[-empyre-] empyre post

Patrick Keilty p.keilty at utoronto.ca
Fri Nov 22 06:40:55 EST 2013

Thanks David! Some great ideas. I'll reply to them more fully when I get a
chance. Since Matt Brower's post, I have been thinking a lot about whether
the emphasis of the projects that interest us is activism instead of "art"
-- that is, creative, playful, or artful activist practices. Perhaps this
kind of activism is at the core of this discussion, instead of aesthetic
theory. This is just a passing thought. More later --

On Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:58 AM, McIntosh, David (Academic) <
dmcintosh at faculty.ocadu.ca> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi all, I’ve been following the posts for a few weeks now, and have found
> the range of perspectives intriguing. I hope my contribution extends the
> context for considering the terms under debate. As has been pointed out in
> other posts, working across the various visual, political, economic,
> academic, gender, race, representational regimes that underpin each of the
> terms – documentary, activism, art, digital technology – is complex and
> fraught. I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that Selmin and others
> have encountered hostility when attempting to merge these seemingly
> separate regimes that have a range of self-interests attached. I recently
> attended an “artivism” conference in Buenos Aires, where I have lived and
> worked part-time for almost 15 years. I use quotes around “artivism” as I
> haven’t and am not likely to accept it as part of my vocabulary. First of
> all, it has limited meaning, especially in the context of this debate where
> we are attempting to read across a wider set of terms than just the binary
> of art and activism; it doesn’t encompass documentary or digital technology
> in any substantive way. Secondly, it is linguistically clunky, not unlike
> “glocal,” a truly painful effort at attempting to think global and local
> simultaneously; mercifully this latter word has disappeared. I am not
> suggesting that terms must remain separate, nor that terminology must
> remain static and tied inevitably to its etymology and usage. Quite the
> contrary, I consider terms like “artivism” as foreclosing more extended
> network thinking that could produce more extensive change in all the
> terms/nodes comprising the network. Paraphrasing Latour, networks are
> simultaneously real like nature, narrated like discourse and collective
> like the society. It is this extended chain of simultaneities that
> proliferates hybrid boundary objects that challenge existing regimes. It is
> the modernist process of purification that shuts down network thinking and
> defines once simultaneously conjured network elements as incommensurate.
> Back to the “artivism” conference in Buenos Aires. Most of the six
> presentations were relevant enough, with one in particular provoking an
> extended chain of thought. GRaFiTi  http://www.escritosenlacalle.com   is
> a geo-located graffiti website, where users load photographic and other
> content, but it has limited memory; it only goes back to 2009, when the
> website started. As the creators of the site were presenting their work, I
> slid back in time to my memories of 2001 in Buenos Aires, when the
> ultra-neo-liberal economy had completely collapsed and demonetarized, the
> state collapsed and began murdering protesters, and finally the people won,
> organizing themselves into a range of local popular assemblies, completely
> autonomous self-determining bodies, that unleashed individual and
> collective agency to rapidly and effectively build and manage local
> networks of the real, the narrated and the collective. The popular assembly
> movement also underpinned a wide range of art movements integral to the
> functioning of the network, notably graffiti and stencil art works that
> denounced, commemorated, documented, communicated, instructed, provoked,
> imagined. (As much as I would like to offer a link to a website where the
> 2001 stencil art could is archived, not possible, doesn’t exist.) The
> difference between the Buenos Aires graffiti of 2001 and of 2013 was
> startling and almost absolute. Has the post-2001 return of the Argentinean
> state and a neo-liberal economy, albeit in modified form, completely elided
> 2001 radical embodied popular action and art in favour of an ever-expanding
> digital archive of graffiti “selfies”? Actually, the two periods are
> linked; the latter wouldn’t exist without the former. The issue raised here
> for me is the matter of network thinking over time, sequenciation if you
> will; networks are not static constructions but rapidly changing, constant
> producers of hybrids. The diachronic dimension is crucial here, as is
> immediate local context, a concept articulated by other posters. “What is
> at stake?” is a question that must always be posed when considering the
> network structures over time.
> In terms of the relationship between art and activism/politics, I get a
> “Groundhog Day” feeling reading some recent posts here, posts that tend
> more toward purification than proliferation. As a counterpoint, some
> relevant examples of historical practices that have successfully integrated
> art and activism have been provided in other posts, which have mitigated my
> déjà vu all over again moments with the discussion. I offer another
> example, a lived experience in my case, of the shifting relationship
> between art and activism that may also help to move this element of the
> discussion forward. In 1987, after several years of media constructions of
> “gay plague” and vicious homophobia, complete government and medical
> establishment inaction, and thousands upon thousands of deaths of gay men,
> a horizontal network of self-organizing, self-determining forces coalesced
> to fight for education and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. I chose 1987
> as the date to locate this example of a sutured art/activism network for a
> number of reasons, notably it marks the publication of the special October
> issue edited by Douglas Crimp titled “AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural
> Activism.” Here is a link to Crimp’s opening chapter:
> http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic868218.files/Crimp_1987.pdf
> What was at stake in this instance is made patently clear by Crimp. The
> massive mobilization, lead by primarily by artists, demonstrated that art
> can and does save lives. And it was in the midst of this massive
> mobilization, perhaps an early instantiation of Negri’s “multitude,” that
> many artists produced their work, artists who died of AIDS yet still remain
> part of contemporary art discourse, including David Wojnarowicz, Keith
> Haring and 2 of the 3 members of General Idea, to name just a few.
> Admittedly, this historical example addresses concerns with documentary
> only obliquely, and doesn’t address digital technology as it didn’t exist
> in any substantive way at the time. But my intent in offering this
> experience is to lay a clear groundwork for the relationship between art
> and activism. Considering this crucial network moment in diachronic terms,
> clearly the HIV/AIDS crisis is not over, but what is now history conditions
> how many contemporary artists and queer folk perceive their collective
> past, their inheritance as it were. One notable and recent instance of a
> very meaningful diachronic consideration of this history is the exhibition
> “Coming After” curated by Jon Davies for the Power Plant in Toronto. The
> exhibition “does not focus on those artists who were, as artist Christian
> Holstad succinctly put it, “burying their dead” at that time, but instead
> those who grew up in the shadow of the crisis, whether by fate or by
> choice. Their work evidences a sense of having come after or missed out on
> something. The potential represented by both very recent and more faraway
> radical (queer) historical moments is both an open wound and a fount of
> inspiration. What was lost along the way from then to now?”
> http://www.thepowerplant.org/Shop/Publications/Publications-by-The-Power-Plant/Coming-After.aspx
> There are many relevant and instructive historical moments of art,
> activism, digital technology and documentary intersecting in proliferating
> networks, from the 1994 EZLN revolution in Chiapas to magazines such as
> Mondo 2000 (1989-1998) and Neural (still publishing http://neural.it ).
>  I’ll try to address these concerns in my creative practice in coming posts.
>  David McIntosh PhD
> Associate Professor
> OCAD University
> Toronto Canada
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Patrick Keilty
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Information
University of Toronto
@patrickkeilty <https://twitter.com/PatrickKeilty>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20131121/71beed46/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list