You arrive in Chicago. We meet a week later, on your birthday. You hire me to be your assistant, on his advice, him whom you have never met. You tell me you are interested in Ayn Rand. Why Ayn Rand? Rand has long been regarded in academic and literary circles as a quaint utopian pseudo-philosopher. But yes, you’re right, Tea Party conservatives still embrace her as a libertarian hero and those righteous paeans to capitalist individualism remain on required reading lists. A 1991 Library of Congress/Book of the Month club survey found that respondents named Rand’s Atlas Shrugged the second most influential book in their life after the Bible. Ideology trumps the literary.
You keep asking why. You ask simple questions insistently. I take them at face value. You persist.
Can a rhetorical question demand an answer?
We agree I will write a text, a record of our work together and my thoughts. I write about European naiveté towards American political systems, about American lack of historical memory. Then I get into a residency, leave Chicago and go to Maine. Upon arriving back in Chicago, my laptop falls onto the floor and the hard drive dies. The text is gone. You write me later from Vienna, saying I can write anything, something else, start again. You write me again. I never answer your email. You contact me when you arrive in New York, and ask me again for a text.
Magda Tothova is a visual artist based in Vienna and Berlin. She has exhibited in Europe and the United States including the The Renaissance Society (Chicago), Tate Modern (London), The Kitchen (NY), Austrian Cultural Forum (NY), Kibla Portal (Maribor), Volkskundemuseum (Vienna), Microscope Gallery (NY), HDLU (Zagreb) and Federico Bianchi Contemporary Art (Milan). Tothova was born in Bratislava, Slovakia and currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria and Berlin, Germany.
She is a co-editor of the artist magazine: Chicago/Times/Plotter/
Gringo/Zeus/The Mix/Princess Lulu/Pigiarniq/Paper/
In her recent projects, collaboration with musicians and artist colleagues became a recurring method of artistic exchange between various disciplines. At Adds Donna she is presenting her latest video and multiple slide installation based on her ongoing research about and around the myth of Ayn Rand and the consequences of her science fiction.
*With the kind support of the the Arts Division and the Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria.