post-industrial age gripped by the digital meta-narrative that operates at all times without interruption. (16)

This subordination masked behind the image of technological progress, works in the service of privileged interest groups and economic elites. It replaces the older notion of direct exploitation by state or other governing authorities with carefully calibrated and partly self-regulated submission. (17) One tenuous result is the appearance of an accelerated present, evacuating biological time rhythms and desynchronising our experience from natural flows of time. According to the critical reading of post-industrial capitalism, “speed has been transferred from the realm of external machines to the information domain. Speed itself has been internalised.” (18) Thus the current expansion of capital seems to operate as colonisation through virtual means, contracting physical spaces, compressing experience of real time and imposing more abstract standards instead of clear quantitative units of clock time.

Seen as performing the symptoms of contemporary culture, Hsieh’ work Time Clock Piece (1980 – 1981) is of particular interest in this context. The performance affronts the disciplinary mode of analogue technologies but also prefigures the obsessions with surveillance and accelerated regulation typical of the digital age. (19) As time is “a force that constantly evades representation,” (20) grounded on socially defined forms and measures, its economical effectiveness largely relies on performances of our bodies. What is a body capable of? How far can its performances be stretched? What does it mean to be free in the neo-liberal age? These and similar questions can be related to the Foucault’s theories of bio-political power and governmentality. According to these theses, the external disciplinary power now targets life, functioning in more complex forms of repression and resulting in more subtle internalisation processes and designs of the self, which can easily be overlooked. (21)

Hsieh’s single task in the Time Clock Piece is to punch the time clock every hour in front of the ‘surveillance’ camera, 24 times every day in one year. Time and work discipline occupy the central position; exposing the subjugation of life to disciplinary and productive forces, which overtake the entire being and the whole body. At the same time, the performance can be seen as a passage in time that through self-chosen actions creates its own temporality and explores the possibilities of liberation from temporal and economical constraints by performing them ad absurdum. In doing so its effectiveness is largely nonsensical. “Hsieh gives his personal temporality as a matter of record to an apparatus of accounting and exposure; he gives it over to another order: that of capitalized time. Moreover Hsieh’s method of opening such orders is to deploy their very own kinetic logic to excess: he accelerates the time of temporal accounting present in late-capitalist cultures. In giving over his corporeality to these orders he makes apparent the human stakes involved in the yoking of labor to an economic imperative. Hsieh’s physical conditions in this time are an exaggerated version of the altered biological conditions of shift labor; he is pressed into an extreme state of broken dreaming and subdued consciousness, where the primary function of the body is simply to produce.” (22)

In the late capitalism the imperative of growth is intertwined with the imperative of acceleration, facilitated by the technological advancement. The time ‘saved’ within the production is re-issued in consumption. With weakened roles of nation-states and loss of distinctive economical models since 1989, which could potentially serve as counter-balancing forces, the western capitalism seems to gain total immunity. A creation of a new social character, a directionless drifter, appears on the scene. (23)

In contrast to the situationist drifter, (24) this new figure should be highly competitive and adaptive, deciding at the last moment while not knowing what tomorrow brings. This former aspect of deciding in time itself, since reliable support structures are suspended, brings us closer to the states of inadequacy and precariousness brought by the post-Fordist modes of production. Perpetuated by endless mobility, multi-layered temporality and virtuosity, the post-Fordism simultaneously consolidates the ideology of speed and time compression already induced in the Fordism. (25)

Multisensory-profiled Marathons by H. U. Obrist seem to render the current human/working condition, stretched between the imperative of effectiveness and its contractions – impotency and waste. Through experimenting with time, which is a relevant aspect of contemporary practices in art and curation, the Marathons mark the current, multi-layered but compressed character of time, prevailing in the contemporary production. They seem to reinforce the capital matrix, where “experimenting with time serves to enhance the effectiveness and production value of the subject. As contradictory as it may sound, experimenting with time is what contributes to the subduing and disciplining of the contemporary flexible subject of today. Time experimentation is an essential condition for the value of work.” (26)

As the capital power colonises time as a means of production of value, it cancels out the notions of duration, slowness, idleness and affinity to nothingness. Leaving even less time to rethink current conditions, it spreads a sense of alienation so intense that it is close to dispossession. With its forcing of lucrative dimensions of time, it squeezes every possibility to imagine temporal being differently, to endure in the present beyond its embedment in efficiency and to envision the future outside its references to the efforts made now. (27)

In the never-ending running game we become severed from our present, deprived from the coordinated system that would allow a self-assessment and location, outside monetisable values. Seen from this perspective, the contemporary conditions of work and the pressure to produce are not concealed in Obrist’s Marathons. There exists a controversial proximity between the ‘performance’ and modes of working in the late capitalism, provoking anxiety about creation of critical gestures in art. And while the flexible and virtuous labour occupies the scene, what seems to lack is reflection on conditions of production. The Marathon shows itself in an ambiguous light. As a condensed situation of post-Fordist production mode, it enters a risk to be perceived as a sensationalistic and spectacular form, strengthening the appetite of the creative industry.


1.2. Dispossession of Time: the Time of Duration

In different theoretical readings duration is mostly considered in positive terms, as a turn from a regulated and quantitative ordering of temporality towards subjective and inner experience of time. For Henri Bergson, “duration is a continuous movement of differentiation, (…) the form taken by the succession of our inner states of consciousness when our self lets itself live, when it abstains from establishing a separation between the present state and anterior states”. (28) AdAdrian Heathfield focuses on duration as “remaining through time. (…) Whether it is short or long in ‘clock time’, its passage will be marked by a sense of the warping of time, an opening of regularity to other phenomena or inchoate orders.” (29)

He follows duration in the artistic field and associates it with endurance practices, early performance and body art but devoid of their usual connotations of sufferance, trauma and heroism. “Aesthetic duration is a wasteful form of labor; it saves nothing, and as such it is often deployed as a means to disturb or suspend narrative resolutions and consolidated identities. (…) Extended duration lacks the distinction that separates the event from the mundane, the everyday: the bracketing off and casting out of experiences into the domain of the uneventful through which the event, as heightened experience, must necessarily be constituted. Resisting time’s spatialization in cultural measure, duration deals in the confusion of temporal distinction – between past, present and future – drawing the spectator in the thick braids of paradoxical times.” (30)

Bojana Kunst also stresses duration as a potentially emancipatory tool, but notes that it cannot be regarded as inherently subversive, especially in current circumstances; “A few decades ago, duration could be understood as a sort of critical autonomy of the process (immediacy, failure, coincidence, redundancy, reversibility), and a way to manage the attention of the spectator and her/his sensibility.” (31) According to Kunst, duration can be considered as resistant, when it reveals how our intimate perception of time is socially constructed and economically conditioned. Thus, long duration deployed in the marathon might obstruct the new economy of time, especially the projective temporality that becomes a dominant concept for organisation of time in the cultural,but also in larger social field. The projective temporality becomes evident through a collision of present and future. It is a sort of in-between state, neither totally here and now, nor in the future, a pendulum mode where we become abstracted from the actual context of the present. (32)

In the marathon, the dictate of time optimisation can be discarded and redirected towards a redundancy of time, waiting and delay, thus breaking the expectations and promises of calculable results. With irritating effects of prolongation and waiting it enables a critical stance towards a ubiquitous speed-up pace. It induces a kind of error within the system, manifesting how our inner notion of time is subjected to disciplinary techniques “which promise even greater mobility to defeat our ontological slowness”. (33) Particularly slowness seems to diminish from the contemporary vocabulary, holding up in specific and underprivileged forms of living, like those of poor and marginalised individuals, older people or children. (34) Exposing time in its capital use, as a means of economic effectiveness and commodity, the marathon can re-appropriate spaces for redundancy, ineffectiveness and non-functioning, reinforcing these aspects as non-ignorable ways to experience subjectivity. Opposing the promise of the accelerated present, it manifests the halt and inertia as overlooked modes of lived time. (35) While mirroring deviancies in time organisation, the marathon format can expose our own role in proliferation of the matrix.

