Archived entries for revolt

Art strike 1977-1980

Artists engaged in political struggle act in two key areas: the use of their art for direct social change; and actions to change the structures of the art world. It needs to be understood that this activity is necessarily of a reformist, rather than revolutionary, character. Indeed this political activity often serves to consolidate the existing order, in the West, and in the East.
The use of art for social change is bedevilled by the close integration of art and society. The state supports art, it needs art as a cosmetic cloak to its horrifying reality, and uses art to confuse, divert and entertain large numbers of people. Even when deployed against the interests of the state, art cannot cut loose the umbilical cord of the state. Art in the service of revolution is unsatisfactory and mistrusted because of the numerous links of art with the state and capitalism. Despite these problems, artists will go on using art to change society.

Throughout the century, artists have attacked the prevailing methods of production, distribution and consumption of art. These attacks on the organisation of the art world have gained momentum in recent years. This struggle, aimed at the destruction of existing commercial and public marketing and patronage systems, can be brought to a successful conclusion in the course of the present decade.

The refusal to labour is the chief weapon of workers fighting the system; artists can use the same weapon. To bring down the art system it is necessary to call for years without art, a period of three years – 1977 to 1980 – when artists will not produce work, sell work, permit work to go on exhibitions, and refuse collaboration with any part of the publicity machinery of the art world. This total withdrawal of labor is the most extreme collective challenge that artists can make to the state. The years without art will see the collapse of many private galleries. Museums and cultural institutions handling contemporary art will be severely hit, suffer loss of funds, and will have to reduce their staff. National and local government institutions will be in serious trouble. Art magazines will fold. The international ramifications of the dealer/museum/publicity complex make for vulnerability; it is a system that is keyed to a continuous juggling of artists, finance, works and information – damage one part, and the effect is felt world-wide.

Three years is the minimum period required to cripple the system, whilst a longer period of time would create difficulties for artists. The very small number of artists who live from the practice of art are sufficiently wealthy to live on their capital for three years. The vast majority of people who produce art have to subsidise their work by other means; they will, in fact, be saving money and time. Most people who practice art never sell their work at a profit, do not get the chance to exhibit their work under proper conditions, and are unmentioned by the publicity organs. Some artist may find it difficult to restrain themselves from producing art. These artist will be invited to enter camps, where making of art works is forbidden, and where any work produced is destroyed at regular intervals. In place of the practice of art, people can spend time on the numerous historical, esthetic and social issues facing art. It will be necessary to construct more equitable forms for marketing, exhibiting and publicising art in the future. As the twentieth century has progressed, capitalism has smothered art – the deep surgery of the years without art will give it a new chance.

Art strike 1977-1980
Gustav Metzger, 1974

Pero hay un rayo de sol en la lucha que siempre deja la sombra vencida.

Yo que creí que la luz era mía
precipitado en la sombra me veo.
Ascua solar, sideral alegría
ígnea de espuma, de luz, de deseo.

Sangre ligera, redonda, granada:
raudo anhelar sin perfil ni penumbra.
Fuera, la luz en la luz sepultada.
Siento que sólo la sombra me alumbra.

Sólo la sombra. Sin astro. Sin cielo.
Seres. Volúmenes. Cuerpos tangibles
dentro del aire que no tiene vuelo,
dentro del árbol de los imposibles.

Cárdenos ceños, pasiones de luto.
Dientes sedientos de ser colorados.
Oscuridad del rencor absoluto.
Cuerpos lo mismo que pozos cegados.

Falta el espacio. Se ha hundido la risa.
Ya no es posible lanzarse a la altura.
El corazón quiere ser más de prisa
fuerza que ensancha la estrecha negrura.

Carne sin norte que va en oleada
hacia la noche siniestra, baldía.
¿Quién es el rayo de sol que la invada?
Busco. No encuentro ni rastro del día.

Sólo el fulgor de los puños cerrados,
el resplandor de los dientes que acechan.
Dientes y puños de todos los lados.
Más que las manos, los montes se estrechan.

Turbia es la lucha sin sed de mañana.
¡Qué lejanía de opacos latidos!
Soy una cárcel con una ventana
ante una gran soledad de rugidos.

Soy una abierta ventana que escucha.
por donde va tenebrosa la vida.
Pero hay un rayo de sol en la lucha
que siempre deja la sombra vencida.

Eterna Sombra,
Miguel Hernández

Disobedience Archive (The Republic)

The archive is divided into nine sections: 1977 The Italian Exit looks at the revolutionary movements in Italy in the 1970s, with a focus on 1977, year of large-scale violent confrontations with a reactionary state. Protesting Capitalist Globalization documents or comments on the new social wave against globalization. Reclaim the Streets presents proposals to create autonomous social spaces through experimental forms of education, community, urbanism and architecture. Bioresistence and Society of Control refers to Foucault’s analysis of the ways the operations of power extend beyond the institutions of state. Argentina Fabrica Social explores the political and economic crisis that stretched from the 2001 uprising to the election of Néstor Kirchner. Disobedience East brings together videos of political and activist art from post-communist Europe. Disobedience University shows alternative practices and strategies in which consumption is seen as a form of co-realization and collaboration. The Arab Dissent tries to raise questions about changes and antagonism in the Middle East. Gender Politics suggest the destruction of gender identity.

via Disobedience Archive (The Republic) – we make money not art.

they fight a fire that won’t go out


From Time’s ONE DREAM

a buoyant sound that rose to the sky of the city; the sound of the revival of urban Istanbul

Around 2AM, city inhabitants who couldn’t get out to the streets started a protest, clanking kitchen tools and pots from their windows. This was a buoyant sound that rose to the sky of the city; the sound of the revival of urban Istanbul.

via A report from Gezi Park by Pelin Tan.

