As surely as Medusa: Monica Ross’ justfornow for Minus Plato Today

On my return from Kassel and Athens, from documenta 14 and Liquid Antiquity, I not only found myself in the middle of my life (on turning 38 while away), but also back in the middle of the Wexner Store, holding in my hands a new book of an artist I had never heard of.

This time it was Monica Ross: Ethical Actions, A Critical Fine Arts Practice and within its pages I stumbled across the artist’s 2001-2004 work justfornow, which is described as follows:

A series of durational performances and web works transcribing Walter Benjamin’s essay ” The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” variously onto digital tablets or tracing paper using headcams, webfeeds and live video projection on windows. The project includes documentation/print works, audience screengrabs and a website at www.justfornow.net

There are so many ways into Ross’ project that I will limit myself to some screengraps of the ‘history’ section of the notebook folder (randomizing their order and accompanying them with a reading of the text just for now (and then)…some notes on time and event, questions of performance art and its documentation in photographic and digital media reproduced in the book I was reading.

There were also so many ways in which this work resonated with me today, I have to here present them here as bullet points:

  • the e-book HELL_TREE by Petra Cortright that was the ostensible impetus for me starting the Minus Plato Today project back in Thanksgiving last year.
  • the whole Minus Plato Today project of daily posts and its use of several of the same methods of every day digital inscription (e.g. screengrabs) and what the future of this project will be when it is over (e.g. a book)
  • the reference to ‘durational performances’ echoed Mattin’s ‘durational concert’ that I have been so focused on as one of the central works at documenta 14, presented both in Athens and Kassel, and which will enter into its final week today.
  • the work of Nina Papaconstantinou, who presented at the event in Athens Liquid Antiquity: A New Fold and whose practice of overwriting and transcription resonates with Ross’ engagement with Benjamin’s essay.
  • the moment of panic yesterday when I realized that I had lost all of my photographs from my earlier visit to Athens in June, only to remember that I had sent them all to my friend, artist sarah goetz, in exchange for her photographs from Athens (as well as the title justfornow further recalled sarah’s work for now).
  • the reference to the myth of Medusa in the text just for now (and then)…some notes on time and event, questions of performance art and its documentation in photographic and digital media (in the opening section ‘in the event’), leading me back to Hélène Cixous’s 1976 essay “The Laugh of Medusa” and me noticing how Cixous focuses on Medea’s flight.
  • the contrast between the digital culture, tradition and feminism at the basis of the comment in Hilary Clinton’s memoir What Happened, published today, in which she compares how while Trump “was ranting on Twitter”, she was leading a “traditional presidential campaign with carefully thought-out policies and painstakingly built coalitions” in which she “was giving speeches laying out how to solve the country’s problems.”
  • the project I assigned my Philosophy class in my absence – to annotate essays from Moyra Davey’s Mother Reader – and the presence they will occupy in an installation called Oh Mother Reader I Can Feel next month.

Yet between the screengrabs, the audio and my bullet points, perhaps there are other resonances that you will have when you encounter Ross’ work. So, here is an assignment for you:

  1. Listen to the audio
  2. Look at the images
  3. Wander through the website www.justfornow.net
  4. Flip through the book Monica Ross: Ethical Actions, A Critical Fine Arts Practice
  5. Comment on this post with your own timely resonances

Then, I will edit the post, adding your comments to the empty bullet points below:

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