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About this wiki

This wiki is a method to develop, map, share and communicate the writing of my PhD thesis in artistic practice at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg. The wiki records and maps a looped, iterative and knowledge-creating process of structuring, writing, thinking, discovering, discarding and restructuring. Hence it is meant to be a testament to all the messy uncontrollable and creatively spiralling decision making processes, which differentiate "a practice" from a finished output.

Finding practical ways to share and communicate my research, has been an ongoing, and at times difficult, negotiation process between at least four forces seemingly pulling in different directions: academia, institutional policies, feminist and activist practice, the arts and education. Using a wiki is an attempt to find a way out of this dilemma. It allows me to bring to live the standoff between those forces and thus make transparent everything that is usually developed and discussed behind closed doors, when PhD theses are created: the learning process, the struggle while articulating, the shaping of arguments, the various agreements and disagreements within my head and in the dialogue with others.

This wiki constitutes also a practical strategy to depart from the solitary Word document that is saved over and over again on my hard disk and frequently sent to my PhD supervisors from where it returns as an annotated version only to be saved again on my disk. Instead of having multiple versions of half-finished fragments populating my computer hard disk, the wiki structure, with its varied page frameworks, allows me to neatly organise topics, ideas and fragments and most importantly make these moments of "taking shape" comprehensible, traceable and transparent.

My doctoral research is practice-led and is (and has been) supervised by Jyoti Mistry and Mick Wilson, Dave Beech and Andrea Phillips at Faculty of Artistic research Valand Academy, Gothenburg University. In a few months time, once this draft will have evolved and reached critical substance, I will invite peers to enter into dialogue, to comment, to work the draft over, to debate and improve it.

Please be aware that what you are reading is at this stage a draft in progress. It is worth mentioning that citing from a wiki in flux can be problematic. When you nevertheless cite from it, please do reference this fact or just get in touch: eva.weinmayr(at)akademinvaland.gu.se. Thank you.

phrase: the book/the publication not as container but the book/the publication as a site or occassion of relations, negoatoatons and contestations

[2] Introduction

This text provides an overview account of a doctoral research project, provisionally entitled "Why Publish?" that is an exploration of the politics of publishing practices. The research project asks about the social and political agency of publishing by exploring the micro-politics of production, dissemination and consumption of knowledge. In practical terms, the research process comprises a range of different activities (art-making, workshopping, publishing, editorial work, collaborative practices, conferencing, exhibition etc.) and a portfolio of different outputs (books, chapters, ephemera, artworks, events, pedagogical interventions, reading rooms, etc.). The enquiry that is described here is situated at the intersection of contemporary art, radical education and institutional analysis.[1]

'Publishing practices' is an expanded term that refers us to the process of publication in the widest sense. Publication (in print or code) may be understood as a means of sharing, of disclosing, of passing on, or of 'making public' texts, images, ideas or what we may summarily call"knowledges". One way of understanding the product of publication is as an instance of temporarily stabilised knowledge. Such temporary stabilised knowledge - the publication - is subject to modification as it circulates: it can be used, built upon by others and therefore proliferate and spread into different regions and contexts. While publication can enable the one to speak to the many, and as such can be seen as a mode of address that constructs patterns of dominance (footnote maybe insert reference st ideas of print culture as part of homogenising and creating the nation etc.) the act of publication can also be seen as a tool to give voice to bodies and experiences, which are not already recognised within the immediate accessible field of knowledge. Therefore publication can be seen as a process that invites both assent and dissent, and that produces countervailing views and alternative readings, something that has fuelled much debate on "the public sphere". These are themes that have been widely discussed in respect of the rise of print culture (Eisenstein, 1982; Johns, 1998). However, the specific focus of this research is not the global or historical claims for the impact of print culture, but rather the micro-politics of publishing practices at the intersection of contemporary art, radical education and institutional analysis. Drawing upon Gabriel Tarde’s proposition that knowledge is a mode of socialisation and “social communication” (1928) I will investigate publication as a social and pedagogical – and as such a political process – that catalyses dialogue and generates proposals to intervene in social processes and structures.

While there is much discussion of the political agency of the book, what arguably constructs 'the political nature of the book' (Adema and Hall, 2014; Thoburn, 2014) is not necessarily the book as a discrete container for radical content alone. Instead, what is of interest in this particular inquiry is the book's assumed capacity as a conceptual and material means to practically intervene and disrupt and change existing systems of production, distribution and consumption of knowledge.

Take the early conceptual artists' book in the specific context of 1960s and 1970s counterculture for example, which has been described as 'a means of democratising and subverting existing institutions by distributing an increasingly cheap and accessible medium (the book),[...] in order to re-imagine what art is and how it can be accessed and viewed.' [2]

For the field of scholarly publishing we can observe in the last decade how new material conditions of academic book production, organisation and consumption allow for experimentation with form and concept of academic publishing. Digital publishing and open access for example allow for both 'circumventing and placing in question the very print-based system of scholarly communication - complete with its ideas of quality, stability and authority - on which so much of the academic institution rests.'[3] Of course within the field of scholarly publishing there is some variability, for instance the role of the monograph in parts of the humanities in contrast to the role of the double-blind peer review article in some of the medical sciences, or the role for the critical edition in the humanities as against say the meta-research analysis paper in the social sciences, in short, there are different scholarly publishing hierarchies and protocols across the disciplines but the overarching claim is still viable in spite of this.

We also observe a broad challenge under way whereby publicly funded research is being subject to the demand that it is freely made available. These challenges are addressed by academic activists, such as the 'Radical Open Access Collective' asking 'how should we set about reclaiming open access from its corporate take-over, evident not least in the rise of A/BPC models based on the charging of exorbitant, unaffordable and unsustainable publishing fees from scholars and their institutions?' and calling for 'the creation of new forms of communality, designed to support the building of commons-based open access publishing infrastructures, and promote a more diverse, not-for-profit eco-system of scholarly communication.'[4]

Mayfly Books describes the situation as 'it seems today that scholarly publishing is drawn in two directions: On the one hand, this is a time of the most exciting theoretical, political and artistic projects that respond to and seek to move beyond global administered society. On the other hand, the publishing industries are vying for total control of the ever-lucrative arena of scholarly publication, creating a situation in which the means of distribution of books grounded in research and in radical interrogation of the present are increasingly restricted.' [5]

Claim: Biases and inequality of what is legitimised and valued by mainstream, commercial, institutional infrastructures. Publication merely understood as object, as product commodity or in academia as research output, ticks the boxes of audit and metrification. In academia this arguably leads to a problematic trend that values output (the product) over practices. In other words how can we develop values such as equity, openness, collegiality, quality, and community into academic practices.[6]

The overall inquiry to investigate publication as a social and pedagogical – and as such a political – process is based on my long-term individual and collective publishing practice. Publication as an artistic means became early on a main field of my practice. Partly because I could set the terms and conditions of production and distribution myself and could act without being authorised by galleries, curators, collectors, etc.).[7] Having published with big mainstream commercial publishing houses (Hatje Cantz) as well as small independent presses (Temporary Services, Half-Letter Press, Occasional Papers and BookWorks in London) I got more and more interested in exploring and setting up own publishing infrastructures and subsequently co-founded (with American artist Lynn Harris) AND publishing in London.

So while until recently I would have said - without hesitation, that publishing, that ‘making public’ is an outright positive and constructive act, a tool of giving voice and developing emancipatory agency, I am much more cautious today, because as will argue, publishing has become an asset in the knowledge and cultural capital industry. As I will argue in the following, we are facing an growing imperative to ‘publish or perish’, which has problematic consequences on many different levels.

Artists have used publication to further their ideas since the turn of the last century, and in recent years there has been a sharp increase in this practice. While the current academic drive to publish for Research Excellence Framework (UK) might be considered part of this expansion, arguably this institutional pressure erodes artistic practice based on agency, creativity, criticality, experimentation and collective knowledge making. Publishing (and writing) in such contexts has been arguably reduced from a process of communication, discovery and exploration, to a system for the assembly of more and more new products. (Fitzpatrick, 2011) What are possible publishing strategies of artists, academic and activists that contest these dominant paradigms of creation and dissemination of knowledge? I will ask what is the relationship between “making” and “making public”? Between experience and articulation? How does the “outside space” (distribution) shapes the “inside space” of publication (content). How can publishing create spaces, in the figurative and physical sense, for better mutual understanding and rethinking relations between people? How can publishing develop our capacities to establish the grounds for more lasting and emancipated forms of cultural production, education, and research? The starting point is my own artistic practice which investigates the politics of production and dissemination based on concepts found in feminist theory, feminist pedagogy, social science, philosophy, media theory and radical pedagogy.

To explore these problems addressed above and their implications on emancipatory, political art practice is one strand of my research. To experiment with and develop social, emancipatory, critical, intersectional feminist and de-colonial models of knowledge making and disseminating is another.

Here questions of collectivity, authorship and ownership are at stake. To be more specific: I will set out to explore the complex and coercive reciprocity between authorship, authorisation and authority. This inquiry seeks to get to an insight, to make a discovery by moving from a vague apprehension of these three terms' mutual interactions to a clearer framing of their "coercive reciprocation”. So the result, the outcome of this enquiry could be described the development of an insight. The majority of this work was conducted between 2010 in the United Kingdom and Sweden. And a lot of policy context references is specifically UK policy context, for example the REF, however this might be taken as indicative of general tendencies in higher education and research elsewhere.

The format I choose for this PhD inquiry is a compilation thesis, comprising a distinct set of practical experiments and the "kappa" (Swedish, translated to English "coat"). The kappa is what you are reading here on this wiki. It can be understood as a coat, a cape, a wrapper that bundles, points to, connects, discusses and reflects on the range of experiments I have carried out. The function of the kappa is to disclose the range of elements without turning them into a single integral entity, allowing the components to retain their discrete self-contained identities, but joining them in a coherent way as elements of a larger construction. The purpose of the kappa is to disclose the contribution made by the research project and to locate that contribution with reference to existing knowledge-practices.

The decision that a kappa is more generative, than a traditional monograph is based on several arguments:

1. My artistic practice consists of long-term projects. There is not one distinct ‘work / outcome / result’, which can be circulated, exhibited and audited, but a growing string of practices.
2. Most of these long-term practices are collaborations with people inside and outside academia. Two points here: Things/practices feeding back into this range of communities, requiring a variety of outcomes, formats, and languages, in order to make meaning. (see Charlotte Cooper Research Justice Diagram) While this working method has clearly political implications by attempting to resist systems of subjectivation and individualisation, it also poses a distinct set of problems, when collective practice is being assessed and audited – in the framework of a PhD for example. The syllabus for doctoral education at GU requests, that roles in teamwork can be defined and specific accomplishments credited [8] . However, all collective work, as I will argue, is based on a dialogical process where ideas flow freely back and forth. And more, sometimes it is impossible or even counterproductive to assess “who did what?” trying to separate distinct roles in collaborations. (Deleuze/Parnett "DialoguesII", "See Red Women Collective)

3. Questions of dissemination are therefore crucial, and an integral part of my research. Both characteristics of my work – that it is (1) long-term and (2) collaborative – mean, that the format of the individually authored monograph is not suitable. I publish and communicate “on the go” and in many different contexts. That implies, that I expand our understanding of the word “publishing”: Publishing as a time-based and contextual practice. To understand publishing as a “verb” (a process) instead of a “noun” (verb). Here I wonder whether I can make the case for practice itself as a form of publishing, and ask how much public and particularly which “publics” a process of publishing requires. So for example: Is a teaching situation a form of publishing? A workshop, where knowledge is collectively produced and disseminated at the same time? When we think of the collaborative as a situation, scene, process, dynamic, method, or mode, can we frame such a situation as “publishing”? What is ‘contextual publishing?’ Is publishing necessarily based on a document? What IS a document? The French librarian and documentalist Suzanne Briet (Bibliothèque Nationale de France) proposed in Qu’est- ce que la documantation? (1951), that an antelope running wild is regarded as an animal, however the antelope caged and exhibited in the zoo is arguably turned into document, analysed, described, categorised, classified, framed and exhibited. This thought seems relevant for my inquiry and needs more exploration.


Roadmap

The kappa is structured in seven sections. It is important to note that the kappa is not the final or only form of disclosure. It is a device being used to disclose the practice for the purpose of meeting the terms of an doctoral exam process – the work does circulate more widely in the world in other wrappers and on other terms.

(2) The 'Introduction' gives an overview what the inquiry is about and lays out its context by describing the problem. It describes the basic research task, agenda and purpose.

(3) The 'State of the art in this domain' presents and discusses a set of examples that have been proposed by others in the field.

(4) The 'List of the submitted material' provides a selection of practice based experiments, published articles, chapters, papers and ephemera in order to make explicit the material through which the contribution has been made.

(5) The section 'Reflection, theorisation of projects and submitted material' discusses and theorises the projects and practice-based experiments I have carried out and texts I have (co-)written and published in different contexts. This is provided so as to disclose the significance and importance of the contribution made by the research project.

(6) The section 'Analysis' crystallizes specific topics addressed - all in different ways – in the various practice experiments and connects these experiments.

(7) The section 'Observations and Findings' is currently in a 'note' stage and provides an tentative outlook for research to come.



Notes (Introduction)
  1. It may help to briefly explain how these three intersecting terms are employed here by way of locating the enquiry. Contemporary art here refers to the broad terrain of art production from 1960s onward. However, rather than a period designation, it is used here to refer to a broad domain of practice that may be termed "post-conceptualist” (Osborne, 2010) or "relational" (Bishop, 2006). “Radical education” here refers to several distinct traditions of educational practice that is explicitly framed with revolutionary or politically transformative intentions and objectives. These traditions include for example Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed and bell hooks writings on intersectional feminist pedagogy, such as Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom (1994). Radical pedagogy has been practiced and tested by collectives such as the Anti-University in London, the artist collective Ultra Red, Malmö Free University for Women and have been theorised for example in the field of art and curating (Curating and the educational turn, O'Neill, Wilson, eds., 2010) and in the field of higher education by Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira (eds.) in The Imperial University (2014). By "institutional analysis” I am intending not to describe a sub-domain of sociology, organisational studies or political science but rather the intellectual and practical traditions of institutional critique from within the contemporary art field as this intersects with feminist and intersectional analyses of power – which is of course informed by elements drawn from these other disciplines, but manifests a different tendency and a different literature. For more on this see Institutions by Artists (Vancouver 2012), How Institutions Think, (O'Neill, Steeds and Wilson (eds.), 2017), Creating Commons, University of the Arts Zürich, 2016-19).
  2. Janneke Adema and Gary Hall, 'The Political Nature Of The Book: On Artists’ Books And Radical Open Access', in New Formations, vol 78, issue 1, 2014, pp. 138-156, p.140, DOI:10.3898/NEWF.78.07.2013
  3. Ibid., p.139.
  4. See for example Radical Open Access in 2015 [[1]] Radical Open Access and the Ethics of Care in 2018 at Disruptive Media Lab at Coventry University, [[2]]
  5. See Mayfly Books [[3]]
  6. See HuMetricsHSS, an initiative funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation setting out to develop a values-based framework for understanding and evaluating all aspects of the scholarly life well-lived and for promoting the nurturing of these values in scholarly practice. http://humetricshss.org/about/
  7. I took copies of my first two independently published publications, (Lery - a story of facts and faxes, 1998 and Mexico, 1997, with Vera Büchlmann and Joachim Melf) on my first trip to New York, walked into Printed Matter art book shop and sold them 10 copies each on consignment. What an empowering moment, which was more exciting than any exhibition opportunity I ever had.
  8. The syllabus for doctoral education at Gothenburg University states: ’In certain cases, dissertation work can be pursued as team work. This shall then be organised in such a way that the individual efforts can be specified and assessed on the same grounds as for individual pieces of work.’

[3] State of the art in this domain / survey of the field

This section provides a context for the contribution made by the research project as a whole. It does so by gathering a range of examples that are used to identify and delimit the general conditions of knowledge-practice with respect to the politics of publishing at the intersection of contemporary art, radical education and institutional analysis. The artistic examples and practices I will describe in the following are spread widely in terms of geography and history, and they are also drawn from a wide range of disciplinary frames. This wide field of sampling is informed by a commitment to work transversally and to not be bound by the protocols of one field alone – such as for example contemporary art or feminist organisational practices.

On closer inspection, the practices I discuss all share two distinct features: They are discrete instances, where the dominant paradigms of publishing and the formation of knowledge have been in some way or another adjusted and they act as declared counter-political project. In sampling these arguably disparate practices I did not start with explicit criteria, instead through sampling I arrived at explicit criteria – that in turn helps me to name and delimit the context into which I am making a contribution.

All the examples and practices described interfere in distinct critical ways with notions of authorship, editorial processes, design and production as well as distribution, but also with concepts of classifying, archiving and also reading publications. Overall this communality ties them together into a broader act of contesting power.

The examples addressed are as follows: Early conceptual artists books, as a decentralisation of the art system by setting up own infrastructures of production and distribution; Second wave feminist publishing (See Red) as an example for collectivity as process of discovery and articulation; Interventions into existing publishing infrastructures such as Cildo Mereiless 'Insertions into ideological circuits' and the Yes Men. Radical Librarianship, such as aaaaarg.org and memoryofthe world.org, Kvinnsam at Gothenburg University and 'The Feminist Search Tool' at Utrecht University concerned with access, organisation, classification and validation of knowledge; and the work of the Radical Open Access Collective in the UK around open access and the ethics of care concerned with countering the calculative logic of metrification that permeates academic publishing.

These examples are discussed in a broadly chronological sequence, however, it is not suggested that there is any developmental narrative here as such. Rather, these different examples provide a genealogy of concerns that help to locate the specific contribution of the current enquiry.


Early conceptual artist books 60s and 70s.

Artists' books at the time were arguably a means to circumvent established institutions and perhaps to a certain degree an attempt to reform the art system by: “(1) the use of inexpensive printing and production methods allowed anyone to be a publisher, (2) alternative distribution networks were ‘aiding in the decentralization of the art system …’, (3) this form of art was portable and disposable and (4) these works were, or could be, ‘democratic objects’”.[1] [2]

These artistic practices criticised the paradigms of the art market by avoiding the aura of preciousness, uniqueness by using mass production technology such as commercial litho printing. In contrast to traditional, unique art objects “a book’s text is infinitely replicable, the number of copies that can be printed is theoretically limitless.”[3]

Art theorist Lucy Lippard argues that the main reason the book has proved to be so attractive as an artistic medium has to do with the fact that artists’ books are ‘considered by many the easiest way out of the art world and into the heart of a broader audience’.[4] Lippard describes here the fundamental political potential of the artists book as a conceptual and material means to question, intervene in and disturb existing practices and institutions.

Setting up infrastructures of production and distribution

The challenge however was the setting up production and distribution systems, that provided an alternative way to circulate the books without falling back to exclusionary market mechanisms of the art system. Investigating whether artists could set up independent systems of circulation the editors of Art-Rite magazine put out a call:

“Artists’ Books – We are investigating the possibilities of a publishing and distribution system for artists’ books. (This does not mean catalogues.) Do you have: a) already published books that we can distribute or sell on consignment? b) Completely planned, unpublished books with or without dummies? c) names of other artists who have either one? Let us know. Please send information to: PRINTED MATTER, 164 Mulberry St., NYC 10013.”[5]

Due to their perceived potential to subvert the (commercial, profit-driven) gallery system and to politicise artistic practice - artist books according to Joan Lyons played an important part in the rise of independent art structures.[6] Artists started to set up their own distribution infrastructures by founding independent artist book shops[7], in an attempt to counter the hegemonic art gallery market –to a certain extend. This disclaimer is necessary, as history has shown, that artists books were prone to be easily recaptured by the system. Firstly because many artist at the time were relying on gallery representation and gallery distribution. And secondly, because the descriptor “artist book” implies, that we deal with an object, which can easily be recaptured by the market as a collectible. Ed Ruscha for example writes in a letter to John Wilcock, the founder of Village Voice in New York: “I made a terrible mistake by numbering my “26 Gasoline Stations” books, because then the books became a limited edition rather than just another book, which is what I am after”.[8]

Terminologies and identity politics

The term artist book is still widely in use, as the names of the 'New York Art Book Fair' (founded by A.A. Bronson/Printed Matter in 2004 [fact check]), 'London Art Book Fair' (Whitechapel Art Gallery, London) evidence. However for my inquiry into the social agency of publishing the term 'publishing' seems more useful. This new terminology suggests to shift the focus from the finished object to the process. This is being discussed in more detail in the chapter 'Confronting authorship, Constructing Practices'.

However while the term 'artists’ publishing' shifts the emphasis to the process it limits its applicability to authors, who define themselves as artists. Richard Kostelanetz writes in 1979 'One trouble with the current term artists’ books is that it defines a work of art by the initial profession (or education) of its author, rather than by qualities of the work itself. Since genuine critical categories are meant to define art of a particular kind, it is a false term. The art at hand is books no matter who did them; and it is differences among them, rather than in their authorship, that should comprise the stuff of critical discourse.' [3]Due to the problematic of the author question in “artist’s publishing” the term ‘independent publishing’ and self-publishing has been introduced. Both terms are seeking to distance the practice from institutional or mainstream commercial publishing practices.

This observation of authorship assigned to specific identities, professions or disciplines seems relevant for my inquiry and has been discussed and experimented with in a variety of forms. It comes up for instance in the discussion around the complexities of classification and in the practice of Boxing and Unboxing.

Making Public: “Insertions into Ideological Circuits”

In his series of works “Insertions into Ideological Circuits” (1970) the Brazilian artist Cildo Mereiles infiltrated already existing infrastructures of circulation by screen printing anti war slogans on recyclable Coca Cola bottles, or rubber stamped critical questions about the dictatorship on one dollar bills to circulate them through many hands. Here the artist merely “piggy-bagged” on already existing infrastructures of circulation as carrier for his messages. In the same vein in November 2008 activists around the US prankster collective The Yes Men “hacked” the New York Times by printing a “special edition” of 80,000 copies, which was distributed for free to passers-by on the streets of several US cities. This special edition was a perfect replica of The New York Times. The activists co-opted the authority and visual appearance of the New York Times in order to circulate a visionary “best case scenario” with hypothetical headlines and articles, such as “Iraq War Ends”, “Minimum Wage Law Passes Congress”, USA Patriot Act Repealed”, All Public Universities to Be Free”. [9]

Publishing as pedagogical, dialogical process

In the 60s and 70s political and feminist groups in a politicised climate of counter-information radical print-shops and collective screen print workshops (See Red) in London [10], feminist magazines (Spare Rib), and a vivid feminist zine culture (Riot girrrls) developed in many cities across Europe and the US in order to raise awareness against inequality and discrimination. Rejecting the role of the artist these activists participated in a network of campaign groups, radical publishers and distributors. One could argue, that the focus here was less on concepts of format or material qualities of a publication, instead the poster, magazine, book were a means to an end, to agitate, to activate, to get the message out, to give voice, create solidarity and work collectively towards change.

For the See Red feminist silkscreen poster collective, for example, which started in London in 1974 working collectively was central. “In the early days the posters were mainly produced about our own personal experiences as women, about the oppression of housework, childcare and the negative image of women. An idea for a poster would be discussed in the group, a member would work on a design, bring it back for comment, someone else might make changes and so on until the collective was satisfied with the end result; no one individually took the credit. This was a concept many in the art world found hard to accept: ‘who holds the pencil? Someone must hold the pencil!’” [11] The collective of women got together to combat the negative image of the women in advertising and the media. Suzy Mackie and Pru Stevenson, founding members of the See Red Women’s Workshop stressed in a public talk at The Showroom in London how important it was to gather in person and generate ideas about how to visualise a particular issue that was important to them. It was the activity of articulating experiences and collective brainstorming and the discussion of ideas that led to sharp slogans and imagery for the posters.

I understand from these self-descriptions, that the collective work on developing a slogan, an image for a poster was a collective process of discovery, a dialogical process which was facilitated through collective making. So when does the making public start? Around the working table?


