Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Russian Art Anarchists explain themselves from prison / Banksy's new favourite group Voina (WAR)

Russian art anarchists explain themselves

Last week Banksy declared that all profits from his current print sale would be gifted to Russian art anarchist group Voina. Known for drawing an enormous cock on a bridge opposite the ex-KGB offices, and instigating asex party in a museum (see above). We spoke to the group (half of which were replying from prison).

Voina (or “War” to give them their English name) are a radical art group concerned with challenging the Russian establishment on important political issues such as attitudes towards homophobia, race, and the totalitarian actions of the state, through creating outrageous and provocative art performances in Russia. Two of their members; Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev have been detained for more than a month at St Petersburg Prison on false allegations. Don’t Panic spoke to the group.
Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev, the artists from the Voina art-group, handled their answers from the St. Petersburg prison, awaiting trial on charges of hooliganism for one of their previous performances. Alex Plutser-Sarno and Natalia Sokol have sent their answers from the secret flat, where they are hiding from the police.

Could you introduce yourselves and tell us about the structure behind your group?

Alex Plutser-Sarno:  At present in the center of the structure is a high impenetrable wall of the St. Petersburg prison, behind which two artists, Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev, are slowly fading away. You have to understand that Russian prison is hell. Being at large Natalia Sokol keeps coordinating the work of the group. I keep making media-art, writing conceptions and texts. The actions are published in my blog.  There are some other activists in the group, who do important work, but their names remain unrevealed, otherwise the Russian insane right-wing authorities will arrest them as well.
Natalia Sokol: The basis of the group structure is in the complete equality of rights of activists and the openness of the group’s borders for new activists. Our group is an art-anarch-punk gang.

What is the inherent philosophy of the group?

AP-S: Every activist of the group has his/her own philosophy. In the political aspect we, of course, sympathize with anarchists, socialists and in general with all left-wing radicals. But first of all we are artists – not politicians or philosophers. And using our artistic methods we destruct the outdated repressive-patriarchal symbols and ideologies.
Oleg Vorotnikov:  In Russia we have created the left-wing art front. Our aim is to revive the vivid political protest art.
Leonid Nikolayev: Our art-group is struggling with the socio-political obscurantism and the right-wing reaction.

Monday, April 22, 2013

"Between Pridicates, War: Theses on Contemporary Struggle" by The Institute For Experimental Freedom

“To great writers, finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they labor their entire lives”
W. Benjamin

The Institute for Experimental Freedom is proud to announce the release of Between Predicates, War: Theses on Contemporary Struggle. Almost two years in the making, Between Predicates, War is a fragmented collection of theses on our tumultuous situation. From Egypt to the US, Greece to the UK, contemporary struggle announces a revolt against government. These theses draw a line connecting the forces at play, examine their parodic language, affective practices and radically self-annihilating tactics. At the threshold of our epoch and at our phase of self-governance, the events unfolding rub up against the meaning of autonomy, and in doing so ask the question, “What does it mean to live a life?” This uneasy question—and this decade of experiments aimed at answering it—anticipate the formation of a real force. What grew rhizomatically—in subterranean practices of sharing—between anti-globalization and radical environmentalism, between riots against the democratic police and irruptions of occupied spaces, burst through into the open and unpredictable air of the now. At our particular moment there is a chance that—from ancient Athenian democracy to our refined economy of subjectivation techniques—the paradigm of government may come to close.

As we wrote in Politics is Not a Banana, we have no illusions of leading a charge—and furthermore, that's the wrong way to think about the situation. We simply want to understand our conditions, and act accordingly. With humility, a healthy sense of the humors, and the passion, we offer this text as another chapter in this project.

Between Predicates, War: Theses on Contemporary Struggle is a pocket book, of a 100 or so pages, designed with care and finesse, available from LBC Books, or directly from the Institute.