This tension can be shown through ethics of slowness – repetition, monotony, waiting and prolongation, as evident in Hsieh’s work. “In movement culture oriented toward acceleration he proposes stalling, deferral and misuse of time as a means to access alternate realities.” (36) The wasting of time/life/work becomes conceptually and formally intertwined. The works expose risks and constraints of constant readiness for self-realisation and expenditure; deprived from any entertaining elements. Their inherent monotony and repetition stand in sharp contrast to conventional image of the constantly creative and autonomous artist. (37)

The rigid self-discipline of performances reflects the capitalist structure, but without its key element of productivity and even without the external affirmation, at least at the time of their realisation. According to Adrian Heathfield, the use of long duration becomes an adequate format to connect art and life. “The hugely unruly temporally dynamics of these works presses them beyond art-as-process or art-as-event, and renders art as simultaneous to life.” (38) In comparison to Hsieh’s earlier works and related body art practices, mainly grounded on structure of sudden and shocking events, the yearlong performances involve risk but in a sustained sense, as a sort of slow motion suicide. (39) MiAll performances are marked by subjugation to strict tasks within precise, socio-culturally most prominent structure (calendar dates and hours), lingering on questions of symbolic and literal constraints and possibilities of their transgression.

Between 1978 and 1986, Hsieh performed Cage Piece, Time Clock Piece, Outdoor Piece, Rope Piece and No Art Piece. About his first One Year Performance realised as passing of 12 months in a cage constructed in his studio he stated, “I am as free in the cage as outside. (…) Thinking was the focus of the piece and was also my way of survival. While doing this piece, thinking was my major job. It doesn’t matter what I was thinking about, but I had to continue thinking, otherwise I would lose control not only of myself but also of the ability to handle the whole situation. (…) Whatever I was thinking, what’s important to me is that people can see that in this special period of time, one year, the artist’s thinking process becomes a piece of art.” (40) The following performances consisted of ” (…) a year in which he punched a worker’s time clock in his studio on the hour every hour; (…) a year of itinerancy spent living without shelter on the streets; (…) another year in which he was tied closely with a rope to the artist Linda Montano, whom he was not allowed to touch; and lastly, (…) a year of total abstention from art activities and influences.” (41)

He started the final durational in 1986 as a decision to spend the next thirteen years making art but not displaying it, keeping himself alive but invisible to the art world. (42) Already in the previous work No Art Piece (1985 – 1986), Hsieh expelled himself from the art circles but also from doing art, stating self-censorship and hibernation from the art system. (43) In doing so he acknowledged the usually suppressed periods of shortage of creativity as constituent parts of being an artist. (44) Resembling the strategy of subversive affirmation, (45) the performance upsets the customary limits of what can be said, represented or performed, releasing a critical stance to rulings on what is termed as an appropriate behaviour in the field. Operating as an act of refusal to its normativity, No Art Piece exposes the functioning of the system and the actual dependence of art personae on its rules and approvals. Artist’s devise, “living is nothing but consuming life until you die”, (46) becomes embedded in all works. The slowed down experience of time manifests a higher awareness of body, its potentials and dead ends, often set in controversial oppositions between idleness and non-activity, self-negation and self-affirmation, non-conformism and adaptation. The drives of life and the impetus to work appear in elemental state, at once pleasurable and destructive; and whenever somewhat literally manifested, they are neither obfuscated nor suppressed.


2. Curatorial Factory

Another possible mode of duration, and in this regard a contrary one, lies in perpetuated intensification, in the use of acceleration to excess. The Marathon series by H. U. Obrist seem to go in this direction. One of interesting notions which rises from Obrist’s Marathons is the curation of time i.e. conceptualisation, organisation, mediation and sharing of time. In a mixture of performance and event, time seems to be reversed back as a part of collective engagement and inter-subjective exchange. Usually varying from 6 to 24 hours, marathons host dozens of speakers who make around twenty or forty minutes talks on a given topic, from poetry, mapping, manifestos, experiments, gardens, interviews to memory. (47)

” (…) although programmed and produced by the Serpentine’s curatorial team, they have come to be closely associated with the gallery’s co-director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and particularly his style of quick-fire production and lateral outsourcing – that is, asking experts for their ideas for other experts.” (48) This quote marks some shortcomings of the marathon structure. Melissa Gronlound further emphasises its downsides, such as restricted time for speakers, little time for discussion and reflection, lack of output and synthesis; eventhood, softened audience participation. Well known names, institutional esteem and promise of networking and liveness build the marathon’s guarantees for visitors’ attendance, media coverage and branding of ‘must-see-events’.

Suspicion about what the Marathons actually affect, is also pondered in Gronlound’s article, which appears as one of the rare critical reviews on the subject. “The slightly disorganised feel of the Marathons contributes to the particular mode of sociality and collective attention, or distraction, put forth in the events: part of their uniqueness is their galloping, headlong pace, which requires that the audience will miss something … In this way it cannily mirrors the saturation of the cultural field – an over-abundance the Marathons perform while also letting the audience off the hook by the social and participative situation they engineer: simply being in the audience means participating in a cultural endeavour. (…) The Marathons pander to, and reflect, the mode of limited and multi-tasking cultural engagement endemic to our short-term attention society. (…) The Marathons become not just symptomatic of event culture, but also its epitome: a testing ground of just how far one can push a format and, within this format, overproduction.” (49)

As noted by Gronlound, Obrist’s marathon emerged parallel to discursive turn, seemingly engaged in questions of curation beyond the exhibition and accumulation of objects, fostering communication and active relationship with the audience. But by pushing the discursive format beyond the habituated limits, and at the same time establishing its procedure as a new paradigm, it runs a risk to be just another marketable form. Its seductive quantitative dimensions seem to shift attention from the underlying questions; What do the extreme productivity circumstances actually produce? What kind of creativity comes to the foreground? On which elements is curation built? What kind of participation is stimulated? To some extent the simplified formula of the Marathon seems to fuse the idea of salons and durational aesthetics. (50) At first sight it appears inviting and democratic, aiming at the shared experience through the participation of audience. But the audience is addressed in a classical and frontal way. Thus this participative encounter seems reduced to an instant consumption of communication, to exuberant performance of knowledge that can be perceived as impenetrable and difficult to grasp in deep.

Acknowledging a proliferation of discursive formats, Irit Rogoff also stresses their shortfalls, “(…) the art world became the site of extensive talking—talking emerged as a practice, as a mode of gathering, as a way of getting access to some knowledge and to some questions, as networking and organizing and articulating some necessary questions. But did we put any value on what was actually being said? Or, did we privilege the coming-together of people in space and trust that formats and substances would emerge from these?” (51) By privileging the format over the concept, the curatorial role looks akin to that of the information entrepreneur, involved in processes of cultural sampling, managing and controlling information, resembling the operations taking place in the digital sphere where the sheer volume of data becomes accessible but also threatens to overwhelm. Fuelling the production with more production, without taking a specific focus, position or direction, appears as a sign of accommodation to the blockbuster culture, as a mark of ‘new’ alliance between spectacle and participation. (52)

Particular role in Obrist’s marathons plays reliance on language and speech. In contrast to artistic gestures where moves into silence, (53) appear legitimate, curators’ work is not imaginable without communication. “Among its many uses, speech can enlighten, relieve, confuse, exalt, infect, antagonize, gratify, grieve, stun, animate.” (54) The question is then, how does the elongated speech affect the faculty of attention? Does the verbal marathon provide enough time for the continuing and exploring of thought? Or it is more akin to the post-Fordist factory of information and communication intensities, exalting, hardworking and relying on outsourced contributions? (55) Moreover, is it a sign of crisis within the system, which excesses in production, resulting in a discrepancy between supply and demand, and simultaneously manifesting its weak points, which might be tracked in inertia of critical thought and standardisation of creativity?

Speech as immaterial medium, necessary for the mediation of art, raises suspicion when seen against the background of devaluation of language within the realms of politics, mass media and entertainment industry. Complementary complaint comes from the critical readings of post-Fordism. For Paolo Virno, “Science, information, knowledge in general, cooperation, become the key support system of production, reflecting the present tense of labor: an industry of the means of communication. (…). According to Guy Debord “spectacle” is human communication which has become a commodity. What presents the spectacle, so to speak, are the productive forces themselves of society as they overlap, in ever-greater measure, with linguistic-communicative competencies and with the” general intellect. (56) Related Virno’s thesis is also interesting in this context, that of the post-Fordist virtuosity and cognitive workers whose performances, the acts of production, are not separable from the actual products. Their own fulfilment is to be found in the performances themselves. “In the post-Fordist economy, surplus value is no longer extracted from labor materialized in a product, it resides in the discrepancy between paid and unpaid work-the idle time of the mind that keeps enriching, unacknowledged, the fruits of immaterial labor. As Marx wrote in Grundrisse, labor activity moves ‘to the side of the production instead of being its chief actor’.” (57)

