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Findings from around the Internet.

 

“THERE IS STILL A PLACE WHERE BLACK UNICORNS RUN FREELY”

March 30, 2015

Juliana Huxtable spins.

CUT OFF FROM THE ‘REAL’ BY AN ATMOSPHERIC BUBBLE OF COINTELPRO PROPAGANDA AN PAMPHLETS CREATED BY THE HOOVER ADMINISTRATION, IT’S A LAND WHERE REPARATIONS ARE TAKEN AS THEY ARE LIVED. ITS MUSES AND MEDIUMS AMONG US ARE ‘URBAN’ WOMEN IN SPORTS BRAS, BOXER SHORTS, AND LOW SLUNG CAMO PANTS IN MILITARY AND ATHLETIC SHOEWEAR. THE SPIRITUAL RESIDUE OF ‘CAPITALISM PLUS DOPE EQUALS GENOCIDE’ AND THE PROTECTIVE OPTIMISM OF FREE BREAKFAST FOR THE CHILDREN SWINGS IN HOOP EARRINGS SO LARGE THEY TRACE COLLARBONES WHEN JAWS DROP TO DISCLOSE LYRICALLY THAT THERE IS STILL A PLACE WHERE BLACK UNICORNS RUN FREELY.

Read More | “Untitled (Casual Power)” | Juliana Huxtable | From UNIVERSAL CROP TOPS FOR ALL THE SELF CANONIZED SAINTS OF BECOMING (2015), on display at the New Museum Triennial

 

“…that subaltern who was supposed to fail but didn’t.”

March 4, 2015

kjh

JENNY ZHANG: You know a while ago, the writer, cultural critic, and editor of The New Inquiry, Ayesha Siddiqi tweeted “why are my tweets better than your thinkpiece? bc you grew up entitled to being a ‘writer’ and I grew up being resented by white teachers” and then went on this brilliant sequence of tweets where she basically lays out what it feels like to be denied and erased and dismissed and ridiculed and disbelieved at every step of the way by the educational system when you are considered an alien in the western, industrialized world, when you are that subaltern who was supposed to fail but didn’t.

There was something so fucking powerful about Ayesha’s insistence on using a form and a forum like Twitter instead of writing that Important Thinkpiece in that Important Publication and insisting that she can do better in 140 characters than what most people can do in a “proper” thinkpiece published in an established place with institutional backing. And then Ayesha ended up tweeting a series of shout-outs to people of color who gave themselves permission, who didn’t wait to be asked before they spoke, before they created something, or before they gave themselves the same amount of room to make mistakes and stumble that is often afforded to those who are considered native, who are considered educated, who are considered experts, who were born permitted.

It was exhilarating to be witness to that tweeting tear from Ayesha, and for me, Bhanu’s work does much the same, although in a different tone and in a different landscape, both offline and online. She gives herself permission to totally and completely fuck it, and by doing so, she gives me permission, to totally and completely fuck it. We’re not writing The Important Book, we are throwing it in the garden, and the tatters are what end up mattering more.

Sofia Samatar: That’s such a perfect example, Jenny, because of how Bhanu’s work speaks across distance. I mean, it speaks directly to us, like Ayesha’s tweets. I’m thinking too of the people she credits, constantly, her thank-yous, her shout-outs. Making community visible seems central to her work (nowhere more so than in Ban but that’s jumping ahead!).

Read More | “Reading Bhanu Kapil”| Amina Cain, Douglas A. Martin, Sofia Samatar, Kate Zambreno, Jenny Zhang | Believer Mag

 

“Earth is the language planet”

February 18, 2015

intensive-care

I’m sometimes really surprised that people want to read my work as activist. I make artworks, objects, in an approximately conventional way, even if they are mostly videos. I’m always trying to drag big geopolitical or historical narratives into the realm of direct individual experience, and I even go so far as to find that kind of funny, that weird combination of scales: funny and also a bit painful. For example, The Neck puts together my bad childhood drawings where I didn’t understand how to draw a neck between the head and the body, and my dad’s black radical politics that he had at one time, some of which was great but sometimes we would go to political meetings and be told, “The man is the head of the household and the woman is the neck.” Jaki Liebezeit During A Power Cut Circa 1970 fuses the economic changes in the organization of capital that happened in the 1970s and a child listening to her parents’ records. The child is partly me and partly someone else—I wasn’t born yet in the 1970s, but someone I was in love with at the time was. I don’t see how any official politics can be any more important than the intensity of listening to music. Maybe, more than anything else, the videos are about rhythm. I fantasize that one day I will just make music.

