THOMAS BEY WILLIAM BAILEY
Reaching the place
where the poet last stood:
correspondences between art and terrorism
"eventually […] the soldier would reach the point where the poet last stood, and […] would hear echoes of the poet’s song […] from these echoes he would start a conflagration.”
- Geulah Cohen
My latest book project-in-progress results from over a decade of independently researching the coordinates of terrorism and political violence, and in the process making a particular finding: the strategies and attitudes defining the terrorist practice have, throughout the course of history, had many key crossover points with artistic practice.
Much in the same way that terrorism has moved the theater of war from the "battlefield" to the total environment experienced by combatants and non-combatants alike, art has increasingly left its own traditional confines (theater, gallery, etc.) and has focused on the production of total experiences rather than unique artifacts. As these processes have evolved together, the opportunities for artists working with "extreme"/ controversial material to become identified as terrorists have dramatically expanded, as well as for the inverse to be true. This book aims to be a comprehensive study of cases in which this identification was actually embraced by the parties in question, and occasions in which the art / terror relationship was a stigma originating from hostile forces in government, mass media and elsewhere. I feel that these correspondences, where they exist, are an inevitable consequence of an increasingly networked, etherealized world in which numerous old antagonisms have only intensified.
I've included a draft of the book's introductory chapter here, hopefully to be eventually followed by an outline / table of contents:
Read /download introduction to "Reaching the Place Where the Poet Last Stood" (.pdf)
As I continue to work on this, I'm interested to hear others' ideas for how to structure the book, and welcome the input of anyone who might want to be an interview subject. Feel free to contact me here.