Example 2: Elise and Celestin Freinet purchase of a printing press for the classroom, elementary school in France (1926) to work in the classroom with students to produce own teaching material and textbooks. collective editing, peer review, school journal to be exchanged with other schools. Contextual publishing. School archive own classification system.

Libraries as a space of dissemination – Questions of access and organisation, classification and validation

Setting up self-organised libraries has become a field of practice for a range of artists and activists as a way to rethink the infrastructure of knowledge formation. Their practices can be described as creating a knowledge commons and as social and anarchist technique, which problematises the enclosure and privilege of knowledge in institutional libraries. [12]

Among the range of artists who have worked with libraries as part of their art practice, is for example Martha Rosler’s personal collection of books, which she lent to e-flux in order to create reading rooms in New York, and several cities across Europe open to the general public. This collection of books is curated by the artist and has been framed as artwork by an individual artist. While Rosler rejected the perception, that this exhibited library can be read as a kind of portrait of hers, it nonetheless focusses around her artist personality and lines of thinking. While it can be seen as a generous gesture to provide temporarily public access to a personal library, conceptually one could say it replicates the power structures of one individual deciding what goes in and what not.

By comparison a different and perhaps more community building approach take various small libraries and reading rooms emerging in cities in the Europe and US in recent years. Often set up by artists or connected to newly emerging maker spaces, these small community run libraries are informally organised and cater the needs of local residents and various community groups living in the area. They are building on the tradition of collectively run infoshops or community archives arising in the 70s and 80s in the UK as part of social movements. They operated independently, not council-run or organisationally affiliated and were catering explicitly for the information (and other, social and cultural) needs of its users. (Atton 1999)

In the same vein, the curatorial principle of online library projects by artists and activists, such as the peer-to peer sharing platforms aaaaarg.fail or memoryoftheworld.org are starting from the idea “when everybody is a librarian, library is everywhere”. Both projects are digital platforms. They are open and non-theme based online repositories for sharing mostly theory texts, which are uploaded by the platforms’ users. Memory of the World, initiated and hosted by Marcell Mars states “The Public Library is firstly — free access to books for every member of society, second — a library catalog, and third — a librarian. With books ready to be shared [online], meticulously cataloged, everyone is a librarian. When everyone is librarian, library is everywhere.” [13] I will come back to the cataloguing aspect of such practice in the next paragraph.

By comparison, aaaaarg.fail comes from a slightly different angle. It is often understood solely as an open source platform for freely sharing books, but is actually born from a desire to share books with others in order to start a conversation. It developed from gatherings of the Public School, a self-organised educational project in Los Angeles, which started in 2007.[14] It was founded by Fiona Whitton and Sean Dockray. They felt that a curriculum always comes with an institutionalised agenda defining a prescribed canon of learning. In the Public School people propose classes they want to take or want to teach and collaborate in exploring the proposed subjects together. [15] Public School has been spreading to other cities such as Buenos Aires, Berlin, San Francisco, New York, Durham, Helsinki, London, Vienna among others. Aaaaarg.fail has become over the years a huge repository of theory texts and therefore a vital tool for artists, theorists and academics, who have not access to academic libraries or are not able to find the material in institutional repositories.

Other practices likewise share the aim to counter institutional distribution monopolies and a wide range of online repositories have been built over the last two decades. However these repositories differ in one crucial aspect from user generated peer-to-peer platforms in that they are individually curated. Ubuweb, for example is a highly controlled online archive for text, audio and video and curated by conceptual writer Kenneth Goldsmiths in New York. Monoskop, a private book collection turned into a public online archive run by Dusan Barok in Amsterdam. The Public Collectors online archive is curated and maintained by Marc Fisher in Chicago (Temporary Services).[16] In contrast to these digital libraries Antonia Hirsch’s The Surplus Library on Affect & Economic Exchange instigates the lending of individually owned hardcopy books, mediated through an online platform, which indicates the location of the book to be lent from (mostly) private book collections.[17]

While this second set of platforms operate as accessible repositories built through generous acts of critical archiving, they are not user run and are in most cases tightly connected to an individual (artist). The question and problem which has been addressed in recent activist discourse is to find ways how such infrastructures could be collectivised in order to secure the accessibility and usability of decades of content digitising and archiving for future generations.

Historically libraries operated in two ways, as philanthropic institutions “providing access to knowledge for every member of the community” but equally as disciplinary institutions. Disciplinary, because only selected material has been validated as worthwhile being included and passed on. This creates a canon. It can be expanded and opened up to new entries and views, however a library serving a white middle class male readership gathers material for the white Western middle class readership. If no topics are included, that serves a newly arrived immigrant community or the queer, trans, lesbian community, these groups won’t count as patrons. So, the question arises whether the library shapes its readership or the readers the library. And how to escape this on-going self-reproducing mechanism?

All the above described practices share the concern how to provide access to material, which is not collected by institutional libraries or archives or is tucked away in private collections. Implicit in the question of access is the question of finding, and therefore of organising, indexing and cataloguing.

Topic Classification

Classifying, indexing, summarising or key-wording is always an act of interpretation. It is a framing procedure, controlling how content will be found and interpreted. Mevil Dewey’s classification system for example, which has become a standard organising system in many public libraries world wide has been criticised by his biographer as being based on “a patriarchal White Western (and, of course, Christian)” worldview. (Wiegand xxx) What is left out here is a whole range of alternative perspectives on humanity’s knowledge. (see detailed discussion: Weinmayr, Library Underground, p.166).

Problem 1: Universal Language The radical library movement in the 70 and 80s were looking at such biases. In particular Sanford Berman’s study “Prejudices and Antipathies-A Tract on the Library of Congress Subject Heads Concerning People” (Berman 1971) revealed that Library of Congress subject headings, particularly those that are used to identify groups of people, perpetuate “the exclusionary cultural supremacy of the mainstream patriarchal, Euro-settler culture” (Olson 2000). In a word, many subject headings exhibit “bias”: that is, they use language that shows a prejudice in favour of particular points of view, and against others. Berman’s study and critique actually resulted in changes in the LC catalogue: 64% of Berman’s suggested “remedies” have been implemented since the publication of his critique, but the 80 items, which remain unchanged show some patterns of thought pertaining to the Christian religion. [18] (Please watch the video Library Underground for a detailed discussion.)

However cataloguing is not only controlling how specific content is framed, it also deter-mines whether content will be found at all. Internet search engines, for example, are the front door to the www. Google’s search algorithm can be easily adjusted, and search results manipulated according to specific interests.

KvinnSam, the National Resource Library for Gender Studies at Gothenburg University

developed a response to biased cataloguing. In 1958 three librarians at Gothenburg University library started collecting and cataloguing women literature, material about women struggle for suffrage and got aware that within the existing holdings was plenty of material relevant to women and gender struggle, but it was not catalogued as such. The relevant keywords were missing and therefore hard to find. The librarian started to establish a parallel keyword catalogue, analog at the time, by indexing the already existing holdings of Gothenburg University library in order to make aspects of gender manifest and therefore searchable. Today, Kvinnsam is a digital keyword search catalog which operates parallel to the standard search catalogue. It can be browsed in order to find specific material, that would not show up in the standard catalog.

Feminist Search Tool

A similar activism to question the architecture and implicit biases in the organisation of knowledge drives a group of contemporary artists, who are affiliated with the Read-in collective in Utrecht. Collaborating with the librarians at Utrecht University library they developed a Feminist Search Tool, which starts from the question: “Why are the authors of the books I read so white, so male, so Eurocentric?” [19] To answer this question they developed a digital interface, based on the library’s Marc21** fields, an international digital cataloguing standard (Machine-Readable Cataloguing), which aims to map the existing library records (from 2006-2016) applying different categories, such as race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, class. The digital interface invites the users to apply different categories to their search and maps the existing library records from 2006 – 2016 according to selected filters, such as language of publication, place of publication, type of publisher, gender of author. The search results then map how many female non-Western authors and female authors of colour are represented and therefore reveal inclusion and exclusion mechanisms of our knowledge institutes. In contrast to KvinnSam search engine developed in Gothenburg it is not a search engine for known-item search, delivery search, that is a search for a specific item for which either the authors or the title is known. Instead th Feminist search tool operates as an “awareness-raising tool to stir conversations about the inclusion and exclusion mechanisms that are inherent to our current Western knowledge economy and our own complicities in (re)producing what is considered as ‘knowledge’ (and what is not).” As such this intervention is not be seen as a replacement for the UU library catalogue, “but a supplementary tool for any inquiring person to approach one’s own biases and taken for granted truths that one is reproducing whilst studying and researching”.[19]

Radical Librarianship / Teaching The Radical Catalog

A large body of research has documented biases of gender, sexuality, age, class, ethnicity, language and religion in the construction of an universal language in the naming of information for retrieval. This universal language uses a controlled vocabulary to represent documents. It limits diversity and has direct practical impact on the reader searching for materials outside of a traditional mainstream, materials crossing disciplines or marginalised topics. This controlled vocabulary appears unbiased and universally applicable - but it actually hides its exclusions under the guise of neutrality. According to library scholar and teacher Emily Drabinski “classification schemes are socially produced and embedded structures. They are products of human labor that carry traces of all the intentional and unintentional racism, sexism, and classism of the workers who create them. [...] We cannot do a classification scheme objectively; it is the nature of subject analysis to be subjective.” [20]

Problem 2: Hierarchical Structure, Fixity

Library activists such as Berman, whose suggested remedies to the LC subject headings, such as the elimination of the conspicuous racist “Yellow Peril” in 1989, has called attention to the hegemonic nature of classification. However, as Drabinski argues, while he is struggling to change the thesaurus he leaves the structural problems untouched. And according to Drabinski Berman’s approach actually presupposes, that there is some “right” language, that could be universally understood and applied.” But the politics of language is virtually always contested. “And the struggle for a universal “correct” language does not account for the ways in which language is inherently political and contextual.” Language and descriptors are also in motion, when it comes to shifting identities….

[indigenous classifications…]

Therefore critical feminist libraries developed contextual, local classifications, which are user-centred for particular collections, or put effort, funds and energy in developing a user centred classification for particular collections, such as the Glasgow Women Library and The Feminist Library in London. It is the critical engaging with the catalogue and its architecture, which is at stake. Not uncritically taking the classification for granted “as though it were a natural landscape rather than a well-manicured lawn that is the product of intellectual labor”. [21]

[Drabinski 'Teaching the Radical Catalog': Alongside revising the library catalogue: a method would be to teach its implicit contestations and biases... more]

These contestations around subject classification relate mainly to physical libraries. In online repositories, the introduction of full text search and keywords help to a certain extent to overcome the problem. To a certain extent, because the interfaces provide a limited structure for Metadata, as we will see further below.


Dissemination: Digital Turn / Open Access

Can current academic publishing ecosystem learn from experimental artistic and feminist publishing practices? How can these experimental interventions potentially reform inequalities, streamlining and metrication of academic publishing? The call for publicly funded research at universities to be published open access shifts the major part of research outputs into the digital realm.

  • radical open access as potential to transform the structures of institutional authority and legitimacy?.

  • building of commons-based open access publishing infrastructures for promoting a more diverse, not-for-profit eco-system of scholarly communication
  • values that underpin many of the radical open access community’s experiments in open publishing
  • Problem: OA complicit with neoliberalism’s audit culture of evaluation, measurement, impact and accountability. Open Access arguably has become a “mandate”, a top-down requirement rather than a bottom-up scholar-led movement for change.
  • experiments reclaiming open access from corporate take over (APC - Gold Model, Elsevier & co)
  • exploring how an ethics of care can help to counter the calculative logic (metrification) that permeates academic publishing. (Mattering Press)

  • alt metrics - gaming the system (Marina Frantzen & Punctum Press)

  • “Higher education has a culture problem that is at once historical, structural, and interpersonal”– To confront the toxic culture of higher education HuMetricsHSS Initiative propose a value-based “metric” framework around values such as equity, openness, collegiality, quality, and community, which not only functions as a checkpoint for self-reflection, but also as a starting point for better academic practices and outputs. (Christopher Long, HuMetricsHSS Initiative Michigan State University)
  • Making publishing more diverse and equitable – geographically, but also with respect to issues of class, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality
  • Nurturing new and historically under-represented cultures of knowledge – those associated with early career, precariously employed and para-academics, or located outside the global North and West?
  • ethical academic publishing: how to ensure everyone is able to have a voice – particularly those writing on niche or avant-garde topics or who are conducting hybrid, multimodal, post-literary forms of research, and who are currently underserved by our profit-focused commercial publishing system.

  • understanding publishing very much as a complex, multi-agential, relational practice

  • What is the potential of new forms of “open cooperativism” in which organisations commit themselves “structurally and legally to the production of common goods (the common good, the commons)”? (Bauwens 2016)

  • Coventry University’s Centre for Disruptive Media (CDM) and the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL): How is media practice disruptive of and re-performing the way we do scholarly communication and education? How can the Journal of Media Practice reconfigure (the politics of) its own practice? What should a disruptive ‘journal’ of media practice look / sound / feel like?
  • Can open access and open source transform the institution of the university itself?


[Here to be inserted: Closing section paragraph that distills the main concerns from the examples and lead to the next section,ie my experiments.]


Notes (State of the art in this domain, survey of the field)
  1. John Perrault, Some Thoughts on Books as Art, in Artists Books (1973: 15–21) quoted by Tony White in Book 2.0 in Volume 3 Number 2, 2013, page 168. doi: 10.1386/btwo.3.2.163_1
  2. John Baldessari for example writes in 1975: “I enjoy giving books I have made to others. Art seems pure for a moment and disconnected from money. And since a lot of people can own the book, nobody owns it. Every artist should have a cheap line. It keeps art ordinary and away from being overblown.” in Art-Rite (Anon. 1976/1977: 6)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kostelanetz, originally published in “Exhaustive Parallel Intervals”, Future Press, 1979, reprinted in Joan s (ed), Artists’ Books: a Critical Anthology and Sourcebook, Rochester, New York, Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1993, p.13.
  4. Lucy R. Lippard, ‘The Artist’s Book Goes Public’, in Joan s (ed), Artists’ Books: a Critical Anthology and Sourcebook, Rochester, New York, Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1993, p.45.
  5. ART RITE Magazine 11/12, winter/spring 1975/1976, p.3
  6. Joan Lyons (ed), “Artists’ Books: a Critical Anthology and Sourcebook”, Rochester, New York, Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1993, p8.
  7. Printed Matter founded by Lucy Lippard, Sol Lewitt and… in xxxx, Franklin Furnace, Ulisses Carrion started “Other Books” in Amsterdam, AA Bronson started Art Metropole in Toronto in xxx.
  8. Ed Ruscha letter to John Wilcock, 25 February 1966, The Piracy Collection, London, the archives of Giorno Poetry Systems. Ed Ruscha’s 26 Gasoline Stations book is today traded for 20,000$. >Reference Abebooks:xx
  9. New York Times Special Edition. See documentation New York Times Hoax - The Yes Men Fix The World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoZQNgAnvqs. Interview with Steve Lambert in Fillip Magazine winter 2009: https://fillip.ca/content/best-case-scenario, and Steve Lambert website https://visitsteve.com/made/the-ny-times-special-edition/
  10. See Jess Baines’ text “Free Radicals” about radical Print shops emerging in London in 1968, as DiY sites of political and community activism. Afterall, 28.1.2010 http://www.afterall.org/online/radical.printmaking#.V8iDdmUWw20
  11. Suzy Mackie and Pru Stevenson, founding members of See Red in a blog post http://www.seeredwomensworkshop.wordpress.com
  12. See also Eva Weinmayr, Library Underground - A reading list for a coming community, in Publishing as Artistic Practice, ed by Annette Gilbert, Sternberg Press 2016.
  13. Marcell Mars, Manar Zarroug, and Tomislav Medak, End-to-End Catalog: Memory of the World, November 26, 2012, https:// www.memoryoftheworld.org/ end-to-end-catalog/.
  14. “The Public School was initiated in 2007 in Los Angeles in the basement of Telic Arts Exchange. The Public School is a school with no curriculum. It is not accredited, it does not give out degrees, and it has no affiliation with the public school system. It is a framework that supports autodidactic activities, operating under the assumption that everything is in everything.” See http://thepublicschool.org/la.
  15. See interview conducted by German artist Cornelia Sollfrank with Sean Dockray and Marcell Mars as part of her research project “Giving what you don’t have”, Postmedialab, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, 2012. http://artwarez.org/projects/GWYDH/.
  16. Self-description: “Public Collectors is founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible. Public Collectors asks individuals that have had the luxury to amass, organize, and inventory these materials to help reverse this lack by making their collections public. Public Collectors features informal agreements where collectors allow the contents of their collection to be published or exhibited, and permit those who are curious to directly experience the objects in person. Collectors can be based in any geographic location.” http://www.publiccollectors.org/
  17. Self-description: “In redefining the concept of a physical library, the Surplus Library on Affect & Economic Exchange operates on the basic assumption that its specific collection of books already exists in the material world: in the homes and private collections of countless individuals. Some of the holdings of this vast and distributed library can become known and accessible through The Surplus Library site. The site develops as the library’s holdings and locations are registered by users.” [4].
  18. Steven A. Knowlton, 'Three Decades since Prejudices and Antipathies: A Study of Changes in the Library of Congress Subject Headings', in Cataloguing and Classification Quarterly 40.2, 2005, p.xxx, http://scholar.princeton.edu/steven.a.knowlton/publications/three-decades-prejudices-and-antipathies-study-changes-library
  19. 19.0 19.1 https://feministsearchtool.nl/
  20. Emily Drabinski, 'Teaching the Radical Catalog' in Radical Cataloging: Essays at the Front, K.R. Roberto, Jefferson, N.C., McFarland, 2008, p.195.
  21. Hope A. Olson, 'Sameness and Difference – A Cultural Foundation of Classification', in Library Resources & Technical Services, Vol 45, No 3, Jul 2001, pp. 115-22, 115. http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/lrts.45n3.115

[4] Summary of projects and submitted material

The just described activities and theorisations in the wider field of publishing and the formation of knowledge serve as a backdrop for a string of related practical experiments I carried out during my own artistic career between 1998 and 2018. They are practice examples where acts of publication, distribution and consumption have been rethought in order to firstly articulate enclosures, exclusions and oppressions originated by dominant power structures and secondly to experiment with and develop different models, that facilitate an emancipatory, intersectional, de-colonial feminist knowledge formation. As such they can be described as counter-political projects that are held against dominant approaches to the topic.

One characteristic of these experiments is that most of them are collaborations. They developed responses to specific problems, which I identified with other artists in order to create an alternative. These greatly differing instances cannot be understood within a conventional publishing framework, rather they fall into the expanded category and loosened definition of “creating a public”.

A pivotal common aim and approach of these experiments is that they don't intend to make works 'about politics'. Instead they aim at finding operational models to work counter-politically – through the actual practice itself. Hence my artistic concern is not to illustrate a political position, but to actively engage in political experiments in publishing yielding impact and results.

The experiments discussed below fall in a wide range of contexts. What they have in common though is that they can all be seen in relation to institutions – with some just being commissioned by institutions, others being located within institutions, with and without official mandate, and yet a third group deliberately instituted outside institutions in order to create a transversal collective space often inoperable within mainstream institutions.

Lastly, most of these experiments are projected long-term. They develop over time in order to test out various agile approaches. If one approach is not working it is adapted and applied again from a different angle. That is the reason, why the following list is so comprehensive.

[4.1] AND Publishing
(2009 - ongoing) with Rosalie Schweiker and multiple collaborators

AND is a collaborative publishing activity, based in London. Initiated in 2009, it seeks to develop infrastructures of publishing starting from three questions: Why publish, how and for whom? Observing that the existing institutional infrastructures keep replicating the exclusionary mechanisms and hierarchies dominating the university, AND started, without mandate [1], at Byam Shaw School of Art in London as an indy-university press, publishing works of students, staff and alumni in an equitable and non-hierarchical manner.[2] Next to exploring the immediacy and social possibilities of print on demand and new modes of distribution, AND also explores the social agency of cultural piracy. AND is also invested in feminist radical pedagogy, builds informal support structures by sharing a studio, providing resources and advice, as well as access to skills, means of production and distribution. AND re-distributes budgets, commissions work, and (re-)publishes material which is difficult to find. The members of AND are part of a divers network of critical, feminist, de-colonial publishing activities and campaigns.[3]

Website 'andpublishing.org'

The long list of equal "ands" on the website indicates, that we are less concerned with developing a focused brand or a unified face. Rather it is about building a network of mutual alliances by working with people as well as institutions. The range of publications we produce, help to produce or distribute can be seen here.

Published text 'One publishes to find comrades'

in Publishing Manifestos, Michalis Pichler(ed.), Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2018. The text was originally published in The Visual Event, an education in appearances, Oliver Klimpel (ed.), Leipzig, Spector Books, 2014

The text investigates feminist practices of publishing as a way to initiate a social process or build a social space wherein meaning is generated via the co-created publications. The text discusses publishing practices, where printed publications, posters or zines are not necessarily an end product trying to convince someone of something, but rather a method of 'working towards establishing conditions for the co-production of meaning'.[4]

Published interview: 'UND STATT ODER – die Anatomie von UND' (AND not OR, the Anatomy of AND)

in Publish! Publizieren als künstlerische Praxis, Kunstforum International, issue 256, September 2018.
Annette Gilbert in conversation with Rosalie Schweiker and Eva Weinmayr (AND Publishing, London) about AND's collective feminist practice. The interview, itself being published in an anthology about contemporary artists' publishing, is an interesting case of intellectual streamlining and simplification of a messy and multilayered practice. The crucial point is here to draw the fine line between promotion or advertising and the "telling about".

Published presentation: 'Radical publishing practices ask for radical librarianship'

at Artists as Publishers as Artists, KHM University of Media Arts Cologne, 6 July 2018.
This presentation at the panel "Publishing to Mobilize Knowledge" takes an experimental approach to conference presentation. Using a twitter thread to publish the script in real time in order to share my bibliography, such as references, links to images, websites and texts for the audience to revisit – the presentation explores the infrastructures and politics of radical, collaborative, intersectional feminist publishing and its dissemination. With the participation of Clara Balaguer, Eva Weinmayr, Francesca Valentini, Gijs de Heij, Heike Ander, Lanfranco Aceti, Tamara Lorenz, (Tim), Tom Lingnau, and Yvette Mutumba. Organised by Agustina Andreoletti, Lilian Haberer, Karin Lingnau, Konstantin Butz. Supported by Birgit Trogemann. See programme Read the presentation


  • AND Publishing webpage screenshot
  • 'One publishes to find comrades'in “The Visual Event, an education in appearances”, ed. by Oliver Klimpel, Leipzig: Spector Books, 2014
  • 'Und statt Oder – Die Anatomie von UND' in "Publish! Publizieren als künstlerische Praxis", Kunstforum International 256 (2018) Annette Gilbert in conversation with Rosalie Schweiker and Eva Weinmayr, AND Publishing, London
  • 'Radical publishing practices ask for radical librarianship', presentation script and shared bibliography on Twitter for (im)print: Artists as Publishers as Artists, KHM Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, 6 July 2018

[4.2] Library of Inclusions and Omissions
(2016–ongoing)

The Library of Inclusions and Omissions (LIO) is a practice-based experiment to set up a reference library that is curated by the community using it. So far roughly 100 contributions are on shelf. The collection is available to the public via temporary reading rooms. The library gathers feminist, intersectional, postcolonial materials which are not, or only sparsely available in institutional collections or databases, too flimsy in format or otherwise not validated by publishing houses or institutions such as libraries. Can such a curatorial concept help to give voice to undiscovered, suppressed or otherwise not acknowledged material? Can this turn a library from a repository of knowledge into a space of social and intellectual encounter?

Library of Omissions and Inclusions: The open call

Download Open Call English Swedish, Arabic
In order to receive contributions from a range of different cultural backgrounds and communities, the open call was published in Swedish, English and Arabic and distributed in community centres, libraries, universities, art spaces in and around Gothenburg (including suburbs such as Angered).

