Artwork or not work? – Why art is sacred and the key to sociability

Erik Empson
Egon Schiele: “The work of art is sacred, too.”

E.F Schumacher: “…there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price.”

The awe which may have once greeted any one excellent work of art, is today more likely to be generated by the price it fetched when sold than anything to do with the work’s visual affect. How do we account for this apparent reversal?

Art, because of its uniqueness, and because it is the result of irreducible, complex human labour, never fitted into the Marxian conception of value and work – based as it was on factory production and its particular type of discipline. But in escaping that dreary paradigm, artists themselves have long struggled over the problem of authenticity and the commodity form and in so doing sought to challenge the separation between art and life.

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The Insurrection to Come, Excerpts

Blockade everything; this should be from now on the first reaction of anyone standing against the present order. In a de-localized economy where companies function thanks to a constant flux of materials and goods, where value derives from connectedness to the network, where the highways are links in the chain of dematerialized production which moves from sub-contractor to sub-contractor and from there to another factory for assembly, to block production means to block traffic circulation…

[This translation is an excerpt from a radical new book that just appeared in France by the Invisible Committee (Comite Invisible). The book discusses the local appropriation of power by the people, the physical blocking of the economy, and the elimination of the police force as practical routes toward insurrection.]

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Three Theses for Virtual Communism

Toni Negri

l. COMMUNISM AS EQUALITY, that is the material contents of communism, the critique of capitalism (the market of private individuals) and of socialism (the state-run market), the irreducible desire for equality, “social” property and “social” entrepreneurship… Reexamine and comment on the great texts: especially the Paris Commune and sections of the Grundrisse dealing with the “collective subject.” But also Spinoza, the democracy of the “multitude,” Machiavelli on class struggles, Campanella, Thomas More,
James Harrington… Bring the discussion of equality to bear on the reality of the capitalist world and show how capitalism constructs the conditions of equality in terms of the organization of labor and the organization of society, but then denies that equality in the framework of the judicial and political superstructures.

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Defining Movement. Giorgio Agamben

Seminar held in Padova at the Nomad University on the theme of war and democracy, January 2005.

The thoughts I am going to share with you today are born out of a malaise , or rather a series of questions that I asked myself during a meeting in Venice that took place some time ago and saw the participation of some of the people who are here today (Toni Negri, Luca Casarini …). At the meeting, a term kept coming up, that is, ‘movement’. As you know, this is a word with a long history in our tradition, and also seems the most recurrent in Toni’s intervention today. In his book too, the word recurs in strategic positions every time he attempts to define what is meant by multitude; for instance, when the concept of multitude needs to be torn away from the false alternative between sovereignty and anarchy. So, my malaise and questions emerged when realising for the first time that this word was never defined: those who used it, me included, neither could nor would define it. In the past I would often use as an implicit rule of my thinking practice the formula: ‘when the movement is there, act as if it was not there; when it’s not, act as if it was’. Now I realise that I did not know what the word ‘movement’ meant: aside from its lack of specificity, everyone seems to understand it but no one defines it.

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Critique of the Italian Edition of the book “19 and 20. Notes for the new social protagonism” by Colectivo Situaciones

The Ballad of Buenos Aires, by Toni Negri

This is a book that talks about the events of the 19th and 20th of December, 2001 in Argentina, when the inhabitants of Buenos Aires took to the streets and aimed themselves at Congress, forcing the flight of the President, and the successive resignation of the government. But not just that: it also speaks of before and after the insurrection, it talks about the new political and social situation that was determined since the miltary dictatorship of 1976-83 and the neoliberal decade (1989-1999). The book – Piqueteros. La rivolta argentina contro il neo liberismo [Piqueteros. The Argentinian revolt against neoliberalism], DeriveApprodi, pg 227, – the authors tell us (the Colectivo Situaciones is constituted by a group of militants) was thought with urgency, written and published in the space of less than three months. The original subtitle is “Notes for a new social protagonism.” In fact, it treats in the form of notes, theoretical notes and syntheses of discussion by assemblies, the theory of organization of struggles and the critique of lived experiences. “Writing in situation” finds here an example in all ways innovative: the capacity to combine critical reflection and investigation materials reaches a level of true theoretical innovation. Those who, on the other hand, want to have proof of the newness of this political writing have no more than to find the materials that the Colectivo Situaciones have published frequently since 2001 until the end of 2002 (as a summary of all these materials one can look over all “Hypothesis 891. Beyond the piquetes.”). In all these writings, then, the reflections of the collective cross with that of the grand assemblies of struggle. Above all with the Movement of the Unemployed Workers (MST) of Solano.