It may also resist related reciprocal terrorism in which the body, as in Carnival, is the weapon…

This inversion of the world order would also help break that other binary, the one between Western and Arab worlds. It may also resist related reciprocal terrorism in which the body, as in Carnival, is the weapon. In response to Rahul Rao’s question about what “protest sensibility” might befit a world in which there is not one single locus of threat, these protests show that it might well be in the all-encompassing and chaotic carnivalesque. Rao posed this question in the introduction to his book Third World Protest: Between Home and the World (2010). He was responding to Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s assertion in Empire (2000) that “the first question of political philosophy today is not if or even why there will be resistance and rebellion but rather how to determine the enemy against which to rebel.” In their follow-up volume, Multitude, Hardt and Negri included a section titled “Carnival and Movement,” which was devoted to “protests that are carnevalesque, however, not only in their atmosphere [but] also in their organization.” They credited Bakhtin for “help[ing] us understand … the logic of the multitude, a theory of organization based on the freedom of singularities that converge in the production of the common.”49

via Occupy Wall Street: Carnival Against Capital? Carnivalesque as Protest Sensibility | e-flux.

“we don’t want to occupy the territory, we want to be the territory”

A link that has been more widely made has been between OWS and The Coming Insurrection (2009), a pamphlet written by The Invisible Committee, a French insurrectionary anarchist group. Glenn Beck has hysterically attacked The Coming Insurrection, indicting it as the inspiration for OWS and the international upheavals that preceded it, from the Greek protests of 2010–11 to the UK student movement of 2010 and the Arab Spring. (The latter was first acknowledged as a source of inspiration by the occupiers themselves). The pamphlet proclaims that “we live under an occupation, a police occupation,” and states that “we don’t want to occupy the territory, we want to be the territory,” thereby reversing the rhetoric of occupation (as in the (Un)Occupy Albuquerque movement). It casts a pessimistic light on a state of de facto capitalist colonization of the world.12 Since the eviction of OWS and other encampments, the need to de-territorialize the occupationist strategy and “be the territory” has never seemed more urgent.

via Occupy Wall Street: Carnival Against Capital? Carnivalesque as Protest Sensibility | e-flux.

disgruntled farmers disguised themselves as “Indians,” dressed in “calico gowns and leather masks”

New York’s law dates back to 1845, when lawmakers tried to quell uprisings by tenant farmers who "used disguises to attack law enforcement officers," according to a later U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. A dip in the price of wheat left many in debt to landowner Stephen Van Rensselaer IV.

After Mr. Rensselaer moved to evict tenants, disgruntled farmers disguised themselves as "Indians," dressed in "calico gowns and leather masks" and attacked agents of the landlords. The court papers said the tactics adopted by these rebel groups ranged from "tarring and feathering" to murder, including a sheriff.

The law was amended in 1965 to prevent masked gatherings of two or more people, with a significant exception: "a masquerade party or like entertainment." It received substantial attention in 1999 when, on the basis of the law, the city rejected a request from splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan to hold a masked protest in Manhattan.

via Rare Charge in Protest –

Occupy Wall Street: Carnival Against Capital? Carnivalesque as Protest Sensibility

While some commentators and journalists have dismissed Occupy Wall Street as carnival, lawmakers and police officers did not miss the point. They reached back to a mid-nineteenth century ban on masking to arrest occupiers wearing as little as a folded bandana on the forehead, leaving little doubt about their fear of Carnival as a potent form of political protest. New York Times journalist Ginia Bellafante initially expressed skepticism about “air[ing] societal grievance as carnival,” but just a few days later she warned against “criminalizing costume,” thus changing her condescension to caution as she confirmed the police’s point: masking can be dangerous, Carnival is serious business.

(…) However, the carnivalesque—as a medium of emancipation and a catalyst for civil disobedience—is alive and well, and these contemporary carnivals have retained their rebellious potential.

(…)But it was French situationist Raoul Vaneigem, in his book The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967)9, who fueled the May 1968 student movement with what could be called Carnival liberation theory. Presciently, Vaneigem wrote that “a strike for higher wages or a rowdy demonstration can awaken the carnival spirit,” and “revolutionary moments are carnivals in which the individual life celebrates its unification with a regenerated society.”

via Occupy Wall Street: Carnival Against Capital? Carnivalesque as Protest Sensibility | Claire Tancons | e-flux.

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