A legitimate question against this background is, what builds the critical distinction of the curatorial practice which largely relies on immaterial and virtuous aspects? In the case of the Marathon, its overlap with spectacle lies in the curator’s conciliatory embrace of the immaterial discourse which becomes a primary subject of his endeavour, resembling the self-promotional modes of action within culture industry and media. Through consuming time in an accelerated durational mode, without antagonistic understanding of temporal relations, it nurtures the quest for novelty and edgy experiences, complicit with the logic of the market. It might be argued that duration is deployed in a formalist, one-dimensional sense, rendering time from the capitalist perspective of the hurried present. The use of duration does not open alternative temporalities and create space for active participation and self-determination on the side of visitors. They can freely choose when to leave, how long to stay, and what to do during the listening of lectures, but this appears as much lightened version of an active audience. More likely it is an immersive mode of self-forgetfulness, an untroubled suppressing of the perceiving subjects, that at first glance gives impression of collective involvement but does not produce a differentiation to the new economy, grounded on perfomativity and verbosity.

Although the shift towards dematerialisation can be followed back to the post-sixties’ art which altered the definition of art-object and artistic work, extending them towards the post-object domain, the recent allegations of discursiveness and virtuousness seem more consistent with the curatorial than to artistic work. Nevertheless this proximity builds a dynamic area. The threshold between post-Fordist production and critical cultural practices can be questioned, insofar as reflection on conditions of production and its temporal parameters become evident. This notion correlates to the critical understanding of the curatorial “(…) as a cultural practice that runs across and permeates disciplines and professions, which is located somewhere between the fields of research and art, as it is related to them both and shaped by their agents. This contact and overlapping between different domains of activity and social contexts is responsible for the fact that curatorial activity does not give in to post-Fordist economic relations, but develops precisely critical dimensions, since it has to a considerable extent become a place of negotiation about the conditions in the field of culture and economy.” (58)



Fordította Sipos Dániel

(1) As durational works in performance are generally considered works longer than 3 hours (, and in performing arts and theatre those longer than 4 hours (See Kalb, Jonathan: Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater, The University of Michigan Press, 2011, p. 3)

(2) For observations on psycho-physical experience of long durational performances see Heathfield, Adrian: As if Things Got More Real. A Conversation with Tim Etchells, in: Not Even a Game Anymore, The Theatre of Forced Entertainment, Alexander Verlag Berlin / Köln, 2004, p. 77 – 103.

(3) For durational performances see Heathfield, Adrian: Impress of Time, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 11 – 23; for public demonstrations see essay by Gerald Raunig,

(4) Similar consideration on durational aesthetics gave Adrian Heathfield in lecture Persistent Excess: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Duration, Conference TIMING – On The Temporal Dimension of Exhibiting, Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig, 2012

(5) Compare Heathfield, Adrian: Impress of Time, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 13, 16, 22. Regarding differences in temporal aspects between performances and long durationals, Heathfield stresses that durationals insist on remaining through time while the temporality of the performance is similar to that of the event.

(6) Ibid., p. 11 – 23.

(7) For extensive inquiry of Hsieh’s work see Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 10 – 370.


(9) Dance marathons (walkathons) are mostly regarded as symptoms of economical crisis and manifestations of people’s desperation during the Great Depression, compare

(10) Compare Kalb, Jonathan: Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater, op. Cit., p. 17

(11) The quote They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? echoed in the title of this text, can be understood in this context, as an allusion to the slippery ground of human relations when confronted with the demand of self-preservation.


(13) Ibid.

(14) Chris, Jones, John: Softecnica, in: Design After Modernism, Thames & Hudson, 1989, p. 217

(15) For changes brought by digital technology in the 21st century see and

(16) For an inquiry on time-space compression and imposition of cyber time and cyber space see Gržinić, Marina: Estetika kibersvijeta i učinci derealizacije, op. Cit., 66 – 69.

(17) Compare Ćurković, Stipe: Heteronomy of Labour / Autonomy of the Aesthetic, Frakcija No. 60/61, Artistic Labor in the Age of Austerity, CDU, Zagreb, 2011 – 2012, p. 34


(19) Compare Etchells, Tim: Time Served, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 356

(20) Heathfield, Adrian: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 36


(22) Heathfield, Adrian: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 32

(23) Compare Rosa, Hartmut: Beschleunigung, Die Veränderung der Zeitstrukturen in der Moderne, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 2005

(24) See Kaufmann, Vincent: The Poetics of the Dérive, in: The Everyday, Documents of Contemporary Art, Whitechapel Gallery London and The MIT Press, 2008, p. 95 – 102.

