Saturday, November 25, 2006

3Cs / counter-cartographies collective

3Cs is a working group of the Cultures of Economies Project supported by the University Program of Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

3Cs formed in the spring of 2005 as a way to explore the uses of cartography and map-making to critically understand and intervene in the world we live in, especially the communities, ecologies and economies of our university.

3Cs is a network of people contributing their skills and knowledge to build a common project for a different/better University. As an open collective, 3Cs attempts to engage in non-hierarchical forms of decision-making, as well as participatory and action-oriented projects.

Terms like globalization, global networks, cyber infrastructures, mass immigration, global free trade policies leave us questioning how these issues pertain to us. Is it just something that happens “out there”? Mapping provides a way to make the connections between UNC and the “real world” visible.

Maps are more and more common in daily life. Through popular programs such as Google Maps and Pentagon mainframe cartographic systems, mapping is an increasingly important way for individuals and institutions to frame their roles and activities in the world. Mapping the university challenges existing notions of higher education institutions and our roles in them.

In referring to the work of Foucault and post-Foucaultian social theory as the ‘new cartographer’ (along with the new archivist), Gilles Deleuze pointed to a mode of investigation and writing that sought, not to trace out representations of the real, but to construct mappings that refigure relations in ways that render alternative worlds. In this project, we begin with this understanding of new cartographies/new mappings, and then turn to the ways in which these new mappings are emerging within social movement, activist, and artist projects to rethink economic practices and institutions. In forging this research group, we are interested in understanding how this particular genealogy of a new cartography is being and can be mobilized to render new images (and practices) of economies, how it is being deployed in community and alternative economic projects, and how it is being used to understand the institutions and networks of economic organizations such as corporations, military-state economies, and the university.

The Rethinking Economies Research Group emerged over the past eight months out of conversations stimulated by the Cultures of Economies Research Group (COE) and the Social Movements Research Group (SMRG). The focus on mapping and new cartographies emerged out of specific sections of the SMRG focused on ‘Spacing Movements’ and the emergence in social movements of innovative appropriations of mapping practices and theory to study and mobilize interest around structures and practices of the economy, alternative economic spaces of interaction and flows, and approaches to the refiguration of the local.

In the next year we plan to focus on conceptual and technical issues involved in using these new mappings to elaborate the topographies and topologies of economic relations and power;using network and meshwork mappings to make new relations/spaces/practices visible, including experimental mappings of institutional and individual movements and flows. The mappings group will also be working with the Alternative Economies Community Group and with other community and participatory mapping projects to develop experimental mappings of community, state, and private economies. The purpose of these mappings is partly to rethink and refigure the role of representation of spaces, regions, and identities in thinking economies. It is also partly an effort to investigate the possibilities for a cartographic economics that responds to the methodological and conceptual innovations deriving from genealogy, schizoanalysis, situationism, and psycho-geography.

One specific area on which the group will focus in this first year is building links to artists and artist groups working with mappings. From the intersection between mapping and traditional art found in the work of such figures as Oyvind Fahlstrom and Mark Lombardi to theorists such as Brian Holmes’ reworking of the role of space in contemporary site-specific projects (particularly those of the Situationists), the concept of the ‘map’ has become even more central to contemporary visual culture. It is our hope to further explore this connection through the study of relevant readings, visiting speakers, but also events that will allow for academics and artists to begin a dialogue about these issues. There are several individuals in the local area and we hope to organize ‘evenings with’ these artists, in conjunction with the Ackland Museum.

disOrientation guide 2006

Over the spring and summer of 2006, 3Cs worked in collaboration with other campus and community groups to produce the first disOrientation map to UNC. Designed for incoming first-year undergraduate and graduate students, as well as new faculty, the map details UNC's local and global ties, decentering the notion of the university as "ivory tower" and positing overlapping and conflicting notions of UNC as "... a functioning body," "... a factory," "... producing your world". The map also contains gobs of useful information about courses offered at UNC, interesting community groups, even coffee shops!

3Cs Documents / Maps / Presentations / Papers & Articles

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving and Thankstaking

Thankstaking Mix / Hard Knock Radio / Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankstaking / Uprising Radio / November 22, 2006

On the eve of the Thankstaking holiday, we pull back the saccharine marketing of turkeys and children in pilgrim pagents to look at what this holiday truly marks. With our Professor Cindy Alvitre we’ll discuss the American historical amnesia that allows for a holiday like Thankstaking and how it is rooted in the American reluctancy to admit the genocide that was the foundation this country was built on.

Mumia Abu Jamal on Thanksgiving / Uprising Radio / November 22, 2006

Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Economic Globalization: A Celebration of Victories, Rights and Cultures / Democracy Now / November 23, 2006

Hundreds of people from around the world recently gathered in New York for the "Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Economic Globalization a Celebration of Victories, Rights and Cultures" teach-in put on by the International Forum on Globalization and the Tebtebba Foundation.

Native Lands: The Struggle for Sovereignty / Making Contact / July 21, 2004

Broken treaties, contested land, reservations, loss of resources. Land sovereignty is a key issue for indigenous peoples. On this edition, we take a look at the Mapuche people in Argentina, the Shuswap Nation in the British Columbia province of Canada, and the Oglala Sioux in the state of South Dakota in the United States.