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Communism is back and we should call it singularity

A book launch and discussion with Franco Berardi aka Bifo

5pm Friday, February 27th in the Octagon Room, People’s Palace @ Queen Mary,
University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS

The event marks the first and long awaited  publication of his work in English: Félix Guattari. Thought, Friendship, and Visionary  Cartography (London: Palgrave, 2008), and Precarious Rhapsody. Semio-capitalism and the  Pathologies of the Post-Alpha Generation (London: Autonomedia, forthcoming).  The launch  will be followed by a social evening at the Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b  Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX. All welcome.

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Trapped in Amber: Angst for a Reenacted Decade

21 February – 22 March 2009
Opening reception and catalogue launch: Friday 20 February 2009, 7 p.m.
Special performance by Magnus Monfeldt: Friday 20 February 2009, 8 p.m.

Trapped in Amber curators in conversation with the artists: Sunday 21 February 2009, 3 p.m.

Artists: Daniel Garcia Andujar (ESP), Hamdi Attia (EGY/USA), Bodil Furu (NO), Assefa Gebrekidan (ETH), Iman Issa (EGY/USA), Mahmoud Khaled (EGY), Magnus Monfeldt (SWE/NDL), and Harwood/Wright/Yokokoji (UK)

Curated by: Bassam El Baroni and Helga-Marie Nordby

The exhibition is part of the project Africa in Oslo initiated by The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, which also involves Stenersen Museum, Oslo Museum: International Cultural Centre and Museum, Oslo Fine Art Society and Kunstnernes hus (more info below)

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How can the cultural sector survive the financial crisis?

LabforCulture  January 2009

Helmut K. Anheier (Ph.D. Yale University, 1986) is Professor of Sociology at Heidelberg University and the academic Director of the Heidelberg Centre for Social Investment. He is also Professor and Director of the Center for Civil Society and the Center for Globalization and Policy Research at UCLA’s School of Public Affairs. Anheier’s work covers the civil society, the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, organisational studies, policy analysis and comparative methodology. In 2008, he published Cultures and Globalization: The Cultural Economy.

It is clear to everyone who follows daily reports about the cancellation of cultural events and the closure of opera houses and theatres, or learns about economic troubles at one cultural institution or another, that the global financial crisis is already having a significant impact on philanthropic giving and non-profit organisations. [1]
It is also clear that the crisis’ impact is going to get deeper and wider for some time to come. It is less clear how long the fallout will last; and it is especially unclear what the crisis ultimately means for policy-makers, leaders and managers in the cultural sector. This article examines how the arts and culture sector is responding to growing uncertainty in the global economy – and how the sector can weather the gathering storm.

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Arte y crítica


Traducción del francés de Saúl Kaminer.

Por lo general, admitimos como dogma que la función del arte consiste en expresar, y que la expresión artística descansa sobre una certidumbre. Ya sea el pintor o el músico, el artista dice. Dice lo inefable. La obra prolonga y rebasa la percepción vulgar. Lo que la segunda vuelve trivial y deja de lado, la primera, coincidiendo con la intuición metafísica, lo capta en su esencia irreductible. Ahí donde el lenguaje común abdica, el poema o el cuadro hablan. Así, la obra, más real que la realidad, consuma la dignidad de la imaginación artística que se erige en saber de lo absoluto. Incluso descalificado como canon estético, el realismo conserva todo su prestigio. De hecho sólo lo negamos en nombre de un realismo superior: el surrealismo es un superlativo.

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“El capitalismo no existirá en 30 años”


El autor pasó por Madrid para hablar en un ciclo sobre la crisis del capitalismo organizado por la Universidad Nómada y el Museo Reina Sofía

Wallerstein es una de las mayores autoridades mundiales en el estudio de sistemas económicos.

Cuando Immanuel Wallerstein (Nueva York, 1930) predijo, en plena apoteosis de la Guerra Fría, que el bloque soviético se iba a derrumbar, algunos pensaron que estaba metiendo la pata hasta el fondo. Obviamente, eran ellos los que estaban equivocados. Y es que el sociólogo estadounidense lleva toda su vida académica estudiando las tendencias a largo plazo de los sistemas económicos mundiales desde el Centro Fernand Braudel (Universidad Estatal de Nueva York).
“La crisis económica actual es similar a otras crisis históricas”

Wallerstein, autor de libros como El moderno sistema mundial (Nueva York, 1930) o Capitalismo histórico y movimientos antisistémicos (Akal, Cuestiones de Antagonismo, 2004), pasó por Madrid para hablar en un ciclo sobre la crisis del capitalismo organizado por la Universidad Nómada y el Museo Reina Sofía. Durante su charla, celebrada en un abarrotado salón de actos del museo madrileño, lo que da idea de la expectación que despiertan últimamente las voces críticas con el sistema económico, Wallerstein dejó toda una serie de titulares para la historia: “¿Obama? Por favor, no hemos elegido al Che Guevara; en EEUU, no se puede votar al Che Guevara” o “A día de hoy, se ven las cosas mucho más claras en Porto Alegre que en Davos”.

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