SocialToolBox/Iconoclast 1998 (1998-2007)
Sunday, October 28, 2007
IC-98 (”Iconoclast 1998”) was founded in 1998 as a reaction to the
restrictions of academic writing. From the beginning, the group has tried to
act as freely as possible, always putting the context and the idea before
the medium, and the group-subject before the individual, never minding the
barriers between different disciplines (academic, artistic or activist). In
practice, the world of contemporary art has proved to be the most flexible
environment for diverse projects, being a free zone of experimentation within
the society at large. Though the label ART has an enormous power to neutralise
any message, and regardless of the fact that art world increasingly resembles
the high fashion industry, it nonetheless offers possibilities to put forward ideas
without the preconditions of academic work (rules, objectivity), the market
(surplus value, capitalist modes of distribution), or activism (the threat of
dogmatism). In fact, in IC-98’s idealist-pragmatic programme the projects are
labeled art only for strategic reasons – the strategy works as long as the
concepts of art do not come to dominate the discourse. The same applies to
the individuals working in the group: you call yourself artist, just because it is
institutionally convenient, because the very concept of ARTIST is obscure.
IC-98 does not confine itself to one medium. The medium of choice always
follows strategically the context, its history and the present situation, and the
objectives in question. Typically, the working methods have contained inter-
ventions and installations in public and gallery spaces as well as in publications.
In recent years, IC-98 has concentrated primarily on the production of free
distribution books. The books, distributed in editions of 500-2000, are collage-like,
heterogenic assemblages, or toolboxes, of text, models, instructions, images,
diagrams and drawings. Typically, an individual project combines multiple media
to present a multifaceted whole – and to connect it to other projects.
Free distribution books
Over the past years, we have mostly concentrated on free distribution books. The books are not documentation of our work but the work itself, heterogenous assemblages of texts, images, drawings, diagrams, instructions and exercises, composed around chosen themes, typically dictated by the context in question or by a strategic necessity. Sometimes the book stands alone, sometimes it is supported by an installation or other elements. Compared to public projects or interventions, a book is light, nomadic and easily distributed. When it becomes part of the multitude of printed material in public circulation, it loses its possible aura – and works on the same level as ideological and religious propaganda, educational material and advertising.
Our books are amalgamations of fact and fiction – they can be read as such, as stories. But they should also be used as portals and toolboxes. Or approached as scripts. Their meaning should open in use. For us, a book is an open construction, designed for something, not primarily a unity in itself. In this sense, a book as we see it is closer to a manual: it does not offer an image of the world but, on the contrary, is part of it.
It should not be regarded as a typical artist book, as it is mass produced and possibly distributed without a label of art. From literarature it differs in the fact that it is collage-like, pragmatic, anonymous, and distributed outside the capitalist modes of exchange. The books are distributed for free, either in a museum, in a gallery or a public space – however, the “coding” of reception should kept to minimum. In the ideal situation, the manual would just be suddenly found. With a free and accidental mode of distribution, the book escapes the logic of capitalism: it is free of charge, outside the economy of monetary exchange, a gift which must not be returned. Thus it is democratic: its use does not require funds, technical skills or access to media. Even language skills are not necessary, as there are usually segments of narrative images and diagrams included. It can be carried in pocket – the reception takes place in lived time, not in a specified space.
Typically, we include metaphorical drawings into the books. The drawings are an important part of our “writing”, not illustrations. They might be called illuminations, in a very broad sense. Despite of being tied to the context of the book they are included in, the drawings form a series of their own, Theses on the Body Politic.
In all honesty, it must be said that the principles outlined above are idealist and the actual use of books has changed over time. As the first ones emphasised the tool-function, the latter have been somewhere between fiction and non-fiction – and closer to the centres of the art world (which is often also a financial necessity). Distributing a book for free in a major exhibition (Foucault’s Sleep in ARS 06) cannot be called very subversive. This we are ready to admit.
Iconoclast Publications 1
"The Administration Building": An Introduction, 1998
Iconoclast Publications 2
Psychogeographical Exercises (ST.1), 2001
Iconoclast Publications 3
A Monument for Moments of the Living Present (ST.3), 2002
Iconoclast Publications 4
Truth/In/Formation (ST.4), 2003
Iconoclast Publications 5
Run and Die, 2004
Iconoclast Publications 6
Iconoclast Publications 7
Auri sacra fames, 2005
Iconoclast Publications 8
Foucault's Sleep - Models for a Proposal, 2005/2006
Iconoclast Publications 9
Akseli Virtanen, The Place of Mutation, 2007
Download the books at SocialToolBox or share them via karagarga/demonoid.
at 11:33 AM