Native Feminisms: Without Apology / UIUC / April 28, 2006

Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving” / by Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin

Thanksgiving: The National Day of Mourning / Text of 1970 speech by Wampsutta

International Indian Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts presents the 32nd Annual Alcatraz Island Sunrise Gathering “American Indian Thanksgiving Day” November 23rd, 2006

Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians / by Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro / Z Magazine

No Thanks to Thanksgiving / by Robert Jensen / AlterNet

Native Americans Will Mourn Thanksgiving / by Viji Sundaram / New America Media

Thankstaking? Celebrating Genocide! / by Dan Brook / CounterPunch / November 28, 2002

An Occupation Worth Applauding: Celebrate Un-Thanksgiving / by Mickey Z.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

BORDERS: Hybrid Imaginaries / Fractured Geographies

BORDERS: Hybrid Imaginaries / Fractured Geographies
e-misférica / November 2006 / Volume 3.2

Editorial remarks

by Ulla Berg and Roberto Varea

While globalization pundits and scholars in the 1990s optimistically predicted the beginning of a post-national era, marking the end of the international border and of the nation-state as it had been known until then, recent world events have signaled just the opposite: the challenges posed by globalization for maintaining and ensuring sovereignty, coupled with the furious rebirth of the "security state" after 9/11, have intensified the interest of nation-states to maintain control over national borders and, in particular, over the flow of human bodies across such borders. The increase in security walls, checkpoints, sophisticated surveillance technologies, intolerance and criminalization of the cultural, religious, and political "Other," however, have luckily not been able to hinder or silence the unwavering will, necessity, or desire to "cross over" displayed by many social actors in different contexts. In tandem with attempts by powerful institutions such as colonialism, the state, and the law in setting rigid boundaries, categorizing populations, and limiting spaces for civic participation, we are witnessing a prolific imagination made immediate in the territory of the human body or in the virtual space of digital communication. This issue of e-misférica is dedicated to exploring how the lived and performed realities of trans-localism have created new global geographies and imaginaries marked not only by enduring exclusionary borders, but also by new liberating ones.

The current interest in the study of borders reflected here is not only influenced by actual changes in the world, but also by the ways in which we look at the world and approach it for analysis. Postmodern, postcolonial, and feminist critical theories have opened important "third spaces" for the questioning of dominant hierarchies and "imposed borders" based on taken-for-granted categories of race, sex, gender, and nationality. Positions claiming to speak "from the margins" or from the "colonial difference" have called attention to how borders can be productive to think with or to think from, making explicit the very politics of knowledge production. BORDERS: Hybrid Imaginaries / Fractured Geographies builds on such interdisciplinary and anti-authoritarian approaches to the study of borders. Engaging borders, in plural, from a performance perspective is particularly useful in that it allows us to look at them as produced by different performative events and expressions, as well as being represented and enacted by a multiplicity of actors. The study of borders is thus timely and valuable. Rather than witnessing the disappearence of borders, we are in fact experiencing their multiplication. New, previously unthinkable, physical, virtual, and imagined frontiers emerge all around us—not only in the Americas, but also in the rest of the world.

This issue brings together original work in different formats—essays, brief articles, performance documentation, photography, and video, as well as reviews of books, projects, and performances—by artists, scholars, and activists that address border issues from various angles, disciplines, and geographical locations. As editors, we have tried to balance the issue, selecting both scholarly and artistic work as well as activist interventions, which illuminate the various dimensions—poetic, political, and at times perverse—of borders and their crossers....


Friday, November 17, 2006

The Speculative Archive

The Speculative Archive produces video, photography, and installation projects focusing on the records and effects of political violence. Current projects deal with the use of documents — images, texts, objects, bodies, and physical structures — to project and claim visions of the future. Past projects have addressed the bureaucracy of secrecy and memory. The Archive is a collaboration of Los Angeles-based artists Julia Meltzer and David Thorne.

Julia Meltzer is a media artist and director of Clockshop, a non-profit production company in Los Angeles. For the past fifteen years she has produced media projects and documentaries that deal with social issues such as police brutality and the criminal justice system. She received her BA from Brown University and her MFA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is a 2004 recipient of a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship and was a Fulbright Fellow in Damascus, Syria in 2005-6.

David Thorne’s current projects include The Speculative Archive; the ongoing series of photo-works a certain interpretation based on a certain set of assumptions in order to take a certain position (1991–present); and scripts, a collaboration with artists Andrea Geyer, Sharon Hayes, Ashley Hunt, and Katya Sander. David is a 2004 recipient of a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship, and completed his MFA in Interdisciplinary Studio at University of California, Los Angeles in 2004. In spring 2006, he was a visiting artist at The Cooper Union in New York City.


We don’t like it as it is but we don’t know what we want it to be

“We don’t like it as it is but we don’t know what we want it to be.” is a documentary video in five parts about competing visions of an uncertain future. Shot in 2005-6 in Damascus, Syria, this video combines fiction and non-fiction. A dissident intellectual, an architect, a US political analyst, a confidant of the ruling family, and a young Koranic scholar each offer their perspective on a place where people live between the competing forces of a repressive regime, a growing conservative Islamic movement, and intense pressure from the world’s superpower.

Notes for a Possible Timeline / NYFA Interactive

Not a matter of if but when: brief records of a time in which expectations were repeatedly raised and lowered and people grew exhausted from never knowing if the moment was at hand or was still to come

“Peace. I don’t want it. Fairness. Why? Victory? Makes me sick! Love? What a pity. Freedom? Ugly! Friendship? My ass!”

Rami Farah, a young Syrian performer, uses various modes of address such as a promise, a threat, a curse, a joke, a lament, and a premonition in order to speak to the current state of affairs in Syria and the Middle East.

In Possession of a Picture: A selection of incidents of photographing or video-taping by persons of interest at various sites of interest, referenced with images from other sources

Photographic diptychs raise questions about taking pictures, having pictures in one’s possession, and about how we imagine future acts of terror.

It’s not my memory of it: three recollected documents

"It's not my memory of it" is a documentary about secrecy, memory, and documents. Mobilizing specific historical records as memories which flash up in moments of danger, the tape addresses the logic of the bureaucracy of secrecy in the current climate of heightened security.

A former CIA source recounts his disappearance through shredded classified documents that were painstakingly reassembled by radical fundamentalist students in Iran in 1979. A CIA film-recorded in 1974 but unacknowledged until 1992-documents the burial at sea of six Soviet sailors, in a ceremony which collapses Cold War antagonisms in a moment of death and honor. Images pertaining to a publicly acknowledged but top secret U.S. missile strike in Yemen in 2002 are the source of a concluding reflection on the role of documents in the constitution of the dynamic of knowing and not knowing.

These records are punctuated by fragments of interviews with information management officials from various federal agencies, who distinguish between "real" and "protocol" secrets, explain what it means to "neither confirm nor deny" the existence of records on a given subject, and clarify the process of separating classified from unclassified information.

FREE THE, DEMAND YOUR, WE WANT, ALL POWER TO THE, WE MUST, STOP THE, END ALL, DON’T, FUCK THE, THE PEOPLE WILL, YOU CAN’T, THOSE WHO, WOMEN ARE, IF YOU, RESISTANCE IS: some positions and slogans recollected from an archive of political posters

In 2002 we spent 3 months conducting research at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics resulting in this installation. Six digital images reflect on six recurrent themes and images that we encountered in this collection. The bullhorn plays a recording of 100 slogans taken from posters in the collection.

As though there were nothing else on the drawing board

A conversation takes place through an exchange of notes posted somewhere in Santiago in 1973.



What does it mean for the State to have intelligence? To what extent is intelligence the excavation of positive facts and to what extent is that procedure bound up in the fixing of historical memory? Does the resulting historical memory precede the ideological underpinnings of the State, or is it an effect of ideology? The Speculative Archive have produced a series of video records exclusively for Public Record. These records focus on the production of documents, their collection, circulation and reception, and their socio-political effects. The Archive describe their work as "speculative" as a way to foreground the temporal complexities of archival and documentary practices. Their "archive" is not a physical site where a kind of static retention occurs or where historical truth is fixed, but rather exists as a set of socio-political and cultural practices in which documents, objects, and memories are taken up in ongoing processes of transformation.

The Art of Forgetting: Speculative Archive's It's Not My Memory of It / by John Menick

The Culture of Secrecy / Cabinet Magazine / A series of interviews with government officials involved in the regulation and release of secret government information

Kosovo, Colorado takes a simulated Balkan village built in Colorado by the US army as a starting point to unravel further links between these two places, such as: the disappearance and reappearance of nuclear waste, incidents of high school violence and violence backed by the state, and the oblique language which is used to rationalize and define these events. A project by Julia Meltzer (2001).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Oliver Ressler

Oliver Ressler, born in Knittelfeld, Austria, in 1970, lives and works in Vienna.

Oliver Ressler is an artist who is doing projects on various socio-political themes. Since 1994 he has been concerned with theme specific exhibitions, projects in public space, and videos on issues of racism, migration, genetic engineering, economics, forms of resistance and social alternatives. Many of Resslers works are realized as collaborations: The ongoing project “Boom!” with the US-artist David Thorne, the videos “Venezuela from Below” and “Disobbedienti” with the political analyst Dario Azzellini, and numerous of projects on racism and migration with artist Martin Krenn.

Projects / 777.

Intervention by Oliver Ressler at the main train station in Zurich, eBoard, 2006

During the exhibition at the Shedhalle a new piece made for the electronic billboard of the Zurich main train station will be shown. The piece displays the foreign debts of Africa in relation to the damages which were caused by colonialism and slavery on this continent. If it is possible to elicit the foreign debts of Africa, which were tripled between 1980 and 2000, out of the World Banks databanks (235 billion dollars for the ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ 2004), then the calculations of the damages caused by colonialism and slavery represent a disparate and much more difficult undertaking. At the occasion of the UN World Conference against Racism in Durban in 2001 the African World Reparations and Repatriations Truth Commission brought forward a calculation based on comprehensive research and announced the sum of 777 trillion dollars. The claims of the African states were calculated using the reparation numbers of Germany for the victims of the Nazi-Regime as a point of reference. Out of fear of amend claims the Western countries deny any responsibility for colonialism and its aftermath and decline a guilt confession.

The Fittest Survive

Factors like “danger”, “risk” and “wilderness” are no longer considered only in the dark, suppressed underside of the globalisation dream. These possibly deterring factors have become a resistance to be overcome by, apparently, only the best and the strongest. Thus, to a certain extent, mastering these daunting elements have become standards for achievement in the economic discipline. The crisis regions’ growth markets make particularly clear that the law of market economics requires hardness and ruthlessness. This warlike character of market economics transforms life into a fight in which specific individuals face ever-higher demands for better performance.

In order to prepare for this competitive, social Darwinist, pecking order of global capitalism, privately-owned, security enterprises offer their self-developed, civilian training programs that simulate conflict-situations – in varying complexities up to war scenarios. One of these enterprises, the British AKE Group, promises, according to their web page, to provide “...clients the competitive advantage of engaging safely in areas that might otherwise have been closed to opportunity.”

The video “The Fittest Survive” is based on filming the five-day course “Surviving Hostile Regions” done in January 2006 in Wales, Great Britain by the AKE Group. The course instructors are British ex-special force soldiers. The participants are businessmen who are preparing for business in Iraq and other dangerous regions, government officials and mainstream journalists who, with their dishonest discourse of democracy and human rights, help to legitimise and secure the ideology of market-economics expansion.

5 Factories–Worker Control in Venezuela

Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler, 81 min.

In their second film regarding political and social change in Venezuela, after “Venezuela from Below” (67 min., 2004), Azzellini and Ressler focus on the industrial sector in “5 Factories–Worker Control in Venezuela“. The changes in Venezuela's productive sphere are demonstrated with five large companies in various regions: a textile company, aluminum works, a tomato factory, a cocoa factory, and a paper factory. In all, the workers are struggling for different forms of co- or self-management supported by credits from the government. “The assembly is basically governing the company”, says Rigoberto López from the textile factory “Textileros del Táchira” in front of steaming tubs. And coning machine operator Carmen Ortiz summarizes the experience as follows: “Working collectively is much better than working for another–working for another is like being a slave to that other”.

The protagonists portrayed at the five production locations present insights into ways of alternative organizing and models of workers' control. Mechanisms and difficulties of self-organization are explained as well as the production processes. The portrayal of machine processes could be seen as a metaphor for the dream machine of the “Bolivarian process”, and the hopes and desires it inspires among the workers. The situation in the five factories varies, but they share the common search for better models of production and life. This not only means concrete improvements for the workers. Aury Arocha, laboratory analyst at the ketchup factory “Tomates Guárico”, emphasizes that the difference between “social production companies” (EPS) and capitalist corporations is that the EPS “work for the community and society”. Carlos Lanz, president of the second largest aluminum factory in Venezuela, Alcasa, coins the key question: “How does a company push toward socialism within a capitalist framework?” The film ends with an extended sequence from a management meeting at Alcasa, a company with 2.700 workers, with discussions about co-management and the changes of production relations they aspire towards.

Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies

A series of billboards, posters and banners by Oliver Ressler

The central idea behind the billboard series “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” is to present different suggestions, which might be of interest when considering the principles on which an alternative to the existing capitalist system could be based. Such a society should in my opinion be less hierarchical, based on ideas of direct democracy and involve as many people as possible in decision-making processes. In the field of economy this would lead towards a variety of different models of workers self-management. The billboard series, which has been carried out in public inner-city spaces in Europe and South America so far, might provide some ideas for people who are interested in thinking about a future society. The billboards can work as food for thought, as the basis for discussions, which are so necessary today when strategies for alternatives are not clear. But it also has to be clear that a desirable society should be realized and created by the people who live in it. A model, which prescribes and determines every aspect of this future society, cannot lead towards an ideal society.

The poster and billboard texts, with their large and highly visible fonts, are in the form of appeals, questioning existing dominant power relationships and indicating alternatives that share the rejection of the capitalist system of rule. Some of the ideas presented in this project have been elaborated upon in concepts such as “Participatory Economy” by Michael Albert, “Inclusive Democracy” by Takis Fotopoulos, are suggestions for an anarchist consensual democracy by Ralf Burnicki, or are based on considerations by the theorist John Holloway, especially in his book “Change the World Without Taking Power”. This project uses the format of posters and billboards as arenas for the imagination. “Imagination is a very powerful liberating tool. If you cannot imagine something different you cannot work towards it”, explains Marge Piercy in a video interview conducted for the ongoing exhibition project “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” by Oliver Ressler, to which this project is related.

The first presentation of this poster series took place in the framework of the project “Quicksand in De Pijp” by SKOR and Combiwel, curated by Amiel Grumberg, which was a program of artistic interventions taking place in the De Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam in 2004. Since then, the posters, billboards or banners have been displayed in several cities, invited and funded by art institutions, and always carried out in the local language. Sometimes the presentations in public inner-city spaces were linked with the ongoing exhibitions project “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies”, which was the case with the poster presentations in Rijeka, Karlsruhe and Lima. Sometimes the billboards were realized on their own (as in Bratislava and Copenhagen). While in Amsterdam around 2000 posters were placarded more or less illegal throughout several months, in Bratislava the large-scale billboards were displayed on city-owned commercial billboard sites, which were left for free to the Billboartgallery Europe, which makes them available for artists. In several of the other presentations, the house facades of art institutions, which invited me to realize works, were used for the public interventions.

The global 500

The 500 largest companies, which are annually published in a ranking by the economic magazine Fortune, as transnational "global players" can be seen as the main protagonists of economic globalization. Starting point of the project "The global 500" is research done on the websites and the annual reports of the 500 largest transnational companies. The website, the exhibitions and the video in it are based on a selection of these corporate statements representing different strategies and discourses of economic globalization. These hegemonic globalization theses are discussed, analyzed and criticized by representatives of unions and NGOs, theorists and an economist.

“In fortress Europe you still have holes where we can enter, and people are still entering.”
(Jean Jacques Effson Effa, The Voice)

Border Crossing Services

The European Union member states' restrictive immigration regulations mean that there is almost no chance to legally migrate to the EU and reside in a member state. For those who want to enter, making use of border crossing services is often the only possibility for penetrating “Fortress Europe.”

The goal of the project “Border Crossing Services” (“Dienstleistung: Fluchthilfe”) is to redefine and highlight the positive aspects of terms such as “smuggler” or "trafficker" which have been given a negative connotation through the dominant medial discourse. In contrast to the widespread model for representation, the actual act of “smuggling” is not presented as a criminal exploitation of asylum seekers. Instead, we highlight the service character of this business made necessary by European policies of exclusion. Associated themes such as borders, migration and escape were worked on in cooperation with anti-racist groups, migrant organizations and students at the University of Lüneburg.

The project “Border Crossing Services” was realized in a variety of media such as a direct mailing and a video which, together with additional fields of information, form an exhibition in the Kunstraum Lüneburg. The project is based on a process-oriented approach. Throughout the course of the project, results from the different areas of research mutually influenced the other aspects of the project.

European Corrections Corporation

A Project by Martin Krenn & Oliver Ressler / Container Installation in Graz and Wels

The institution prison is an instrument of discipline, punishment, and exclusion, and functions as an agent of control and normalization. In today's society, the prison also has an additional important role as a site of economic production, in which the prisoners must work for a minimum wage. For the most part, it is the expanding prison industry that profits from this enterprise.

In the U.S., corporations such as Wackenhut and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) have aspired to high profits through building and operating correctional facilities since the 1980s. Their influence has also continued to increase in Europe for the past years. They consider the European market as a growth market, which they want a share of as early as possible. CCA has pushed forward the construction and management of partially privatized prisons in France. Wackenhut and CCA have already been building and running correctional facilities in Great Britain for more than ten years. There, not one single state prison has been built since opening the prison system to private companies.

The project "European Corrections Corporation" focuses on the phenomenon of the advancing privatization of prisons in Europe and questions the institution prison. A walk-in container, 605 x 243 x 259 cm, covered with a printed tarpaulin, will be placed in the pedestrian zones in the center of Graz and Wels. On the tarpaulin is a detailed CAD graphic with text commentary, which visualizes a private corporation's future privatization and rebuilding of the Graz-Karlau and Wels correctional facility. Like a real company, EUCC (European Corrections Corporation) attempts to use the prison as a de-territorialized site of production within the capitalist economy and presents a model for the profitable utilization of the prisoners' labor power. Thus, the constructions of prison buildings in the correctional facilities in Graz and Wels is meant to double the number of spaces available for prisoners.

Projected inside the container will be a seventeen-minute video based on an interview with the British activist Mark Barnsley. Barnsley was incarcerated for eight years in twenty-two different private and state prisons in Great Britain and consistently refused to work there. Barnsley shows that underlying both state run and privately run prisons is the idea that criminality is a disease and a social evil, which they attempt to maintain with force, with disciplinary machines. The video thematizes the function and the transformation of the prison as an institution and shows possibilities for resistance inside and outside of the prisons.

This is what democracy looks like!

The video "This is what democracy looks like!" thematizes the events of 1 July 2001 which took place surrounding a demonstration against the World Economic Forum - a private lobbying organization of major capital - which was meeting in Salzburg at the time.

"At those meetings, in the absence of the public, billion dollar deals are set into motion by the self-appointed 'global leaders.' These deals bring wealth and prosperity to a few, and exploitation and poverty to many. To assure the orderly proceedings of economic globalization, the conference facilities, located in the center of Salzburg, are largely blocked off and all demonstrations are forbidden other than a rally at the square in front of the train station." (Excerpt from the introduction of the video)

This video gives insight into the course of events of the first "anti-globalization demonstration" in Austria, held subsequent to the demonstrations in Seattle, Prague, Davos, Quebec, and Gothenburg, which all received a great deal of media attention. In this demonstration in Salzburg, which was forbidden by the police, 919 demonstrators were encircled in a police blockade and detained for over seven hours

In the video "This is what democracy looks like!" anti-capitalist demonstrators take the role of active spokespersons, contrary to dominant media representations that denigrate them as either naive or violent chaotic rowdies. Conversations about the events in Salzburg were carried out with six demonstrators. The central themes developed in the video are; the limitation of basic democratic rights - which is shown mainly in the ban on demonstrating and the detainment of hundreds of people in police encirclement - and the tension between the limited physical force of a few demonstrators and the structural violence practiced by state power. Excerpts from the conversations are put together with my own video recordings and those from (video) activists in Salzburg. The camera angle corresponds with the perspective of the demonstrators, thereby placing video viewers in direct confrontation with the events.


Counter-Globalisation Manuals / by Marina Grzinic and Oliver Ressler

This text is based on a public talk between artist and filmmaker Oliver Ressler and media theorist Marina Grzinic at Galerija Skuc in Ljubljana, November 2003. Focusing on Ressler's projects, from the anti-globalisation epic This is what democracy looks like!, to his more recent works The Global 500 and Disobbedienti, the discussion looks at artistic strategies for communicating political messages in non-'art' situations. What are the politics of representing anti-corporate globalisation protests?

Utopia and Actuality – The Chances of an Alternative / by Brian Holmes

A Private Riot Going On? / by Christian Parenti & Jeff Derksen

Occupied Factories, An Occupied Present / by Chris Gilbert

Along the Path of Revolution: Worker Control in Venezuela, Agency in Art / by Ava Bromberg

Appeal for non-hierarchic, self-determined, social and economic alternatives / Interview by

BOOM! / by Yates Mckee

Editors note: This piece was originally written by Yates Mckee for a small publication produced by the artist David Thorne on the subject of Oliver Ressler and Thorne’s artwork “Boom!”. We are reprinting McKee’s essay here in full, because of the essential criticism it offers of generalized protest art. Written last year, McKee has expressed to the editor that he feels that the piece may be too harsh towards Unions whom he recognizes as having a necessarily pragmatic approach to their mediation. He wishes to center the criticism herein on activist groups whom he feels are less tied to a solid constituency, and hence can afford experimentation with their signifiers.


2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville
“The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in Global Society”

Artistic director: Okwui Enwezor
26.10.2006 – 08.01.2007

For the exhibition "The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in Global Society" one
new video for the project "Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies" was commissioned by the Biennial in Seville.


A project by Oliver Ressler

After the loss of a counter-model for capitalism – which socialism, in its real, existing form had presented until its collapse – alternative concepts for economic and social development face hard times at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In the industrial nations, broadly discussed are only those “alternatives” that do not question the existing power relations of the capitalist system and representative democracies. Other socio-economic approaches are labeled utopian, devalued, and excluded from serious discussion, if even considered at all.

The thematic installation, "Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies," focuses on diverse concepts and models for alternative economies and societies, which all share a rejection of the capitalist system of rule. An interview was carried out for each concept. Interview partners include economists, political scientists, authors, and historians. From these interviews, a video in English was produced. In the exhibition, these single-channel 20- to 37-minute videos are each shown on a separate monitor, thus forming the central element of the artistic installation.

LA Freewaves: New Videos by Oliver Ressler
Pomona College Museum of Art
November 5 - December 17, 2006

“LA Freewaves: New Videos by Oliver Ressler” will present two recent films by Oliver Ressler—the United States premiere of Ressler’s newest film, The Fittest Survive, and 5 Factories: Worker Control in Venezuela, a 2006 collaboration between Ressler and Dario Azzellini that will represent the film’s second United States showing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Maghreb Connection


Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, December 2006
Centre D'art Contemporain, Geneva, February 2007

THE MAGHREB CONNECTION focuses on systems and modalities of migratory movements which constitute the Maghreb and Mediterranean area. From a range of aesthetic positions, the project seeks to develop discursive and visual representations of the growing complexity of North African mobility in relation with the development of the European Union.

In parallel to the agreements about “free movement” inside the European Union, its external borders are increasingly being sealed. In this new scheme, the Maghrebi migrants and those sub-Saharans who use the Maghreb as transit zone are perceived as a threat. While this notion of an invasion - largely spread by the European media - seems to legitimate the restrictive political measures concerning immigration, the European economy reaches further down into the Maghreb to establish giant transnational logistic centers or to find cheap labour for outsourced production. At this point, the relations between Europe and Africa have entered a new post-colonial phase.

In the Maghreb, migration flows rely on - and intersect with - other forms of organized mobility such as existing nomadic movements, tourism, roaming martial formations including rebel groups, and migration-related humanitarian personnel. The junction of these movements generates synergies, conflicts, and sometimes surprising alliances. THE MAGHREB CONNECTION aims to develop a visual representation of the connective space that emerges in the process. This geographic approach (geography being understood as a signifying system that allows us to understand the relation between subject, movement and space) focuses on specific zones of transit migration, such as Agadez in Niger, Lampedusa off the Tunisian shore, Oujda and Tangier in Morocco, Laayoune in the Western Sahara, Sicily and Cairo as destinations for migrants coming through the Suez canal. After in-depth research and investigation, the artists present a series of works under various forms, such as cartography, video, photography, text or animation.

