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Guy Debord

SPECTACULAR CAPITALISM

Spectacular Capitalism Release Party and Presentation 
Saturday June 25th @ 7PM @ X Marks the Bökship (http://bokship.org)
210/ Unit 3 Cambridge Heath Road London E2 9NQ

Over the past forty years the ideas and practices of Guy Debord and the Situationist International have become a constant reference point for those involved in radical politics, the arts, and cultural theory. Despite this ubiquity Debord’s work has been reduced to a palatable cliché rather than being used as a tool for crafting an ongoing practice of critique and engagement. Come on join us to celebrate the release of Richard Gilman-Opalsky’s new book, Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy, as we excavate this potential from the historical wreckage. 

Drawing on the work of Guy Debord, Gilman-Opalsky argues that the theory of practice and practice of theory are superseded by upheavals that do the work of philosophy. Spectacular Capitalism makes the case not only for a new philosophy of praxis, but for praxis itself as the delivery mechanism for philosophy – for the field of human action, of contestation and conflict, to raise directly the most irresistible questions about the truth and morality of the existing state of affairs.

Commentary and response from Gavin Grindon:

“Richard Gilman-Opalsky’s Spectacular Capitalism rescues Situationist theory and praxis from merely antiquarian and art-historical commentary and puts it in dialogue with the project of a radical philosophy for leaving the 21st century.” – McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto and Gamer Theory

Organized by Minor Compositions (http://www.minorcompositions.info) and the Centre for Ethics and Politics @ Queen Mary, University of London (http://cfep.org.uk)

Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy
Richard Gilman-Opalsky
http://www.minorcompositions.info/spectacularcapitalism.html
To be released June 2011
ISBN 978-1-57027-228-8

Bio: Richard Gilman-Opalsky is Assistant Professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is the author of Unbounded Publics: Transgressive Public Spheres, Zapatismo, and Political Theory (Lexington Books, 2008), as well as numerous articles.

Released by Minor Compositions, London / New York / Port Watson
Minor Compositions is a series of interventions & provocations drawing from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of everyday life.
Minor Compositions is an imprint of Autonomedia
www.minorcompositions.info |info@minorcompositions.info

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2001

ART: WHAT’S THE USE?

Symposium

Art: What’s the Use?

Friday 14 January, 2011. 11am-6pm
Zilkha Auditorium, Whitechapel Gallery (£15/£10 conc.)

How subversive really is the social uselessness of art?  Could art play a more directly functional role in culture? Dean Kenning and Gavin Grindon challenge the idea that art should be allowed to take critical positions safe from any real intervention. Participants include Artur Zmijewski, Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat), James Marriott &Jane Trowell (PLATFORM), John Roberts, Stephen Wright, Marina Vishmidt, Peter Osborne and Gail Day.

In association with Stanley Picker Gallery Public Lectures on Art & The Visual and Material Culture and Contemporary Art Research Centres at Kingston University of London.

The increasing visibility of contemporary art, together with the shift in art discourse towards the social dimension, not to mention the sheer number of people now practicing as artists, all make the use value of art a vital issue. At a local and national level contemporary art has clearly taken on a role as instigator of local regeneration/gentrification and city branding. Such projects usually involve star artists, while activist, community and socially engaged practices often take place off the art world radar, or else adopt conventional art spaces as leverage for their work. How do organisations and institutions with their resources and networks influence this equation of art and use? In light of the radical changes to higher education which are currently being pushed through alongside simultaneous cuts in the arts budget, can we develop a language beyond the business-model discourse of ‘creative industries’ in which to defend and promote the value of art to a wide public?

This symposium aims to ask: What is the use-value of art today, how is it useful, and for whom? What are the particular imaginative and cognitive skills, competences and approaches that could take effect as part of the general symbolic economy beyond the artworld? What are the lessons and influences of movements which sought an unambiguously social and political function for their experiments? And finally, what are the conditions that enable artists not simply to reflect upon the world, but to act within and change it?

Tickets are available here: http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/shop/product/product_id/800

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Situationism

ESSEX / BRIGHTON SEMINARS ON AESTHETICS & POLITICS 10/25-10/26

:: Curating Resistance :: Aesthetics & Ethics in Social Movement ::
:: October 25th, 2010:: University of Essex ::
:: Room 4.722 :: 1PM – 5PM ::
http://www.minorcompositions.info/curatingresistance.html

Participants: Gavin Grindon (Kingston) // Paul Halliday (Goldsmiths) // Antigoni Memou (University of East London) // Matthew Poole (Essex)

Avant-garde and social movement art production has long had a troubled and conflictual relationship with the museum and the archive. The call to abandon the gallery as a space for art separated from everyday life, one that all too often neutralizes the antagonistic energies of radical art, reverberates from Dada through Fluxus, the Surrealists to Reclaim the Streets. But in today’s post-Fordist creativity-fuelled economy, the call to end this division rings hollow precisely because it has already been accomplished: the energies of insurgent creativity are rendered into forms of dispersed production for the net economy. The surrealist invocation of the marvellous is today’s advertising copy. Joseph Beuys’ proclamation that “everyone is an artist” has been realized in perverse form as “everyone is a worker,” where relationality is ‘socially sculpted’ through the circuits of an always present network culture as opportunities for capitalist valorization: all YouWork and MyProfit.

What might there be that could avoid these tensions and contradictions, or at least begin to suggest ways to work through and against them? Where does one go when life itself is both a direct producer of value and the substance of artistic production? To a gallery of the streets? Or maybe a university of trash? Is the archive of the undercommons a pile of zines sitting at the back of the infoshop? A pile of fleshy tissue inscribed on by a Kafka-esque writing machine? Perhaps it is all and none of these things. Thus we return to the question of the archive and history not to catalog social movement artistic production for a gallery-morgue or the productivity of the metropolitan factory, but rather to consider what an ethics and aesthetics of developing a living archive of experience and knowledges that can feed back into and through the fabric of everyday life might be.

Sponsored by the University of Essex Management Centre (http://www.essex.ac.uk/ebs/research/emc).

For more information contact Stevphen Shukaitis (sshuka@essex.ac.uk).

Metropolitan Strategies, Psychogeographic Investigations
:: A Drifting Seminar :: Brighton, October 26th, 2010 ::
Starting @ the Cowley Club, 2PM
http://www.minorcompositions.info/brightondrift.html

The notion of psychogeography (as well as many other ideas of the Situationists) appears frequently within political and artistic discussions. Indeed, they circulate to the point of cliché, in the process becoming almost completely emptied of content. The derive is reduced to a leisurely stroll, perhaps accompanied with some secondary musings about the nature of the spectacle, a dash of literary activity, or perhaps some local history. This is a hollowing out of the concept. Psychogeography for the Situationists was primarily not an aesthetic activity, but more than anything a strategic approach to understanding the forces shaping the city and from those finding points of intervention in it. At times it verged on a nearly military framework, working to gain an intuitive understanding of the territory and its layering of images, affects, and circuits of capitalist valorization.

Today we find ourselves in a condition of ever intensified spectacular sociability: all of life put to work in webs of biopolitical production, overwhelming communicative and media flows, and the reshaping of the metropolis through culture led gentrification. More than ever well-developed psychogeographic investigations are needed to comprehend the shaping of the metropolis and the possibilities this offers for political action. But this is not a task for the carefree wanderings of the flaneur, but perhaps better suited for what Ian Sinclair has described as the superseding figure of the stalker, the one who knows where he is going, but not why or how.

The aim of this encounter is to draw together concepts from psychogeography and unitary urbanism with recent writings on the shaping of the metropolis today. And from this approach to understanding the changing nature of the city elaborate new political strategies. For instance, if the metropolis is a factory, how would it go on strike? If all of everyday life and communication is put to work, how can we throw down our tools? And if capital attempts to recuperate all forms of radical politics in order to turn them into new energies for continued accumulation, is a strategy of concealment or incomprehensibility one way to escape from these dynamics?

This event will not be based around formal presentations, but rather will rather take the form of a drifting seminar. Participants will be asked to read several pieces of text that will form the basis of discussion and exploration.

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