assembly visual by Bureau Mario Lombardo
As with so much of my practice, this project involved creating an event that was situated and specific. These encounters are often deeply meaningful for the people involved but also challenging to share after the fact. As this event was undocumented owing to its political charge, the below description aims to convey what it entailed and how I approached its facilitation.
I was invited by the organisers of INTERNATIONALISM AFTER THE END OF GLOBALISATION (October 25–26 2019, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland) to convene an assembly as the culminating event of the four-day programme. It brought together cultural producers from across Europe to reflect on the revival of fascism in relation to the climate crisis and the potential role of artistic internationalism in the struggle for social justice. (Scroll down for the press from Internationalism After the End of Globalisation)
Drawing on my experience with grassroots organising and working in institutions of art, I convened the assembly as a time/space to take up some of the historical and theoretical thinking shared through the conference. INTERNATIONALISM AFTER THE END OF GLOBALISATION brought together a remarkably diverse constituency of artists, designers, organisers and other engaged citizens, both from Europe and locals of Warsaw and its environs. The assembly was an opportunity to turn theory into practice by taking action. This began with five-minute pitches by delegates and others to propose working groups. These organised and concentrated the participants' energy over the day. At the end of the assembly, we reconvened to report back on the breakout work.
While the invitation (included below) describes the assembly's structure, it says nothing about the different interests and energies in circulation. Facilitating these - helping them to work together - was my central concern. Time and space were two ways I channelled these forces. Strict timekeeping during the five-minute pitches democratised the process, creating space for less confident speakers to contribute without fear of being interrupted. Each working group was given some space in the museum to get down to work. Meltmarkers and large newsprint pads helped to document their activity, providing props to represent it to the larger group at the end of the day.
Download a PDF of the programme
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This slide was projected and discussed to indicate the kind of contributions we welcomed for discussion
The sensitive nature of the assembly's discussion meant that no formal recordings were made. Instead of audio, video or photographs, we produced as polyphonic and reflective text. This report, which I coordinated in collaboration with Keep it Complex, was developed in response to an open call by Journal of Aesthetics and Protest (scroll down for the invite). You can read it by clicking on the four pages in the right-hand column of this wiki page. | Or click here to download the PDF
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Internationalism After the End of Globalisation
The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw invites the public to the summit "Internationalism after the end of globalisation". It will play the dual role of a conference and a workshop session.
"The delegates will meet in Warsaw not only to review but also to develop theoretical and practical responses to the current crisis, which calls for new modes of connecting on an international scale to challenge the neoliberalism, the revival of the fascist tendencies and ecological disaster, seeking forms of artistic internationalism embedded in the ongoing democratic struggle for climate, economic, gender and racial justice.
The summit will start off with a conference (October 25) that will critically review neoliberal globalisation in order to move beyond it. This practical and theoretical ambition is driven by the hypothesis that the rise of the far right heralds an end of the globalist project, and consequently those forms of artistic internationalism that have been tightly integrated with global capitalism. This disruption implies the need to look beyond capitalist realism, an aesthetic, existential and social project that has supported capitalist hegemony by deflating both political and artistic imagination. The crisis engenders the evolution of old institutional forms and the emergence of new ones that facilitate civic engagement, are socially useful and align with political forces aimed at reviving democracy. During the conference, a dozen speakers, academics, artists and activists from all over Europe, will share their theoretical and practical insights to prompt public discussion and prepare the ground for later sessions.
Following the famous 11th thesis on Feuerbach, the aim of the summit is not only to reflect upon the failures of globalisation, but to revisit internationalism as an unfinished project. To facilitate this process, the second day of the summit (October 26) will be self-organized, aimed at collective strategizing on an international scale. The programme of plenary sessions and workshops will be created in situ by the gathered delegates, who will present proposals for future actions and discuss their implementation in working groups".
Text by: Jesus Carillo and Kuba Szreder - source: MOMA website
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Open Call to Contribute to the Assembly
We are delighted you’ll be attending Anti-fascist Internationale, a public assembly to galvanize action, change and resistance. To tackle the current crisis of capitalism, fascist revival and climate catastrophe on both a local and a global scale, we invite you to address the assembly with a five-minute talk that will propose something pragmatic in the service of an international anti-fascist cultural front. This could be a tactic, a strategy, a project, a network and the like. It could be historical (an example we can learn from and apply to a current issue) or something in the throes of becoming (a model to be scaled up, etc). We’ll discuss the proposals to develop and connect them. Next, we’ll elaborate them further in parallel working sessions. Pick one identified in the assembly and join others in a small group to push the proposal forward. At the end of the day we’ll reconvene for reportbacks from the working sessions and further discussion. We’ll end with a start by hatching plans and scheduling next steps to advance the anti-fascist cultural front.