THE MAGHREB CONNECTION is a collaborative art and visual research project on the North African migratory space. A special focus is placed on Sub-Saharan transit migration-now the dominant and undoubtedly the most highly mediatized form of movement in the region-which has turned the Maghreb into a transit zone. In response to the human conditions under which trans-Saharan migration takes place and the dramatizing media images and calls for border reinforcements that it has brought forth, THE MAGHREB CONNECTION sets out to intervene in the current discursive and visual representations with a contribution of new videos, photo series and research essays. In the course of eighteen months, eight art projects were developed in dialogue with each other. They brought us out into the field and made us engage in collaborations with scholars, researchers, NGO activists on location and with many migrants who were on their perilous way through North Africa.

With art projects by DOA ALY (Cairo), YTO BARRADA (Tangier), RAPHAËL CUOMO/MARIA IORIO (Geneva), HALA ELKOUSSY (Cairo), CHARLES HELLER (Geneva), URSULA BIEMANN, (Zurich), HELENA MALENO (Tangier) in collaboration with media/design activists OBSERVATORIO TECNOLOGICO DEL ESTRECHO (Malaga), ARMIN LINKE (Milan) and CAMILLE PONCET/MOUHAMED COULIBALY-MASSASSI (esba Geneva).

The Townhouse Gallery, Cairo
December 11, 2006 - January 13, 2007
Exhibition opening: December 10, 7pm
Conference: December 11, 11am - 7pm

With ALI BENSAÂD, geographer, Research Institute of the Arab and Muslim World (Marseille)

MICHEL AGIER, urban anthropologist, Centre for African Studies, EHESS (Paris)

MEHDI ALIOUA, sociologist (Rabat/Toulouse)

HELENA MALENO (Tangier) and NICO SCUGLIA (Malaga) from Observatorio Tecnologico

and presentations of the research projects by the artists and activists moderated by

BRIAN HOLMES, art critic and essayist (Paris)

THE MAGHREB CONNECTION is a research project initiated and directed by Ursula Biemann. The development and production of the exhibition project and the publication has been funded by PRO HELVETIA Swiss Arts Council, Cairo. The conference and the publication has been generously supported by Heinrich Boell Foundation Middle East Office. The research is based at the Ecole Supérieure de Beaux Arts, Geneva and the Institute for Art and Design Theory, HGKZ Zurich. The exhibition will travel to the CAC Geneva who contributed also to the publication.


The multiple video installation is an exploration of the post-colonial entanglement underlying the present sub-Saharan exodus towards Europe. It examines the politics of mobility and containment which lies at the heart of the current global geopolitics with regard to human circulation, a tendency which comes into sharp profile in this specific geography. Dedicated to experimentation, the Agadez Chronicle is fractured into 4 videos, representing a gesture towards spatializing the signifying process and creating a simultaneous reading of different temporalities.

AGADEZ CHRONICLE is part for THE MAGHREB CONNECTION Art and Research project.


Agadez, at the heart of Niger, is the Southern gate to the Saharan basin for the main routes coming from West Africa, it is a major trans-Saharan trading centre, and capital of the Tuareg. Forgotten places now emerge as crucial nodes and relays in the international migration network in North Africa. After Agadez no one goes alone. The scene of the Agadez Chronicle is set in the courtyard of the Sahara Ténéré Transportation Company in Agadez, where trucks are prepared for the desert passage, tickets sold, last prayers made. The quiet daily routine of handling life-changing journeys.

Agadez Chronicle is an exploration of this post-colonial entanglement underlying the present sub-Saharan exodus towards Europe. It examines the politics of mobility and containment which lies at the heart of the current tendencies in global geopolitics with regard to human circulation, a tendency which comes into sharp profile in this specific geography. At the moment when Europe is redefining and consolidating itself, the post-colonial legacy is reemerging full force; unresolved business is coming to light.

The space of mobility and livelihood of the Tuareg covers substantial areas of 5 nations - Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger and Chad. They maintain nevertheless their identification as a people across the boundaries. They are by definition transnational. Tuareg culture has developed a system of information, specific topographic literacy, mobility and communication. Their unique expertise is in high demand since a steady flow of sub-Saharan migrants transit Agadez before crossing the desert to reach the Maghreb. The video documents the various players in the Agadez migrant-transportation racket.

Social injustice and the exclusion from the wealth generated by the uranium found on their territory had pushed them to armed action. Arlit represents a particularly interesting economic and political constellation which manifests, in the video, through the dignified figure of Adawa, former rebl leader and today head of the clandestine transportation operations of the Algerian line.

Equipped with high-tech observation machines, desert drones are gliding over the expansive topography, searching for undocumented migrants. The territory has turned into a carpet of satellite and radio signals, audio and visual, encoded and jammed, where migratory and digital geographies overlap. On the big scale of international contracts between governments, migrants have become a subject of negotiation. In fact, they are traded against these very image technologies which reveals to what degree image making is an integral part of the politics of movement.

Even though the desert plays a central part in the Agadez Chronicle, there is no single panoramic view of the Sahara, no vision of the natural monster. The landscape appears only in the narrative, as the social construct of a transportation network and as a medium to examine the aesthetic grammar of movement and the construction of video space. Dedicated to experimentation, the Agadez Chronicle is a gesture towards spatializing the signifying process and creating a simultaneous reading of different temporalities by orchestrating several videos that operate on different discursive planes.

Ursula Biemann is an artist, theorist and curator who has in recent years produced a considerable body of work on migration, mobility, technology and gender. In a series of internationally exhibited video projects, as well as in several books ("Been There and Back to Nowhere"(2000), "Geography and the Politics of Mobility"(2003), "Stuff It - The Video Essay in the Digital Age“ (2003) she has focused on the gendered dimension of migrant labour from smuggling on the Spanish-Moroccan border to migrant sex workers moving from the East to the West. Insisting that location is spatially produced rather than pre-determined by governance, she made space and mobility her prime category of analysis in the curatorial project "Geography and the Politics of Mobility" (2003) in Vienna, the recent art research projects “The Black Sea Files” on the Caspian oil politics at Kunstwerke Berlin (2005), or the Maghreb Project on Mediterranean mobility, Cairo/Geneva (2006). Biemann's practice has long included discussions with academics and other practitioners, she has worked with anthropologists, cultural theorists, NGO members, architects, as well as scholars of aural and sonic culture. She researches at the Institute for Theory of Art and Design at HGK Zurich lectures at the CCC program of esba Geneva, and teaches seminars and workshops internationally.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The School of Panamerican Unrest

The School of Panamerican Unrest is an artist-led, not-for-profit public art project that seeks to generate connections between the different regions of the Americas through discussions, performances, screenings, and short-term and long-term collaborations between organizations and individuals. Its main component will be a nomadic forum or think-tank that will cross the hemisphere by land, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego. This hybrid project includes a collapsible and movable architectural structure in the form of a schoolhouse, as well as a video collection component. The project, which seeks to involve a wide range of audiences and engage them at different levels, offers alternative ways to understand the history, ideology, and lines of thought that have significantly impacted political, social and cultural events in the Americas.

After its official launch in New York, the SPU initiated its road trip in Anchorage. From May 19 through September 15, the SPU will make 30 official stops. The journey will be documented in video footage that will result in a documentary to be launched in 2007. Daily updates of the trip will be available at A virtual bilingual forum discussing aspects of this trip was initiated in January of this year and can be accessed at

Initiated by Mexican artist Pablo Helguera, and with the support of more than 40 organizations and more than 100 affiliated artists, curators, and cultural promoters in the Americas, The School of Panamerican Unrest responds to the need to support inter-regional communication amongst English, Spanish and Portuguese speaking America, as well as its other communities in the Caribbean and elsewhere, making connections outside its regular commercial and economic links. In contrast to Europe, which over the years has been orchestrating its cultural integration through an open flux of dialogue, many Latin American countries still have a limited cultural exchange amongst one another, and often limited to the connections offered by the hegemonic points such as New York, Miami, or even Madrid. Many years after the initial impulses by various Latin American intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos, Simón Bolívar, José Martí, who once envisioned a unified cultural region in the Americas, this project seeks to revisit and evaluate the meaning of those ideas during the time of the Internet and post-globalization. In the debates, programs and roundtable discussions, the project will seek to articulate and debate issues that pertain to local concerns around culture and society. We will also seek to discuss ways through which artistic practice in the Americas can acquire an influential role in public life, political, cultural and social discourse, enriching their respective communities in a productive and proactive manner.

As an artistic project, the SPU seeks to innovate by combining performative and educational strategies, creating new forms of presentation and debate about political and historical subjects and creating a discussion infrastructure that will break with the usual academic formats, and the predictable means of communication and debate that are normally used in the art world. The project is inspired by the travel itineraries of those who once crossed the continent, ranging from missionaries, explorers, scientists, revolutionaries, intellectuals, writers, and others. In the utopian spirit of those who once conceived the Americas as a unified entity, the SPU will cross the continent literalizing the very idea of Panamericanism.

Once the journey is completed, the documentation of it will be brought together in the form of a publication, a documentary and a traveling exhibition.

Pablo Helguera (* Mexico City, 1971) is a visual artist living and working in New York. His work usually acquires unusual formats, ranging from experimental symposiums, phonograph recordings, exhibition acoustiguides, or nomadic museums. Helguera usually departs from historic research or from interests surrounding the very nature of art, the viewer's perception of it, and the role that art making and culture in general plays in politics and society. He often combines literary and musical strategies, as well as pedagogy and education theory.


SPU Itinerary

SPU Video

Universes in Universe

Creative Capital

Programmable Revolutions: A Binational Interpretration of the Modernist Dream / by Pablo Helguera