Museum on the Vistula, Warsaw, Art Against War and Fascism in the 20th and 21st Centuries – 24 October (Thursday); Internationalism After the End of Globalization– 25–26 October (Friday–Saturday), full program below
The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw invites the public to the summit “Internationalism after the end of globalisation”. It will play the dual role of a conference and a workshop session.
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.
Relationship between the visible and the invisible
To map or to create a diagram means to visualize a certain chose contents, be it the physical geography of a portion of space or the relational network of people and organizations working to define an Institute for Radial Imagination. Of course, by creating maps, we are only partially describing already existing territories that will define the space covered by the Institute activity.
During the first phase of this attempt we immediately encounter a first problem of knots that can not be mapped, of relations that can not be made public because of safety reasons. This happens in Turkey of course, but it could happen elsewhere, especially if IRI will focus on the space of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. So first of all we decided to allow a geography of opacity, but the presence of invisible territories must not lead to a disengagement on these very portions of space. How do we visualize the urgencies, the emergencies, but also the richness of answers and the agency that these invisible territories embody? How do we, as an Institute, culturally and politically deal with it without paternalism and without the arrogance of representing them and speaking for them?
Translation and Geography
An issue, linked to the previous point, that emerged in the conversation with alessandro Petti, in that of translation of the theoretical vocabulary of the Institute. Alessandro noted that the vocabulary of the commons could be shared even in the Arab context, even if, historically, it has more to do with Islam. Alessandro also pointed out that it would be important to really engage with the space of the Mediterranean also by promoting activities in those contexts that apparently look “more difficult”.
Another issue with design the rational map of the Institute was the difficulty of appear in the diagram as a spokesperson of a certain activists group, where the issue of representation is especially felt. Again, the dialectic between visibility and invisibility comes back and it raises questions about the individual and the collective. Questions that are probably relevant for our Insitute too. How an aspiring Institution for Radical Multitudinarian Imagination represents itself?
Finding the right routes
The single knots of the Institute already show a very complex geography, a variety of fields of intervention that (from activism, to art, to academia) compose a rich map. This may sound obvious but the map Showa that we deal with individual or collective subjects characterized by full agendas and scarcity of time, sometimes facing a lack of resources, sometimes dealing with repressive political conditions and/or with the global economy attention. A crucial challenge for the future of IRI will be to serious consider these starting conditions. We need to find those unexplored routes on the map that will boost meaningful cooperation between the different knots and not only a reciprocally instrumental relation on episodic bases.
Towards a queer Institute?
We must pay attention to gender balance, the risk of creating a male Institute is always present. And gender balance is a good starting point, a deeper reflection should be developed on the “becoming minor” of the institute. Do we instead want a queer institution? What does it mean? How do we achieve this goal?
The Institute of Radical Imagination is a think-tank inviting experts – political scientists, economists, lawyers, architects, hackers, activists, artists and cultural producers to share knowledge on a continuous base with the aim of defining and implementing zones of post-capitalism in Europe’s South and the Mediterranean. The think-tank works nomadically across the nodes of the network – Madrid, Athens, Istanbul, Cairo, Palestine, Naples – and connects with other nodes in “global south” – Eastern Europe, Latin America, South-East Asia.
IRI is a hybrid between a travelling research centre, a refuge for intellectuals and artists at risk, a radical museum and a policy-making body generating ideas and applied knowledge that respond to specific urgent needs on the ground – more than a structure, an intellectual logistical infrastructure operating across existing arts, academic and activist networks.