What I’m saying is, my work is a kind of refusal of politics, as much as an affirmation of politics. But I want to take those things seriously. I’m not sneering at any of it. I ended up reading the neck as the idea of mediation, the impossibility of mediations between the image and the self, between a racial identity and the self, partly because maybe we don’t even know what’s really there, in the place of the self. I don’t think this follows the logic of activism at all. Those kinds of links are so insubstantial, they are almost arbitrary, something to do with memory, maybe, and I think they can only really happen in art or in a joke.

An artwork might change something I guess because of how it is received or how people carry the memory of it. When we’re talking about art changing anything, we’re talking about art changing a person, and what that person might do in response to this encounter with a work. There are definitely artworks that have changed me and not all of them were even works that I particularly liked.

Read More | “Artist Profile: Hannah Black”| Jesse Darling | Rhizome

 

“thank God for the asshole that Kanye has become”

February 16, 2015

GTY_kanye_beck_jef_150209_4x3_992

I began to imagine the faces of those everyday white supremacists, so complacent and comfortable in their racial tyranny over the South, if they could have seen Kanye preparing to take the stage at the Grammys. Specifically, I imagined the faces of the editorial team of the Memphis Evening Scimitar. On June 4 1892, they wrote that:

“The chief cause of trouble between the races in the South is the Negro’s lack of manners. In the state of slavery he learned politeness from association with white people, who took pain to teach him. Since the emancipation came and the tie of mutual interest and regard between master and servant was broken, the Negro has drifted away into a state which is neither freedom nor bondage…he has taken up the idea that boorish insolence is independence, and the exercise of a decent degree of breeding toward white people is identical with servile submission….there are many Negroes who use every opportunity to make themselves offensive, particularly when they think it can be done with impunity.” (My italics.)

As I read this I thought of Kanye mounting those steps, I thought of these racists watching him, and as I sat at my kitchen table I allowed myself a quietly maniacal chuckle.  After all, if these editors could have created an algorithm that would have produced their worst nightmare, then it is pretty safe to say that it would have produced someone like Kanye West. (In fact, in the quoted paragraph above, they virtually prophesied his emergence.) Kanye does not even have the good grace to be humble about his talents. He lacks manners; he is frequently impolite; he is rude, boorish, offensive, intemperate, obstreperous and vulgar. And, as I read these words from 1892, I absolutely loved him for it.  Kanye is critically acclaimed, he is independently wealthy, he has the ear of millions whenever he opens that mouth of his, that awful goddamn mouth – in short, he is everything that the slavers feared the day they reluctantly unlocked that final yoke.

Read More | “God Bless Kanye West, and God Bless Ida B. Wells” | Musa Okwonga | Okwonga.com

 

“While the capitalists are winning every battle between the two classes, they are nonetheless losing the war.”

January 15, 2015

gr-elections

Insofar as Thatcher spoke for the capitalist class, there is indeed no alternative: capitalism today cannot survive in the cramped confines of the nation state. However, there is an aspect of her declaration that also applies to the modern social forces of production created by capitalism. These social forces have never been national and have always compelled capital to take increasingly global forms.

How much SYRIZA simply reflects the truth as it appears within the logic of the bourgeois simpleton remains to be seen. But even accepting this still does not escape the fact that the social forces of production have today become entirely incompatible with the nation state and national politics. Which is to say, SYRIZA’s politics may ultimately turn out to be merely a progressive variant of neoliberalism — and this may just be a final expression of bourgeois politics, rather than a true anti-politics — but in any case politics is dead.

Since the 1980s the Left has pursued a strategy that not only rejects Thatcher’s declaration, but refuses to recognize the global character of production. In one effort after another the Left has sought to overthrow neoliberalism but always in favor of a return to national state management of the economy. The reason for this is quite understandable: neoliberalism has resulted in globalization of production at the expense of the working class. But this reasoning is not defensible, since globalization of the production process has continued to develop despite numerous efforts to prevent it by the Left.

Globalization is not a policy of the capitalists, it is a process of formation of a single world market that is imposed on both worker and capitalist alike by development of the productive forces bound up with capital. Properly understood, neoliberalism is a policy where by the costs of this irresistable globalization is imposed on the working class by the capitalists.

While nothing can prevent globalization of production, there is nothing that states this globalization need take a neoliberal form. Globalization takes a neoliberal form because, even as globalization undercuts the nation state, the Left insists on relying on the nation state to counter neoliberalism. The very institution the Left relies on to fight the neoliberal impact of globalization is the one most fatally compromised by globalization itself.

Read More | “The historical context of Greece’s elections” | Jehu | The Real Movement