Library of Omissions and Inclusions: The index card catalogue

Read the catalogue

The practice of this library challenges the concept of neutrality and universality in standard cataloguing systems. Instead of using the 'controlled vocabulary' and classifications of institutional libraries, the LIO asks contributors for a short written rationale, why this book is important to them and why they want to share it with others. Through this the emphasis shifts from trying to frame the actual content of the book in an arguably objective manner towards describing the readers' personal making of meaning and the publications agency for the reader. The short statements are printed on the LIO´s index cards thus serving as an entry point and framing device for the library users. This subjective catalogue approach can be understood as an experiment to connect people through their readings, discoveries, desires, struggles and hopes.

Library of Omissions and Inclusions: Temporary Reading Rooms installed in different contexts.

The platform 'Meaning Making Meaning' was a three-part project convened by Gabo Camnitzer and consisted of an exhibition, a series of workshops and the LOI´s reading room. In the exhibition and related workshops, 37 artists and educators responded to two questions: “How do you bring a classroom to life as if it were a work of art?” (Felix Guattari, Chaosmosis) and its reformulation: “How do you bring a work of art to life as if it were a classroom?” [5]
  • Reading room at 'The Research Show', A-venue Gothenburg, April 2016
'The Research Show' was an informal work in progress exhibition from doctoral researchers based in the artistic faculty of the University of Gothenburg, where it was convened by Cora Hillebrand, Ram Krishna Ranjan, and Mick Wilson.[6]
  • Reading room at 'Let’s Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?', Valand Academy, 12-14 Oct 2016
The Library of Omissions and Inclusions was installed during the three-day international mobilisation dealing with queer and feminist pedagogies. Participants of the event came from seven European countries. They were asked to bring material to add to the library. 'Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?' was organised by the Feminist Pedagogy working group at Valand Academy. [7] (see detailed project description below).
  • Reading room at 'Utopia of Access', Pavilion for Artistic Research, Venice Biennale, 11 May - 2 July 2017
Curators Jan Kaila (Uniarts Helsinki) and Henk Slager (Utrecht University) invited ten researchers from different Nordic doctoral programs to articulate new modes of artistic thinking regarding the notion of access. My approach to install a reading room in Venice was led by questions such as: Can a collectively owned resource be exhibited at an international art show such as the Venice Biennale? What are the underlying politics of 'exhibiting' a collectively owned resource, based in a local community in Sweden, in the context of such a worldwide show? Can I exhibit 1:1 scale photographic representation of the books on the shelves? How can I 'tell' about this practice? Can I exhibit its method as a proposal to create and sustain a non-normative knowledge commons? I presented a 1:1 scale photographic representation of the books on their shelves accompanied by a printed pamphlet discussing the politics of exhibition making as an act of taking rooted things out of original contexts and as a step of artistic co-option. (see text 'Dear Hannah')
  • Reading Room at AND Publishing Research Residency – 'Boxing and Unboxing', Marabouparken Konsthall, 21 April – 26 August 2018
A similar analysis was applied when selected publications from the Library of Omissions and Inclusion were installed at MarabouParken Konsthall in Stockholm in summer 2018. Playing with the pun 'Boxing and Unboxing', we planned to display cardboard boxes, shipped from London to Stockholm, containing materials we were working on at the time and to invite visitors to 'unbox' its contents,[8] In order to escape the limiting exhibition framing and to create a more conducive environment for this intended process of discovery, we decided to move out of the designated exhibition hall and to go 'backstage'. We negotiated with the institution to take over a spare room between the kitchen and the administrative offices on the first floor of MarabouParken Konsthall. The spatial proximity of the artists' Unboxing Room to the usually not accessible admin offices allowed us and the visitors to work in daylight and it made the else hidden work taking place in the offices visible to visitors.

Published text: 'Dear Hannah'. On the occasion of 'Utopia of Access', Pavilion of Artistic Research, Venice Biennale 2017

The text reflects on issues of co-option and the dilemma of 'exhibiting' a collective resource, which is based in a local community, within the context of an international art biennale. It is written in epistolary form addressing an undisclosed peer artist named Hannah. It has been published via email using my professional and personal email lists and was also available as printed pamphlet and element of my work in the exhibition 'Utopia of Access', Venice Biennale 2017.

Published chapter 'Library Underground – a reading list for a coming community, in "Publishing as Artistic Practice", edited Annette Gilbert, Berlin/New York: Sternberg, 2016

This chapter, written in the form of a dialogue between Eva Weinmayr and her inner voice, discusses modes of knowledge dissemination. The text reflects on libraries as spaces where private knowledge is turned into public goods. It discusses the radical librarian movements of the 70s and 80s and deals with the topic from three fundamental angles: (i) who is a library for (the status quo at the time was a male, white, western and middle-class user community), (ii) what material is missing in libraries in order to "serve every member of the community"(American Library Bill of Rights, 1930x) and (iii) what implicit biases in the organisation and classification of knowledge can be found in libraries (Berman 1985x). The text also discusses a range of contemporary practices of radical librarianship - such as aaaaarg.fail, memoryofthe world, the Piracy Project - as well as practices which respond to the problems of marketisation and monopolisation of knowledge. Download chapter

Performative reading of chapter 'Library Underground' at 'Miss Read', Akademie der Künste Berlin, 2016

Miss Read Artist Book Festival and conference, organised by Michalis Pichler, Yaiza Camps, Moritz Grünke. The panel 'Publishing as Artistic Practice' was convened by Annette Gilbert. The performative reading of a revised and updated script of the original text 'Library Underground' was performed by Eva Weinmayr as Eva Weinmayr and Eleanor Vonne Brown as Inner Voice.

Filmed performative reading of chapter 'Library Underground- welcome to my tent' at symposium 'Photography in Print and Circulation', Valand Academy Gothenburg, 2016

Convened by Louise Wolthers (Hasselblad Foundation) and Niclas Östlind (Valand Academy). The text has been performed from inside a trekking tent installed on the stage of Valand's main lecture hall with a video camera transmitting what happens inside the tent onto the lecture hall screen. With Eva Weinmayr as Eva Weinmayr and Rose Borthwick as Inner Voice. Filmed and edited by Camilla Topuntoli. Video 32 min. Library Underground - watch video

Alternative cataloguing workshop: 'Reading Gendered Words' at Symposium "Library Interventions", Leeds College of Art, April 2017 with Rosalie Schweiker

The workshop was convened by Rosa Nussbaum and included a conversation between Maria Fusco and Wendy Kirk (Glasgow Women Library) around cataloguing practices at the Glasgow Women Library. Its aim was to develop unorthodox approaches to cataloguing selected titles from the Library of Omissions and Inclusions in order to experiment with alternatives to the normative “controlled vocabulary” used in the standardised library classification systems.


  • Published chapter 'Library Underground', in Publishing as Artistic Practice, Annette Gilbert (ed.), Berlin/New York: Sternberg, 2016.
  • Video recording of 'Welcome to my ten', a performed reading of a revised version of the conversation between Eva Weinmayr and her Inner Voice, based on the published text 'Library Underground-a reading list for a coming community', Sternberg Press, 2016. With Eva Weinmayr as Eva Weinmayr and Rose Borthwick as Inner Voice. Filmed and edited by Camilla Topuntoli. Video 32 min, 2016
  • Library Underground and Library of Omissions and Inclusions at 'Utopia of Access', Pavilion for artistic research, Venice Biennale, 2017

[4.3] The Piracy Project – with Andrea Francke and multiple collaborators (2010–ongoing)

I began The Piracy Project in 2010 together with artist Andrea Francke. Through an open call for pirated books and by researching pirate book markets in Peru, China and Turkey, The Piracy Project gathered a collection of around 150 copied, emulated, appropriated and modified books from across the world. Their copying approaches vary widely, from playful strategies of reproduction, modification and reinterpretation of existing works to circumventing enclosures such as censorship or market monopolies, to acts of piracy generated by commercial interests. This collection of books serves as the starting point to explore the common understanding of authorship, originality and the implications policy and legal developments have had on intellectual property and copyright. Through temporary reading rooms, workshops, lectures, discussions and debates The Piracy Project explores the philosophical, legal and social implications of cultural piracy and creative modes of dissemination.

Visit searchable online catalogue
See full list of Piracy Project discursive events and reading rooms organised between 2010 – 2015
  • Piracy Project-debate 'A Day at the Courtroom', The Showroom London. With Lionel Bently (Professor of Intellectual Property at the University Cambridge), Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento (Art and Law, New York), Prodromos Tsiavos (Creative Commons, England, Wales and Greece). Courtroom drawing by Thandiwe Stephanie Johnstone (15 June 2013).
  • Piracy Project, panel discussion, Printed Matter, New York, panelists: David Senior (bibliographer at MoMA), Anthony Huberman, (director of CCA Wattis Los Angeles), Joanne Mc Neil, (editor of Rhizome, NY), Sergio Munoz Sarmiento, (Art and Law, NY) in the exhibition Helpless curated by Chris Habib (July 14 - September 29, 2012).
  • Piracy Project workshop 'Poaching — Roundtable with Stephen Wright', The Showroom, London (18 May 2013).
  • Piracy Project workshop 'Putting the Piracy Collection on the shelf', with archivist Karen Di Franco, Grand Union, Birmingham (2014).

  • Piracy Project Reading Room at Kunstverein Munich (4 – 28 November 2014).
  • Piracy Project Reading Room at New York Art Book Fair, MoMA PS1 (2011).
  • Piracy Project Reading Room, The Bluecoat Liverpool, in the exhibition Resource (18 July – 27 September 2015).
  • Piracy Project Reading Room, Glasmoog – KHM Academy of Media Art, Cologne (11 September – 25 October 2014).


Forthcoming chapter 'The Piracy Project', in “Archives of the Commons II - the Anomic Archive”, Red Conceptualismos del Sur, Museo Nacional Reina Sofia Madrid, 2018

The chapter is a revised manuscript of my presentation in the seminar "Socialising Archives" hold during the symposium "Archives of the Commons II" at Reina Sofia in Madrid, which was chaired by Mabel Tapia. I took this invitation and its distinct question to share experiences and methods, the operational strategies to turn the archive into a space of social and intellectual encounter as opportunity to reflect the curatorial and operational strategies we employed while working on The Piracy Project. [Read here the draft version ]

Forthcoming chapter 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices' in “Whose Book is it anyway - an anthology”, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2019

The anthology is edited by Sarah Kember and Janis Jeffries, Goldsmiths University London, and CREATe (RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy, University of Glasgow). I took this text as an opportunity to investigate the relationship between authorship and copyright, as it is presented to us from a legal, economic and institutional perspective. I do this by three means: I investigate through literary review how artists have arguably challenged the close ties between authorship and copyright looking at cases, such as Richard Prince and Cady Noland. Secondly I reflect how the question of authorship plays out in the collective practice 'The Piracy Project'. Thirdly I turn this essay itself into a practice-based experiment by asking how it would live and circulate and be validated in institutional research economies, if I didn't assign my name and therefore authorship to the text.

Published interview 'The Piracy Project' at 'Giving What you don’t have', 2013

Cornelia Sollfrank interviews Andrea Francke and Eva Weinmayr in the context of 'Giving What you don’t have', an artistic research project by Cornelia Sollfrank exploring the relationship between art and the commons at Postdigital Publishing Lab, Leuphana University, Lüneburg Watch the interview or read the transcript

Transcript of interview 'The Piracy Project' – Abigail de Kossnik (Berkeley Media studies) interviews Andrea Francke and Eva Weinmayr, 2016

Published text 'The Impermanent Book', co-authored with Andrea Francke, Rhizome, 2012

The text was included as print edition in 'Best of Rhizome 2012' edited by Joanne McNeil, Brescia: LINK Editions, 2013 The text looks at the desire of dealing with a stable book, an permanent object, which is resolved and fixed in print. It argues, that it is the technical advances of the analogue printing press combined with mass production that constructs the contemporary idea of books as fixed objects. A concept where immutability is a key factor that allows for mass and consistent reproduction. What are the consequences for the book as the authoritative object, to which one can always come back to, when digital technology facilitates mass production and mutability at the same time? Digital print and print-on demand have become widespread and allow for continuous changes, adaptions and revisions. The text discusses the assumed unease and fundamental challenge this kind of versioning exerts on the reader. What happens when books become unreliable objects, when one copy of the book potentially tells a different story than the other? Read text on Rhizome.org


  • Forthcoming chapter 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices', in Whose Book is it anyway - an anthology, Sarah Kember, Janis Jeffries (eds.), Cambridge, Open Book Publishers, 2019
  • Essay 'The Impermanent Book', by The Piracy Project, Rhizome, 2012
  • Interview 'The Piracy Project, Cornelia Sollfrank in conversation with Andrea Francke and Eva Weinmayr, Giving What you don’t have, an artistic research project exploring the relationship between art and the commons, Postdigital Publishing Lab, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, 2013
  • Forthcoming chapter 'The Piracy Project', in Archives of the Commons II, The Anomic Archive, Red Conceptualismos del Sur, Museo Nacional Reina Sofia Madrid, 2018

[4.4] Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy? three-day mobilization and workbook – with Feminist Pedagogy working group at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg (2015–2016)

'Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?' is a long-term investigation into queer and feminist pedagogies, that led to the collective organising of a three-day international mobilisation at Valand Academy in October 2016. The Feminist pedagogies working group consisted of students and staff at the academy (names). Its aim was twofold: Firstly the bi-weekly gatherings which were open to the whole academy provided a space to reflect on our own learning and teaching experiences, to read together and discuss relevant texts as well as to share infos and news, which were not officially communicated. The second and related aim was to organise an international conference, which developed alternatives to the dominant norms of conference organisation by fundamentally rethinking the terms and conditions of how knowledge is created and disseminated. Accompanying the event, a workbook was published, which tested the agency of publishing in terms of rethinking the processes of production and distribution.

Working group 2015-2016

How we worked. Why it was created. The shared readings. The format of the meetings...

Glossary: Mapping the concepts and ways of working for Let's Mobilize'

This glossary written by the Feminist Pedagogy working group and published in the workbook (see below), maps the ways and concepts of working with 'Let's Mobilize'. This glossary is an attempt to challenge and shift ways of organising a coming together at the art academy and the language used to describe it. It describes the context of the mobilization, the meaning of Feminist Pedagogies for the working group, explains the term mobilization, describes the formats chosen for coming together, the roles of the participants, the hosting, mobilization kit, language and economy.

Published Workbook: 'Let's Mobilize What is Feminist Pedagogy?'

[more here] Rethinking the production and dissemination of a book. How to invite others in the conversation? Make your own copy: Collective collating and binding. The distribution. Hanging poster-pages in the academy and turning the academy in a walkable book. Contextual distribution. Has been used as course reading in courses at the academy. Is downloadable online. Circulates through indy bookshops.

The organising of the mobilisation - administrative creativity

The organising practices are analysed in more detail in chapter [6] analysis. However I would like to leave it as 'submitted material', because I argue that organising to be recognised as work.

Subsequent invitations to workshops and talks

The different experiences of 'telling about' includes

  • a presentation at Exploiting Justice, Symposium, Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Gothenburg, 2016
  • What is an Artschool, Cheslea College of Art, London, 2016
  • 'Doing Together', a workshop with students at Cologne University, Institute of Art and Art History: Feminist Arts Education series, 2017
  • [I think there were more... Andreas, MC, Rose ... you did something at HSM? Any other occasions?]

Forthcoming chapter 'Outside the Page' in issue "The Filmic Page", On Curating ZHdK Zürich

This chapter discusses how the format of the publication determine its dissemination and related the modes of reading. The text contrasts Marcel Broodthaers' two-piece work 'Voyage on the North Sea' (1974) with the distribution of poster-size pages of 'Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy Workbook' across the building of Valand Academy. [more and better description needed...]

Forthcoming chapter 'Let's Mobilize Revisited' (working title) in "Decolonialism after the educational turn"

The working group took the invitation to contribute a chapter to this book as an opportunity to revisit the collectively authored "glossary" in the 'Let's Mobilize workbook' in which we explained the reasons and the aims for the mobilisation. This act of revisiting the original text allowed us to reflect with hindsight on our working together. By using the method of layered commenting, we preserved each authors voice instead of streamlining the writing into observations and statements each member could agree with. Here the collective writing of a text becomes a place for dialogue and disagreements. It builds on experiments of non linear writing done by Arno Schmidt ('Zettel's Dream', 1970) and Pierre Bayle ('Historical and Critical Dictionary', 1737).

  • Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy? - Programme for 3-day event at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg, 14-16 October 2016
  • Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?, a three day investigation of queer and feminist pedagogies, 2016. See images.
  • 'Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy workbook', Feminist Pedagogy Working Group (eds.), Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 2016. A4, 112 pages, b&w/colour, digital print; insert: A5, 24 pages, digital print.
  • 'Let's Mobilize' Blog, 2015-16
  • 'Let's Mobilize' workbook pages enlarged to A0 posters distributed across Valand Academy
  • DRAFT: Feminist Pedagogies Working Group revisits the text 'Mapping the concepts and ways of working for Let's Mobilize', originally published in "Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy workbook", Valand Academy (2016), 2017

[4.5] Unboxing, AND Research Residency, MarabouParken Konsthall, Stockholm
(April – August 2018) with Rosalie Schweiker

During the five-months research residency at MarabouParken in Stockholm AND Publishing organised together with curator Jenny Richards boxing training for self-defining women, installed an "Unboxing Room" with the boxes of materials they brought from their UK based practice and held three public talks.

MarabouParken Konsthall's evolving strand of research residencies aims to collaborate with artists groups and collectives in order to support their practice by developing "new lines of inquiry over a 3 month period and share these with a public through workshop and events.[9] The overarching strand called "Acts of Self-ruin" was based on Leela Ghandi's book "The Common Cause" inviting collectives to explore the struggle for collectivity and equality in an age of individualism. .[10]

Terms and Conditions of working with institution

In order to reach clarity about the mutual expectations concerning the five months research residency AND, together with Marabouparken curator Jenny Richards, developed a document titled 'terms and conditions' and a related contract between the artists and the institution. That document was regularly revised and adapted over the course of the residency. Selected points discussed in this document referred to "visibility on our own terms" (images, announcements, framing), public engagement, transparent budget.

Set of posters

A set of four posters were printed and circulated in the imminent neighbourhood and across Stockholm. Translated into Swedish, English, Arabic and Tigrinya (the two biggest ethnic groups in the area of the Konsthall), they announced two weeks of boxing training for women, girls, trans and non-binary people in order to learn more about non-verbal negotiation, care, anger, dialogue, transgressions and defence. The boxing classes were free and open for all abilities, ages (16+), shapes and religions and were an experiment to learn to relate to each other and to negotiate the many conflicts and contradictions which shape our living and working together.

Boxing classes

For the boxing classes Stockholm based boxers Sofia Thorne and Airin Fardipour have been invited to develop a two week intense course for beginners. The boxing classes took place at 'Project Playground', an after school club for immigrants in Hallonbergen. The course taught lets of technique, the basic moves and punches, as well as extensive sparring and body contact work and finished with a one-round fight competition.

'Unboxing Calendar', published by AND Publishing London / MarabouParken Konsthall, Stockholm, 2018

A calendar with 52 weekly pages containing collectively with the boxers' produced visuals. The collages result from a one-day workshop, where we tried to revisit the spirit and adventures during the boxing classes and to articulate visually the experiences, that could not easily be verbalised. The visuals in the calendar are accompanied by a text written by Ar Parmacek, at the time intern at MarabouParken Konsthall, which reflects some of the concerns of the project from her perspective of an co-organiser and observant. Choosing the form of a calendar as publication genre aims to embed its issues and contents into everyday life. A year of daily boxing and unboxing.


  • poster 'Boxing and Unboxing' AND Publishing, Marabouparken Konsthall, 2018
  • poster 'Boxing and Unboxing' AND Publishing, Marabouparken Konsthall, 2018
  • calendar 'Boxing and Unboxing' AND Publishing, Marabouparken Konsthall, 2018
  • Teeshirt 'Box me in, no thank you' AND Publishing, 2018

[4.6] Topic Co-option

Published book 'Downing Street', New Documents, Los Angeles, 2015

The Downing St. or Help! David Cameron Likes My Art is a play script, using, as a starting point, a real circumstance: Eva Weinmayr’s work 'Today Questions' was borrowed from the UK Government Art Collection by David and Samantha Cameron for their private residence at Downing St. when they first moved in. Weinmayr’s attempt to contact The Prime Minister and his wife to discuss this was ignored, so she, in collaboration with writer John Moseley and journalist Titus Kroder, scripted the meeting that had been denied. The play imagines that the Camerons invite the Eva Weinmayr to visit them and while the artist Eva has tea with Samantha Cameron a rather unexpected set of events starts to unfold. The play acts as a catalyst for debate: The audience, which is scripted as a persona in the play, repeatedly interrupts the narrative in order to suggest a different strategy how to resolve Eva’s dilemma. The script has been premiered as Twitter broadcast, where each character tweeted their lines from the character's specially for this purpose set-up Twitter account (David Cameron, Samantha Cameron, Eva Weinmayr, Uzbek Ambassador,Horse Guard etc.) Subsequently it has been performed live in private and public venues, such as Edinburgh Festival, a pub, a friend’s living room, as well as a rehearsed performance at the Showroom in London directed by Hester Chillingworth of company GETBACKINTHEVAN. https://new-documents.org/books/downing-street

Published chapter: Help! David Cameron Likes my Art, in "Distributed", Open Editions 2018

edited David Blamey and Brad Haylock.

The text narrates the events and agonies brought about by the UK Government Art Collection’s acquisition of my art work ’Today’s Question’ and its subsequent loan to Samantha and David Cameron for their private residence at Downing Street, then Prime Minister of the UK. http://www.openeditions.com/index.php/distributed.html

chapter to be written: Eva Weinmayr/Heiner Müller, Keep it Complex/Wolfgang Tillmans

xxxx


  • twitter broadcast 'Downing Street' by Eva Weinmayr, John Moseley, Titus Kroder, premiere on Twitter, 25.June 2013
  • performance 'Downing Street - a sketch of a performance', directed by Hester Chillingworth, The Showroom, 14 March 2015
  • chapter 'Help! David Cameron Likes my Art', in Distributed, edited by David Blamey and Brad Haylock, London, Open Editions, 2018


Notes section [4] 'List of submitted material'
  1. Support included colleagues's offer to share office and equipment, including publishing classes in their courses inviting AND to develop publishing projects with students, facilitating work-based learning internships with AND. The management quickly realised the critical and socially generative potential of our activity and provided small funds and semi-official support
  2. AND was co-founded by Lynn Harris and Eva Weinmayr. Andrea Francke worked temporarily with AND. Today it is run by Rosalie Schweiker and Eva Weinmayr.
  3. OOMK, X Marks the Bökship, Keep it Complex in London
  4. Stevphen Shukaitis, 'Toward an Insurrection of the Published? Ten Thoughts on Ticks & Comrades', eicp transversal, June 2014 [5]
  5. It included work by Alina Tenser, Andrea Phillips, Ann-Charlotte Glasberg Blomqvist, Annette Krauss, Anton Vidokle, Barnfilmskolan, Bronwyn Bailey-Charteris, Cara Tolmie and Kimberley O’Neill, Doa Aly, Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse (Smudge Studio), Emanuel Almborg, Eva Weinmayr, Felicity Allen, Gert Biesta and Carl Anders Säfström, Glenn Loughran, Harrell Fletcher, Henry Giroux, Irit Rogoff, Janna Graham, Jaroslav Andel, Jason E. Bowman, Jenny Richards, Jessica Hamlin, Jeuno JE Kim and Ewa Einhorn, Katrin Ingelstedt, Lisa Nyberg, Lovisa Gustafsson, Maj Hasager, Maria Acaso and Jordi Ferreiro, Monica Sand, Olav Westphalen, Olivia Plender, Pedro Lasch, Stephan Dillemuth, Stephen Duncombe, Sunshine Socialist Cinema, and Tyson E. Lewis.
  6. Participating artists were André Alves, Eva la Cour, Kerstin Hamilton, Annelies Vaneycken, Arne Kjell Vikhagen, and Eva Weinmayr.
  7. The core working group's members were Andreas Engman, Eva Weinmayr, Gabo Cammnitzer, Kanchan Burathoki, Mary Coble, and Rose Borthwick.
  8. for example The Piracy Project, Teaching for people who prefer not to teach, The Library of Omissions and Inclusions, Let’s Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?, https://www.artsadmin.co.uk/events/3850 a selection of good and bad sports bras (D cup and upwards)], Keep It Complex, as well as our terms and conditions, emails and other miscellaneous items.
  9. Invitation email from curator Jenny Richards, 7 August 2017
  10. MarabouParken website

[5] Reflection, theorisation of projects and submitted material

This section seeks to systematically unpick the questions underlying the various practices and experiments I carried out and have chosen constitute the research contribution of the doctoral project. The purpose for this systematic unpicking in a process of theoretical reflection is to establish how these experiments contribute to and intervene within the domain of knowledge-practice mapped in Section 4 above. The projects described in section [4] have each explored a range of questions or critical enquiries and have done so in a way that is layered and complex. They are not discrete single-issue, single-question experiments but complex tangles of issues unfolding in real world situations and fields of operation. As a general introductory remark it will help to underline here that artistic practices are always multi-layered and driven by a range of questions and desires. They are seldom reducible to a single monolithic thematic or question, It would therefore be limiting to reduce such complex experiment described in Section 5 to one singular root question to be theoretically unpacked here, rather what is a t stake her is a broad spectrum of questions needs to be explored in their entanglement with each other.

