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From the 7th  - July 8, 2014, I took part in a workshop Curating the Activist Object at the May Day Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH

A wave of political uprising in recent years has made visible the inventiveness and creativity that characterises the material culture of contemporary social movements and political activism.

In June, as part of Critical Practice, I co-organised a one-day workshop to host political philosopher Stephen Wright. In preparation for the workshop we formed a Reading Group and collectively read and discussed Towards a Lexicon of Usership (pdf)

At the marathon seminar, we explored the transformative potential of Stephen's ideas of usership, escapology, gleaning, slackspace, spectatorship, working on a 1:1 scale and much else besides. We contributed to the 'retooling of the conceptual lexicon' for producing contemporary art and its institutions.

Truth is ConcreteOver twenty years ago I edited a book Reading Things, it's long, long out of print, although an extract from the introduction was recently republished in The Object, edited by Anthony Hudek, produced by the Whitechapel and MIT Press, 2014.

With my recent interest in Stephen Wright's provocation Towards a Lexicon of Usership, maker libraries and fab-labs, I thought to publish a version of the introductionReading Things: the alibi of use here.

[..] The substance of our material culture, refracted through our advertising media, is an increasingly dominant site for the struggle to represent an individuals most powerful desires, aspirations and fears. In industrial countries, we are constantly encouraged to associate and identify, both physically and psychologically, with a bewildering range of things. From Tampax to Trade sanctions, these consumer choices - if media theory is to be believed - may embody the last remaining coherent space of personal and cultural representation. [..]

More things can happen than will, or have

Composite transcript CompDoc 25-96473fz36-3541 (fragments): Chelsea centenary celebrations 2063. See the original document

– live thread recall Prof. Neil Cummings

Neil Cummings

 

 

[....]

And then, in 2’31, in the blink of an eye, the spectacular roller-coaster ride of the Guggenheim Foundation was over. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the cluster in New York, Venice, Bilbao Helsinki, and the Deutsche – Guggenheim in Berlin, in Shanghai and Rio, together with the unfinished project in Moscow, were all taken into UN-Multitude stewardship.

The demise of the Guggenheim, the concomitant collapse of the Singularity market , forced other private museums into stewardship.

They all filed for Chapter 12 protection.

It was a spectacular reverse of resource flows, tens of thousands of art works poured into public collections from previously private institutions.

An ethic of public generosity was re-animated, even encouraged.

Everyone benefited.

ExchangeI contributed a version of Generosity to Ends Meet: Essays on Exchange, a publication developed by Critical Writing students at th

Platform PublicationAt 6.30, on the 19th June, at Chelsea College of Arts, as part of the Chelsea Clusters centenary celebrations, Prof. Neil Cummings will perform a live-thread recall.

Highlights will obviously include; 2’56 when the clusters sponsored article, Article 39 was added to the UN-Multitude Declaration of Human Rights, 2’54 when Composite went live, the first Simpatia Building in Fortaleza in 2’39, the new nodes in Brazil, regions in the Indian Multitude, and West Africa, 2’25 legendary Ex Habere: The Practice of Exhibition research project, Chelsea’s devolution from the UAL, the impact of the Art Auction Transaction Tax, and much, much else besides.

 

See the original document (CompDoc 25-96473fz36-3541), read the complete transcript, or see the beautiful accompanying publication More things can happen than will, or have designed by Metod Blejec, it contains the narrative architecture.

Truth is ConcreteI contributed a text Generosity to Truth is Concrete, a publication launched on 26th April 2014.

Truth is Concrete was emblazoned over Bertolt Brecht’s desk while in exile in Denmark, a constant reminder in times of extreme social turbulence to remember political reality.

How can art play a role in social and political struggles? 

Can it be a tool to shape the world, rather than a mere reflection?

Following Steirischer Herbst festival’s twenty-four hour, seven-day marathon camp, Truth is Concrete: A Handbook for Artistic Strategies in Real Politics takes the possibility of concrete truth as a working hypothesis for both art and activism, and looks for direct action and concrete knowledge. In art practices that engage performatively in specific political and social situations, and activism that searches for intelligent, creative means of self-empowerment.

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Timeline Intermediae (cards)Mari inspired market stallUpstairs downstairsplanter & gatePublicamp, Critical PracticeTerracotta tiles