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Kevin Rodgers

The Free Dependent


In 1961 political theorist Hannah Arendt published "Between Past and Future", and in the preface drew attention to the temporal “intervals” within our daily continuity determined by “things that are no longer, and by things that are not yet.” This opening or "gap" between past and future is full of potentiality; for Arendt, it was a metaphor for the activity of thought itself. It is only when thinking interrupts our ordinary activities—and is in turn, interrupted by them—that we can say thinking is ‘out of order’.

To think, however, is not to act which “this most solitary occupation can never do, since we can only act ‘in concert,’ in company and agreement with our peers…” Thinking arises from withdrawal, removed from familiar order and requirements. In fact, “the need to think can be satisfied only through thinking,” Arendt explained, “and the thoughts which I had yesterday will satisfy this need today only to the extent that I can think them anew.” It is worth remembering that for Arendt action is word and deed performed in public: it is the political process of coming together, being-with. This action allows for the appearance of the self, speech and its utterance: a place for the unexpected, unpredictable word. 

Yet how should we reconcile these two seemingly diametrical opposites—withdrawal and action—especially in light of Arendt’s statement that appears to suggest that thinking is effectively apolitical? Perhaps reconciliation is the wrong task: to locate (and articulate) the space of tension in which to situate a critical art practice is the more demanding one. Drawing upon provisional formalism and political theory, my practice is situated between formal aesthetic content and discontent (political). This apparent divide between withdrawal and engagement (or content and discontent) is the basis for my artwork. Instead of reconciliation, to harness the space between is the task at hand. As a sculptor, I am ever conscious that how we think, produce relations and orient ourselves to objects in space are issues for both reflection and action: forms of resistance to the tides of prescription. For my residency at FLACC, two particular questions act as the departure points: What does a foreclosure on representation consist of? What does it mean for an artistic practice to be 'out of order'?

Kevin Rodgers

The Free Dependent

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