However what can be highlighted as one of the most burning questions is the seemingly coercive reciprocity between 'authorship, authorisation and authority'. The question what and who is validated as author, by whom and for what reason can be described as underlying in my artistic practice. It is the core set of moves that get played out in the various sets of projects and I will show how each of the projects raises these questions in different ways iteratively and at different stages of each of the projects.

The reciprocity between authorship, authorisation and authority is not an abstract consideration. It is also at the centre of my current situation. Being employed as a researcher, means, that I am authorised to become an author by the institution, which is funding me, in order to become an authority in the field. What is at stake in this reciprocity?

In a doctoral seminar during the first year of my PhD studies my colleagues and I had been asked: "Which material do you access for your research? What or who do you consult? And where do you find things?" In a slightly buccaneering way one of my colleagues responded: "In a phone call with my mum". It made us burst with laughter, because of the obvious discrepancy between formalised and established academic knowledge formation versus informal and unpredictable learning methods rooted in friends, allies and family. Of course this question addressed the ethics of citation. It aimed at the core of academic research, that any source and information can be mobilised, if you can make the case for it and thus validate and introduce new voices into the established canon.

This is an exciting outlook. However the two poles, represented by the informal knowledge stock of 'my mum' and the institutionally authorised canon of in many ways patriarchal, white Western academia, constitutes a constant field of tension.[1]

[This characterisation might seem a little reductive and I'd need more time to unpack it…]

As an academic you can hardly afford to avoid the latter approach - or at least bits of it. It can be described in mere practical terms like this: You first map the academic field, you demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the established authorities in the discipline and then you craft your contribution in relation to them. You inherit and reproduce this tradition, you reference, you cite in order to be taken seriously or in Sara Ahmed's words "you cite yourself into an academic existence". [2] Citing is according to Ahmed "a rather successful reproductive technology, a way of reproducing the world around certain bodies."[3] In order to make your point, you need to start from within the established and already legitimised canon. My colleague and friend Andrea Francke, who started a PhD in art history at a UK based University, had been advised by her supervisors to omit a major part of her references and replace them with sources from recognised “high-profile” journals published by high-ranking universities in order to guarantee academic rigour and not corrupt the validity of her own writing. The consequences of this cycle is widely known, a canon is created which excludes the voices which are not yet institutionally legitimised.[4]

The mechanism is simple and tempting. You put yourself in relation to and into proximity to validated voices, hoping that your own writing gets similar mainstay recognition. In the published interview 'Rethinking where the thinking happens', which I conducted with Sarah Kember in public, she calls this 'a boys' citation club'. Consequently she started a new experimental academic press at Goldsmiths College in London, which tries to address and fix these issues as its declared mission. [5]

These hegemonic and exclusionary practices dominating the academic world, have been decried often but also empirically tested and found confirmed. In a recent study called "Publication, Power, Patronage", for instance, Chad Wellmon and Andrew Piper reveal the inequalities of scholarly publishing in terms of institutional diversity and gender equality. Conducting quantitative analysis, they studied five leading US-based humanities journals between 1970 and 2015. They found out, that gender equality had only slightly improved during this great time span (42% of articles published by female authors in comparison to xx before 1970). However, shockingly the concentration of power in the hands of prestige universities had even increased: authors with PhDs from just two elite universities alone, Yale and Harvard, accounted for twenty percent of all articles published in the studied journals.[6]

It is important to understand that university reformers – from the eighteenth up to the twenty-first century – have celebrated the act of publication as a measure to correct bulging concentrations of power and unsustainable systems of patronage that were prevailing in the early modern university. They simply saw publication as an efficient vehicle to bring more transparency and objectivity into systems and networks of power patronage based on familial status, inheritance or personal connections.[7] "In the light of being published, the value of a scholar’s work was visible to all because it was subject to more public and, therefore, so went the reasoning, more rational standards. Published writing could be accounted for, whereas charismatic teaching or speaking was more difficult to evaluate and compare."[6] Published texts, according to Simon Shaffer and Steve Shapin, constituted “a virtual witness that was agreed to be reliable”[8] They go on: "The authority of printed writing lay in its capacity to circulate more freely, unencumbered by the idiosyncrasies of the local and peculiar."

I will discuss the complexities of this shift from the local, peculiar, subjective and elitist knowledge standards to rational, objective and democratic knowledge availability and benchmarking, including the audit culture coming with it further down in the chapter about "Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?". There I will also analyse a most interesting development, namely that a dilemma arises when charismatic teaching is institutionally less valued than authoring texts. But for now it is important to register, that while historically publishing was first welcomed as a measure to create more public accountability and to contest the power imbalance within networks of patronage, the current systems of production, circulation and consumption of scholarly publishing in Europe and North America seem not to have achieved this goal – at least in the humanities in the US as the study and the above referenced keynote demonstrate.


Perspectives and Framing under the disguise of neutrality

In the following I will reflect on two practice examples, which try to tackle the hegemonic patriarchal self-replicating system described. They are my experiment of setting up the Library of Inclusions and Omissions (LIO), a reference library affiliated with Valand Academy which collects material that is being left out from institutional knowledge (see section 4.2). And, second, a policy experiment conducted by a group of staff and students at the École de Récherche Graphique in Brussels. Both projects share interest in the political and social implications of the organisation, classification of knowledge and related systems access from an intersectional feminist perspective.

"Library of Inclusions and Omissions"

Located in under the heading of “radical librarianship projects” discussed above in Section 5 the LIO is an inquiry into the politics of access, cataloguing practices, and standardisation. It is a practice-based long-term project initiated through an open call and the operation of temporary reading rooms. The growing stock of library’s books is curated by the community using it. It brings together forgotten histories, intersectional practices, and materials that are still missing in established libraries and databases: this is material that does not conform with the canon of Western, white, patriarchal academia, main-stream publishing, or finds itself marginalised for other reasons. This project is an attempt to find out in which way such a resource is fundamentally different to institutional libraries. Can it turn a library from being a repository of knowledge into a space of social and intellectual encounter? (West, 2003, Springer 2015). Can such a library even help in building a community or in connecting different communities?

Traditionally it is the acquisition librarian’s task, informed through library newsletters and other professional library sources to decide what is been purchased to go onto the library shelves. This powerful job requires the librarian to ascertain and decide which narratives enter the library and how they are catalogued and classified. In the last decade - related to the merger of art academies into large universities - we observe the outsourcing of library services to large distributors selling libraries bundled subscription packages. According to the Fine Art Head librarian at Central Saint Martins, the University of the Arts' London subscription package contains all exhibition catalogues of major international museums, such as MoMA New York and Tate London. These subscription packages tend to absorb most of the acquisitions budget leaving only marginal funds for bespoke and contextual teaching or research material, that goes beyond this mainstream art literature covering exhibitions. [Reference transcript of interview with librarian conducted in 2015 at Chelsea College of Arts, London]

In a related development the formerly decentralised cataloguing units at CSM have been moved from the campus libraries to a centralised data hub, which by policy excludes any format not conforming with commercial publishing formats. Even when produced in-house, self-published material by students or material resulting from teaching projects can not enter the library as valuable and highly contextual references within the art college. This kind of exclusion is not so much created by political censorship or ignorance. It rather stems from an institutional drive to centralise and streamline procedures and infrastructures.

The curatorial concept of the LIO, by contrast, builds on the info shops or community archives that arose in the 70s and 80s in the UK as part of self-organised social movements such as radical education movements, second wave feminism and leftist anarchist movements. These collectively run libraries were not affiliated to institutions, for example councils, and they were catering explicitly for the information, social and cultural needs of their users (Atton 1999). This community library movement seems to have been revived in recent years, in the UK for example, partly because austerity measures were implemented and – confronted with public library closures throughout the country – communities started to self-organise and create vivid, experimental and independent community libraries. Quite closely related, the LIO's curatorial strategy is open and focused at the same time. Open to anyone, who is interested to contribute. Focused, because it is theme-based — asking for forgotten histories, intersectional practices, for feminist and de-colonial knowledge.

I circulated a personal letter in form of printed posters in three languages (Arabic, Swedish and English) as invitation to contribute to the LIO. The posters had been put up in public spaces, schools and universities, museums, independent cultural spaces and community centres across Gothenburg and its suburbs in order to reach a maximally diverse public in terms of age, gender, ethnic background and class.

The printed posters and their online versions, circulated in my own immediate environment at Valand Academy triggered much interest and contributions. That means to me that the community of practice at the art academy was critical as a vehicle for bonding trust as well as an environment of shared interests. People who already knew me or knew about me contributed to LIO. It seemed that my links to the institution, such as being a doctoral student gave me some degree of respect or authority, which people felt they could trust and rely on. A large number of contributions also arrived from people who already knew of my involvement with AND Publishing and The Piracy Project, which apparently gave me some sort of recognition or legitimisation or just made people curious to be part of LIO. However, my hope that the project might make the boundaries between institution and wider communities outside more fluid and that it might connect different communities was not fulfilled. It would have required much more time to build sustainable connections to other communities in order to mobilise mutual interest and agency. In order to make this a community project the involved parties would need to develop the framework and terms and conditions together. Here questions and complications of authorship and ownership come into play, which are discussed in more detail in the analysis chapter (6).

Very different from institutional libraries, the books contributed to LIO map and share the struggles, discoveries, desires, concerns and strategies of their contributors. This collection does not claim to provide "neutral" knowledge, the founding assumption of institutional libraries. Quite the opposite: LIO provides personal and subjective narratives. As such it is an attempt to deconstruct the assumption of neutrality and objectivity underlying "any grand narrative of modernity". According to Gayatri Spivak Deconstruction is a practice that insistently critiques the grand narratives of modernity, such as scientific rationality, progress, or emancipation of humanity and reminds us again and again that 'when a narrative is constructed, something is left out' and reminds us to ask 'What is it that is left out? Can we know what is left out?'.[9]

The function of the catalogue is in the case of LIO not merely a technical act of organisation, it is also an act of telling. As in “telling, there is a desire — a desire to speak, a desire to share, to articulate an experience to an/other (Roysdon, 2009).” The LIO's catalogue makes transparent the range of subjectivities and perspectives, rather than relying on perceptions of neutrality, as discussed under the heading 'Libraries as a space of dissemination – Questions of access and organisation, classification and validation' in section (3). Instead of using the 'controlled vocabulary' and classification terms of standardised library practice, LIO´s cataloguing focuses on advocacy and the agency of the books on their readers. LIO asks contributors for a short written rationale, why this book is important to them and why they want to share it with others. Through this the emphasis shifts from trying to frame the actual content of the book in an arguably objective manner towards describing the readers' personal making of meaning. The short statements are printed on index cards, which accompany each book and serve as an entry point and framing device for the library users. This subjective approach can be understood as an experiment to connect people through their readings, discoveries, desires, struggles and hopes.

This experiment to catalogue the books in this particular way is an attempt to understand and deal with the complex dilemmas and contestations of classification more generally. In the following I will briefly trace the genealogy and complications of classification. [This insert is indented, because it is a free standing text and not yet properly embedded into the kappa.]


I feel captured, solidified, and pinned to a butterfly board. Like any common living thing, I fear and reprove classification and the death it entails, and I will not allow its clutches to lock me down, although I realize I can never lure myself into simply escaping it. (Trinh T. Minh-ha, 1989)


Library scholar and librarian Emily Drabinski sits in the classroom running an information literary session for first-year students at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. It’s part of their African-American women's history course. They discuss the on-going revisions of the Library of Congress subject headings in this field: from NEGRO WOMEN to BLACK WOMEN to AFRO-AMERICAN WOMEN etc. The headings in the Library of Congress have been under scrutiny by critical library scholars and activists since the publication of Sanford Berman’s influential study “Prejudices and Antipathies – a tract on LC subject headings concerning people” in 1971 and have been continuously changed and adapted over time in an attempt to eliminate political biases and racism. One of the students raises her hand: “I am quite interested in the history of White women — do I need to search for the term “White Women” in the library?”
What this question points at is that representation (and organisation) of knowledge is not neutral, as it appears. Many users take the classification for granted “as though it were a natural landscape rather than a well-manicured lawn that is the product of intellectual labor”. (Olson) The answer to the student’s question is: no, there is no main subject heading for 'white women'. While we wish Library of Congress Classification would acknowledge White as one racial category amongst others and as a marker of domination, it does not. 'The Library of Congress is rooted in the historical structures of White supremacy, as such, the catalog presumes White to be the normative term.' While claiming a neutral and universal approach, 'library classifications use the hegemonic language of the powerful. They reflect, produce, and reproduce hierarchies.' (Drabinski, 2008, p.201)


Universal Language A large body of research has documented biases of gender, sexuality, age, class, ethnicity, language and religion in the construction of an universal language in the naming of information for retrieval. This universal language uses a controlled vocabulary to represent documents. It limits diversity and has direct practical impact on the reader searching for materials outside of a traditional mainstream, materials crossing disciplines or marginalized topics.
This controlled vocabulary appears unbiased and universally applicable - but it actually hides its exclusions under the guise of neutrality. Olson traces the presumption of universality back to Charles Cutter’s Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalog (1876) the reference for the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), the major standard in North America’s libraries today and to Melvil Dewey’s introduction to the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC - also published in 1876).


Charles Cutter’s misguided democratic ideal Cutter’s rationale to create a controlled vocabulary sounds like a democratic approach to serve the public, which uses the library. A uniform language is easy to use for the cataloguer as well as for the user. Exceptions and inconsistencies in the uniformity are allowed and even asked for if it serves “the public’s habitual way of looking at things.” (Cutter, xxx)
The problem, as Hope Olson points out, is the article “the” in the public, envisioning a community of library users with a unified perspective. It is a singular public, who defines the language inevitably excluding those who do not seem to fit into this community. A community in singular shares cultural, social, or political interests and excludes those, which are different. The majority opinion is imposed on everyone. It is important to note, that the library at this point in time was used almost exclusively by an educated, Western, white, Christian, male, heterosexual readership. For Cutter, then, this singular public dictates the vocabulary of a universal language for representation of information in the library.


Dewey’s obsession: efficiency and universality Dewey advocated universal language in the introductions to his classification as the need to avoid confusion for efficient communication. As Olson points out, in the introduction to the first edition of DDC (1876) Dewey uses the word "confusion" twice, but the introduction to DDC13 (1932) he uses "confuzion" twenty-one times. Dewey sees diversity of language introduced by "different librarians" at "different times” with "different viewpoints" "cauzing confuzion". That leds him to call for introducing a universal standard to avoid this confusion. However he seems not so much pre-occupied with how to represent the content of the material or the meaning making process the scheme enables for the library user: he seems obsessed with efficiency, time-saving and capital:
'Clasification is a necesity if all material on any givn subject is to be redily found. The labor of making one's own classification is uzualy prohibitiv, if wel dun. By adopting the skeme in jeneral use by libraries this labor is saved and numbers ar in harmony with those of thousands of other catalogs and indexes in which the same number has the same meaning; for, as pointed out at a recent international congress, these numbers ar the only international languaj of perfectly fefinit meaning amung all civilized nations; and also cheapest and quickest in application.' (Dewey, 1932, p.43)
Dewey’s obsession with standardisation and efficiency and his sense to capitalise on his library business is well documented and might have overruled the consideration how the catalog actually works for the user.


Library as Disciplinary Institution Dewey Decimal System (DDC) and the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) are the most widely used classifications systems in research and public libraries worldwide. LCC is the de facto standard in research libraries in the United States. DDC is the most widely spread outside and is also used increasingly to organize Web indexing collections of Universal Resource Libraries (URL). (Olson 2001,p641)
Both classifications systems, DDC and LCC, are arranged not by subject, but by disciplines. (Philosophy (1), Religion (2), Social Sciences (3), Language (4) Natural Sciences (5), Technology (6), The Arts (7), Literature & Rhetoric (8), Geography & History (9). (See 'Dewey for Windows', 1998).
Hope Olson discusses how the main facet of these classification schemes is based on disciplines and lays out its genealogy as deeply rooted in Western, Medieval and Renaissance philosophy reaching back from Aristoteles’ to Francis Bacon’s classification of knowledge to Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel via William T. Harris, (who developed the St. Louis public school library system) to Dewey, who borrowed from Harris, when he developed his classification scheme while working as a library assistant at Amherst College in 1876. How, I ask, comes then that Dewey is the most used classification system in libraries worldwide – bearing in mind that is so heavily contextualised in Western philosophy – missing out on different perspectives on human knowledge?


Classification — an architecture, meant to house the universe of knowledge Melvil Dewey imagined a cabinet of nine pigeon-holes on an office desk: Each case represents one of the nine classes and allows for nine subdivisions (pigeonholes) as a way to efficiently organise. He favours mass production over costume made solutions:
'The skeme givs us for each topic, as it wer, a case of 9 pijeonholes, with a larj space at the top; and we uze them as every practical business man uzes such pijeonholes about his desk.... If [a businessman] insisted on having a different case made to order for each use, it wud cost over twice as much; he cud not group them together or interchanje them, and they wud not fit offis shelvs.' (Dewey, DDC13 1932).
We can also imagine Dewey classes as separate rooms in a house. Each new entry into the library has to go into one room (hierarchy). The house has no interconnecting doors. The document can’t live in two rooms or use the corridor to travel back and forth (relationships). Once put in one room it mostly stays in this room (permanence, inflexibility).
But into one only and that’s the problem: A decision has to be made, what this document or book is about. Or what is it “most” about. Someone needs to decide what is the most important aspect of the book (first facet) what is the second important (subdivision) etc. This creates a hierarchy.
Philosopher Elizabeth Spelman describes such hierarchy as powerful performative device: 'Imagine a huge customs hall with numerous doors, marked "women", "men", "Afro-American", "Asian-American", "Euro-American", "Hispanic- American", "working class", "middle class" "upper class", "lesbian", "gay", "heterosexual", and so forth... The doors are arranged in banks, so that each person faces a first bank of doors that sort according to gender, then a bank that sort according to race, or alternatively sort first according to race, then according to class, then according to gender, and so on'. (Spelman 1988, p. 144) Different criteria of sorting create different results: 'We get different pictures of people's identities, of the extent to which one person shares some aspect of identity with an- other, depending on what the doors are, how they are ordered, and people are supposed to proceed through them' (Spelman 1988, p. 146).
Who decides? 'Classification schemes are socially produced and embedded structures', says Drabinski, 'they are products of human labor that carry traces of all the intentional and unintentional racism, sexism, and classism of the workers who create them. It is not possible to do classification objectively. It is the nature of subject analysis to be subjective'. (Drabinski, 2008, p. 198)


Sameness and Difference Classification gathers things according to their commonalities. Olson (2001) discusses the effectiveness of this duality in Western culture. We implement it from early childhood. It is a principle which helps organizing things. It can be temporal (in the same, or chronological period), spatial (relating to the same region) or used (most frequently used) or organized by similar material qualities ( size, colour, format, i.e. journal, book etc). On my bookshelf I organize books by size, as it saves shelf space. In the charity shop I visit from time to time clothes are organised by colour. The green rack, for example, displays a variety of garments: trousers, jumpers, hats, skirts and dresses — what they have in common is their green colour.
Thoughts and creative effort has been invested by many engaged librarians in order to develop local, independent or modified schemes, which serve their users in a better way. The Ethical Culture School in New York developed together with their students METIS. They found out, that some sections were under-used such as “Languages” which was turned into “Community,” “Craft” is now labeled “Making Stuff.” But the most radical step was to mix the classic categories of “fiction” and “non-fiction.” Based on the idea it is not the cataloger making the decision, but the students themselves. It is the student who is invited to evaluate what is imagination and what is information and discover the blurred lines in between. Here the catalog is turned into an educational tool, a starting point for thoughts and discussions about the distinction between fact and fiction. (See also Weinmayr, 'Library Underground', part II 'Infinite Hospitality' in Publishing as Artistic Practice, 2016, p. 167)
I am particularly interested in Eastside Projects' (Birmingham) attempt to organise their book collection for their art space. They came up with a list of verbs for classification. This move put emphasis on the agency of the books, what they are doing, rather what they are about:
Communicating
Exhibiting
Narrating
Provoking
Reflecting
Answering
Documenting
Illuminating
Interpreting
Occupying
Questioning
And 4 special sections:
Venicing
Xerox
Jonathan Monk collection
Mithu Sen (this need some protection, very fragile books)
The confusion, Dewey is so consistently tackling, can potentially be generative and creative. The anticipation which lays in the messiness and disorder is described by Walter Benjamin when unpacking his library: 'The books are not yet on the shelves, not yet touched by the mild boredom of order.' His interest lays in collecting not in the collection.
Another critique could be developed from Spivak’s observation about disciplines and area studies: The notion, […] that the world can be divided into knowable, self-contained “areas” has come into question as more attention has been paid to movements between areas. Demographic shifts, diasporas, labor migrations, the movements of global capital and media, and processes of cultural circulation and hybridization have encouraged a more subtle and sensitive reading of areas’ identity and composition. (Death of a discipline, p17)
What we need is a “non-exhaustive taxonomy and provisional system making,[… that ] that keeps the door open to the “to come”. (Spivak, p 21) Working with such non-exhaustive taxonomies emphasis process and the techniques for acquiring knowledge. This procedural knowledge, as Gillingham proposes, distinguishes between knowing and connected knowing. “Separate knowing is exemplified by distance between the knowing subject and the object to be known and is based on traditional/Aristotelian logic (p. 114). Connected knowing privileges experience and relies on connections to others to discover what they know. The knowing subject learns through empathy, putting herself in the place of the object to be known rather than maintaining distance. (page 15)
With every type of establishment comes the desire to create 'standards' - a sequence of operational actions or behaviours that maintain and classify activity, generally imposed for clarity, universality and in some cases, and perhaps most importantly, to save time and money. (Di Franco, 2014)


[talk about cataloguing workshops, at Leeds, Kunstverein Munich, Grand Union Birmingham.]

[accountability for the daily habits (Bateson, Spivak), situatedness (Haraway), power relations. Imagining (Spivak)]

[that will bridge to the next section...]

