Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Madness of Humanity

            The discussion took place in Jad Salman's atelier on Oct. 21, 2013




From the very beginning 'sauvage' was a theme which prompted linkages to the wild as compared with the tamed. But madness is something else. It comes close to 'la folie' of Foucault.

In relation to 19th century thinking, madness was also considered to be beyond reason and therefore also no longer touched by doubt. Foucault equated this with insanity and could be translated literally into an imagination having gone wild i.e. out of control. This means reason and insanity were not only the opposite, but reason produced this kind of madness by driving people ever more into a kind of wildness in need to be controlled (jailed, sedated) if they did not go conform to reason. Everything not reasonable was considered to be sick.

Today we see results of human dignity having been hurt in many grave ways. Frustrated due to being subjected to a long period of suppression, there can identified various forms of madness. What showed itself in the Arab Spring was a kind of mutation of these hurt feelings for having allowed for too long to be treated as if not worthy of human self consciousness, of being like everyone else a human being. By returning to a renewed sense of equality, the Arab spring motivated everyone into becoming brave enough to articulate one's own opinion in public. Putting a face to the message send out by social media meant not writing something anonymous and therefore remain hidden, but become recognizable as someone who risks failure in the public. The biggest failure of all is naturally to risk not being understood. At the same time, it meant no longer to write anonymous messages on the wall, but to enter a recognizable pattern of self responsibility towards the other. One aspect of that has been a renewed interest in neglected urban areas in what might seem primitive or simple methods of urban planning by getting everyone in the neighbourhood to agree the roads must be kept free for an ambulance to get through or houses need to remove some of the old trappings to let in light. Changes like these is about removing reasons for getting mad at your neighbor who was till then not considerate enough of the needs of the other but just plowed ahead in his old fashioned way and not caring left and right what was happening. Thus cultural sensitivity and human relationships could soften the imprint of this specific madness too often diverted or understood merely as being against the entire system. That has been until now a major political mistake since getting the others to do something together means also the need to reason with everyone and here the real obstacles and challenges begin.

There is another kind of madness. In stretches of desperation and elongated recessions with no light visible at the end of the tunnel, people do feel both trapped and humiliated as they depend upon money, but this cannot be attained any more so easily, if at all. Anyone caged in by this invisible force called lack of money - in the deeper sense it is about having some financial security - senses coercive forces can make him or her do something which one knows to regret later on in life. And yet it is done. This dilemma and succumbing to coercion prompt another kind of madness.

In Greece, it is called 'rage'.

Certainly there is the risk in any case to end up like the Hamster in the wheel or what Paul Blackman and Christine Gouzelis use as title for their dancing piece to be performed next January in Athens, in a 'circular virtuosos'. Once in debt, always in debt.

You lose yourself by getting mad about yourself.

It is time to think about how to emerge out of these self inflicted deficits.

So Stuart Krusee or anyone else who wishes to start the discussion in Jad Salman's atelier may initiate some first reflections about this topic of 'madness of humanity'. A good departure for this can also be the text which had been written about the paintings of Jad Salman for his last year exhibitions in both Berlin and Paris (www.jadsalman.ps). That specific text makes an allusion to how reason can be eaten up by the beast which reveals itself once a revolution turns out to be anything but a revolution. While the latter assumes to be standing up for mankind and human dignity, the latter pulls all those wishes into doubt once again.

While we need to question these assumptions about a failed revolution just bringing out a negative kind of madness, there are other things to be referred to as well. I have heard voices in Egypt who belong to the secular movement and who wish no longer to enter a coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood for they feel betrayed. They are still open to dialogue but now that the terms of civil society are again under a new dictate of the military, they no longer wish to enter a political coalition with them. More likely due to recent events in Egypt with Morsi being put in jail is that people feel not merely detached from their own madness, but are cut off from that kind of madness considered to be a positive way forward, in order to challenge abuse of power. In that latter context could often be heard but “you must be mad to try to topple Mubarak”, and yet the power of the people in the streets succeeded in doing just that, if only the military stood by and thus gained the trust when in fact it might turn out to be another feat of mass deception.

During the initial phase of the revolution people started cleaning up public squares as they felt dignity in joining a movement expressing not merely solidarity but mutual responsibility. Power attempts to cut off the individual from society, and this is done best by negating both self and collective responsibility. Powerful is when all hold hands and create that opportunity to overcome this double negation. What then follows may no longer ascribe to madness but be again an expression of willingness to take on new challenges and work while dreaming on how to improve oneself in whatever one happens to be doing.

Entering such a discussion means to take Jad Salman's work as common reference and in trying to relate as to what is happening in the Middle East but not only, it might add something to our own reflections of the situation in which we find ourselves to be in right now.

Hatto Fischer

Paris 21.10.2013


Participants in the discussion



                   Jad Salman


 Nicole Monvoisin

 Kata Keresztely

 Jad's friend from Tunesia

 Steve Faigenbaum

 Stuart Krusee

 Hatto Fischer


In the last part of the discussion full attention was given to Jad Salman's painting "Heroin land".


Jad Salman, "Heroin land"


Address of Jad Salman's studio in -Arcueil- located within the premise of the art center called ANIS Gras

55 avenue Laplace
RER B. station: Laplace.


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