Issue #7- February 2010
by The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest Editorial Collective (Marc Herbst, Robby Herbst, Christina Ulke)
We feel it is important to list things we are suspect of at this moment. The current system of precarious labor (contract work, creative work, temp jobs) sucks and we partially asked for it. Art is often used as a gentrifier and often generates more social inequality than resistance. And we think that resistance, when seen as semiotic, is not transferable between contexts- though resistance used as a marketing tool is. We are suspect in the fact that "art" and "creativity" are now ubiquitous and a part of our daily life, though it doesn't feel like what the Dadaists and the Situationists were after. It often feels like a wet sock.
Things feel in flux, and we believe in our 7th issue’s sincere effort to celebrate the process of re-making things and thoughts. It is a good approach. In this issue, we are excited by our decision to publish conversations in process, and to not print capstone theories. Ideas are in the making. We are also excited that we're publishing bits of projects- views into praxis and representations of theory in action. This is our first issue under another president than GW Bush and we all feel the ever-increasing pressure screws of the economic crisis.
The rise of the autonomism as a condition of practice (recognizable by some kind of disavowal of larger infrastructures) occurs in multiple contexts. There are the very relevant Autonomous Movements (see Italy, Greece, France, Germany), which developed from specifically political contexts as a form of post-structural anarchist politics. There is also the trend towards "self-reliance" complicit within North American discourses around individual liberty, lifestyle, and "the personal is political". Both contexts specifically arise within Post-Fordists states. And as economic crisis comes to define our condition and spur on the relevancy of practices, which are complicit with and resistant to the withdrawal (and militarization) of power... for us this itself remains a central question. What does the "post" in "post-political politics" look like? Are we post-political because we are actually moving towards a state of barbarism? Or are we post-political because those structures that we used to refer to as "politics" (traditional parties, traditional ideologies, traditional discourses, traditional social organizations) being superseded by more relevant forms of social organization which we do not readily understand as "political"? While the second possibility seems comforting, and as many of the practices described in this issue of the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest reflect this notion in forms of networked cooperation, we have to ask, can autonomy mean anything to "power" if it does not have built within it an antagonism to more coercive forms of power? Can power simply be superseded?
Ideas are in the making. Conversations allow for horizontal playing fields to negotiate different positions towards the construction of a shared and critical discourse. In this issue, we didn’t want to privilege theorizing voices over the voices of practitioners. We don’t need new territorializations that allow for the quick and easy commodification and obfuscation of these practices into the art world; rather a discourse that equally connects to historical dialogues, and already existing discussions around the social & political context of art, cultural and social movements.
What movement you may ask? And what autonomy? Yes, autonomy is a myth and to a certain degree movements are as well. But myths are useful even when their nature is clearly transparent. Myths are socially productive in that they create a space to generate their ideas to the point that they actualize reality. There is efficacy in movements. There is realness in movements. Movements are an ontological threat to many interests: the State, corporations, certain art worlds, universities etc.
Consider the discomfort that the growing presence of self-organized art practices pose to the liberal institution of art—evident in Claire Bishop’s recent report-back on Revolutions in Public Practice, an event organized by Creative Times’ curator Nato Thompson. Instead of identifying an insurgent movement, Claire’s eyes glaze over.(3)
We say: Go practice.
Repetition creates conditions for the change of political subjectivity.
Multiple differences within the particulars of repetitions can allow for mythical ideology to transform into reality through the practice of getting it right.
Repetition creates movements.
1. See also: Dara Greenwald, Green is the New Red: An Interview with Journalist Will Potter, JoA&P Issue 7, 2009. (back)
3. Claire Bishop, Public Opinion, Scene and Herd, Artforum.com October 2009. Bishop: At countless points in the day, my eyes glazed over to the sound of earnest monologues announcing, “My practice is about creating platforms for a critical interface with overlooked spaces, networking with local communities to provide self-organized resources and coproducing social relations . . . Aaagh!”(back)