Performative Propositions: Policy Document at ERG

In early 2018, a group of students and staff at École de Récherche Graphique in Brussels circulated a policy document "Proposals for amendment to be made regarding the study rules".[10] Article 2 in this document refers to library policies:

"When the author identifies himself as the cis-type, heterosexual and white man, the books will be moved within the archives to recall, on the one hand, that this is one point of view among others. On the other hand, that the latter is hegemonic. A warning page will have to be included in each book when the readers will wish to consult the said works. Strict quotas will be put in place regarding the selection of the books represented. Attention will be paid to both subjects, the writing context and the authors." The topics under quota to be represented list: gender issues, queer issues, feminism, afro-feminism, trans-feminism, xeno-feminism, intersectional feminism, ecofeminism, eco-sexualite, LGBT, LGBTQQ I2SPAA+."

This policy document, sounding radical and almost utopian in its dramatic propositions, makes us pay attention to the fact, that authors who became part of the published canon speak from particular vantage points. The differences of authorial perspective need to be acknowledged and not swept under the carpet of universality and neutrality.

In an even bolder step article 3 in the same document proposes therefore to relate the payment of tuition fees to privilege. For this, a catalogue of ten criteria is drawn up: male, heterosexual, cis-gender, white, standard body, valid (valide), well-read, middle-class and bourgeois, carnivorous, human. If a student's profile, for instance, ticks three out of ten boxes (3/10), this coefficient will be applied in two ways: The percentage - in the example 30 percent - is added to tuition fees and other expenses, such as prices at the coffee machine, for photocopies and other materials. But the percentage will also be deducted as "penalty" from achieved points in academic evaluation and jury assessments. Apparently the policies described are so far only proposed, as its implementation in reality would amount to negative discrimination which is illegal in most European countries.

However such propositions can be performative: When I travelled to Brussels, visiting ERG in summer 2018, to talk to the document's authors, they explained – not without blurting out a giggle – how much this proposition already had stirred up day-to-day assumptions on privileges and social background at their art school. The document was pasted on the walls of the art school, as well as emailed to staff members and students. Taking in the suggested rules appealed to any staff member to consider, name, acknowledge and eventually unlearn their own privileges, I was told.

[what follows now is unresolved and only notes and ideas] [link this to Spivak discussion of 'unlearning privilege'?] [Anette Krauss ('unlearning excercises'): 'If we understand unlearning one’s privilege as questioning and reworking one’s assumptions, prejudices, and histories, this includes as well “unlearning one’s privileged discourse' (Spivak 1990, 57).] [Unlearning habits: "What is crucial in habit formation for Spivak, is exactly what is missing in it. “A habit does not question. Habits lack the critical capacity to interrogate themselves”.(Spivak 2012, 8] [Gramsci is interested in the prospect of democratic education and the possibilities of developing “new habits” (Gramsci 1971, 298). According to Gramsci, a democratic education necessarily demands that “the premises of an argument must indeed be ‘rediscoverable’, ‘re-examinable’, by the man of the masses as he is educated to be a citizen” (Gramsci 2000, 318).]

['However, Spivak claims that it is not enough that an argument’s premises are re-examined, which is a common scientific and academic exercise. Spivak suggests that philosophical – I add rational – argumentation is powerless when it comes to intervening in thinking and doing habits. She demands further effort within the “training of the imagination” that in the best case entails a certain “aesthetic” that “short-circuits the task of shaking up this habit of not examining them [the premises]”(Spivak 2012, 6). This is quoted from Annette Krauss' Phd.]

In my view the proposed intervention to reformulate the study rules at ERG, can be described as such a "aesthetic short-circuit". Because even if it is apparent, that its implementation is not possible due to legal limits, the mere circulation of the document was performative in questioning the long-established habit framework of the institution and its members and this alone is able to adjust the normalised positions of authority in Western education.

[5.2] Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy? (Collective Organising: Who authorises whom?)

In order to explore these questions, a work group at Valand Academy in Gothenburg was formed in 2015, in reaction and responding to the problematic keynote contribution, encapsulating a Western, white and male mantra at the aforementioned conference. The work group was set up by the desire to articulate and create space for a queer and feminist perspective on learning and teaching inside and outside of Valand Academy with the aim to organise a conference, which fundamentally rethinks how knowledge can be formed from a feminist, queer and de-colonial perspective.

We came up with a set of core questions, such as 'How is knowledge transmitted and validated?'; 'What is the power of citation practices?'; 'When do we learn?'; 'What kind of resources are we accessing to learn?'; 'How can we broaden our understanding of feminist and non-Eurocentric knowledge?'; 'How can we understand justice, equality and diversity that is not blind to difference such as gender, sexual orientation, race, class and dis/ability?'; 'Can management be thought in terms of care rather than administration?'

All students and staff at Valand Academy were invited to join this open work group. Over the past year we held lunchtime meetings, had dinners at homes, met in bars or communicated over Skype. We met in our studios and offices, went for walks and field trips, held daylong sessions and invited guests to brainstorm with and to learn from. We read texts, shared experiences, raised doubts and concerns. In a nutshell, we just followed our desires not to struggle forward and chew on these questions as individuals. Rather we got together to acknowledge the importance of queer and feminist issues in education as a group.

Our work can be described in two phases. The first six months we held bi-weekly lunchtime meetings in order to meet and share our teaching experiences, conflicts with students or management, as well as to read and discuss texts. What is more, we started an online text archive, where a wide range of material was uploaded from different historical periods, territories, backgrounds – material generated inside and outside of academia. These meetings offered also a space to share information about what happened under the surface of the institution, things that were not officially circulated but crucial for understanding the social fabric of the people working together at Valand Academy.

The second phase was more focused on planning and organising a 'conference', marking the closing of Valand Academy's 150th anniversary events[11], that practically tests and redefines the format and style of coming together to create and transmit knowledge.[12] The quotation marks around the term conference already give a hint on how we attempted to rethink the traditional terms and related roles, functions and hierarchies at the Valand Academy by crucially redefining the nomenclature.[13] The term conference, for example, was replaced by the word mobilisation, because we aimed at a more practical, dynamic, activist and generative outcome, rather than just conducting a static sharing of papers exercise. Getting initial traction within the working group, then the administration and then the lecturer's and student's public, the new nomenclature eventually turned into daily use across the organisation.

This process of shifting the terminology within the academy is interesting, because it evidenced Mary Douglas argument how much our thinking depends upon institutions, but also that institutions are not monolithic top-down constructions, which build themselves rather she says is the number of individuals together who build an institution with all their different backgrounds, thinkings and hopes.[14] [sorry, this is very rough. Need to revisit Mary Douglas properly.]

The analysis of the mobilisation experiment is best structured and discussed in three aspects. A first angle is that the mobilisation experimented with non-normative teaching and conference formats. It tested new roles, language, non-normative uses of building and classrooms, as well as non-normative timing, budgeting, catering and hosting of participants. Secondly I will discuss the experimental, but often neglected and "un-authored" practice of organising and care for such an event. Thirdly I will discuss the complexities and challenges of collectivity within in the working group, who, when put under considerable pressure towards the end, did not always manage to apply the same principles, we set out for the mobilisation, to the actual working processes within the group.


Non-normative Approaches

For example roles: We fundamentally defined three roles. An "instigator" is a person or group invited to prepare a contribution that will activate each of the mobilisation´s forums and their topics. An "invited participant" is a practitioner and theoretician invited to attend and participate in the mobilisation, because he or she were inspiring to us, had no particular role or task but contributed through their knowledge and experience informally. And thirdly, "participants" are mobilisation attendees helping to work through the event´s questions – active and vocal, or active and quiet.

For example language: [Needs more work and nuance] We face a constant standoff at Valand Academy in that some staff members call the use of English, and not Swedish, in our daily work 'a colonial project'. To take into account this dilemma and to find a way out during the mobilisation – which had many international participants from eight European countries – we commissioned two live translators, who were taking notes and translated and wrote them down in real time into an online writing pad projected into the room. Attendee Zarah Bayrati, who spoke in Forum 2 "What is the thing about diversity?", even demonstrated how the sometimes oppressive dynamics connected to language can be dissolved by holding her class switching between Swedish, English and Farsi.

For example the seminar room: When the roles of speakers change, the traditional furniture set up and layout of standard seminar rooms or lecture halls don't work anymore. Therefore we invited queer architect Katarina Bonnevier for a workshop to investigate the existing rooms at the Academy and how they could be queered and opened up for uses, that go beyond round table discussions (glasshouse), frontal lectures (aula) or presentations (screen). Rachel Barron, a just graduated MA student developed a decoration with translucent fabric, which brought colour into the main assembly room, the “glasshouse”, and divided the room into several visually and spatially connected layers. For our seven Forums, we used the staircase in the main building for the “Sextalks MTG”, the aula for a play reading of “Strike while the iron is hot” on the stage and between the rows of chairs in the audience, the four kitchens for “When do we learn? Collectively preparing and eating food”, the glasshouse for “How do we start?”, “What is this thing about diversity?”, “Rethinking where the thinking happens” and the closing session “Where to go from here?”. With Forum 4, “When do we learn?”, a sleep-over in the glasshouse, we experimented with informal learning outside scheduled structures. See the full programme here [17].


"The Un-authored" Practices of Organising and Caring

Because we rethought all these processes, formats and interactions in a fundamental way, we had to invent or understand and tweak the existing procedures prescribed by the university procurement. This would not have been possible without the inventive support of the management and the administration of the academy becoming part of this. Think of the aforementioned sleep over in the main assembly room. Staying overnight in the academy building is officially not permitted. Only through negotiations and with the creative support of the acting Prefect the sleep over could become part of the programme as Forum 6: "When do we learn? Non-normative uses of the seminar room".[15] In the following I will give selected examples of how intricate negotiations and dealings with the Academy personnel were, whose day-to-day job was to follow, interpret and execute the rules and regulations.

For example catering Gothenburg University has, for example, a limited list of approved caterers for conferences or symposia. Any attempt to order food from less established, experimental or informal food projects are not envisaged or permitted. Only by the inventive work of our administrators, and the trick to declare it to be to a conceptual part of the mobilisation, we were able to order food from the local women's food collective Hoppet to prepare food for the first dinner of the mobilisation on Wednesday 12 October 2016. Hoppet (Hoppet för kropp och själ - The Hope for Body and Soul) is an Arabic, Iraqi, Kurdish and Persian women collective based in Gothenburg’s suburb Hammarkullen. Hoppet started a catering business to gain financial independence from husbands, to support women in the community and to donate money to kids with blood diseases in Iraq. By ordering food from Hoppet we want to both support the women’s collective fight for a safe space and promote care and hospitality through the food we were eating together. [16]

For example hosting In a similar manner we wanted to experiment with strategies how to bring small and alternative vendors into the procurement system of the university in order to support other forms of economies. The university policies regarding the hosting of guests are restrictive. Only a small exclusive list of big and anonymous hotels in Gothenburg have accreditation with the university. In an effort to offer more friendly accommodation and create more inspiring social encounters, we found for most of the mobilisation´s participants a spare room, bed or sofa in offered by colleagues or friends in their Gothenburg homes. This hospitality not only allowed many students and freelancers living and working on small budgets to join the mobilisation. It also made the mobilisation a distributed effort of solidarity and responsibility across the art school.

Administrators as co-authors "This variety of ‘doing things differently’ from standard university procedures, generated a lot of work, stress and frustration for us. It was difficult to receive consistent information on what could and could not be done within the remit of the various academic policies. The bits of information provided were fairly vague, leaving us in a state of uncertainty and constant guessing and relying on hearsay, which created tension within the group as well as between us and the art school. In order to deal with policies in a creative and productive way one must know them well and fully, whereas we were always hoping, but never really knowing. While being aware of some administrators’ support, we found ourselves also affected by anxiety that “this will not be possible” as the inflexibility of the administrative apparatus will not allow it to happen. [17] Current critiques of administration refer to the administration of the body and the way bureaucracy is used to control the flows of our everyday life: "From passport control to binary gender categories on job application forms, administration gently pushes us into ideologically assigned roles and positions and then traps us there."[18] According to queer activist and legal scholar Dean Spade "policy and administrative systems are the invisible disciplinary forces that generate our experiences as subjects." [19] Andrea Francke and Ross Jardine argue in their paper "Bureaucracy's Labour" that current critiques of administration are conceived from the angle of the administered body and ask "But what of the administrator?" They argue that in order “to be deemed successful in their task the administrator must adhere to a range of standards and style guides that masks their identity with that of the institution through policies of best practice and standardisation, [...] actions become attached to roles instead to individuals [...] and therefore the administrator's position as subject is being erased." [18] But exactly because administrators are the anonymous subjects, that generate and enforce those systems, they are vital for enacting political transformation, as Francke and Jardine argue. I agree with this argument, as it was the very reason for the underlying tension of collaborating with individual administrators, being governed and governing at the same time and with regards to the mobilisation, I wished we had worked even more closely with the administrators and made them even more co-authors and allies in the process.

Collectivity: Desires and Complications

This is a quote from a collectively authored reflection on the working process of the group organising the mobilisation: "Trust, care and confidences were broken. Feelings of unworthiness surfaced and created fractions. Collective and collaborative practice involves negotiation and communication. A lot of focus was on creating a transparent structure with regards to the mobilisation economy, a clear glossary with intentions etc. However we would have benefitted from a clear audit of ourselves, our ability to commit, our expectations and our insecurities. Easier to say with hindsight." [20] The extract summarises the contestations and conflicts within the working group, once the mobilisation date came closer and the pressure had risen. We only understood after the event, that while we invested so much time and effort to define and achieve transparency, roles and care in relation to the event, we fell short of achieving this sufficiently within the group. In "Do the right thing - a manual" Johanna Gustavsson and Lisa Nyberg report how important accountability and transparency is for working collectively. They list of priorities goes like this: "(1) Talk openly about money. (2) Talk openly about commitment and time. (3) Make room for economy and time planning already from the start. Ask each other how much time you are able to, and want to invest in the joint project. This way the collaboration can function even though one person invests 10% and the others 100%. It is important to be prepared that someone might be less involved in periods, so it’s good to have those discussions early on."[21]

We learned early on from the collective reading of Jo Freeman’s “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” that we need transparency on decisions we take.[22] Hence it became a guiding principle in our communication with each other to take notes in every working group meeting, which were uploaded to a shared online “black board” information box. Still our collective summary says, that "our care for the participants pre-empted the care for the working group”, and that in the hot phase approaching the event "we did not initiate moments of rest, time to check in with each other. This created problems personally and interpersonally." [20] It was the imbalance of priorities within the group and commitment to other projects, which caused imbalance and frustration overall. We had read together the experiences in the MFK manual about being clear and outspoken on priorities and availability, but we did not strictly check in on this during the process. The consequence was that those regularly attending the decision-making meetings inevitably developed more responsibility and therefore group and project power than others, who came only sporadically. That was not the flat structure we imagined and led to frustrations on all sides – with some complaining about the lack of commitment and others about being silenced. Due to immense pressure to deliver, this imbalance was not addressed properly, as we just wanted to get on. Another structural problem was, that I personally could afford focusing on planning the event and editing the workbook, because it was part of my (paid) research. Other group members faced a growing workload having to juggle teaching, their studies as well as day jobs with the organising work. Despite being aware of my privilege, I assumed similar commitment from all others. I was frustrated, when things did not move forward on project ends others had taken responsibility for.

"How to practice care throughout the process of organizing a feminist gathering: care for the investment in the ideas themselves, for the participants, for the host institution, for each other in the organizing group and self care?" [20]

Questions of economy and efficiency and unmeasurable labour

We also observed, that within the existing institutional setting our effort to do things differently and to find an alternative to the imposed order was positively acknowledged and to a certain degree enthusiastically welcomed by Valand Academy´s leadership. But it caused also friction with and drew critique by the same leadership, because of the apparent extra labour, effort and time our project created for administrators – and therefore costs.

The question of the right economical balance became obvious, when our extensive creative work of detailed organising and care turned into self-exploitation and for some even into states of burn-out.[23] The working group had not been given extra hours for this work and when we, towards the end of the process, tentatively asked to be (partially) paid the reply was blunt: We had a distinct budget and we should work with this budget, we had been told. While this argument is reasonable it results in the dilemma of people going back to a 'working to rule' practice within the established standard procedures. They do this as acts of self-care, because they cannot carry the extra work, which they are committed to that supersedes the efficiency rules of the institution. Efficiency is a measurable concept – quantitatively determined by the ratio of useful output to total input.

My argument here goes like this: These partly invisible practices of care are not related to regimes of authorship and therefore not distinctly measurable. They are invisible in the current regime of authorship and ownership. They constitute affective labour, which is sometimes valued and recognised by the direct recipients and beneficiaries, however the current systems of evaluation fall short to acknowledge them formally. They are seen as the “fuzzy extra”, which is nice to have, but not seen as fundamentally necessary to keep the machine going. They are not connected to authorship and therefore not recognised "as work". [24] [To do: Make interview with Mick Wilson, the then acting prefect, about his perspective of the topic]

[Talk about 'Invisible labour, Wages for Housework, Silvia Federici etc....']

[Talk about unauthored admin documents: Lisa Gitelman: Paper Knowledge]

[5.3] The Piracy Project

The Piracy Project (TPP), is a collaboration with artist Andrea Francke. It deals with questions of authorship, authorisation and authority in a hands-on way. By prompting people to "pirate" a book that is important to them – that is to make copies and manually reproduce books – The Piracy Project challenges a traditional understanding of books as finite resources and stable and authoritative objects. Through the unauthorised interventions and alterations of the books' textual and visual content, TPP transgresses the construction of authorship, as we commonly understand it and deals with the complexities of authorisation on many different levels, as I will explain in the following.

These conceptualisations were not clear-cut at the beginning of TPP. The project's richness, energies and complexities unfolded during the collaborative practice as well as through the interaction with contributors and institutions, which hosted TPP and the related workshops, lectures and debates over the span of five years. There was not a clear-cut question triggering TPP at the beginning. It was rather a political situation and the desire to organise against it, as well as the puzzling discovery of specific book piracy cases in Peru, where pirates had started to anonymously alter and amend the plot of some fiction books.

The Piracy Project was initiated in 2010. Its immediate trigger was the attempt to fight the closure of the library at Byam Shaw School of Art in London. In a joint effort students and staff turned Byam Shaw’s art college library, supported by its acting principal, into a self-governed library that remained public – and thus intellectually and socially generative. As I explain in the text "Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices" this was not without antagonism, because right at that time, the British Prime Minister of the day, David Cameron, launched his perfidious ‘The Big Society’ concept, which proposed that members of the community should volunteer at public institutions, such as local libraries, which were deemed to be closed due to government cuts. They were also voices saying that, rather than turning this into a project, time and energies should be invested into campaigning to keep the library as an institutional resource. [Figures of library cuts in UK?] However, shifting an institutionally run library to one organised by students and staff, opened up many possibilities to experiment and rethink what a library could be. By taking collective ownership over the art school library and its books, the space opened up from being a resource, that was controlled and validated by institutional policies – critically on the question of its offering on the shelves – to a self-steering knowledge assemblage, able to include potentially obscure, self-published, not institutionally validated materials.

Queering the authority of the printed book

The Piracy Project shares similar concerns with practices of radical online libraries such as aaaarg.fail or Memory of the World (discussed in the above chapter "Libraries as a space of dissemination – Questions of access and organisation, classification and validation"), which are setting up distribution platforms in order to fight enclosures by commercial monopolies. However TPP operates differently. It asks people to make printed copies of books, and while doing that, rethink, how they relate to the authored and already authorised material they are pirating. As such it is a material practice as well as a conceptual and political practice. The call, published internationally through an art-agenda newsletter and locally through posters states: "The Piracy Project is not about stealing or forgery. It is about creating a platform to innovatively explore the spectrum of copying / re-editing / translating / paraphrasing / imitating / re-organising / manipulating of already existing works.[25]

These manipulations could be described as queering of the authority of the printed book, as we know it. Since the introduction of the industrial printing press we tend to simply assume, that one copy of a book we are reading to be identical to the other copies of the same title circulating. The co-authored text "The Impermanent Book" published in Rhizome magazine [18] discusses the instability of the book, especially since the commercial availability of print-on-demand services. In the chapter "The Piracy Project" of the article "Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices", I reflect on the anxieties the invention of the Xerox photocopy machine in the 60s injected into mainstream publishing. This becomes clearer, when we consider that digital print technologies such as print-on-demand and desktop publishing allow for a constant re-printing and re-editing of existing files. The advent and widespread accessibility of the photocopy machine in the late 1960s in the US, for example, allowed the reader to photocopy books and collate selected chapters, pages or images in new and customised compilations.[26] These new reproduction technologies undermine to an extent the concept of the printed book as a stable and authoritative work, which had prevailed since the mass production of books on industrial printing presses came into being some 400 years ago. History of information scholar Eva Hemmungs-Wirtén describes in what way the general availability of the photocopier has been perceived as a threat to the authority of the text and cites Marshall McLuhan’s address at the Vision 65 congress in 1965: 'Xerography is bringing a reign of terror into the world of publishing because it means that every reader can become both author and publisher. [….] Authorship and readership alike can become production-oriented under xerography. Anyone can take a book apart, insert parts of other books and other materials of his own interest, and make his own book in a relatively fast time. Any teacher can take any ten textbooks on any subject and custom-make a different one by simply xeroxing a chapter from this one and from that one.’[27]

The queering of the authorial voice

Beside these material aspects, some contributions to The Piracy Project undermine the authority of the authorial voice. See for example the case of the pirated version of "No se lo diga a nadie" (Don't tell anyone), where the pirate secretly and anonymously added two extra chapters to a famous auto-biographical novel by Peruvian journalist and TV presenter Jaime Baily. [reference to catalogue entry] Somebody had borrowed the official author’s voice and sneaked in two fictionalised extra chapters about the author’s life. (This and several other cases are in more detail discussed in the texts "Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices"(Whose book is it anyway),"The Piracy Project" (Archives of the commons II) "The Impermanent Book" (Rhizome).

The assumed authority of the author is for example turned inside out in the Piracy Project index catalog, which is written in collaboration with writer John Moseley, which is searchable online. Here the pirate is listed as author; the original author as source material.See online catalogue Could such re-editing practices be understood as expanded reference practice, such as quotation, citation, homage? In order to explore the different relationalities we developed over the course of the project a growing list of terms, such as borrowing, poaching, plagiarising, pirating, stealing, gleaning, referencing, leaking, copying, imitating, adapting, faking, paraphrasing, quoting, reproducing, using, counterfeiting, repeating, cloning, translating? All verbs (active words) that describe the range of relationships we build to somebody else's work. This list is also the title of a publication, the TPP edited and published in 2014 exploring each of these terms from different perspectives and fields of knowledge.[28]

Who has the right to be an author, copyright and IP

None of the cases contributed to TPP asked for authorisation from the author or publisher and we sometimes describe them as "unsolicited collaborations". The term collaboration refers to a relational activity and re-imagines authorship not as proprietary and stable, but as a dialogical and generative process – very much in the view framed by feminist legal scholar Carys Craig. She claims that ‘authorship is not originative but participative; it is not internal but interactive; it is not independent but interdependent. In short, a dialogic account of authorship is equipped to appreciate the derivative, collaborative, and communicative nature of authorial activity in a way that the Romantic (individual genius) account never can.’ [29] But there are limits to this dialogical approach, and Craig as a legal scholar refers to the complexities of intellectual property law. The law limits intertextual, relational practices , which I discuss in "Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices". And the law also aims to protect against predatory practices. The debate on the complexities of this binary conducted between legal scholars, Open Culture activists is fierce and ongoing and can not be discussed here in detail.

To define authorial originality in a derivative work, for example, has been the task of many court cases. And because copyright is case law, the verdicts are informed by many different factors. So this messiness and blurriness of the legal framework can create a climate of anxiety and subsequently self-censorship. You don’t do stuff, because you don’t know whether it might be interpreted as copyright infringement. This self-limiting instinct is documented well in "Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report", commissioned by the College Art Association in USA in 2014 [30], which I discuss in detail in the text "Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices".