From the Introduction

“Contemporary struggle” is our way to conceptualize what links the events of our epoch—events that cannot be defined as social movements or categorized within leftist conceptions of reform and revolution. Events are the common form that struggles take after the collapse of the historical subject and the zone of the social. We define contemporary struggle as a vast set of heterogeneous practices of revolt that appear to have everythingas their object; that is to say, events whose antagonisms are not directed against the state or capitalism per se but against techniques of government, against the productive power of government. Perhaps we will be reproached for reducing the specificity of all the movements of the past decade. However, the velocity with which struggles since the Greek uprising of ’08 have moved from intelligible anger over a collectively perceived injustice to celebratory or revolutionary situations, reveals that they are irreducibly revolts against the paradigm of government.
 Government no longer sits in a closed chamber of educated men; it acts through each of us and through every apparatus that orients us and amplifies our senses in a particular direction. Government doesn't just repress, it produces a distributed multiplication of governable subjectivities. Contemporary struggle resists, flees, and attacks being produced as a subject, appearing in the space between one coherent subjectivity and another.
Because it appears in the space between subjectivities, contemporary struggle—consciously or not—contests the meaning of autonomy. Capitalism has done away with the social as a foundation to human life, leaving the individual as self-entrepreneur to develop solutions to the crises of baseless existence. If social media appears on the theater of culture and politics this is because economic life demands that individuals collaborate on problem-solving. In order to develop itself in harmony with the economy, the individual is allocated the self, as the vehicle and instrument of freedom. It is given the space to think freely, go against the rules, and open doors of creativity—if only to eliminate flaws in the flows of the economy. Government needs subjects to self-govern because principles no longer reign with any authority; the economy needs subjects to self-manage because technology and ecology present fatal limits to its rhythm of expansion. However, when struggles originate in an open field devoid of authoritative principles, the desired affects of self-management sometimes fail to materialize, and in turn the space between coherency, contingency, and predicates can appear more hospitable than the generalized hostilities of economic life. Contemporary struggle locates the space of autonomy as a potential for a different way of living, and holds on for as long as it can.
Contemporary struggle reveals the limits of language. The grammar of justice, democracy, and equality could limit past movements because these terms were situated in a meaningful discourse—that of the enemy. Today, these words and their institutions are empty. What is perceived as logical inconsistency by political pundits is precisely the plane of consistency where a new language is being constructed. The parodic, ironic, and absurd character of today’s movements' discursive promiscuity, irrational application of language, and use of memes reveal a new language coming into being.
Contemporary struggle loves/hates technology. It’s no surprise that the same mobile apparatuses we are required to buy to integrate our lives into the flows of the economy—smart phones, laptops, and tablets—are the media protagonists of the turbulent present.. However, the use of technology by today’s uprisings is no mere affirmation, even in the “Free Information” movement. From hacking to instagram flashmobs, from social networking an occupation to manipulating attention spans, contemporary struggle renders technological apparatuses inoperative in their proper form.
Contemporary struggle will produce the basis for either generalized ungovernability or a more horrific form of government. Social movements from the '60s to the late '90s created the conditions for general self-management; the most radical horizon they could perceive was a world democratically administrated and without work as production. The social movements anticipated the distribution of racial, gender, and sexual subjectivities, freedom as choice, and cybernetics. Today their demands reflect back at us in so many commodities, so many techniques of government, so many empty environments affectively managed by food and retail attendants. Today’s revolt could give way to our dreams or our nightmares.
Available for mail order at LBC Books, and at the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair.

PDF for viewing here! 

List of vendors and events coming soon.

Nothing is too beautiful for the unwanted children of capital,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Michel Foucault: Free Lectures on Truth, Discourse & The Self" from Open Culture

Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was an enormously influential French philosopher who wrote, among other things, historical analyses of psychiatry, medicine, the prison system, and the function of sexuality in social organizations. He spent some time during the last years of his life at UC Berkeley, delivering several lectures in English. And happily they were recorded for posterity:

These last lectures are also available on YouTube (in audio format):
One of Foucault’s more controversial and memorable books was Discipline and Punish (1977), which traced the transition from the 18th century use of public torture and execution to–less than 50 years later–the prevalence of much more subtle uses of power, with a focus on incarceration, rehabilitation, prevention, and surveillance. Here he is in 1983 commenting on that book (thanks for the link to Seth Paskin). The Partially Examined Life podcast recently discussed the book with Katharine McIntyre, doctoral candidate at Columbia. Foucault’s image of the panopticon well captures modern privacy concerns in the electronic age.
Finally, we leave you with a Schoolhouse Rock-style presentation of Foucault’s book The History of Sexuality, Volume 1 and some vintage video of Foucault’s 1971 debate with Noam Chomsky. Foucault’s lectures have been added to the Philosophy section of our Free Online Course collection.

Related Content:
Jacques Lacan, Academic Rock Star, Gives a Public Lecture, 1972
Lovers and Philosophers — Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir Together in 1967
Philosophy with a Southern Drawl: Rick Roderick Teaches Derrida, Foucault, Sartre and Others
75 Free Philosophy Courses

source: http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/michel_foucault_free_lectures.html