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Soft Manifesto for the Pre-merging Whatever (written summer 2015)

I’m 21. A manifesto right now is stupid and perfect. It’ll be of non-belief and pre-mergent ambivalence spouting from anecdotal vibes and splooshing all over myself. I’m first and last, not even anywhere, and on the cusp of not being able to write this. Let’s go.

We’re in strange positions, those my age, those in school, those interested but not within. We exist in clash – flying and burrowing, transparent and utterly opaque – on our step stool to peek and pretend, making home in borders while the timeline of artistic development goes rightfully unquestioned. Who knows? Not us. And we play without risk between pendulums, jumping, dodging, rolling around. Always awestruck, usually jealous, wishing to be spongier. All we can do is imagine layers.

We blow bubbles and skip around as interns, assistants, and audience members who don’t belong. We learn from and in structures and are in a convoluted lattice of “we” ourselves. Often we’re not introduced, often we’re not paid, often we’re assumed to know nothing and then thanked profusely because we do. We’re used to it and sick of it. But we hear the gossip, we wonder if people are actually like this. It’s confusing, we think, to want so much from a network that functions socially the same as our ideological foes. But we move on.

Specifically us. Battling with relativism, experience, and privilege both in work and as work. On the ultimate quest to dig Foreman and Beyoncé, to read Baudrillard and Buzzfeed. Are we successfully little to escape the big, and what are new ways of being? How far do our metaphors actually penetrate? Through mostly blind acceptance we lap up rejections of thought, tables turning. It’s exciting to pancake around. Our commitment is confusing and apolitical. We’re closer than our idols to being the kids they de-spire to be, but we don’t really know what to do with that, our springiness. Don’t you wish you had it.

This manifesto is soft because maybe I don’t know what’s best for us. But it’s still a manifesto and there are things we need that we don’t have that we want that we think may be important for what’s different about us. We’re still an accident, a spark from a rogue grad student or a library rabbit hole or a grandparent in New York. But that’s changing and worlds need to brace.

Professors with MFAs need to know how to go beyond “that was very Dada.” Peers need to know how to go beyond “that was very Dada.” Which comes first? Let’s hear it for smorgasbord education. And somebody needs to start a bootleg network of university-based touring shitshows by students like us for us. Also we need a more reciprocal intern economy. And some decentralization, although that implies that there’s already a center and people to decenter it. Let’s get glitchy, let’s go wild, let’s have folks who want us to.

I feel like I’m walled up. Like there is an outside or an over. What to do in this little bliptime? Or should we bolster for when we’re graduated? There are tools for both, I think, that straddle now and whenever as we learn oh this is what sex is like, oh this is collaboration. We must capitalize our fetishes, ration our irony, avoid boiling down into self-referential sludge. We must get that we get it, or assume, or get that we don’t get it and move on. Make ourselves invincible through performance and ignore vulnerability. Buy lots of books, reading them is less important. Facebook stalk but keep our privacy settings on high.

The next artistic frontiers will be laziness and hypocrisy. Contemporary performance will become pedagoogleized for better or worse. It will become less necessary to see it in order to study it. This is already beginning to happen. What that means isn’t up to me or even us. There are things we can’t do. But we must bask in that. There’s no time to locate ourselves. We can do that later, if ever.

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