To follow up on this really crucial point, we we organised a performative debate entitled "A Day at the Courtroom". It has been hosted by The Showroom in London during our one-year residency at the art space in 2013. For the debate we invited three critical copyright lawyers from different cultural and legal backgrounds to assess selected cases of TPP collection items in the eyes of the law. The advising scholars and lawyers were Lionel Bently (Professor of Intellectual Property at the University of Cambridge), Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento (Art and Law, New York), Prodromos Tsiavos (Head of Digital Development at the Onassis Cultural Centre Athens, at the time Legal Project Lead for Creative Commons, England, Wales and Greece). We were curious about this debate, in which each lawyer argued their legal perspective after which it was on the audience to speak the verdict. For the debate, we also replaced the “infringing” – “non infringing” binary with a colour scale from red (for illegal) to blue (for legal) and, again the audience was asked to pick the right spot and legal status of each discussed case.

The lawyers demonstrated, that for example one selected case would be regarded as Fair Use exception in Europe, but not in the United States. Lot’s of effort went into the discussion how “originality” is defined and what the criteria are for being granted the status of an “author”. In the case of "Suitcase Body is missing woman", one of the total of ten cases assessed in the debate, the lawyers raised the question, whether a person untrained in art could claim original artistic expression for their work. Another case, which discussed a clearly commercially motivated predatory publishing practice, by pulling content from a knowledge commons such as Wikipedia, was deemed legal. See the published debate here.[31]

Such events help us to collectively unpack the contested complexities within intellectual property law. But they also helped us to grasp the extent to which these policy debates, as well as the sheer use of the term “intellectual property”, has become so ubiquitous that it pervades our thinking and working and not least our social relationships.

The social agency of piracy

The media and communication scholar Ramon Lobato asks, whether the language of piracy used by the critical intellectual property discourse ‘should be embraced, rejected, recuperated or re-articulated’? He contends, that reducing ‘piracy’ to a mere legal category – a question of conforming or nonconforming with the law – tends to neglect the generative force of piracy practices, which ‘create (their) own economies, exemplify wider changes in social structure, and bring into being tense and unusual relationships between consumers, cultural producers and governments.’ [32]

Gary Hall discusses in his book "Pirate Philosophy, For a digital Posthumanities" the genealogy of the word pirate: "When the word pirate first appeared in ancient Greek texts, it was closely related to the noun ‘peira’ which means trial or attempt.[33] ‘The ‘pirate’ would then be the one who ‘tests’, ‘puts to proof', ‘contends with’, and ‘makes an attempt’. Further etymological research shows that from the same word root stems p i ra : experience, practice [πείρα], p i rama : experiment [πείραμα], p i ragma: teasing [πείραγμα] and pir a zo : tease, give trouble [πειράζω]. [34] This ‘contending with’, ’making an attempt’ and ‘teasing’ is at the core of The Piracy Project’s practice."

The power of framing and context

This "teasing, making an attempt contending with" happens firstly by asking people to make specific contributions to the piracy project and its context (library closure). It also happens through our own research into cases of book piracy elsewhere, and the understanding of their strategies and approaches and the (political) motivations for these acts. In so far as they fall into the category of of civil disobedience, these acts ask for careful discussion and framing, as any framing process is also a powerful meaning-making tool.

In the TPP reading rooms, which are open to the public, the books on the shelf need to be able to communicate on their own. Therefore we wrote for each book of the collection a “library card”. It functions partly as an index catalogue (which is also available online). But it foremost describes the books’ genesis. The card names the original source, the material properties of the pirate copy, what strategy has been used, who is the pirate, how it got into the collection. All in all it functions as an entry point to the book. At New York Art Book Fair, a librarian from Pratt institute stepped by our reading room every single day, because she was so fixed on the questions the books raise in respect to normative cataloguing and bibliography standards. Take Jaime Bayli’s “No se diga a nadie” for example. Who would be named as author? How can you pay justice to the complexity of the more than one “authorships” in this work?

The problem discussed earlier is that standard modes of classification use a controlled vocabulary. The most widespread standard classification systems (Dewey, Library of Congress) claim to be universal and neutral, so that everything can find its place within its structure. However we know that the organisation and framing of knowledge is not neutral and informs to a large degree, whether material is been found and if and how it is being read. To cut deeper into the questions around framing cases in our collection, we organised a workshop during the two-month reading room opened at Grand Union in Birmingham (6 December 2013 – 8 February 2014). Archivist Karen Di Franco helped us to collectively develop an alternative vocabulary by thinking through how selected cases operate. A set of useful new terms came up: “Unauthorised”, “Impersonated”, “Hijacked”, “Invisible/Ghost”, “Altruistic”, “Esoteric”, “Accidental”, “Communal”. [35]

On another instance, when a TPP reading room opened at Kunstverein Munich (7 – 28 November 2014), we looked for classification criteria, how to spatially organise the books. Parallel to the reading room we ran a two-week workshop visiting independent publishers, bookshops, archives and a copy shop in Munich, which all operated off mainstream practices and found alternative ways of distribution.[36] Correspondingly we organised the books on display in the Piracy Project Reading Room according to their modes of distribution:


• White Market

• Grey Market

• Black Market

• Archive as Distribution

• Print on demand

The White Market for books encompasses all legal and authorised distribution through traditional channels. The books in this selection have been produced through publishing houses, have ISBN numbers and are produced in higher quantities that allow for commercial distribution.

The Grey Market for books includes publications produced in higher edition numbers than the one circulating through specific, non-official networks. We included fanzines and artists’ books that are sold only at specialized shops in this section.

The Black Market for books encompasses distribution through illegal and unauthorised commercial channels. The books in this section were purchased at pirate markets and copy shops.

Archive As Distribution are examples of pirated books that are produced for archival reasons. They are out of circulation and were sent to us in order to remain accessible. We also gather here books that are one–offs, produced specifically for the Piracy Collection in response to our open call.

Print On Demand points to a new type of market. It produces books with a professional finish and ISBN number in potentially unlimited quantities that can circulate in mainstream commercial distribution channels. A book, produced through lulu.com, for example, will be a one-off until a second copy is purchased. Only then the second copy will be printed and shipped. Distribution triggers production, it defines the market dynamically. It allows books to oscillate between grey and white market zones in a seamless way.

These experiments in organising the collection were interesting, because they show the power of naming and framing. Depending on organising criteria, the collection can be explored in many different ways. Because there are many questions to be asked we keep changing the classification criteria, when we display the collection in public. Each time the collection appears in a new light, holding different questions and answers depending on what aspect we focus on. Thus the catalogue itself turns into a meaning-making structure.

However over the years we got more and more hesitant towards invitations to exhibit The Piracy Project. The institutional framework of exhibitions turned the reading rooms, which were meant as a starting point for collaboration and exchange, more and more into static exhibits for demonstration purposes.

With hindsight I have to say that the most productive public iterations were long-term reading rooms, which allowed for a series of accompanying workshops, events and debates. And the most generative time the TPP experienced during the student-led occupation at the Byam Shaw library. See a detailed description of the consequences of this shift of context from the daily encounters at the Byam Shaw School of Art to “touring” the collection to different art venues, after the art college library was eventually shut down, in the published presentation held at the international seminar "Archives of the Commons II - the Anomic Archive”, organised by Red Conceptualismos del Sur and Museo Nacional Reina Sofia Madrid. Read text here.

See a full list of lectures, workshops, debates and events here. [link]

5.4 Boxing and Unboxing

AND2 Marabouparken questions poster for exhibition 2018.png

Another experiment has taken place during AND's research residency at Marabouparken Konsthall in Stockholm in 2018 that is similarly concerned with questions of authorship, classification and relationality. However it is positioned outside the field of publishing and approaches these topics – through corporeality and bodily dialogue – within the realm of boxing.

Boxing is conventionally understood as a sport based on competition between two individuals who use physical force and technique to defeat one another in a combative situation in the ring. However, in the last few years a number of boxing clubs opened that are not fitness- or business-oriented but socially and politically motivated. “United Voices of the World Union”, a self-organised, London-based, campaigning migrant and precarious workers trade union has recently started boxing classes for its members. The organisation engages in physical protests, occupations and demonstrations stating: "The working class is kicking ass in court, in the workplace and in the ring[19]

Or take as another case in point 'Solstar' (short for Solidarity Star), a left-wing inclusive gym based in North London that is run by female coaches 'with the aim to build practical solidarity' by training together[20] offer boxing classes as a tool to fight police and right-wing aggression on the street. The organisation offers boxing classes as a tool to prepare members for self-defence to fight potential police and right-wing aggression on the street. One should also mention Shadow Sistxrs, a group of women of colour affiliated to 'gal-dem', a London based magazine run by women and non-binary people of colour to get independent from the representation through mainstream media. The organisation has started 'Shadow Sistxrs Fight Club' as a 'Physical & Meta-Physical Self-Defence class for women, Non-Binary folk, and QTIPOC witches'. The immediate trigger were attacks on women during night hours on the streets surrounding Haringey’s Warehouse District. [21]

These campaigns are not primarily based on traditional models of martial arts or gyms or on making a profit by fighting for the entertainment of others. Rather they provide an opportunity to learn self-defence, boost confidence and solidarity.

When we, AND Publishing (Rosalie Schweiker and Eva Weinmayr), were invited for a residency at Marabouparken Konsthall in Stockholm, we were curious, in what way boxing training could be a method to learn how to relate to each other. Could learning how to box expand our previous conceptions and experiences of collaboration and negotiation? Would it help to deal with conflict, anger and transgression? Could it provide insights into practices of care and support by learning about our physical and emotional boundaries? Or to borrow from Ar Parmacek: ”How can boxing, which is so focused on an individual fighting against another individual, survival of the fittest and fastest, be used as a feminist, and/or creative tool? Where can the methods and strategies learned from boxing be critically and successfully applied to art, to writing, and to activism, and where might they rather end up doing harm?” [37]

The Marabouparken Konsthall Guestroom programme "Acts of Self Ruin", informed by Leela Ghandi's book "The Common Cause" sets out to explore 'the struggle for collectivity and equality in an age of individualism'. The programme aims 'to support artist groups or collectives to develop new lines of inquiry over a three- month period and share these with a public through workshop and events'.[38]

Major concerns dawned on us while thinking this through. How can collectivity be made thriving by inviting for temporary residencies? By definition residencies dislocate a contextual and locally embedded practice in order to take residence in a new community. As artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, who developed several long-term and large-scale community-embedded projects, such as 'Philadelphia Assembled', pointed out in a public talk at Valand Academy in 2017: Projects aiming at meaningfully community building need at least a three year commitment. [39]

At Marabouparken our main questions were: how could we potentially approach a five-months residency (we were able to negotiate the duration being extend to five months), develop new strands of practice and work meaningfully with the local community – which was after all the desire clearly expressed by the Konsthall's curators? We started with (i) a set of questions, (ii) a draft document developing the terms and conditions of the collaboration with the institution and (iii) the idea to organise boxing classes for self-defining women as part of this residency.

The set of questions collated our each doubts, questions and interests on one page. It reflects our individual voices as well as our concerns with our collaborative practice within AND. Here is a glimpse at the list of points: "What does it mean to understand our work not as noun but as verb?" "Why do we NOT want a unified face?" "How can we subvert the social pressure to produce faces?" and "Who gives in? Who compromises? Who accommodates? Who cares? Who edits? Who organises? Who translates? Do we need a new, less tired and exclusive language to talk about all of this? And how do you document laughter?" [40]

The text specifying terms and conditions was an evolving document, informed by a dialogue between curator Jenny Richards and AND that has been revised several times throughout the residency in order to articulate and revise the expectations of the institution as well as those of the invited artists. It stated for example that the artists will be visible on their own terms. This is a stipulation that requests that the institution consults the artists as to how this project is to be made public through social media and press releases, as well as the way in which encounters with the general public are created. These agreements paid attention to the fact that institutions at times tend to co-opt and frame artistic work according to their habits and templates. The terms and conditions document provided some freedom and a sort of protection against enforced compromise potentially driven by institutional requirements for publicness and publicity.[41]

The idea of organising a boxing club emerged out of curiosity as to how boxing, when defined as physical play and not competition, might allow us to rehearse ways to relate to each other in other areas. Central to this undertaking was the shift in the concept of competition highlighted by Janet O'Shea. She observes in her book 'Making Play Work: Competition, Spectacle, and Intersubjectivity in Hybrid Martial Arts' that martial arts entail elements of competitive pleasure and competitive spectacle. Competitive spectacle hinges on outcome, i.e. winning or losing, she writes, whereas competitive play 'highlights the physical, contestatory, and exploratory interactions between people' a view that resists a 'societal overemphasis on winning' as too much attention to winning turns sports into work. [42]

It's interesting to connect these observations with questions on outcomes and authorship raised in other parts of this PhD inquiry - for instance in the book chapter 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices' - where the relationship between 'verb' (practice) and 'noun' (outcome), and the blockages produced by the demand for individually authored outcomes as well as regimes of ownership are examined. I was not initially aware of the actual affinities, overlap and connections to my overall PhD inquiry. However on reflection, it became apparent, that the way we organised and set up the boxing training, dealt with exploring the pleasure of competitive physical play while not buying into the notion of the fixed outcome such as fighting for victory or defeat.

Still competing without aiming at a win is a contradiction. In order to explore this contradiction we needed a specific set up: In terms of timing we scheduled a two-weeks intensive training program with boxing classes run every other day. We found two boxing instructors in Sofia Thorne and Airin Fardipour, both active in the Stockholm female boxing scene but both without much previous experience as coaches. Thus for them this project became a new strand in their range of practices rather than being a more-of-same routine they followed anyway day to day. By involving them, from the perspective of us learners, the authority of "the instructor" had been split across two instructing minds, bodies, voices and sets of abilities and expertise. It also solved the problem of language, as Sofia and Airin ran the classes bi-lingually in Swedish and English with Airin translating Sofia´s instructions into English. The choice of location was important, because we wanted to avoid the training program being framed as artwork, exhibition or performance. To reject this context, we moved the training classes to Project Playground, an after school club for youth refugees in Stockholm´s Hallonbergen district. The people behind Project Playground were interested to instigate more activities for females at their centre.

AND-Boxing poster 01.1.png
AND-boxing poster english.png

The training was free of charge and open to self-defining women and non-binary and trans folk of all ages above 16. People were invited to come through posters distributed in community centres, libraries in the Hallonbergen neighbourhood and across Stockholm. The announcements were published in English, Swedish, Arabic and Tigrinya to reach the various ethnicities living in the area. The number of trainees varied between twenty coming to the training unit and it levelled out over time to a group of 10-12 boxers in the subsequent sessions. The classes started with warm-ups, followed by rehearsing footwork and punches, learning defence moves, sparring with changing partners and the sessions often concluded with cardio fitness and subsequent fika in the 'girls room'[43]

We had to trust each other to stick to the rules. The rules were the basic agreement for getting into the gym room with people you have never met before and the intention to start punching each other. As O'Shea points out that 'Sports are games and games are about paradox. In a game we have a goal, but we have rules in play that make it harder to achieve that goal. We follow the rules in order to sustain the state of play, because it is enjoyable.' (reference)

Sparring for example illuminates the many ways in which bodily interaction differentiates itself from fight and violence. Part of the experimental learning in the boxing classes was that we constantly changed sparring partners, requiring an immediate adaptation to your partner's body size, weight, ability and tactics. It meant instantaneous navigation between your partners' vulnerability and force, fierceness and speed. O'Shea describes sparring as moments where 'nobody declares a winner, no-one keeps a score, nobody is watching. In sparring we compete without needing to win and can disagree with respect'. [44]

This is why I refer in the following to sparring partner and not opponent. The sparring can be described as an exercise of intersubjective exchange, a process of action and reaction, adaption and anticipation. This unconditional alertness to your partner's moves, either triggering attack or defence, constructs a unique interdependent relationship. It is as you were moving together. You are working together, while competing. For example we spent lots of time rehearsing defence tactics by learning to anticipate your partner´s moves to either block or evade it. There are, to give an example, two ways to confront a quick right hand jab: you either block it with your gloved fist or underarm or you duck under it letting it hit the void. The exhilaration I personally experienced during the sparring sessions, had to do with the necessity to act on your feet. The mantra of our boxing teacher was: 'Don't overthink. Be present. Always maintain eye contact with your opponent. Stay focussed.' Indeed the moment you were trying to make sense of what is happening you get dragged away and miss out. The intensity and immediacy of this constant adjusting and adapting, with body and mind, requires your presence in the moment.

On the mat, it did not matter who you are, who your parents are, where you were born, what colour your skin is or what you have achieved in your profession, what your identity, merits, class, profession and authority are. You left all this in the changing room and were equalised counterparts. Artist Anna Zett describes this loss of predefined identity in her film 'Theory of Everything (Circuit Training)' as "I have no name, no gender, I do not listen to anyone´s prayers, I speak no language, I have no genealogy"[22] Instead, what matters in this moment is your vulnerability and your ability to interact with your partner. [45]

'Leaving everything behind' meant for us, the artist organisers, that we did not take on the role and the related authority of the artist-curator. This liberating moment allowed us to be equal learners on the gym mat and to hand over the responsibility to the boxing teachers. Actually it hardly occurred to anyone in the boxing class, that the training was organised and funded by an art institution. We introduced the project as part of Marabouparken Guestroom residency, and were keen to keep this experiment as autonomous as possible, because – as already said -- we were wary of it becoming an "art piece" with all its complicated framing and conceptual load.

We wanted to create an opportunity of learning something new, which turned into a moment of beginning – not just for us, the organisers, but also for all participants. In their written feedback some articulated how important it was, to be invited into this safe space in order to learn something new and not easily accessible, since boxing still is pretty much a male and macho dominated sport. (Female boxing was first included in the London Summer Olympics in 2012.)

It seems paradoxical, but in my experience, the boxing classes, the playful and combative contact between each other yielded an extraordinary sense of trust, communality and support without knowing each other.

"Throughout the entire period of boxing training, the excited atmosphere of beginning affected every-thing. Even as someone who observed for the most part, I felt that I was in the middle of a beginning of something every session. In the beginning of a collective and individual learning experience, witnessing other’s beginnings; beginning to box, beginning to know each other, beginning to get to know the space, and so on.
I realise how much I miss this particular joy. How rare it is, at least in adult life, to access the joy of beginning something, be it a skill, a friendship, taking a route to a new place, seeing a new part of the city, etc. etc. This also made me think about how beginnings like these are full of joy because they are still open. Roles haven’t yet been 100% cemented. (Maybe they can’t solidify for as long as the beginning and position of beginner lasts? The cemented roles in other words, mark the end of a beginning?) Activities haven’t yet become laden with expectations of advancing, of growing pressure. Professionalism. These things circulate, hover above our heads, for sure, but it feels like as long as the beginning state is present they can’t take over. Being a beginner in this context allowed for mistakes and for laughter, not sideways glances or reprimands."[37]

The laughter was indeed a dominating noise in the space throughout the classes. An observation that let's me revisit one of the initial questions: 'How do you document laughter?' The 'Boxing and Unboxing' calendar is an attempt to capture this experience of exhilaration and communality. It is an experiment to find 'a less tired language to talk about all this' and serves at the same time as a boxing guide to memorise the moves and punches we had learned. The collages, produced by the boxers capture the spirit of these classes. See images from AND's Boxing and Unboxing calendar.

