THREE PARAGRAPHS for THE INSTITUTE
by Massimiliano Mollona
Growing up in the 1980s (I was 10 in 1980) my politics has been a minor form of resistance – a militant self-reflection, a plural mode of articulation – against the immaterial violence of finance; the molecular capture of late capitalism; the ghostly superficiality of the neoliberal person and the grand narratives of the male, bourgeois, white civilization that (re)emerged at the end of history.
Today I face a different history. Capitalist institutions have reorganised themselves following the old predatory and monopolistic logic. In 2011 and 2013 I did not understand that the young comrades who were out in the street with me were fighting a different war – a war against their physical and political annihilation – and moved in a different existential space – a space of immense material and imaginative desolation. I could not fathom that their future would arch back into the folds of totalitarianism as witnessed by our ancestors. Now it is clear. We live in a time of radical enclosures. People everywhere are being jailed, expelled, stigmatized and confined in intellectual, moral and physical enclosures put up by capitalist markets and absolutist states operating in tandem. It is not only about the “excluded.” The condition of refugees and exiles represent us all.
To be radical today means to claim the gestures of commoning, culture of solidarity and determination to exist in common back from the history of anti-totalitarian and anti-capitalist struggles and to bring these histories and practices to bear onto our future. I see culture, art and imagination as forces that can both freeze the flow of life (in a movement of institutionalization) and put life in motion (in moments of radical opening). Culture is radical (anti-capitalist and decolonised) when it goes beyond the enclosures of the “usual people” and builds connections across socio-economic divides; challenges the cynical language of the master and the exclusionary logics of difference,
negative freedoms, boycotts and art occupations that mirror the occupations of capital (it’s impossible to beat the master on his own turf) and embarks in empathic and sensuous journeys outside of the capitalist “self.” As we enter into a new era of primitive accumulation, the virtuoso skills of the baroque intellectual have become obsolete. We need a light and portable weapon stripped down to its very core (Susan Sontag – the radical intellectual as ascetic and destroyer).
For me radical imagination stems from a double movement of anti-capitalist critique and of epistemological and discursive construction of a new post-capitalist imaginary, including new forms of production and representation in which art and politics inform each other. But this radical imagination is risky. It needs a safe space and a long-term horizon to be cultivated. The Institute wants to be such safe space – an alter-institution, both inside (because of where we come from) and outside (because of what we are aiming for) the hegemonic institutions of capitalism (museums, universities and institutional politics) and “the west” intended as a mental and a geopolitical space. The Institute wants to be a space of freedom, an exilic space turned into commons – not as act of survival but as “communal luxury.”
I see the institute as a research-curatorial-activist group engaged in research interventions (starting from the 5 we highlighted in Naples) and working with a methodology that combines pragmatic and tactical actions with an ongoing reflection on how, as a culturally diverse and geographically dispersed collective, we can institute otherwise.
The call from the projects comes from a specific urgency and the institute becomes a structure also for archive (memory and documentation). Became a repository. A specific methodology, and conceptual framework.