Yates McKee: Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy Condition (2016)

3 December 2019, dusan

“The collision of activism and contemporary art, from the Seattle protests to Occupy and beyond

What is the relation of art to the practice of radical politics today? Strike Art explores this question through the historical lens of Occupy, an event that had artists at its core. Precarious, indebted, and radicalized, artists redirected their creativity from servicing the artworld into an expanded field of organizing in order to construct of a new—if internally fraught—political imaginary set off against the common enemy of the 1%. In the process, they called the bluff of a contemporary art system torn between ideals of radical critique, on the one hand, and an increasing proximity to Wall Street on the other—oftentimes directly targeting major art institutions themselves as sites of action.

Tracking the work of groups including MTL, Not an Alternative, the Illuminator, the Rolling Jubilee, and G.U.L.F, Strike Art shows how Occupy ushered in a new era of artistically-oriented direct action that continues to ramify far beyond the initial act of occupation itself into ongoing struggles surrounding labor, debt, and climate justice, concluding with a consideration of the overlaps between such work and the aesthetic practices of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Art after Occupy, McKee suggests, contains great potentials of imagination and action for a renewed left project that are still only beginning to ripen, at once shaking up and taking flight from the art system as we know it.”

Publisher Verso Books, London and New York, 2016
ISBN 9781784781880, 1784781886
296 pages

Reviews: Marc James Léger (Marx & Philosophy, 2016), Philipp Kleinmichel (Radical Philosophy, 2018), Paloma Checa-Gismero (Field, 2016), John Ayscough (Visual Culture in Britain, 2017), Kristin Gecan (Chicago Review, 2016).
Discussion: Gregory Sholette, a.o. (e-flux supercommunity, 2016).
Book launch



Kate Khatib, Margaret Killjoy, Mike McGuire (eds.): We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy From Occupation to Liberation (2012)

8 May 2013, dusan

We have all been swept up by the momentum of the Occupy movement. We have seen the results of years of organizing in different communities come together in ways that few could have imagined, bolstered by the scores of people who have left the comfort of their daily routine behind and taken to the streets. Yet as a movement so overflowing with new social and political actors, we lack the framework we need to help us all to understand what a social movement is, to understand how change has happened in the past, to understand what this moment means and what this movement makes possible.

We Are Many is a reflection on Occupy from within the heart of the movement itself. Examining key questions—what worked? what didn’t? why? how? is it reproducible?—the authors and activists in this collection point toward a movement-based framework for future organizing. Heavily illustrated and annotated, We Are Many is a celebration of what worked, and a thoughtful analysis of what didn’t.

With contributions by Michael Andrews, Michael Belt, Nadine Bloch, Rose Bookbinder, Mark Bray, Emily Brissette, George Caffentzis, George Ciccariello-Maher, Annie Cockrell, Joshua Clover, Andy Cornell, Molly Crabapple, CrimethInc., Croatoan, Paul Dalton, Chris Dixon, John Duda, Brendan M. Dunn, Lisa Fithian, Gabriella, David Graeber, Ryan Harvey, Gabriel Hetland, Marisa Holmes, Mike King, Koala Largess, Yvonne Yen Liu, Josh MacPhee, Manissa M. Maharawal, Yotam Marom, Cindy Milstein, Occupy Research, Joel Olson, Isaac Ontiveros, Morrigan Phillips, Frances Fox Piven, Vijay Prashad, Michael Premo, Max Rameau, RANT, Research & Destroy, Nathan Schneider, Jonathan Matthew Smucker, Some Oakland Antagonists, Lester Spence, Janaina Stronzake, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Team Colors Collective, Janelle Treibitz, Unwoman, Immanuel Wallerstein, Sophie Whittemore, Kristian Williams, and Jaime Omar Yassin.

Afterword by David Graeber
Publisher AK Press, 2012
ISBN 1849351163, 9781849351164
355 pages

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Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy, 3: Civil Disobedience (2012)

15 January 2013, dusan

“Some of the most prominent theories of civil disobedience, e.g. those of Rawls and Habermas, highlight its primarily or even exclusively symbolic character. This, however, seems to reduce civil disobedience to a purely moral appeal. On a theoretical as well as on a practical level we are today faced with the question whether civil disobedience requires a moment of real confrontation for it to be politically effective. It seems that civil disobedience does in fact have an irreducible symbolic dimension, but that it cannot be reduced to this dimension, because without moments of real confrontation it would also lose its symbolic power and turn into a mere appeal to the conscience of the powers that be. The articles in this special section highlight various of the challenges and possibilities the theory and practice of civil disobedience is confronted with today, from the question whether Paraguayan campesinos have a right of necessity also to uncivil actions via the political potential of the apparently criminal behaviour of marginalized migrants and the effects of ‘hermeneutic invisibility’ on the public nature of civil disobedience to the effects rise of ‘art activism’ on the relation between the social and the artistic and the situatedness of the bodies of protesters in relation to changing police tactics.

In ‘The Misadventures of Critical Thinking’ Jacques Rancière explores the anti-emancipatory effect of an artistic and theoretical critique that specializes in unmasking how all attempts at critique are always already anticipated and incorporated by ‘the system’, suggesting that we should instead focus on what he calls ‘scenes of dissensus’. As Joost de Bloois argues in his comment on Rancière’s text, however, this analysis might not only underestimate the complexity of this unmasking critique, it also seems to run into some of the same problems it diagnoses.

In our interview with Wendy Brown we discuss the emancipatory potential as well as the theoretical and political limits of the notions of democracy and communism, the paranoid practice of walling with which states seem to compensate their waning sovereignty, the Occupy movement and the danger of Oedipalization, the varieties of secularism, and the responsibility of teaching.”

Published in Amsterdam, 2012
101 pages
via Jappe Groenendijk