The creative act as resistance
While I was pondering what to write about in this text, the 20th anniversary of the death of Gilles Deleuze came around on 6th November. With this in mind, I watched the video of a talk given by the philosopher in March 1987 at the La Fémis film school in Paris, entitled “What is a creative act?”, a recurring theme for Deleuze and a mysterious question that beat at the heart of his discourse that day. Towards the end of his talk he argues that the creative act is an act of resistance that affirms the will to resist death and to defy the control which has come to characterise modern society, just as Foucault sensed it would.
Deleuze states that social control is exercised through communication, which disseminates information that one would have us believe, whereas art is (or should be) alien to communication; it should be a creative act with no information (or, at least, with counter-information), an act of resistance in which words (or shapes) rise into the air while their subject matter goes underground; a shape-shifting act that eludes control, an irrepressible gesture.
At the start of the talk, Deleuze explains that the philosopher elaborates concepts whereas the artist must give shape to an idea. The important thing is to have at least a single idea, an idea that can be shaped through repetition, but with variations, over the course of a work or the development of a creative process. It is not for nothing that one of Deleuze’s key concepts, elaborated in the early stages of his philosophical development, is repetition and its relationship with difference, thinking beyond the logic of identity, of the idea that, in order to be, the identical must be reproduced. Repetition unfolds in difference: beings and things gradually build themselves and stand out through mutating repetition because it positively includes difference, otherness. It is a concept for the release of the modern subject as opposed to submitting to an essential identity, forever fixed in place; life itself as a constant creation. And it is also a release for art since, given that it contains nothing substantially original, there is no copy and, in any case, the repetition is not of the art itself. In fact, it is in repetition that small differences, alterations and shifts can be observed.
Furthermore, it is possible to think that, contrary to what one might suppose, the contemporary self believes that it is standing out by exhibiting itself in images that, paradoxically, seem identical to the point of forming the mirror of a homogeneous society. It does so using communication channels through which it transmits information about itself that contributes to its control, both political and that which reduces it to an object of consumption. That is why, more than ever, the creative act should be an act of resistance (or, in fact, it is a creative act if it fulfils this condition), which, going against the grain of uniformity, expresses or captures something non-identical: a gesture of difference in repetition. It is a possibility that can be glimpsed in the tears of several donors, collected and cultivated by Edith Medina in order to explore their aesthetic capacities in the revelation of unexpected shapes; in the story told by Raphael Emine of humans’ relationship with water, in which industrial techniques coexist with archaic ones, related to a mythical and ritual experience; in the research carried out by Mireia c. Saladrigues into non-conventional behaviours, different gestures in a society controlled by the market and institutions; in the glow-worms (an idea or perhaps an image which, significantly, Pasolini also used) that Javier Chozas imagines as appearing when digital devices are switched off in order to highlight the difference which, contained in the networks, they make invisible: beautiful stories that fade in identical multiplicity; in Jennis Li Cheng’s exploration of differences, related to the life and architecture of neighbourhoods, which have managed to survive within the growing standardisation of the urban world and, therefore, the cloning of new spaces in cities.
Showing difference within repetition is not merely a formal exercise. It is an essential gesture of art; life as a creation and an act of political resistance.