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Post-Consumer Art, Andrzej Sapija, 1976

The series Categorical Statements from the Sphere of Post-Consumer Art expresses an artistic consciousness confirmed by art. They contain Statements which are at the same time postulates: the most important declaration concerns the progressing structural and visual complexity of art, its growing ‘artificiality’, resulting in the process of its absolutization and alienation from reality. What is the mechanism underlying this complexity: what is its essence and consequently the essence of ‘Post-Consumer Art’?

‘Post-Consumer Art’ is defined by its products. This definition, however, is not cumulative as Post-Consumer Art is a structure, a spontaneous and constituting process and not an accumulation of actions and their products. Thus, by virtue of this definition, anything that claims to be art or is its product is Post-Consumer Art and consequently – art as such. It may seem that this is a weak point in the definition as it concerns an empty term. But this is not the case: Post-consumer Art has already reached such a level of mental and visual complexity that its absolutization and objectivization have been accomplished to a degree sufficient to transforming it into a value that enters into relationships and processes of art as such; art as a global structure, as Althusser would call it. Art functions as a selector, fixing certain conceptions and products of artistic activity in an inter-subjective artistic consciousness referencing the realm of art, while rejecting others and sentencing them to oblivion. It does not verify or falsify but simply eliminates those which are anachronistic from the perspective of its current developmental stage. Post-consumer Art has become an objective value functioning within the realm of art — this has confirmed its objectivity and status as value.

The art of Natalia LL is a movement, the development of the growing artificiality. It is a gradual departure from reality, with each subsequent ‘reality’ — which is the object upon which the subject (Natalia LL) operates — becoming increasingly rationalised, mentally and visually condensed, that is increasingly ‘artificial’. Each subsequent procedure increases this ‘artificiality: each successive level of artificiality is essential for the establishment and confirmation of the preceding stage — that is the preceding artificiality. The result of the previous stage, in turn becomes the object of operations on the (subsequent) higher level. This is the process of permanent condensation leading towards a pure concept (comprising also visual artificiality), containing within itself all hitherto developed concepts and categories. This will be the most artificial of artificial concepts — the absolute of artificiality.

Defining art through its concept is equivalent to defining it through the concept of its complexity that is through the concept of the structure of the process of art because it is art that defines the subordinate structures (local structures referencing a given artistic action) that impose the status of work of art (object of art) upon phenomena situated at a certain point of the whole structure and defining them as such. Firstly, if the domain of art is a structure, it follows that the concept of linear causality cannot be applied to art’s phenomena and products. Within the structure of art the process of structural determining is at work which may be defined as the presence of structure in its effects. Secondly, the visible object cannot be defined by its outwardness that may be seen or generally sensually perceived but only by its concept. This does not suggest that the visible aspect is not important. It must, however, represent a certain degree of complexity and ‘artificiality. In this sense, together with the mental concept, it becomes the general concept for a given mental-visual product. This may encourage the process of self-defining and constituting as well as continued defining and determining its complexity.

This idea appears, at this still intuitive stage, in Natalia LLs comment included in her Visual Language (1974): “In the end, the visual language will become legible only in the context of the language as such and any anecdotal motivation would become redundant”.

All products of a given structure and structural relationships between them are determined by some dominant structure. Following Althusser’s line of reasoning, inwardness is a concept: not the real ‘inner aspect’ of the phenomenon but knowledge working on its own object. Consequently, there are no two distinct ‘levels’ of reality — the inner level identical with its ‘pure essence’ and the outer level which is an external phenomenon. If the ‘inner side’ is a concept, the ‘outer side’ may be only a more detailed definition of the concept in the same way as the effects of the whole structure may only be the very existence of the structure.

Natalia LLs Post-Consumer Art consists in the transposition of the inner side into the outer side – and vice versa. The development of concept consists in the passage from the inner essence, which is intrinsically abstract, to specific determinants and external products. In turn, as a result of operations performed on it, the specific, detailed concept is transformed an essential concept. Performing operations in the mental-visual sphere, we never leave the sphere of concepts. We only pass, within the set of two-way relationships, from the concept of structure and general effects of structure to detailed concepts of its consequences. In the (two-way) process, art’s self-definition is being accomplished. In this way, the final statement from the Categorical Statements is being realised: art will become Post-Consumer Art when it has been defined by art”.

Andrzej Sapija
August 1976

Translated by Małgorzata Możdżyńska-Nawotka