If you have a proposal and would like to address the assembly, please email Paweł Nowożycki (email@example.com) with a two to three sentence description. All the addresses will be analogue. Instead of projected images, bring props or even large printouts. We’ll observe the five-minute time limit to ensure we stay on schedule. We’re looking for short, sharp, practical and stimulating presentations that are accessible to people from diverse backgrounds.
Marsha Bradfield (Assembly Facilitator
Proposals for an Anti-fascist Internationale. Projects, actions, networks, institutions and ways of survival.
Facilitation: Marsha Bradfield
11.00 - 11.30 - Introduction: Marsha Bradfield, Kuba Szreder, Jesus Carrillo
11.30 - 13.00 - Self-organized assembly with short presentations (5-minutes max, each followed by 5 minutes of discussion) to share:
proposals for projects & direct actions that respond to the current crisis of capitalism, fascist revival and climate catastrophe on both local and global scale ideas for creating and enhancing networks that would be able to facilitate translocal exchange of information and coordination of activities proposals for democratizing institutions in and beyond art, promoting forms of collaboration with civil society/social movements, protecting them against anti-democratic threats (f.e. authoritarian censorship, austerity, elitism or commercialization), and enabling them as a catalyst of social change practices aimed at sustaining radical social practice in contemporary art, academia and the cultural field as a whole, and fighting against systems of oppression that thwart radical practices
13.00 - 14.00 Developing proposals in working groups
14.00 - 15.00 Lunch break
15.00 - 17.00 Developing proposals in working groups
17.00 - 18.00 Concluding plenary session
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We invite you and your collective or potential collective to join us in a research interrogation of what it means to culturally produce beside or autonomous to cultural and political institutions, but not in ignorance to what it is that organisationally and institutionality produce.
This, in response to rising fascism and the resurgent right which we politically and culturaly organize somehow in relation to.
That is, this will be a collection of collectively edited projects. Newsletter submissions from individuals will not be considered.
We will consider submissions organized through institutions and institutionaly organized project if our research interests align.
(but while we are not yet actively seeking theoretical essays on the topic by individuals, feel free to communicate with us if you have something in mind)
Though we will be considering rolling deadlines up until the final completion date, we ask you to email us at:
editors(at)joaap.org by May 16th 2019 to express your interest.
In your email, please breifly describe:
1. your collective or potential collective
2. your relation to the concerns of this submission call
3. the way in which you would describe your research and editorial concerns in relation to your particular situation.
We will get back to you in due course to discuss with you whether or not it seems that our interests align.
Please do email us any questions you have about the project.
(Submission deadline for final newsletters will be in early 2020.)
In a time of rising fascism, how do autonomous, critical, creative and activist practices tend to their common yet particular cosmopolitical situation outside of the established forms and politics of parties and cultural institutions?
Are you in a pre-existing reading/discussion group, an activist or art collective, or do you need a reason to start one? If so, join us in a year-long interrogation of extra-institutional, avant garde practice that stands decidedly outside of but in some affirmative relation to progressive or radical parties and cultural institutions.
Over the year, you will investigate questions related to autonomous anti-fascist and/or avant garde practice– whatever is most appropriate to your community, context or ongoing inquiries– through activity, in reading groups, in open discussions... however.
As a contribution to our 11th issue, you will be invited to collaboratively produce your own 1, 2 or 4-page A4 newsletter and to distribute it withinin your community as a part your active practice. We will have $5 grants for you to apply to (a simple email) in order to assist you in paying for photocopies.
For your local newsletter, you will be your own editorial collective. Nevertheless, you are welcome to dialog with us and other participating groups about the project and the nature of the investigation.
At the end of the year, a compendium of the local newsletters will comprise the bulk of our journal’s 11th issue.
