Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Kaunas Seminar - Strategies of Refusal: Aesthetics, Labor & the Composition of Movements to Come

Kaunas, Lithuania, April 21-25th

Resistance creates surplus: the eruption of social movements generates new forms of social energies, ways of being together, creativity and forms of aesthetic production, and ultimately, forms of life. These forms of excess are not reactive, but embody a logic of expression occur prior to before they are harnessed into capitalist production and governance. This is the key insight and argument of the autonomist tradition: capitalism develops through rendering attempts to negate it into the principles of its continued transformation and development. For the autonomist tradition, as well as thinkers such as Deleuze and Foucault, resistance comes first and is the determining dynamic in relations of power. Autonomism understands resistance and power through a framework of class composition, or the relation between the dynamics of movement building (political composition) and the technical composition of capitalist domination. Cycles of struggle are composed, decomposed by integration into production and governance, and then recomposed through political organizing. Moving beyond and expanding the framework of a more narrowly focused class analysis, what would an autonomist approach show about the history of avant-garde arts and production? If it is true, as Jacques Attali argues, that changes in artistic production precede broader economic changes, the kinds of spaces and production constituted within the strategies of the avant-garde are not merely questions of interest to art history and theory, but contain useful insights for much broader questions of the changing nature of cultural labor and forms of social resistance around this labor.

The history of the avant-garde is filled with examples of opening up spaces in social life for social recomposition. The rendering of these antagonistic energies and creativity, the turning of spaces of exodus into new spaces of production, offers an interesting route for reconsidering questions of the avant-garde through a strategic framework. But this is not a strategic framework on individualized consideration of what Donald Kuspit calls the avant-garde’s psycho-strategies important as that is to consider, but rather an inherently intersubjective and singularizing consideration based on the compositional dynamics of social antagonism. If the everyday refusals of insurgent creativity are refused back into strategies of domination, the question becomes learning from this rendering to produce strategies for the self-organization of this surplus creativity through and against this process of rendering. How have attempts to infuse artistic creativity and imagination through everyday life, everyday refusals of the separation of art from daily life, been re-fused into modes of capitalist production and governance? And what can this double articulation of refusal tell us about the nature of strategic space and possibilities for recomposing an antagonistic politics of everyday life? How can the surplus sociality animated by avant-garde formations find an adequate form of self-organization? The relation between refusal and re-fusal opens up a new terrain for strategic thought in relation to everyday politics, where the history of the avant-garde is no longer separated from broader questions of political economy or movement, but becomes a point to reorient these considerations.

1. Strategy, Artistic Practice, and Social Movement
(Pirmadienis, balandžio 21 d. 18 val., Kavinė Kultūra)

Reading: Lenin and Tristan Tzara Play Chess

2. Situationism and Avant-Garde Strategy
(Antradienis, balandžio 22 d., 13 val., Gedimino g. 44-301)

Reading: Theories Made to Die in the War of Time
Reading: Metropolitan Strategies, Psychogeographic Investigations

3.  Cultural labor and forms of social resistance 
(Trečiadienis, balandžio 23 d., 13 val., Gedimino g. 44-301)
Viewpoint Magazine issue on Workers' Inquiry
4.  History of the avant-garde and dynamics of social antagonism
(Ketvirtadienis, balandžio 24 d., 14.30 val., Donelaičio g. 60-504)

5. The surplus sociality and new forms of self-organization

(Penktadienis, balandžio 25 d., 13 val., Gedimino g. 44-202)

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