Re: [-empyre-] "hooded children of the revolution"
Cara wrote, as we were talking about 'cultural space'
"I think it's interesting what Ryan's pointing out about the way the language
is used to skim across the surface of bodies. In historicizing seattle folks gestured
wildly to the body of the crowd--teamsters and turtles--it's diversity (dubious)
said to comprise a sort of hybrid that effectively nullifies the need to address
social inequity that is both global and local in the extreme."
Made me wonder about, maybe an opposite / complementary example, of the "social inequity that is both global and local in the extreme" -empyrean- lister Jim Barrett's stories of living in Redfern, Sydney.
Jim wrote to me recently about new photographs (2005) from Redfern and his memories of life there in the 90s.
"I reckon Redfern is an interesting example actually of cultures and histories meeting in a well defined but contested
space. I think I was largely an outsider in Redfern in regards to the Aboriginal community, but it was my first real contact with the history and stories of the living Aboriginal community. The alternate arts/performance/life community of mainly Anglo-Australians (although there was quite a bit of friendly and cross over knowledge contact between the two groups in 1994-1997) existed around and due to the core of The Block (Aboriginal Housing Commission). Since I was living in Redfern I believe things have become more and more antagonistic on both "sides" :-( and the art/activism/rave/scene is not as vibrant as it was in the 1990's in the area. But I am not sure as I haven't been back. And more background knowledge is here:
Sent: Nov 11, 2005 5:51 PM
To: soft_skinned_space <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] "hooded children of the revolution"
Commodification of discourse, cultural production and symbolic representation brings me waaay back to the history of written language from pictogram to cuneiform, a relatively complex form of writing that originated in Ur/Babylon/Southern Iraq to efficiently record the exchange of goods in an urban center.
On embodied critique--I don't believe fracture on the left is a real problem. Quite the opposite--the apparent seamlessness of cultural space Ryan and Christina McPhee refer to is.
That said, I think it's interesting what Ryan's pointing out about the way the language is used to skim across the surface of bodies. In historicizing seattle folks gestured wildly to the body of the crowd--teamsters and turtles--it's diversity (dubious) said to comprise a sort of hybrid that effectively nullifies the need to address social inequity that is both global and local in the extreme.
Bodies are the primary sites of cultural conflict--symbolic, and physical violence. this is apparently the case for women and racial minorities--but for all of us--that unwieldly but inclusive 'we' Marc referred to ealier. I believe this needs to be addressed not only in action or symbolic expression but internalized personally, deeply, bodily and in every waking moment concurrent with our unique cultural subjectivity. our struggles are are endlessly bound up with one another. our conflict is historically bound up with capital--as are all cultural expressions.
Speaking of extreme local, I am afraid that institutional critique and local cultural production that diminishes sites of relatively broad cultural exchange effectively isolates U.S. from Others.
From: Ryan Griffis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Nov 9, 2005 12:18 PM
Subject: [-empyre-] "hooded children of the revolution"
On Nov 7, 2005, at 7:00 PM, James wrote:
> Paris 2005 (Have Burroughs?s Wild Boys been born? Maybe not
> Hooded children of the Revolution By James Button, Sydney Morning
> Correspondent in Paris, November 8, 2005:
> They wear hoods, baggy jeans and brand-name sneakers and their heroes
> American rappers such as 50 Cent. They describe their antagonists as
> "white", hate the police and when they are fighting they say they're
> "dancing with wolves".
this quote is from further down in that article:
"Dr Roy did not rule out the possibility of some of the youths turning
to radical Islam. Some militant Muslims were using the riots as a
recruiting tool, while others were trying to mediate an end to the
But so far the differences between the two were too great. "Radical
Islam asks these guys to give up their lives dealing drugs and going to
nightclubs," Dr Roy said. "Many of these guys don't want to do that.
They want to have cars and girls and smoke hashish.""
i was watching some footage of demonstrator-police clashes during the
OAS meeting in Venezuela, and it occurred to me how much it looked like
any demo at any WTO/FTAA/IMF summit that i've ever been to. i know this
has been repeatedly theorized, in terms of the script that is followed
by both authorities and "protesters," but i think there is something
here very related to discussions of commodity fetishism that goes
beyond those analyses.
the article on the French "riots" are interesting in that they compare
them to the 60s "race riots" (though they carefully use "youth" as a
stand in for "race") in the US, but simultaneously places those
participating in France in a clearly commodified position, which
isn't/wasn't done for those rioting in the US in the 60s (or even in LA
i think what i'm interested in here is the blatant attachment of
fashion (different from the much earlier Zoot Suit Riots of 40s LA) to
such a large scale display of dissatisfaction. as if we can understand
what people are trying to express when they set a car on fire by the
clothes they wear rather than the action itself. all the analysis is
about interpreting (whether through economic or symbolic languages) the
actions of people who apparently the authorities don't think can speak
for themselves (or rather, don't want them to).
what does this have to with our discussion of art?
i'm not totally sure ;) but the method of framing political action
through the language of aesthetics has a certain resonance for me.
Robby's points about making a living as an artist are well taken, for
sure... but i keep coming back to the "as an artist" part and
Christina's questioning of commodification as a potential necessity.
How do we stop being the "hooded children of the revolution" in a
scripted headline? i certainly don't mean this as an empty/symbolic
gesture of alliance with the "rioters" in France - that would just be
silly - but rather i mean it in the sense of our expressive actions
being interpreted as necessarily commodified (fashion, professionalized
aesthetics, etc). Is "art" in a sense acting as our hooded sweatshirt
in this discussion?
i'm also not implying that i would find the discussion more productive
if we rid it of art, but that art as a practice is so bound up with
connections to capital that it seems necessary to really pull them out
of the hat when talking about art, politics and comm. fetishism.
perhaps this is what marc was getting at when he talked about "really
describing a work"?
reading this after writing it, i realize now that this line of thought
is spurious, at best, but i'll throw it out there anyway...
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