Web-AND-calendar-01.jpg












Notes section [5] Reflection, theorisation of projects
  1. During the Critical Practice conference, for example, held at Valand Academy to mark the 150 years anniversary of art education in Gothenburg - the keynote speaker happened to reference in his contribution exclusively well-known and acknowledged white Western male authors, artists and theorists.
  2. "Women too, people of colour too, might cite white men: to be you have to be in relation to white men (to twist a Fanonian point). Not to cite white men is not to exist; or at least not to exist within this or that field" Sara Ahmed, "White Men" [7]11.April 2014
  3. Sara Ahmed, "Making Feminist points", [8], 13 September 2013
  4. To use this anecdote from my immediate context in order to prove a claim might seem problematic. It serves as a marker. It might not be the one I use at the end, but I leave it for now.
  5. For example one of the ideas during the planning period of the press was to introduce a female citation policy, that is a certain percentage of writings published references female authors, an idea which could legally not implemented as a policy, but is an underlying topic within the editorial board. Read the interview
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wellmon, Chad and Piper, Andrew "Publication, Power, Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing" in Critical Inquiry, 21 July 2017,[accessed 30 July 2017].
  7. As Wellmon and Piper point out "universities were often closely associated with high status families that used their contacts with kings, princes, and government officials to exercise influence over appointments and advancements. Universities in Gießen, Marburg, and Tübingen remained under the influence of such familial networks well into the nineteenth century", passing on faculty chairs within familial or other personal networks.
  8. Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, "Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life"Princeton, N.J., 2011,p.60 (pp. 23–79)
  9. Gayatri Spivak, The Post-Colonial Critic – Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues, edited by Sarah Harasym, New York, London, 1990, p.17.19.
  10. See proposed study rules [here]. École de Recherche Graphique, Brussles
  11. The events marking the 150 include 'Critical Practices: Education from Arts and Artists Conference' convened by Mick Wilson at Valand Academy (October 2015) and the 'Meaning Making Meaning' exhibition curated by Gabo Camnitzer at A-venue (March 2016) in Gothenburg.
  12. At this point, working towards a defined goal – the mobilisation was conceived to mark the closing of Valand Academy's 150th anniversary events – the group had shrunk to only six people, consisting of students, teachers and one administrator: Andreas Engman, Eva Weinmayr, Gabo Camnitzer, Kanchan Burathoki, Mary Coble and Rose Borthwick.
  13. Download glossary here.
  14. Mary Douglas, How Institutions Think, Syracus University Press, 1986. See also How Institutions Think, edited by Paul O'Neill, Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2017. The book takes its title from Mary Douglas book and reflects on 'how institutions inform art, curatorial, educational, and research practices as much as they shape the world around us'. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-institutions-think.
  15. We also discussed in a meeting with the prefect possible precedences, such as Serpentine Gallery Marathon in London in order to have arguments in the case the superordinate university procurement would ask questions.
  16. Read interview with Hajar Alsaidan, one of Hoppet’s founding sisters, about how Hoppet started, the foundations of the organisation and food, feminism, precarity and women’s liberation in Let's Mobilze: What is Feminist Pedagogy workbook [9]
  17. For example just three days before the event we received an email from an administrator stating that preparing food for 120 people in the academy building (iii) would breach Health and Safety regulations of the university. Two days later another administrator brought us – as a acknowledging and supportive gesture – a monstrous squash vegetable home-grown in her own garden to cook for the communal dinner.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Andrea Francke, Ross Jardine in "Bureaucracy’s Labour: The Administrator as Subject in 'Management', Parse issue 5
  19. Dean Spade, "Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law", 2nd edition. Durham: Duke University Press Books. 2015.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 In this text, written one year after the event, the working group reflected on the process, hopes, and results of the mobilisation by revisiting and commenting on the original text "Mapping the concepts and ways of working for Let's Mobilize." published in September 2016 in 'Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy workbook'. Download draft text.
  21. "MFK Manual", Johanna Gustavsson, Lisa Nyberg, Malmö Free University for Women, 2011
  22. Jo Freeman, „The Tyranny of Structurelessness, Why organisations need some structure to ensure they are democratic", 1972, http://struggle.ws/hist_texts/structurelessness.html.
  23. “I do always wonder how as hosts, undertaking so much care work and logistical preparations, we are able to engage with everyone and the discussions without burning out?” Frances Stacey, Collective Gallery Edinburgh, email 1.5.2017
  24. "First of all, I want to express my deep gratitude and joy for the Femped mobilization. Thank you for arranging this fantastic event! It was inviting, relaxed, intelligent, critical, playful, generous. It was also wonderful to meet all these people in this setting - I think it made everyone go off-guard. Even though the atmosphere was friendly and allowing, there was also room for criticality - especially during the Thursday session before lunch. That was very valuable! [...] If femped is to serve as a role model for the Academy - and in many regards it should - I cannot stress enough that the work required to arrange an event needs to be acknowledged by the institution as work. Anything else is unsustainable, unethical and excluding. To define what work is and how it is valued has occupied feminism for decades." Ann-Charlotte Glasberg Blomquist, Lecturer Valand Academy, email 15.11.2016
  25. https://www.art-agenda.com/shows/and-publishing-announces-the-piracy-lectures/
  26. It might be no coincidence that Roland Barthes’ seminal short essay 'Death of the Author’ is published in Aspen Magazine in 1967, the same time, when the Xerox photocopy machine have become widely used in libraries and offices. See Eva Hemmungs Wirtén "The Death of the Author and the Killing of Books: Assault by Machine", in "No Trespassing, Authorship, Intellectual Property Rights and the Boundaries of Globalization", pp.57-75, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004
  27. Hemmungs-Wirten, Eva. "No Trespassing, Authorship, Intellectual Property Rights and the Boundaries of Globalization", Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004 and Marshall McLuhan, ‘Address at Vision 65, New Challenges for Human Communications’, Southern Illinois University, 21-23 October 1965, in McLuhan, E. and Zingrone, F. (eds) 'Essential McLuhan', New York: BasicBooks, pp. 216, 1995.
  28. In an open-ended reader, published by AND publishing in 2014, each of these terms will be explored from different perspectives and fields of knowledge. "Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating" [10] is an open ended book, that develops as people buy shares in selected chapters exploring one of these terms. [Explain funding, production model]
  29. , p.246) Carys J. Craig, "Symposium: Reconstructing the Author-Self: Some Feminist Lessons for Copyright Law", American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law . 15, no. 2, 2007.
  30. Aufderheide, Patricia, Jaszi, Peter, Bello, Bryan. Milosevic, Tijana, Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report (New York: College Art Association, 2014).
  31. See "A Day at the Courtroom", the published transcript of this debate in the reader "Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating", ed Andrea Francke & Eva Weinmayr, London: AND Publishing, pp.91-133, 2014. Download book
  32. Ramon Lobato, ‘The Paradoxes of Piracy’, in Lars Eckstein, Anja Schwarz (eds) Postcolonial Piracy: Media Distribution and Cultural Production in the Global South (London, New York: Bloomsbury, 2014) p.121,123.
  33. Daniel Heller-Roazen, The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations, (New York: Zone Books, 2009) p.35.
  34. ‘Etymology of Pirate’, in English Words of (Unexpected) Greek Origin , 2 March 2012, <http://ewonago.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/etymology-of-pirate> [accessed 14 February 2018].
  35. Karen Di Franco, 'Putting the Piracy Collection on the shelf' published in "Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating", ed Andrea Francke & Eva Weinmayr, London: AND Publishing, pp 77-90, 2014.
  36. See publication documenting this local archive research here.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Ar Parmacek, 'Boxing and Unboxing Calendar', London: AND Publishing, 2018
  38. Marabouparken’s Research Theme (2017-2019) was describes as: "Acts of Self Ruin is a two year research programme at Marabouparken, exploring the struggle for collectivity and equality in an age of individualism. Through a range of activities including exhibitions, residencies and a public programme, we will explore acts in which communities and individuals have put themselves at risk or ruin in the pursuit of other ways of living, or in pursuit of equality and solidarity. Acts that might produce shame or embarrassment in their deviation from existing hierarchies: acts of communal inefficiency of professional disloyalty, of solidarity with a persecuted colleague or the rejection of national identity. The research investigates not only overtly public political acts but also personal acts of self ruin. In what ways do we unlearn the encouraged subconscious individualistic ideology and its inherent classist, racist and sexist perpetuations? Acts of Self Ruin is a concept explored by Leela Gandhi in her book The Common Cause (2014) and informs this inquiry. The book proposes different forms of solidarity and community developed through acts of self-ruination. Acts aimed at making common the cause between individuals across cultural, political and class divides." [11]
  39. Jeanne van Heeswijk is an artist who facilitates the creation of dynamic and diversified public spaces in order to “radicalize the local.” Her long-scale community-embedded projects question art’s autonomy by combining performative actions, discussions, and other forms of organizing and pedagogy in order to enable communities to take control of their own futures.[12]
  40. published on the website and exhibited as A0 poster in the space
  41. One of the main conversations was how the "development of a new strand of practice" can be framed or made visible before the actual experiment unfolds. The problem addressed here is that often the framing prior to the experiment shapes what is possible in the experiment. We were keen to leave this as open as possible. facebook, announcements, work in progress, images.... Had a say in the facebook posts, all announcements and the way information about the project was shared. This is not common within art institutions. The Barbican in London for example....
  42. Janet o'Shea 'Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training', Oxford University Press, 2018 
  43. Ibid. See Ar Parmacek's reflection on the gendered interior design of the youth club.
  44. Janet o'Shea refers in this TED talk at UCLA California to sparring as technique to learn to compete and collaborate at the same time. [13]
  45. This does not apply to the history of professional championship boxing. In the UK Winston Churchill in his role as home secretary called of the interracial fight between black British boxer Jack Johnson and his white British contender Billy Wells, due to anxieties over the fitness of the White race playing into imperial concerns about the consequences of a black fighter defeating a white one. This resulted in a colour bar 1911-1948, where Black British boxer were allowed to fight for the British Empire title, but not for the British Championship title, even when they were born in Britain.

6 Analysis

This section provides an analysis of the range of projects carried out and how they produce insights into the coercive reciprocal relationship between authorship, authorisation and authority. This section shifts from disclosing and discussing the works as self-contained entities to distilling a range of topics that connect these practices conceptually. The reflections and theorisations presented in the sections above describe a set of durational practice-based projects concerned with modes of doing and working together. They disclose the method, the context, the rationale and the aim of each project – i.e. why and how the individual actors or collaborating teams approached their practice and how these projects developed over time.

The analysis in this section 6 deliberates on the conditions and blockages that have been the starting point of my works as well as on the respective moves and attempts to deploy counter-strategies for intersectional feminist knowledge practices. Intersectionality here is understood as assertion that oppressions (based in racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. Critical intersectional feminist knowledge practices have, by now, been proven to provide valuable conceptual and practical tools with which to focus on inclusivity as outlined by many feminist de-colonial practitioners and scholars. Sarah Ahmed and Gayatry Spivak for example provide an intersectional critique of the universalising concepts of authorship presented by French philosophers Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes, as discussed below.

However the aim of this section is to expand our understanding of authorship by investigating the coercive reciprocity between concepts of authorship, authorisation and authority and this triangulation's impact on intersectional feminist knowledge practices.

The function of this section in the overall kappa [1] is to produce intellectual insights into the complexities and double-binds of collective, open and de-colonial knowledge practices by making connections between the various experiments carried out and concepts found elsewhere, such as in feminist intersectional theory, de-colonial theory, sociology, philosophy, media theory and radical pedagogy.

Inevitably, such an evaluation goes along with a personal framing process in that I pick a certain perspective to describe the practice-based parts, many of them collaborations. Including such collaborations with actors, who are not or decided to be not part of the academic field into a PhD inquiry that is supposed to present an individual and original contribution to knowledge, brings tensions and a degree of incommensurateness. One contradiction that immediately springs to the mind is that these practices are carried out in collaboration, but here in the PhD submission it would be again the individual, that is me, framing and historicising these practices for posteriority.

Choosing the format of a wiki that presents a production and dissemination platform at the same time, offers the possibility to present a set of observations, decisions, and cuts (as Karen Barad, Sarah Kember and Johanna Zylinska put it) and multiply the number of those being able to make cuts. This is an acknowledgement of the political and ethical responsibility of making cuts. By inviting my collaborators, who have a stake in the collaborative practices and peers who are invested in their theorisation to make these cuts I aim to experiment with (or propose) a different form of feminist intersectional knowledge practice.

authorisation. extra-disciplinary research


Choosing a wiki seems to me a way out of this dilemma, as it offers the possibility to invite other voices to add different perspectives and observations to my inquiry. This method could potentially open up in several ways existing norms of doctoral research in artistic practice. First it would provide a progressive and transparent method of peer review. Such open, online peer review processes have been employed by several scholars in the humanities. See Kathleen Fitzpatricks open peer review experiment based on the online annotation app' hypothesis' discussed below. But secondly the wiki as co-authoring platform is conceptually connected with the core of my inquiry around authorship, authorisation and authority and could potentially create some productive friction with the standard parameters of PhD examination based on individual performance.

Yet the wiki approach bears potential tensions and conflicts, which I need to address. By using this wiki as a method to write the thesis, the PhD writing itself turns into an experiment, as it might become – in the end – a collectively authored document. But is this really possible?

Published chapter 'Library Underground – a reading list for a coming community', in Publishing as Artistic Practice, Annette Gilbert (ed.), Berlin/New York, Sternberg, 2016
The Piracy Project, 'The Impermanent Book', Rhizome, 2012
Andrea Francke and Eva Weinmayr (eds.), 'Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating', London, AND Publishing 2014

I have previously co-authored texts. The essay 'The Impermanent Book' for Rhizome magazine, which reflects on the book as temporary stabilisation, for example, is a text that was knocked into shape by mutual revision between Andrea Francke and myself. Andrea drafted the bulk of it and I critically reviewed it by adding and removing parts and attempting to clarify our claims and positions. Because we were working so closely together, the writing process itself turned into a dialogue. Though it is a dialogue whose contributors and contributions remain eventually invisible to the reader as The Piracy Project stands in as collective author supplanting individual voices. While co-authored texts often enter into dialogue with the reader, they do not necessarily transmit the dialogues that led to their production and they offer a consolidated version of different voices streamlined into one voice.

In an attempt to practice Jean Luc Nancy's claim that '[b]eing with, being together and even being ‘united’ are precisely not a matter of being ‘one’[2], we experimented for the next co-authored text, the introduction for the book Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Translating, Cloning, – with the form of a written dialogue. [3] This literary format allowed us to present disagreements, without consolidating each our voices and different thinking stances into one uniform text. [Here more about Nancy's, 'Being Singular Plural']

Another experiment to find a less authoritative form of writing is presented in the text 'Library Underground – a reading list for a coming community', published by Sternberg Press in 2016. It takes the form of a conversation between the author, Eva Weinmayr with her Inner Voice. Without delivering clear-cut arguments and a linear thesis, the dialogue meanders through the history of underground dissemination of books, reflections on the constraints of institutional libraries and an evaluation of the backgrounds (thinking, motivations) of the radical librarian movement. Or take the pamphlet accompanying my installation of the 'Library of Omissions and Inclusions' at the Venice Biennale, that is written in an epistolary form to reflect on why the library is displayed as photographic representation and not through actual books. The pamphlet discusses curator Anthony Huberman's reflections that much of the difficulty with making an exhibition lies in the fact that to extract something from normal circulation – an object, image, practice, or idea – to interrupt it, examine it, and exhibit it, amounts to doing it great injustice. (Huberman reference)

While the latter two examples are visibly individually authored and employ an experimental literary form, the collectively authored texts are instances where the process of writing itself constitutes a dialogue and the resulting publications are not necessarily an end product trying to convince someone of something, but rather a method of 'working towards establishing conditions for the co-production of meaning'[4]

[Here perhaps Deleuze, Parnett, Dialogues II: 'An effect, an zigzag, something which passes or happens between two.']

That writing together is a method to make discoveries is best demonstrated in 'Revisiting Let's Mobilize' (working title). It was drafted collectively by the Feminist Mobilisation working group in 2017 in order to revisit a collectively authored earlier text 'Mapping the concepts and ways of working for Let's Mobilize' published in 2106.[5] This forthcoming text revisits the working group's initial ideas and claims by way of a multi-layered commentary. Such non-linear literary experiments have been employed for instance by Pierre Bayle's Historical and Critical Dictionary (1737) and Arno Schmitt's Zettel's Dream (1970). Instead of developing a linear and clear-cut argument, the working group revisited the original text, in order to reflect on the initial plans, hopes and desires. Did it work out as we intended? The method of multi-layered commentary allowed us to let each others' comments, thoughts and reflections stand for themselves without necessarily agreeing on them.

Draft chapter, Andreas Engman, Eva Weinmayr, Mary Coble, Rose Borthwick 'Revisiting Let’s Mobilize', in Decolonialism after the educational turn, (forthcoming).

We gave commentary on each other’s comments, thus creating a densely layered dialogue, an interwoven fabric of claims, statements, observations and doubts. We copy-edited the different passages to a certain extent, but did not try to consolidate the observations into one voice. This strategy of co-authoring attempts to present collective work not as unified voice, but reflects Nancy's claim of 'collectivity in difference'. [6] If we understand collectivity as 'multiple single' as Nicholas Thoburn proposes, the 'individual and collective are no longer placed in a dichotomous relation, for the dichotomy is undone along with the terms that it produces, as each individual or, as we can now call it, singular instance is a product of collective relations, and each collectivity is constituted through its singular and various manifestations.'[7]

My question however is: Can we actually work collectively, when we operate under meritocratic systems of governance, based on identifiable authorship, as they are commonly applied in universities and academic contexts? As media scholar Kathleen Fitzpatrick observes:

[H]owever much we might reject individualism as part and parcel of the humanist, positivist ways of the past, our working lives—on campus and off—are overdetermined by it. […] Always, always, in the hidden unconscious of the profession, there is competition: for positions, for resources, for acclaim. And the drive to compete […] bleeds out into all areas of the ways we work, even when we’re working together.’ The competitive individualism that the academy cultivates makes all of us painfully aware that even our most collaborative efforts will be assessed individually, with the result that even those fields whose advancement depends most on team-based efforts are required to develop careful guidelines for establishing credit and priority.[8]

Fitzpatrick’s working method with her forthcoming book Generous Thinking The University and the Public Good presents an interesting alternative to standard procedures in scholarly publishing. She published the draft of her book online, inviting readers for comments. Could this potentially become a model for multiple authorship practice in academia? Or could it at least present an experimental, open and constructive method of peer review? [reference to problems of standard peer review procedures]

However it seems to me that, while Fitzpatrick experiments with open forms of writing and peer review mechanisms, she does not necessarily exercise collective authorship. In the end, I speculate, it comes down to her individual selective authority that decides which comments and critique to incorporate and which to neglect, which would amount to a clear authorial position.

Anonymous Authorship

What Fitzpatrick describes seems to emerge as a key dilemma of my inquiry. In the text 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices', published in the forthcoming anthology Whose Book is it Anyway?A View From Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity, I reflect on the legal, economic and institutional construction of authorship and ownership by examining artistic challenges to copyright, such as conducted by Richard Prince, Cady Noland and the Piracy Project.

Upon finishing this investigation I wonder how I could escape this institutional construction of authorship that is based on individual merit and constitutes the prerequisite for professional survival in academia. This question is based on the fact that the text results from a five-year collaborative practice with innumerable contributors and supporters. In the closing paragraph of the text, therefore, I am asking what would happen, if I did not assign my name to the text, if it went un-authored so to speak. The question was: could taking the plunge into anonymous collectivity be useful to enact practically my thinking and reflections? I cite from the text

I was interested how such a text orphan could circulate at all within existing research dissemination infrastructures: 'For example how would bibliographers catalogue such a text? How could it be referenced and cited? And how would it live online with respect to search engines, if there is no searchable name attached to it? Most of our current research repositories don’t allow the upload of author-less texts, instead returning error messages: ‘The author field must be completed’. Or they require a personalised log-in, which automatically tags the registered username to the uploaded text. What if I used a pseudonym, a common practice throughout literary history? Multiple identity pseudonyms, such as ‘Karen Eliot’ or ‘Monty Cantsin’ used by the Neoist movement in the 1980s and 1990s could be interesting as they provide a joint name under which anybody could sign her or his work without revealing the author’s identity. The strategy of using multi-identity avatars is currently practiced by a decentralised, international hacktivist collective that operates under the label of ‘Anonymous’. The ‘elimination of the persona [of the author], and by extension everything associated with it, such as leadership, representation, and status, is’, according to Gabriella Coleman, ‘the primary ideal of Anonymous.’ [9]
What if we adopted such models for academia? If we unionised and put in place a procedure to collectively publish our work anonymously, for example under a multi-identity avatar instead of individual names – how would such a text, non-attributable as it is, change the policies of evaluation and assessment within the knowledge economy? Would the lack of an identifiable name allow the text to resist being measured as (or reduced to) a quantifiable auditable ‘output’ and therefore allow the issue of individualstic authorship to be politicised? Or would it rather, as an individual and solitary act, be subjected – again – to the regimes of individualisation? It seems that only if not assigning individual authorship became a widespread and unionised practice, procedures could be put in place that acknowledged non-authored, collective, non-competitive practices.[10]


[Anonymous authorship has a long tradition and has been a topic for many scholars, writers and artists. The following list of references is merely a draft collection of some contexts for anonymous authorship. Not yet elaborated.]

  • In the context of censorship and oppressive regimes:

Example: Marx' anonymously authored texts, for example the 'Communist Manifesto'. Marx quote about anonymity of the press: 'So long as the press was anonymous it appeared as the organ of a public opinion without number or name; it was the third power of the state. With the signature of each article a newspaper became merely a collection of journalistic contributions by more or less well-known individuals. Every article sank to the level of an advertisement.' [11]

  • collective pseudonyms as anarchic tactic or feminist anarchic tactic:

Example: The Anonymous movement 'The refusal of roles and identities in favour of anonymity and pseudonym is a recurrent tactic within anarchist and ultraleft prorevolutionary milieus.'[12] Example: Luther Blisset, Karen Eliot, Monty Cantsin, Comité (Blanchot) Example: See Red Women's Workshop: 'Who holds the pencil, somebody must hold the pencil?' Also: Thoburn about collective pseudonyms – 'if we understand it less as a resource available to be tapped than as a construction that arises in practices that undo the partial individual and the social forms that produce and sustain it. Here the individual and the collective are no longer placed in a dichotomous relation, for the dichotomy is undone along with the terms that it produces, as each individual or, as we can now call it, singular instance is a product of collective relations, and each collectivity is constituted through its singular and various manifestations. As Luther Blissett puts it, the collective pseudonym is the production of a “multiple single” within and against the partial mode of being of the individual.' (Thurburn, Anti-book, p.38)

  • as literary concept: Gerrard Genet (Paratext)
  • a foundational, transindividual anonymity

Example: 'Virginia Woolf: 'The voice that broke the silence of the forest was the voice of Anon. Some one heard the song and remembered it for it was later written down, beautifully, on parchment. Thus the singer had his audience, but the audience was so little interested in his name that he never thought to give it. The audience was itself the singer.'[13]

Also to note: Woolf about about anonymity and print: 'Print is a destructive medium. Printed books can record the past existence of anonymous texts in published works of fable — they can "preserve" anonymity — but they cannot create it.'(Woolf) 'Woolf here locates creative expression not in a self-present subject, and in the correlated separation of a creative subject from an audience, but in a foundational, transindividual anonymity'.(Thoburn)


It does matter who is speaking, a feminist, de-colonial perspective

While anonymity, as Nicholas Thoburn and John Cunningham point out can have a tactical value in confronting the 'individuating apparatus at play in textual media', (reference Thoburn) such as publishing, there is a different consideration, which complicates the argument – this time from a feminist and de-colonial perspective.

Proponents of poststructuralism, in particular Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault propose 'The Death of the Author', as a critique of the romantic (originary) author, which is theorised by feminist and poststructuralist thinkers likewise. (The romantic model of authorship and its effect on the construction of copyright, and vice-versa, has been discussed in detail in my text 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices'. xxxxx

Barthes critiques that 'the explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of fiction, the voice of a single person, the author "confiding" in us' (Barthes, p. 143).

Michel Foucault also announces the death of the author in 'What is an Author?' and emphasises the status of authorship as a discursive function.'The author-function is therefore characteristic of the mode of existence, circulation, and functioning of certain discourses within society' (Foucault 1980, p. 148) He claims that authorship (the attachment of a proper name) limits this function due to its classificatory effect and proposes the effacement of the writing subject's individual characteristics. (Foucault 1980, p. 143) He argues,'the mark of the writer is reduced to nothing more than the singularity of his absence; he must assume the role of the dead man in the game of writing'(Foucault 1980, p. 143)

Sara Ahmed points out that Foucault's emphasis on authorship as a function and effect separates the issue of authorship from the individual writer or producer of a text, as Foucault explicitly argues that the author function, 'does not refer purely and simply to a real individual' (Foucault 1980: 153). Ahmed raises the question of 'the relation between the author function and this 'real individual' or, at least, the specific or particular subject who writes'. (Ahmed, p.124) She asks: 'If the relation between the author-function and a 'real individual' does not take the form of pure and simple reference, then what form does it take? How does the individual or empirical writing subject participate in the institution of authorship?' (Ahmed, p.124)

What Ahmed picks up here with 'empirical writing subject' is Foucault's tendency towards a certain universalism expressed as 'indifference'.

All discourses, whatever their status, form, value, and whatever the treatment to which they will be subjected, would then develop the anonymity of a murmur. We would no longer hear the questions that have been rehashed for so long: `Who really spoke? Is it really he and not someone else? With what authenticity or originality? And what part of his deepest self did he express in his discourse?' Instead, there would be other questions, like these: `What are the modes of existence of this discourse? Where has it been used, how can it circulate, and who can appropriate it for himself ? What are the places in it where there is room for possible subjects?' And behind all these questions, we would hear hardly anything but the stirring of an indifference: 'What difference does it make who is speaking?' (Foucault 1980, 160)


I would argue with Sara Ahmed, 'that the 'who' does make a difference, not in the form of an ontology of the individual, but as a marker of a specific location from which the subject writes.' Foucault's critique of authorship certainly helps to politicise authorship, but it leans towards a (Western) universalism, which is from a feminist and postcolonial perspective problematic. As Ahmed suggests 'an alternative critical project would not be indifferent to empirical authors, as the `who' that writes, but would document how the event of writing participates (by both supporting and complicating) in the structural and institutional relation of authorship itself'. (Ahmed, p. 125) Foucault's questions about modes of discourses and the terms under which they circulate would then lead to the importance of recognising the difference of the 'who' that writes. That would also complicate Foucault's own position as authorial subject. Quoting Naomi Schor and Gayatri Spivak, Sara Ahmed suggests, that ‘Foucault effaces the sexual specificity of his own narrative and perspective as a male philosopher. The refusal to enter the discourse as an empirical subject, a subject which is both sexed and European (Spivak), may finally translate into a universalising mode of discourse, which negates the specificity of its own inscription (as a text)’. [14]

Ahmed points out: ‘The universalism of the masculine perspective relies precisely on being disembodied, on lacking the contingency of a body. A feminist perspective would surely emphasise the implication of writing in embodiment, in order to re-historicise this supposed universalism, to locate it, and to expose the violence of its contingency and particularity (by declaring some-body wrote this text, by asking which body wrote this text).’ (Ahmed, p. 123)

[Gayatri Spivak for example insists on marking the positionality of a speaking subject in order to account for the often unacknowledged Eurocentrism of Western philosophy –– Needing to read more Spivak here.]

Rumour as Media

I am not quite sure yet how this adds to the discussion, however there is an interesting aspect about authorship in rumour studies. Sociologist, writer and curator Maria Berrios for example talks in a conversation with Jakob Jakobson about Invisibility and the power of the unmarked in relation to rumour. She says

'Rumours have to do with orality and oral cultures in which things are not written down. They can be understood as this formless noise that is continuously floating on the surface of the social in the sense that they never become fixed, they never become a specific form, or become a specific story. They are always in the process of becoming, and in this way they are invisible, ungraspable, unmarked.'[15] And curator Stephen Wright describes rumour as 'characterised by its indeterminacy – its basic anonymity and lack of identifiable source or authentication protocol'. [...] At the same time, rumours are always context specific. A rumour “flies” in one context though it would never leave the ground in another. This context specificity is linked to rumour’s indeterminacy. In short, precisely because it is by definition unauthored ...[ and this is what] makes rumour so impossible to suppress or control. [16]

The Quote as Dissemination

Limits of Openness, Co-option (this is a draft collection of thoughts)

Co-option is an underlying topic in the majority of the projects of this inquiry. It's connection to authorship, openness, commons and community and the various moral and ethical implications need to be unpicked.

