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

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The Handbook of Courage: Cultural Opposition and its Heritage in Eastern Europe (2018)

1 November 2019, dusan

“The Courage Handbook ushers its reader into the world of the compellingly rich heritage of cultural opposition in Eastern Europe. It is intended primarily to further a subtle understanding of the complex and multifaceted nature of cultural opposition and its legacy from the perspective of the various collections held in public institutions or by private individuals across the region.

Through its focus on material heritage, the handbook provides new perspectives on the history of dissent and cultural non-conformism in the former socialist countries of Central, Eastern, and South-eastern Europe.

The volume is comprised of contributions by over 60 authors from a range of different academic and national backgrounds who share their insights into the topic. It offers focused discussions from comparative and transnational perspectives of the key themes and prevailing forms of opposition in the region, including non-conformist art, youth sub-cultures, intellectual dissent, religious groups, underground rock, avantgarde theater, exile, traditionalism, ethnic revivalism, censorship, and surveillance.”

Edited by Balázs Apor, Péter Apor and Sándor Horváth
Publisher Institute of History, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, 2018
ISBN 9789634161424, 9634161421
634 pages

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William Andrews: Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima (2016)

26 September 2019, dusan

“Following the March 2011 Tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis, the media remarked with surprise on how thousands of demonstrators had flocked to the streets of Tokyo. But mass protest movements are nothing new in Japan. The post-war period experienced years of unrest and violence on both sides of the political spectrum: from demos to riots, strikes, campus occupations, factional infighting, assassinations and even international terrorism.

This is the first comprehensive history in English of political radicalism and counterculture in Japan, as well as of the artistic developments during this turbulent time. It chronicles the major events and movements from 1945 to the new flowering of protests and civil dissent in the wake of Fukushima. Introducing readers to often ignored aspects of Japanese society, it explores the fascinating ideologies and personalities on the Right and the Left, including the student movement, militant groups and communes. While some elements parallel developments in Europe and America, much of Japan’s radical recent past (and present) is unique and offers valuable lessons for understanding the context to the new waves of anti-government protests the nation is currently witnessing.”

Publisher Hurst, London, 2016
ISBN 9781849045797, 1849045798
xxv+356 pages

Reviews: Carl Cassegård (Journal of Japanese Studies, 2018), Winifred Bird (Kyoto Journal, 2018), Sean Ledwith (Counterfire, 2017), Don O’Keefe (Japan Times, 2016).

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