(25) For a consideration of principles in Fordism and post-Fordism see the topic of the symposium Broken Performances: Time and (In)Completion,


(27) Compare Kunst, Bojana: The Project Horizon: On the Temporality of Making, op. Cit., p. 54 – 71.

(28) Quoted in Heathfield, Adrian: Impress of Time, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 21

(29) Heathfield, Adrian: Impress of Time, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 22

(30) Ibid.


(32) Compare Kunst, Bojana: The Project Horizon: On the Temporality of Making, op. Cit., p. 66 – 69. Referring to the work by Maurizio Lazzarato: The Making of the Indebted Man: An essay of the Neoliberal Condition, Kunst compares projective temporality with the dynamic of debt as a neo-liberal way of managing contemporary subjectivities


(34) While in The Project Horizon: On the Temporality of Making, Kunst emphasises that crisis and austerity measures intensify the effects of shortage of duration and the actual time of the present, it can be added that they also expel the notion of slowness, non-action and non-work.

(35) As critical tools of contemporary practices dealing with virtuality and reality of time, Marina Gržinić emphasises prolongation, delay, and slow down, which can induce a critical stance to the habituated sense of time. Compare: Gržinić, Marina: Estetika kibersvijeta i učinci derealizacije, op. Cit., 165 – 168.

(36) Heathfield, Adrian: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 39

(37) Compare Aichner, Véronique, Steinbrügge, Bettina: The Institutions of the Self, in: Busy. Exhausted Self / Unlimited Ability, op. Cit., p. 32

(38) Heathfield, Adrian: Impress of Time, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, i.m., p. 13

(39) Compare Heathfield, Adrian: An exchange with Tehching Hsieh, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 322 – 324. Transgressing the controversial status of suicide in contemporary society, Hsieh’s performances directly question what it means to be alive and how the sense of deadness already implied to life.

(40) Ibid., p. 327. The statement shifts attention from bodily endurance that is usually stressed in this regard, to psycho-physical and intellectual strength needed for the realisation. What is also interesting, it primarily articulates art and art making as a thinking process. Thus, the performance can be seen as arresting time for thinking, questioning the non-verbal dynamic and character of thoughts.

(41) Heathfield, Adrian: Impress of Time, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, i.m., p. 11

(42) Ibid.

(43) Although Adrian Heathfield leaves open whether Hiseh’s last works represent a model of reservation of symbolic capital, he also discusses them as resistant strategies to the creative imperative and obsession with self-efficiency. Together with the pressure to conform to the structural rules in order not to be excluded, these aspects build topical, controversial issues in the art field. Compare Heathfield, Adrian: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, i.m., p. 55 – 58.

(44) Compare Heathfield, Adrian: An exchange with Tehching Hsieh, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, op. Cit., p. 33

(45) Inke Arns describes subversive affirmation as “an artistic/political tactic that allows artists/activists to take part in certain social, political, or economic discourses and to affirm, appropriate, or consume them while simultaneously undermining them. It is characterised precisely by the fact that with affirmation there is simultaneously taking place a distancing from, or revelation of what is being affirmed. In subversive affirmation there is always a surplus which destabilises affirmation and turns it into its opposite.”

(46)Compare Heathfield, Adrian: An exchange with Tehching Hsieh, in: Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, i.m., p. 335



(49) Ibid.

(50) In manifold inspirational resources Obrist emphasises the influence of salons on his work,


(52) Compare Bishop, Claire: Artificial Hells, Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, Verso, London, New York, 2012, p. 275 – 285.

(53) For use of silence in art since modernism see Susann Sonntag’s polemical essay The Aesthetic of Silence,

(54) Ibid.

(55) This question can be read in alignment with the thesis of the social factory. “The thesis of the social factory, as developed in post-operaistic theory, is rooted in the radical leftist movement of the ‘Autonomia operaia’ in Italy in the 70s, which no longer sought to fight for better working conditions, but against work as a whole under the dominant capitalist conditions. It attempts to make comprehensible the shift of the capitalist creation of value from the classical factory regime, where it could take place in a certain location under controlled conditions, to the whole of social life. The movement is not interested in describing some kind of ‘post-industrial’ state, but rather in showing that ‘the whole of society is permeated by the factory regime’.”


(57) Ibid.

(58) Von Bismarck, Beatrice: Relations in Motion, The curatorial condition in visual art – and its possibilities for the neighbouring disciplines, in: Frakcija No. 55, Centre for Drama Art, Zagreb, 2010, p. 53