Art Lies, Volume 55, Fall 2007 Page: 20
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text by Raimundas Malalauskas
I was dreaming when I wrote this; forgive me if it goes astray. But when I woke
up this morning, I realized there's not enough time to experience future
anymore. You've probably noticed this too. The future does not bring
more time to explore it, yet it arrives in a state of immediate impasse and
planned post-obsolescence. At the same time, the speed of its arrival is
such that you do not even notice its onset. However many times this has
happened, you don't even think about it anymore. "Maybe it comes slower
when you think rather than when you don't think?" I wondered...
"It definitely comes faster than you think," I realized when all my
questions remained unanswered. Again and again, I tuned into "1999" by
Prince, released in 1983. He was singing about the remains of a moment
right before another big moment to come, i.e., the millennium. Technically,
Prince was unfolding a seamless song: he was projecting himself into the
future-the year 2000, much in the same way Stanley Kubrick did in 2001:
A Space Odyssey (1968). They say two thousand zero zero, party over / Oops,
out of time! He was turning back time to the last seconds of 1999, find-
ing the locus of pleasure there-partying "like it's 1999"-while actually
"dancing his life away" in 1983. Prince twisted and warped not only beats
and identity but time itself.
Recently, I decided to go back in time and revisit the moment when
Prince wrote that song, and thus, the year 1983 became my destination.
Among period relics were the bronze medals of USSR'S football champi-
onship won by Zalgiris, my favorite team at the time. There was also the
video "Thriller" and a special issue of Artforum dedicated to the historiog-
raphy of the future and other sciences of unpredictability. Flipping through
the black-and-white pages of this relatively slim volume (compared to its
current incarnation) and discovering some brilliant things, including an ad
for a "collaborative experiment in cross-cultural transfusion" (Funk Lessons
by Adrian Piper), I couldn't help myself from sitting down and writing a
new, retroactive preface for the issue. I tried to envisage it from multiple
perspectives of time, abandoning points of "before," "after" and "infinity"
When Jorge Luis Borges doubled a series of detective stories by Edgar
Allan Poe in 1941, 100 years separated-or connected, as we prefer to
claim now-their attempts. The doppelganger of Poe's tales was born at
the age of 100. It had the identical structure and subject of its original. In
2006, when I decided to write the new Artforum preface dedicated to the
future, there were only twenty-three years stretched in between, but that
was not enough...l wanted less.
A number of reasons made me think of writing this preface. Firstly, in
the years in between 1983 and 2006, it became clear that in all sections of
the culture industry, the distance separating nostalgia from its object was
getting shorter and shorter, to the point where new gestures were based
not on stories of the past but on gestures of the future. Since the future
was already recorded, it had become the source of a number of multina-
tional reenactments-taking place from Lagos to Beijing, 24/7-churned
out as remixes prior to the release of the originals. We didn't even call
them originals anymore. But was this the future we'd imagined?
Unfortunately, yes: it was a future as we imagined it. And it was the
main reason for our melancholy, because despite this, we still craved an
unimaginable future. So when the new preface was published in 2006,
it did not change anything. We felt that by inhabiting the commentary
sectors of old, forgotten articles on abandoned websites-leaving mes-
sages on their virtual walls-we might contribute to the rewriting of his-
tory. It was a comforting and slightly decadent social experience, but it
really didn't change a thing. Yet we still kept the word "change" in our
However, while writing the unsolicited preface, I realized several
things: I didn't want to relive or reenact moments that have already hap-
pened, didn't want to project anything into the future, didn't want to
suspend the present, didn't want to make the arrival of the future any
slower, didn't want to rewrite history faster and didn't want eternity to
Then New Year's Eve arrived. We celebrated it with friends at a party
where everybody was asked to wear exactly what they wore one year
before-a sort of conceptual costume party. I liked the idea of making a
pastiche of something that had not yet become history but was delivered
according to the standards of a New Year's celebration. Some costumes
were really funny, not because they were already dated but simply because
they were funny. (Some people tried to project themselves on the dance
floor to the year 1999 via the year 1983...1 am still searching for photos of
the event.) Watching this carnival of possibilities of one's position in time,
20 ART LIES
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Staley, Tim & Gupta, Anjali. Art Lies, Volume 55, Fall 2007, periodical, 2007; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth228020/m1/22/?q=prince%20cast: accessed February 8, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .