March 29, 2016

Just what is it that makes today’s museums so different, so appealing? Notes on a Museum of Resistance

Art will (must) become more like what poetry is today — an exception to the globalized structure of capitalism. That is the definition of freedom.

A museum of resistance does not have donors.

A museum of resistance does not have galas.

A museum of resistance does not search bags.

There are rich arts and poor arts — art will be a poor art.

A museum of resistance does not have a gift shop.

A museum of resistance does not have trustees.


Art will become collective and anonymous in the way that science is today. Art must position itself near politics and near science.

A museum of resistance does not carry insurance.

A museum of resistance does not need temperature control.


The modern form of finitude is the market, in which everything has a price and the price is always finite. Art must resist this finitude.

A museum of resistance does not sell naming rights.

A museum of resistance does not have wall labels.

A museum of resistance does not need loan forms.

A museum of resistance is trans to the core.


In order to be an exception to the globalized structure of capitalism, the future art must be a surprise. The surprise of the infinite.

A museum of resistance risks vertiginous change 

it is invisible… pervasive… ubiquitous… foreign.


A museum of resistance does not need adjectival categories.

Art will not be distributed along the structure of the everyday. It will not be distributed as we know it.

A museum of resistance does not have social platforms; it is a social platform.

A museum of resistance is not post-race or post-feminist.

A museum of resistance is not one.


Numerization is the organizer of knowledge and power today. Art must be the master of numerization.

A museum of resistance changes “relationships among form, matter, interval, and limit.” (Luce Irigaray)

It is necessary to have a strong knowledge of the structure of power, politics, and science. Nothing in politics that is not a surprise is of interest.

The law of permissiveness: freedom today is defined as adequation to the existing capitalist system. We need to organize ourselves through interdiction and other methods to resist this adequation.

A museum of resistance is not reactive and not documentary.

A museum of resistance is not meek.

A museum of resistance is a museum of desire; it has no fear of creating the desire to reconfigure inequity.


Text in italics: Silvia Kolbowski, notes taken during a talk given by Alain Badiou, “Contemporary Art Confronting the 21st Century,” Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York, February 2015.

Images: Silvia Kolbowski, Untitled, 2016.

Comments (1)

  • Carbuncle on the commodifying tongue lapping at the trough of capitalist largess!
    Very very nice! We need to embrace that infinite, that flash mob, that drum so big we can all sit around it. I am so happy I read this right now!
    You got me thinking about Asger Jorn , and the Guerilla Girls, and some of those pieces where you grabbed some commercial images and re-purposed them contributing to that increased awareness, that drawing back of the curtain, that whisper to scream, yeah come on baby. It’s on! Actually what was exciting about the ICP show was, and I can’t remember if they checked my bag or not, but even if they did, there was so much noise! I loved it! I felt like I was with it , with the art little a, with the Art big A and connected to everybody there.
    That’s a pretty cool way to feel at an opening.
    As for the politics and the science, the economics tells us that we are all going to be called upon to breathe and calm right the f down and consider all the poems and dance numbers and beautiful designer dresses and bridges that we will build so we can live in the museum of resistance!

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