Needing | Kneading
by Darren Tesar

The following text acts by way of sublation to coax out the possibility of a shared utility from an individual artist statement. I feel we all write statements that are more or less the same. The same due to the perceptible amassment of contempt we all feel around the mass proliferation of the artist stating. Contempt made possible by tempting to work in tandem with its expositional as well as argumentative potential within being considered.

Before going any further, I wish to stress the prior use of sublation. Some readers will find the lack of consent in the use of we in the following text unnerving and incompatible. I understand that not all practices can and should not be framed in what follows. Still, it is my wish to open even my artist statement below - one in which I will continue to use for my own career - into the shared possibility of meaning something for your practice through your demeaning appropriation of its affect.

The following text attempts to make sense of artistic practice within two impetuses, namely that of needing and kneading. The former being the self-serving irresponsibility toward the construction and guidance of knowledge gleaned off our activity. The latter being the inevitable re-absorption our possession undergoes within sharing our sensibility to the regulating principles of artistic professionalism. We meet our needs by kneading the production of the other, irreverently, back into our own unraveling. However our need is always kneaded back into the needs of the other. It is exactly for this reason that my statement can move from a singular need into just another much kneaded possibility.

Artist Statement One

- Needing -

I came in from the canal. I don’t know anything. It is all well and good to ask what we need to know as if it were all, as if we didn’t need.

Well I need. I may never know anything but I need. One sees desire not as something to satisfy but to live with.

- Excerpt from William Bronk’s poem “The ignorant Lust After Knowledge”

The method based out of need, if there is one, finds rooting in a conscious disregard for the primacy of a shared accuracy and, rather, favoring a more generative and self-serving intensity. In keeping with the fringe practice of Neo-Paganism the impetus within collection, admiration, and emulation go only as far as to satisfy very temporary and situationally significant purposes. The potential of such a fetishistic interaction is that the method of interaction is initiated by a series of judgments not liable to operate by reporting its own judgments back onto itself. Poet Rainer Maria Rilke touched upon this non-reflexive action when he wrote “So you began that unprecedented act of violence in your work, which, more and more impatiently, desperately, sought equivalents in the visible world for what you had seen inside.”1

This ever-effacing sentimentality can be described as a type of acute receptivity toward self-implication within the world, which, at the cost of understanding, opens onto an infinite field of delusional potential. As a result, potentiality is then thematized endlessly since it is always and only encountered as it is - potential and not actual. In other words, the preference is always to remain in the potentiality of the experience rather than the actuality. The sentimental approach to being is always reactionary and sparked by the instance of a breached proximity. However, the subject is never lost within the instant but instead finds absorption in its malleable non-presence (afterimage).

It is a fixation on appearance where sentimentality can take hold and develop into a generative mode of production that is both critical and susceptible - a simultaneous state of being wholly absorbed and utterly disengaged within an object of speculation/adoration. Sentimental thinking recognizes itself by inhabiting the spacing between experiences and, as a result, must be realized as a form of disengagement from the instigating event/object itself. At odds with this disengagement is the fact that the spacing isn’t what is sought since the spaces do not communicate in and of themselves. What communicates is the content spaced out by the fixation of the spacing. The distancing then becomes an intensifier for a retroactive connectivity. This strange reflex to meet intimacy with distance out of a desire to continue the intimate moment is the disengagement offered from sentimentality.

Artist Statement Two

- Kneading -

A heron flew over the bamboo forest and Siddhartha accepted the heron into his soul, flew over forest and mountains, was a heron, ate fish, felt the pangs of a heron's hunger, spoke the heron's croak, died a heron's death. A dead jackal was lying on the sandy bank, and Siddhartha's soul slipped inside the body, was the dead jackal, lay on the banks, got bloated, stank, decayed, was dismembered by hyaenas, was skinned by vultures, turned into a skeleton, turned to dust, was blown across the fields.

- Excerpt from Herman Hesse’s Siddartha

The kneaded practice takes place under the repurposed understanding of the following term: autography.2

Poised to embody the term through the it’s primary definition - that which is written by one’s own hand - I see something that re-presents encounter, appropriation, and possession through the situational truth of being only a substitutional moment in the unassignable gift of creative agency.

I also see the use of autography often, but less intentionally, employ it’s secondary definition - a collection of autographs - through an metonymic as well as administrative process fueled off the linking of subjects who are simultaneously discerning object-hood of objects by means of the neighbor-hooding of the object’s properties.3 It is a method that finds its course by accepting a logic of a generalized equivalence within any presentation by means of situating itself, administratively, around vacancies within the object (knowledge) simultaneously being scanned in through the amassment of participation.

Only through an extreme objectification of the artist seen purely as heteronomic affect, can the endless unicity of utility (practical, sensual, or sensible) - which results in the principiation of creativity’s foreseeable horizon - be forgotten.4 In other words, I see a practice attempting to build an endless chasm between the ever-renewing return of understanding in what has to be called a finite affinity toward the creative act.

This somewhat deconstructive, or selfishly-reconstructive ambition of many post-medium artistic practices then turn ever toward a logic that becomes indebted to theological encounters with a paradoxical relationship between the silence of a regulating principle (in this case the destination of art’s raison d’être) and the truth of feeling some type of demand placed upon by or in reaction to this silence.

It is then a rather simple, yet simply unattainable, belief in Kenosis as a dominating ethic of what is then left of the my in a creative act. What at first appears to be a challenge to and/or anger toward the endless spatial expansion in the criteria of creative action, instead, turns into an implicit request to be forgiven for the inevitably reductive assignation that is consequence to an artist’s willingness to present. Through the objectification of the auto- of the my in a biography, this question of kenosis becomes a insatiable reaction that acts as a negative space for the positive force of desire to become ever renewed out of a temporarily useful you.

-Darren Tesar


1 Rainer Maria Rilke, "[Ibsen]," in Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, ed. Stephen Mitchell, trans. Stephen Mitchell, 258-260 (New York, NY: The Modern Library, 1995).

2 Autography: 1. The writing of something in one's own handwriting. 2. Autographs considered as a group.

3 Like Perseus entering Medusa’s lair – ornamented with hundreds of confrontations turned statuesque – he navigates and takes shelter behind all those stoned singulars. Without their knowing, all those who came before become component-like and build up the properties of the subject’s possible (non)perception of the object’s accumulated history (Medusa being the object). Access is never accessed itself when inhabiting movement because the contact acts only to force out a new distance for both the user and, most importantly, all future users. Where intentionality may arise in one user, millions of other users may take the repaired pathway of access as the original route or, more accurately, may take the path without any passing thought of something appearing as “original” or “route”.

4 Heteronomy is the opposite concept to that of autonomy, namely in the self being under the reign and domination of the other.