Ulrike Müller

LTTR Bulletin

LTTR V: Positively Nasty, New York
2006

We live in times of war.

Now I find myself dragged out on stage. I didn’t even have time to check my reflection in a mirror, and I certainly don’t remember my lines. If I ever had any. I am feeling exposed and too self-conscious to charm or seduce. Can you love me anyway? And if so where can we go? I want to be taken and I want you to take me home, but I doubt there is an easy way out for either of us.
 
In a recent discussion the skeptical question about art’s potential to change the world came up. I said that I am sure it can, because it has changed my world in many ways. I remember feeling polemical as I said that, and I also remember hearing conviction in my voice. I’d like to hear that again. So I want to know what we can do for each other now. I want to hear words that cut to the bone. When things get nasty, a sense of urgency prevails.

And everyday the world outside continues as if nothing had happened. Sometimes I get involved, feel alive and in the middle of it. At other times I drop out. Then it goes on without me. They say: Time heals all wounds. But while our bruises are healing we’re also dying. Which is another way of saying living. The half-empty way of putting it. We cannot imagine our own death. No matter how often we try, we remain spectators of a scene. And I am not at all interested in spilling stage blood right now, just trying to peek over the brim of my horizon. Unstably balancing on the tip of my toes.

In this scenario it is hard to recognize the real enemy. How can I, with any absolute certainty, distinguish between my own projections and real external dangers? Projection is a self-protective strategy. If inner stimuli are too overbearingly unpleasant I treat them as if they are located outside of me, so I can use defense strategies that I don’t have towards my inner life. If I produce the enemy then I must fight him. “The category of reality is unable to secure the political distinctions or effects it is required to perform.” (Jacqueline Rose)

I feel the curtain rising. Soon the question of risk will be obsolete. Things I’ve never done before and no safety nets. No easy comfort from functional narratives. No perfection. No inscribing my project into the canon of critical art since the 1960s. No retreat into the predictable power scenarios of porn. No fantasy as distinct from reality. No recreational role-play. No indulgence in drama. No rules to guide experimental art making. No one book to read. I cannot even hold on to the crutches of political correctness anymore.

I feel anxious energy rushing through my body. I want to do meaningful things. My world is this stage. I will seek allies among the dead, the absent and fictitious. I will search the archives, and distill schnapps from the windfall of history. I won’t let myself be disconnected from the larger picture. I will face my own murderous instincts. I’ll pull up my socks and get to work. I’ll suck my own toe for pleasure. I’ll fuck the man to get what I want. I will be true to my perversions. I put my ambivalence to work and my desire for beauty. I’ll embrace the absurd and the horrible. I’ll propose yet another model and I’ll push it further. I won’t look away, and I insist for you to look at me. And I’ll have to finally accept my need for recognition, because there is no way I can do this alone. Thanks for your companionship so far.