According to his website, Florin Flueras is involved in: unsorcery, dead thinking, second body, eternal feeding technique, among other things. Behind these terms is a complex thought-process and philosophy dedicated to finding a way – not necessarily forward, but out of the current socio-political mess that society seems to be in. According to him, Dead Thinking is a movement toward the darkness, toward death, away from hope; unlike healthy thinking, which somehow numbs us to the death and destruction taking place all around us, because it keeps us holding on to hope for the future. In speaking to the artist, one would think that he has indeed given up hope for the future. He told me about the fact that we are currently undergoing a rapid human extinction – faster even than the dinosaurs; that participatory democracy has failed, and that we have passed the time when “radical change was necessary, to avoid collapse.” It all sounds rather pessimistic. Even the Presidential Candidate, which Florin is part of, runs on a platform that declares “Give Up Hope!” and the campaign colors are a bleak gray. That said, as an artist, Florin feels that he has to do something, and he thinks that the direction in which to go is away from optimism and utopic futuristic leanings, which haven’t worked for us so far, and toward pessimism, death and – possibly – a different mode of thinking that might, in fact, work (at the risk of sounding too optimistic…). At any rate, the artist tells me, given the current state humanity is in, “it doesn’t matter, so why not try something.”
One of the methods of moving society toward these different ways of thinking that has been used by Presidential Candidate, which is part of the Post-Spectacle project, is to hijack existing events in the public space, in a manner akin to the avant-garde rallying cry to épater le bourgeoisie. One of the events that Florin and other Presidential Candidate/Post-Spectacle artists hijacked was the one-year anniversary celebration of the opening of the AFI Palace Cotroceni shopping mall in Bucharest – the largest in Eastern Europe. Mounting the stage in front of an ice skating rink that had been installed for the event, Florin posed as an Orthodox priest, singing religious songs. It was an ironic gesture, of course, and the artists had gained access to the event by tricking the organizers. In the end, they became aware of the gesture and kicked the artists off of the stage. Florin also appeared at the site of the People’s Salvation Cathedral, a construction being planned by the Romanian Church and set to be erected just behind the Palace of the People – an appendage to another monumental building campaign, that one from the communist era. Florin appeared in religious garb and announced that the Cathedral was already completed and ready for consecration – he was referring to the cheap, simple structure that had been quickly put up on the building site where the real church, which is planned to be taller than the Palace behind it, and will include a hotel and massive parking lot, will eventually be constructed. Once again, the performance ended with an intervention from the public, who questioned his authenticity, and forced him to leave.
The phenomenon of taking over an already existing event and turning it against itself was also popularized by the French International Situationist group, who referred to it as détournement, The use of détournement by the Post-Spectacle artists has a similar aim, that is, to expose the manner in which these mechanisms, which we take for granted in every society, work, in order to call them into question. There is also another aim, however, and that is to trigger an alternative or new way of thinking. It is interesting to think that Post-Spectacle is, in fact, quite timely, given that Eastern Europe did not experience the same shift from modernism to postmodernism in the manner that the West did. Rather, this change came much later, for example with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the collapse of modernist binaries. But artists such as Florin go beyond the culture jamming of the artists of the 1960s and try to move past that, into different ways of thinking, alternative forms of consciousness and being.
When I asked him if he thought the cultural hijacking that he has taken part in has been effective, he said that he doesn’t quite know, but he does feel that it causes an interruption in daily life, which is the first step. As for the next step, he says, that remains to be seen, as he hasn’t gone that far yet. He doesn’t know what his Dead Thinking will produce, but nevertheless feels that, as an artist, he must keep trying.