  • It is at the heart of the Piracy Project 'cases' in the collection which vary immensely in their motivations: ranging from creative appropriation, critical rewriting to political activism and acts of civil disobedience (in order to circumvent enclosures such as censorship and market monopolies) to acts of piracy generated by commercial interests. Here the question of co-ption and ethics is key.
  • It is a topic at 'Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?', when there were indications that the institution co-opts such critical activities in order to demonstrate its own criticality without following up on issues. For instance the appropriation of image material taken out of context for promotional purposes of the academy.
  • Co-option was the starting point to write, publish and perform the play 'Downing Street' (New Documents, Los Angeles 2015).
  • Co-option is topic in the chapter 'Help! David Cameron Likes my Art' in Distributed (Open Editions, London, 2018) which reflects on the events and agonies brought about by the UK Government Art Collection’s acquisition of my art work ’Today’s Question’ and its subsequent loan to Samantha and David Cameron for their private residence at Downing Street, then Prime Minister of the UK.
  • MuseumsJournal 2018 cover.jpg
    Villa Aurora-1998-2.jpeg
    Villa Aurora-1998-3.jpeg

Co-option is also at the centre in a recent discovery, which I plan to address as part of this inquiry. Artistic interventions I had anonymously carried out as a guest at 'Villa Aurora' in 1996, have been prominently featured in the cover of the 'Exile', issue 1/2018 of the MuseumsJournal Berlin Potsdam [17], and attributed to German dramaturgist Heiner Müller. The artistic intervention consists of modifications of the numerous fire escape 'EXIT' signs in the villa into 'EXIL' (German for exile) via white and green coloured sticky tape. Villa Aurora, today a German cultural institute hosting fellowships in art, literature, film and architecture, was bought by German writer Lion Feuchtwanger and his wife Martha during their exile from Nazi Germany and was their home until their death. I was visiting the villa not as an official fellow, but as a guest of the then artist fellow and friend Daniela von Waberer. Therefore my stay, and with it my site-specific intervention, was not officially registered. The magazine article which narrates the history of Villa Aurora and the lives of the writers in exile (next to Feuchtwangers there were Bert Brecht, Thomas Mann, Arnold Schönberg, Vicky Baum in the exile community of Pacific Palisades) praises Heiner Müller's multilayered and subtle approach to this (my) work. I am not upset about this falsely attributed authorship. I have not attributed my name to it. However what will be interesting to find out, is, how such an attribution has actually taken place. Heiner Müller has been at the villa in 1995, two years before my stay, and has died shortly after. He therefore is unable to comment and cannot clarify this posthumous attribution. What is most interesting to me: how are such myths created? It is perhaps intentional fabrication? Why is it so much more attractive to attribute this unconfirmed origin work to 'one of the most important German language dramaturgist in the second half of the 20th century' as the German Wikipedia lists Müller, instead to the visiting girlfriend of the cousin of a former Villa Aurora fellow? Why had there not been any serious research conducted regarding the origin of this work? Why was an unchecked myth swiftly embraced, repeated and proliferated by a journalist? I will look into the trajectory and origin of this myth.

  • The second case, which need more investigation and discussion is a protracted case of false attribution concerning Keep it Complex, a London-based feminist campaign group against Brexit and Wolfgang Tillmans. A case of collective, unattributed authorship of images that were exhibited in the context of a Wolfgang Tillmanns exhibition and subsequently attributed to Wolfgang Tillmanns in printed journals and social media. Interesting case of collective activist work, which has been appropriated by the paradigms of the art world....[more]

Dissemination, Impact

I am trying to think through the dilemma arising, when we understand feminist decolonial practice as a verb (the practice, the doing, the organising, the many layers, when working with people – often outside academia) rather than a “noun”(object the result) and the related questions of “impact” and value”.

Take the young academic, for example, who spends evenings and weekends in the library fast tracking a book on social movements about which she cares deeply and wants to broaden her understanding. She is also desperate for it to be published quickly to earn her the university research points that will see her teaching contract renewed for the following year. It is likely that the same academic is losing touch with the very movements she writes about, and is no longer participating in their work because she is exhausted and the book takes time to write no matter how fast she works. On publication of the book, her work is validated professionally; she gets the university contract and is invited to sit on panels in public institutions about contemporary social movements. In this hypothetical case, it is clear that the academic’s work has become detached from the movements she now writes and talks about, and she no doubt sees this. But there is good compensation for this uneasiness in the form of professional validation, invitations that flatter, and most importantly, an ease of the cycle of hourly paid or precarious nine-month contracts.' (Susan Kelly 'But it was my idea' in New Formations, 2014)

The question raised here is about value versus validation. What we are doing here with the PhD is about institutional validation. The dilemma of this young academic is to create knowledge (writing a phd, article ABOUT social movement and therefore not being able to participate in the social movement) There is direct value in the actual working (for yourself and the people you are working with) and mediated value in the reflection, the” telling about” (for the academic field).

In order to make research worthwhile New Public Management asks about the impact of research. How do you define impact? The current audit system asks: 'How many articles, how many citations? If you are being cited, you have an impact.'

Metrification has been criticised as too limited and not really capturing the impact of research, because it considers only the citation statistics of a limited set of journals as a source, such as those listed in “Web of Science” or “Scopus”. Therefore people thought it might give a better insight into your “impact”, when the whole web is being measured. The neologism altmetrics was coined to refer to methods for measuring a wide spectrum of “web reactions” to publications. Altmetric.com for example provides the automatic measuring of reactions to publications on social networks such as Facebook, microblogging services such as Twitter, video platforms such as YouTube, as well as international and national media outlets. It works with an “attention score”. Based on an undisclosed algorithm, the Altmetric score is displayed in the form of so-called badges. [website link]

The 'nouns', the outputs, the articles, books and citations are easy to measure. However, what happens to research culture, to teaching, to mentoring – all the 'not measurable practices'? Can we think of impact in different spaces of dissemination, such as teaching for example? In mentoring, support and collective practice?

What does it mean for an author to be included in the syllabus, in a course reading, in a discussion with 20 young people, who think through your proposals? What if knowledge proliferates that way having impact. Here, 'the syllabus might become the site of a more textured story about collegiality, community, equity, quality, and openness'. This kind of “citation” never makes it into the monitoring technology of Google Scholar, for example. It is never captured by the algorithms compiling the citation index, that count the click rates and downloads of your article.

'Higher education has a culture problem that is at once historical, structural and interpersonal' claims Christopher Long and asks to shift the focus from 'what can be measured' to 'what we most value'. (Christopher Long in 'Toxicity, Metrics and Academic Life')

  • values such as equity, openness, collegiality, quality, and community, as starting point for better academic practices...
  • emphasizing the importance of developing dense networks of reciprocal mentoring...
  • recognizing the value of more traditional mentoring structures through which senior scholars nurture the success of their junior colleagues...

These topics are currently addressed by several academic activists, such as the Radical Open Access Consortium at Coventry University, UK, HuMetricsHSS at University of Minnesota, or Eileen A. Joy with her 'Manifesto Against Metrics for the Humanities'. [More here, also about teaching and workshops as dissemination]

Dissemination, contingent, contextual

What does this all mean for artistic research? My artistic practice, for instance, consists of long-term projects. There is not one distinct work / outcome / result, which can be circulated, exhibited and audited, but a growing string of practices. In my view the question how things are being done is equally important – from a feminist perspective perhaps even more important – to what is being done.

Secondly all these long-term practices are collaborations. This working method has political implications trying to resist systems of subjectivation and individualisation. Therefore I made a few decisions within my PhD thesis, which is supposed to become exactly that what I am critical of, a discreet 'original contribution to knowledge'. Both characteristics of my work – that it is (1) long-term and (2) collaborative – mean, that the format of the individually authored monograph is not really suitable. The format of a compilation thesis enables me to publish and communicate in many different contexts. It includes a presentation at the Academy of Media Art in Cologne in form of a Twitter thread, published in realtime in order to share my bibliography, ie the references, links to images, websites and texts for the audience to revisit. Or I contribute to a small zine compiled by Temporary Services, Chicago and PrintRoom Rotterdam inviting 17 artist publishers to address the question 'What Problems can artist publishers solve'.

One experiment into modes of dissemination is the workbook Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?. It is a workbook, ie a book for others, materials to work with and prepare for the three-day international event which took place at Valand Academy in October 2016. The book was not 'delivered' as finished object. It was printed on loose sheets of paper, which had to be collated, folded and bound with a rubber string by the readers themselves. The book was launched prior to the mobilization during an assembling day in the main entrance of the art academy, laid out on big tables. The academy community (and who else was in the building) were invited to make their own copy of the book. People stopped by and gathered around tables to introduce themselves to the material featured in the book, looked at the images, and familiarised themselves with the different elements and inserts, the play script 'Strike while the iron is hot', excerpts of text the workgroup had been reading, policy documents, drawings and the introductory text 'Mapping the way of working'. The concept of involving the reader in the production/finishing process was informed by the idea, that the own investment of time and labour creates a different relationship to the object and creates a sense of ownership. Secondly it triggered a social process, as people who do not meet normally in the academy where sitting together at the small tables chatting and trying to figure out together how to master the manual task.

One of the specific decisions the editorial collective made was concerned with the design. We decided to not consolidate the vast range of material into one design, instead we used the individual contributions as ready-made. The pages bear all traces from the sites we took them, whether it is exported from a blog, a website, or scanned from a printed book and therefore visually reference their original source including many different lay-outs and typographic designs.[18]

The editing developed as an analogue process: in order to distribute the position of control of the one person mastering the Indesign document, we printed out and spread all pages on the floor, so each member of the editorial collective had the overview over the evolving book and access to individual pages and their sequencing. Metadata and bibliographic information were annotated on the spot by handwriting. This immediacy and directness of working together is visible in the book. And only at the very end these pages had been scanned, the final scan turning into the binding and sequencing device of the final PDF, which is circulated online for free and in print for the production costs.

This experiment how the specific way of production gives way to a particular form of dissemination (and vice versa) is concerned with the question of socialising the book, and the difference between distribution and dissemination, which is in detail discussed in the text 'Outside the Page'. When conceptual artist Marcel Broodthaers stated in a letter to German artist Herbert Distel in 1972 'The definition of artistic activity occurs, first of all, in the field of distribution' he shifts the focus from 'making' to 'making public'. Here the question is not what the art work is, but what it does, how it connects to its outside.

This connecting to the outside is grounded in an affective relationship between the book and the reader’s own situatedness, a process which Deleuze calls 'reading with love'. 'This intensive way of reading, in contact with what’s outside the book, as a flow meeting other flows, one machine among others, as a series of experiments for each reader in the midst of events that have nothing to do with books, as tearing the book into pieces, getting it to interact with other things, absolutely anything, is reading with love.' [19]

The outside of the Let's Mobilize workbook was first of all the immediate environment of our own institution with all its layers and players, the students, the teachers, the researchers, the admin and leadership. The durational, one-day collective assembling was one step to connect to this 'outside', however we did a second experiment of 'making public'. Each of the 140 pages had been enlarged to A1-size posters and distributed across the walls of the academy. That was a way to bring the questions, issues and topics of feminist pedagogy right into the physicality of our own institution. The sites were chosen for their spatial-temporal qualities, and how they are used. For example the lift or the bathrooms could do with a demanding text about White Privilege [include reference], whereas corridors, staircases – sites of passage – were well suited for visuals or shorter pieces. A good spot proved to be next to the photocopier, because people do spend time in front of the machine awaiting their copies.

By turning the academy building into a walkable book, the narrative is not constructed by the binding of the book fixing it into a given sequence, instead it is the reader’s actual body on its daily trajectory through the workplace, which creates encounters with the dispersed page posters. The colleagues, students, administrators as well as guests – visiting or inhabiting the building created their own spatial, temporal and meaning-making encounter with the book. One colleague commented in an email: 'I loved the way you / the posters insisted upon me / the recipient to meet / contemplate its content before and in particular after the event. For one because it was texts "donated" or re-distributed by others, and then donated to me by you. But also because by precisely hanging them in a room where I give myself a couple of minutes break from the everyday haze you are creating the possibility not only for a first reading, but then for a re-re-re-discovery / understanding. This placement can apparently turn into a transformative current in itself, because the content of the texts precisely interrupts the thoughts of and thereby intertextualises the everyday'. [20]

The book’s pages were up for four months and their material presence served as a provocation, as a set of clues and cues connected to the field of forces of a day-to-day working environment. If these pages mobilised, the mobilisation took place in the middle, 'in the in-between spaces that emerge between representation and presence, theory and practice, and above all between the current state of affairs and the possibility of changing it.'[21]

Perhaps due to the opening up and experimenting with different layers of encounter with the content of this workbook (online PDF, physical copy and posters on the walls) it had been used by several teachers as course readings in our institution and internationally. The print copy is available in selected independent bookstores, it is distributed by AND Publishing at independent publishing fairs and through their website. It also circulates through participants having taken one or more copies back into their institutions, art spaces and libraries. This book will most likely not show up on the Google citation index, but its impact is demonstrated by invitations to talk about the mobilisation, to run workshops and talk to students at universities and art schools nationally and internationally.[22]

Authorship, authorisation, authority: remarks on the collaborative wiki

Co-authoring a PhD brings many conflicts. On the one hand, if this 'wiki experiment' of openly, collectively authoring a PhD gets legitimised by the university, it could potentially introduce a method of inquiry and disclosure that constitutes a collaborative and openly dialogical knowledge formation. However I will be awarded a PhD title, but others have helped me to achieve it without receiving credits by the institution. Even if I credit all the potential contributors to this wiki, by definition, there can be only one name who earns a PhD. All the people, who contributed to this inquiry by reviewing, adding to and commenting on this text and by having collaborated within, conceptualised, invested labour in the practice parts – how could they be acknowledged? Would the traditional 'acknowledgement' section attached as paratext be enough? What exactly differentiates acknowledgement from authorship?

Secondly as a doctoral researcher I am authorised by the University of Gothenburg to conduct this research as part of an artistic research framework. This affiliation comes with a position of privilege, such as a five-year employment, a monthly salary, and with it financial security and headspace allowing me to commit to this inquiry. This authorisation stands in stark contrast to most of my past, current, and potential future collaborators' situation, who mainly live on precarious short term teaching contracts. So how could I ask them to engage with this text, invest time and effort to add their observations and perspectives? Do I need to find resources that could help to remunerate them for their time? Could I possibly share my employment contract with them? It's interesting that I would not hesitate to ask for help, ideas and critique in a non-institutional context outside of economies of money, authorisation and audit, where other values govern an economy of exchange. But as soon as this potential collaboration forms part of an institutional authorised and validated setting alongside its implicit merit system the ethics of working with non-institutionally affiliated collaborators seem to become conflicted. Are there ways to solve this double-bind?


[Could be interesting to contrast this thought with Roberto Esposito's concept of the commons and community, which according to him is not based on property relations, but on mutuality, debt and obligations. [23]


Notes section [7] Analysis
  1. As a reminder for the reader, the function of the kappa within this PhD inquiry is to disclose the research contribution being made by the body of works, practices, conversations and published texts that are registered and "wrapped" by this document, which is in the Swedish context called kappa (English "coat").
  2. Jean-Luc Nancy, 'Being Singular Plural', trans. Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O’Byrne, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, 2000,p. 154.
  3. Eva Weinmayr & Andrea Francke, 'About this book and about the Piracy Project', in Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Translating, Cloning, Eva Weinmayr and Andrea Francke (eds.), London, AND Publishing, 2014.
  4. Stevphen Shukaitis, 'Toward an Insurrection of the Published? Ten Thoughts on Ticks & Comrades', eicp transversal, June 2014.
  5. The working group organised the three-day mobilisation 'Let's mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?' for which it published a workbook four weeks previously to the event. (see detailed reflection xxxx).
  6. , Nicholas Thoburn,Anti-book, On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, p.xx
  7. ibid. p. 179
  8. I am quoting from the published draft version: Kathleen Fitzpatrick, ‘Generous Thinking The University and the Public Good’, chapter ‘Critique and Competition’, Humanities Commons, 2018, https://generousthinking.hcommons.org/
  9. Anonymous started on 4chan, an online imageboard where users post anonymously. ‘The posts on 4chan have no names or any identifiable markers attached to them. The only thing you are able to judge a post by is its content and nothing else.’ Gabriella Coleman, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, London and New York, Verso, 2014, p. 47.
  10. Eva Weinmayr, 'Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices' in Whose Book Is it Anyway? A View From Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity edited by Janis Jefferies and Sarah Kember, Cambridge, Open Book Publishers, 2019.
  11. Karl Marx, 'The Class Struggles in France: 1848–1850, in Surveys from Exile, David Fernbach (ed.), Harmondsworth, U.K., Penguin 1973, p. 134.
  12. See also John Cunningham, “Clandestinity and Appearance,” Mute, 8 July 2010, http:// www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/clandestinity-and-appearance.
  13. Virginia Woolf, 'Anon. and The Reader, Virginia Woolf’s Last Essays', edited by Brenda R. Silver, Twentieth Century Literature 25, no. 3/4, 1979, p. 382.
  14. Sara Ahmed, Differences That Matter, Feminist Theory and Postmodernism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 119 – 141, 125. See also Naomi Schor, 'Dreaming Dissymmetry: Barthes, Foucault and Sexual Difference', in Coming to Terms: Feminism, Theory, Politics, Elizabeth Weed (ed.), London, Routledge, 1989, pp. 47-58; and Gayatry Chakravorty Spivak, 'Can the Subaltern Speak?', in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds.), Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1988, pp. 271-313.
  15. Maria Berrios in conversation with the Antiknow Research Group at Flat-time House, London 2013, printed in Girls Like Us, issue [find print issue xx]
  16. It's interesting that Stephen Wright describes rumour as being a medium itself, one that is so pervasive and performative, exactly because it is unauthored. ::'Rumour may be the world’s oldest media. What is more all-pervasive, more corrosive than rumour? Like its siblings, gossip and hearsay – or what is loosely referred to as “news” – rumour is not just the channel through which the subordinate classes vent their spleens against the rich and famous, spreading compromising half-truths about them. Nor conversely, is rumour merely the way in which the powers-that-be manipulate public opinion. If rumour is so corrosively effective, it is because it is itself a media. Though rumour is characterised by its indeterminacy – its basic anonymity and lack of identifiable source or authentication protocol – rumours are performative. That is, they make things happen. As everybody knows, there is “no smoke without fire,” and once a person is stained by rumour, it is next to impossible for them to clear their name. It is for this reason that rumours have always proven so devastatingly effective in provoking panic and pogroms. Whether they spread from the outskirts to the corridors of power, or the other way around, rumours have terrified and inspired the common people no less than their rulers, sparking fear of war and reprisal, thirst for vengeance and retaliation. At the same time, rumours are always context specific. A rumour “flies” in one context though it would never leave the ground in another. This context specificity is linked to rumour’s indeterminacy. In short, precisely because it is by definition unauthored, rumour is what “people are saying”, what’s “going around” or – to quote songwriter Leonard Cohen – what “everybody knows.” This is what makes rumour so impossible to suppress or control, and why in the age of the blogosphere, cell phones and media concentration, rumour has such a promising, and eminently ambiguous, future before it.' e-flux announcement for exhibition Rumour as Media, Akbank Sanat, Istanbul 2006, https://www.e-flux.com/announcements/41028/rumour-as-media/.
  17. MuseumsJournal is a quarterly publication by Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH, a consortium of museums in Berlin. http://www.museumsjournal.de/heftinhalt_archiv.html?ausgabe=1/2018
  18. For the texts which were specifically commissioned for this publication we researched and used fonts designed by women. We were aware of ongoing research projects about male dominance in typographic design and wanted to reference this fact. See WD+RU (Women’s Design Research Unit) founded in 1994 by design historians and educators Teal Triggs, Sian Cook, and Liz McQuiston in London [14], or MMS, a group of graphic designers (Maryam Fanni, Matilda Flodmark, Sara Kaaman) based in Stockholm investigating visual culture, graphic design and historiography from feminist perspectives.[15]. See also Genista Jurgens, 'Can A Font Be Feminist?' in Format, 16.10.2017, [16]
  19. Gilles Deleuze, 'Letter to a Harsh Critic', in Negotiations, 1972-1990. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 8-9, 1995. See also related discussion of transmedial publishing in Soenke Zehle, Simon Worthington, Peter Cornwell, Pauline van Mourik Broekman, Archive Architectures, in ”Network Ecologies”, Scalar, Franklin Humanities Institute, Durham: Duke University, 2016. http://scalar.usc.edu/works/network-ecologies/archive-architectures
  20. Kerstin Bergendahl, a teacher colleague at Valand Academy in an email to the organisers of Let’s Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?, quoted in Andreas Engman, Eva Weinmayr, Mary Coble, Rose Borthwick 'Revisiting Let’s Mobilize', in Decolonialism after the educational turn, Black Dog Publishing (forthcoming).
  21. Nora Sternfeld, 'Para-Museum of 100 Days: documenta between Event and Institution', in On Curating, issue 33, Zürich, 2017, page 166.
  22. 'What is an art school?' symposium, workshop at Chelsea College of Art and Design, 2016, convened by Katerine Hjelde; 'Feminist Art Education', Institute for Art and Art Theory, Intermedia / Artistic Media Practice and Theory, Cologne University, 2018, convened by Mirjam Thomann; 'Exploiting Justice. Processes, Performances and Politics', Symposium at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Gothenburg (27-28 November 2016) Symposium convened by Eva Maria Svensson. The batch of 20 copies we shipped to Printed Matter for the New York Art book Fair 2017 were sold out during one weekend.
  23. Roberto Esposito, The Origin and Destiny of Comunitas, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2010, and Greg Bird and Jonathan Short, 'Community, Immunity and the Proper – an introduction to the political theory of Roberto Esposito', in Angelaki Journal of the theoretical humanities, vol. 19, no3, 3. September 2013.

DRAFT: Observations, Findings, Topics to discuss

  • co-option
  • Grey Commons (Gary Hall) Instead of Creative Commons, they argue for a “gray commons,” gray being used to signal the legal ambiguity of much of its content (that it is not a black-and-white issue).
  • Neither The Piracy Project, nor the Library of Omission, nor the boxing classes can thrive in the art world as collective projects. Their agency is killed, the moment somebody claims authorship and ownership. Collectivity bashes against the demand for authorship.
  • The "authorship problem" in art, pedagogy and institutional settings. Explain the dilemma with authorship and Ownership. Collectivity. Audit (or cultural capital) vs visibility for unrecognised voices (class, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality), accountability. Unauthored documents. visibility vs invisibility. What matter who's speaking.
  • Publication as open source. (The Piracy Project)
  • Publication is an act of fixing something into a document? What is a document? How does it circulate. How does it produce meaning? [Gitelman, Lisa, Paper Knowledge, Toward a Media History of Documents, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2014]
  • Circulation of these fixed documents. Enclosures. Shadow libraries.
  • Organising and classifying of publications, so they can be found. Biases in standard library classification systems. What is the problem with classification more generally? (Interference Library Brooklyn, wild organsing sytem produces a social space of discovery. Not efficient, but serendipity. Meeting like-minded people)
  • Education as open source. Not the outcome, but the learning curve.
  • Publishing vs publication. Verb vs noun. Practice vs object/outcome >> Not auditable.
  • Potential model for institutional education?
  • Publishing not to satisfy audit, but learn collectively, articulate, instigate dialogue, and action. >>contextual publishing.
  • Problem with "impact" based on metrification/altmetrics. Can institutional policies rethink criteria for impact?

to do

  • make interview with Mick Wilson to get his perspective in his own words on institutional practice concerning Let's Mobilze.
  • make interview with Jess Baines about authorship questions in See Red's feminist poster workshop practice.
  • transcribe interview with Ann Butler, (head of libraries and archives CAA Bard) about first level cataloguing at world cat.
  • transcribe interview with Fine Art Head Librarian at CSM.
  • invite selected peers to comment on, and add to the wiki.

plans for the future

Plan to work on a publication about micro-politics of publishing based on the elements of a book:

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