We hope to spark locally situated investigations on what it means to purposefully practice outside but in some indeterminate affinity to the somewhat progressive or radical institutions whose profiles have risen over the last few years. Groups like the DSA, Podemos and Plan C. are examples of formal political structures that now actually seem to be attempting to meaningfully responding to issues this journal has extra-institutionally concerned itself with.
In this moment when party politics can be justified in their existential fight against the right and its biopolitical means of control and killing the planet, this issue seeks to support the ongoing ways of being autonomous to and organised outside of but in some relation to hopeful formal politics.
Particularly, but not exclusively, we are interested in questions that culturally think through left politics towards some beyond. For just as this project sits beside functionalized political organization, it also sits critically beside the functionalization of culture. Therefore, through autonomy, we are interested in how culture that seems to be outside of insititutions acts to build other ways of being, and not just through the representations of "the political" that good museums and galleries can do. In this way, this is a cultural question as much as it is a political one.
Social media demonstrate how our social spheres have been utilized for profit’s ends. This media and the cultural industries show how the appearance of cultural significance can be translated into a variety of ways for others to profit gain. Social media is a reflective mirage for radical theory and images to appear with no actual political cohesion besides affective affinity.
With your help, this issue hopes to reclaim the gap between the radical imaginary built on actual social capacity, and formal politics. We acknowledge that the culture industries and global corporations' have functionalized some of the rhetorical, aesthetic and political content of this space that was until recently a matter of left cultural work for the liberal side of their neo-liberal ends. Our motivation here is not to discuss cooption, but rather to reinvigorate a more nuanced and socially rich texture beside our own progressive institutions.
Locally, cultural institutions and politcal party meet-ups are where we find fellow travellers; they may fund you, “like” you, connect you to wider discourse and the field of seemingly wider reverberation. Yet with their foundational necessity to meaningfully appear, the space for critically intimate and vulnerable explorations and articulations of meaning and needs, and to account for difficult power dynamics may be lacking within them. There are things that may not easily translate to the institutional logics of our politicized culture, but that must be there in relation to them. Or beyond them. And certain political activity must occur outside of them.
What art historians call “the classical avant garde” were a disparate group of cultural and political practitioners whose era was concurrent with the apex of class solidarity against the agents of industrial capitalism. This avant garde was embedded within a wider social trajectory that provided them thespace within which to autonomously explore, through aesthetic and critical means, other possibilities for human practice. Their activity was conceptualized as “autonomous” because of how industrial capitalism relied merely on the formal subsumption of labor for industrial profit, rather than on the atomizing rationalization of labor’s individual cognitive, organizational and social capacities for profit’s ends… through the mean and mode we commonly call post-Fordist capitalism.
Famously, Adorno described the capture of autonomous cultural production through the rationalizing industries of Hollywood and beyond. This journal has never fully bought into the death of the avant garde, recognizing the eruptions of all that can be associated with ’68, Situationists, Yippees, the Panthers (etc...), as also leading toward other possible ways of being.
This Journal of Aesthetics & Protest comes out of the late 90’s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union left a vacancy in the left
imaginary. This vacancy was quickly filled by anarchist-inspired movements and ways of doing. Then, this was concurrent with new technology’s “radical” appearance and for some time they seemed to co-develop through the globalization movement- as both seeked networked and autonomous ways of practice.
Jump forward to the arts and media practices of today – once 'radical' practice now seem to grind on alongside the functionalized cultural realm shuttling towards or guarding against anthropocenic death, or remain marginalized. In this marginal space in one step removed from these instrumentalized institutions, demands and poetics that engage with the cosmopolitical margin where the super-political and nonpolitical
ways of being in and over time alone and together are formulated. Or they struggle for the space to simply be.
What seems to be avant garde could be curated into the Venice Biennale or aggregated onto anybody’s laptop as clickbait. Within the current context of rising fascism and a surging right, experimental radical culture should clamour for space on the center stage BUT also nurture its own grounds within common and marginal life.
That is, autonomous work cares for the universal but also for the always particular cosmopolitical margin. This issue looks at that space, if only to begin engaging with more localized efforts on the topic As a decidedly autonomous journal, we find ourselves both joining in and stepping back from the clear logics that drive meaningful cultural and political economies. We find ourselves asking for some human space while still keeping a sharp and ready focus on the struggles against rising fascism and its commodifying drive to extinction.
Read all the newsletters submitted by following this link.
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