“[A] new society is possible only if in the process of developing it, a new human being also develops, or in more modest terms, if a fundamental change occurs in contemporary Man’s character structure.”
Who are you? It has become such a blunt question, particularly within the western world, where people are increasingly uncertain about their identities and have become accustomed to identifying who they are with what they do and what they have. In the United States, this phenomenon has become widespread as capitalism has become more exasperated. The equation between who one is and what one does is most common in asserting people’s monetary value and, consequentially, social hierarchies. What one does is the equivalent of what one earns and therefore has. To be and to have collapsed in the absolutistic assertion of capital value.
To be honest, to be happy, to be meek, to be humble, to be respectful, and to be sympathetic are no longer values unless they could be cashed in the immediate present. The social value of everyone, and therefore their existence, is directly proportional to the instantaneous monetary returns in the present. Deprived of time for growth and decisively constructed on the shortest term for maximum gain, the being of someone is linked to what they can do for the other party.
It is why I decided to create the position of Curator Of The United States (COTUS). I wanted to ‘curate’ with artworks that oblige to think and reflect about the malaise of contemporary being without creating further divides and acrimony but at the same time challenging notions of what is and should be appropriate.
COTUS is a curator who embodies multiple people. He rallies them around the idea that curating still means to say something of note and not just mindlessly produce another entertainment show. Art has become another product to consume, on par with every other object in daily consumption. The thinking process has been taken out of the aesthetic equation and substituted with the capacity of a work of art to produce entertainment value and anesthetize the audience. These demands and requirements oblige curators to navigate the treacherous waters of entertainment through shock and awe while creating an illusion of belonging to the body politic.
Art absolves the function of a tranquilizer, having the onus to provide the feeling that it is worthwhile to belong to the evil empire, wherever and whenever this empire might be.
To understand COTUS perhaps these are words that might help: uncompromising, hostile, perseverant, angry, fanged, doubtful, obdurate, willful, volatile, mercurial, capricious, whimsical, alternative, revolutionary, uterine, berserk, eccentric, queer, gruff, rude, vulgar, and in your face. The list is not exhaustive but provides a sample of the characteristics of COTUS.
These are adjective that describe a person and a typology of curating in direct contrast to the idea of ‘merciful and hypocritical society’ bandied about by those who find comfortable to serve the powers that be.
The Museum of Contemporary Cuts has nominated Lanfranco Aceti for the position of Curator Of The United States (COTUS).
Dr. Aceti was chosen for his unconventional curatorial projects and approaches. He has defied the mainstream conventions in curating contemporary art and experimented with alternative ideas which oblige, both the viewers and professionals, to question the role of contemporary art in the current socio-political and financial scenarios.
The curatorial project that Dr. Aceti has launched as COTUS, The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Cards, playfully engages with fake news and propaganda, while at the same time blurring the lines between the traditional role of the curator and that of the artist.
“What is truth anyway?” says Dr. Aceti. “Truth is the belief of a group which tries to impose it upon anyone else. The impossibility of controlling the multiplicitous and nefarious voices of propaganda sold for centuries as news and truth is the new exciting reality, which is collapsing in the twenty-first century. The Finger to the US, with which we opened our collection and activity, is just this, another piece of news, that is somewhat fake but nonetheless — at the same time, as absurd as this may sound — true.”
Dr. Lanfranco Aceti works as a curator, artist, and scholar. He has done a range of exhibitions and public space interventions that include the Tate Modern, MoMA, the ICA London and other renown international venues. He is the Director of Arts Administration at Boston University, Editor in Chief of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (The MIT Press, Leonardo journal), for which he has edited 12 volumes. He has lectured internationally at prestigious institutions such as Yale, Harvard, RCA, Goldsmiths, and Central Saint Martins. He worked as director of Kasa Gallery in Istanbul, where he exhibited a range of innovative artworks including 75Watts by Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen, acquired by MoMA or Paolo Cirio’s Loophole4All, awarded the 2014 Golden Nica at Ars Electronica. Recently he curated The Small Infinite at the John Hansard Gallery with artworks never previously exhibited from the estate of John Latham. Lanfranco Aceti has participated in numerous art fairs such as ArtAthina, ArtInternational, and Contemporary Istanbul, either as a curator or as an artist. In 2011 he curated the exhibition Uncontainable for ISEA2011 Istanbul and part of the parallel events of the 12th Istanbul Biennial and exhibited artworks on the media facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb. He has exhibited numerous personal projects including Car Park, a public performance in the UK, The Lady and the Revolutionary Parrot in Athens, The Annunciation, a public performance in Cyprus for NeME, and Who The People? an installation artwork acquired in its entirety by the Chetham’s Library and Museum in Manchester. His works of art are in international museums and private collections.