Difference between revisions of "2 Setting"
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<b>Appendix*01: Let's Mobilize Revisited</b> presents a collaborative writing experiment with multi-layered commentary, conducted by Rose Borthwick, Andreas Engman, MC Coble, Eva Weinmayr in 2017.<br/>
<b>Appendix*01: Let's Mobilize Revisited</b> presents a collaborative writing experiment with multi-layered commentary, conducted by Rose Borthwick, Andreas Engman, MC Coble, Eva Weinmayr in 2017.<br/>
<b>Appendix*02: Interview: Femke Snelting, Eva Weinmayr, March 24–25, 2020 (Resolutions are always temporary)</b> features an interview with Femke Snelting (Constant, Brussels).<br/>
<b>Appendix*02: Interview: Femke Snelting, Eva Weinmayr, March 24–25, 2020 (Resolutions are always temporary)</b> features an interview with Femke Snelting (Constant, Brussels).<br/>
<b>Appendix*03: Rosalie's Visual Comments</b> collects the visual
<b>Appendix*03: Rosalie's Visual Comments</b> collects the visual that Rosalie Schweiker produced for this kappa in 2020.<br/>
Latest revision as of 08:21, 13 October 2020
This wiki provides an overview of a doctoral research project, entitled "Noun to Verb: an investigation of the micro-politics of publishing through artistic practice." The project explores the social and political agency of publishing, investigating the micro-politics of making, articulating, and sharing knowledges from an intersectional feminist perspective.
In practical terms, the research process comprises (i) a range of activities, (art-making, workshopping, publishing, editorial work, collaborative practices, conferencing, organizing, pedagogical interventions, discursive events, etc.) and (ii) a range of "stabilizations" (publications, chapters, essays, posters, ephemera, archives, reading rooms, exhibitions, etc.). Both (i) and (ii) are developed collaboratively.
Publishing may be understood as a means of sharing, of disclosing, of passing on, or as an act of 'making public' that includes texts, images, ideas, and what we may summarily call "knowledges". Publishing may also be understood as a temporary stabilization of knowledge, fixing the act of making-public into a material and mobile form (paper, ink, screen, code) – fixing it into an object. As an object, detached from the makers (person), moment (time) and ecologies (context) of its production, a publication can circulate and spread across regions, contexts, and epochs – in Florian Cramer's (2012) words, "the idea of the book is one that can be read in one, five, and one hundred years' time." It develops a social and intellectual life of its own.
While publication can enable the one to speak to the many, and as such be seen as a mode of address that constructs patterns of dominance, the act of publication can also be seen as a tool to give voice and recognition to bodies and experiences that are not yet acknowledged, articulated or prioritized within the range of existing knowledges. 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 fueled much debate on "the public sphere."
Such themes have been widely discussed in relation to the rise of European print culture (Eisenstein, 1982; Johns, 1998), but these debates are not the main focus here. Instead, the present research specifically addresses the micro-politics of publishing practices at the intersection of contemporary art, radical education, and institutional analysis. Furthermore, publishing practices are not exclusively considered here in terms of print culture, but rather are understood as part of a wider multiplicity of modes and formats that operate as "stabilizations" of knowledges, as indicated above.
I use the word "knowledges" in plural to problematize the idea of singular, disembodied and universal knowledge that is associated with modern Western epistemologies. Knowledges in this inquiry are understood in Donna Haraway's sense as "ruled by partial sight and limited voice – not partiality for its own sake but, rather, for the sake of the connections and unexpected openings situated knowledges make possible." (Haraway 1988, 590). Therefore knowledges in my view are fundamentally contingent and interactive. "Situated knowledges are about communities, not about isolated individuals. The only way to find a larger vision is to be somewhere in particular." (Haraway 1988, 590). To be somewhere in particular means also to be response-able. Here, knowing is understood as a fundamental relational act. Take the "streetwalker theorist" invoked by Maria Lugones, for example, who "cultivates a multiplicity and depth of perception and connection and 'hangs out'." The streetwalker theorist's "knowing is necessarily dialogical; it does not lie in her". (Lugones, 2003, chapter 10 “Tactical Strategies of the Streetwalker”, "Streetwalker Theorizing").
The emphasis here is on a dialogical process – "knowing with". The use of the verb "knowing", an active form, stands in contrast to "knowledge", an objectifying noun implying that knowledge can be appropriated and owned. In this sense, "knowing with" (rather than "having knowledge" or "knowing about") runs counter to the prevailing Western assumptions of authorship and ownership that I discuss in the book chapter "Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices" (Weinmayr 2019). The "knowing with" is foregrounding knowledge as a "situated conversation at every level of its articulation" (Haraway 1988, 594) as I will argue throughout this research project – including, but not limited to, articulations in the form of publishing.
Of course, publishing practices extend far beyond the printed page. A core concern of this inquiry is to expand and test the normative criteria of what constitutes a publication. One question that emerged was whether publishing may be seen as a verb, a process, rather than a noun (i.e. the finished object) – analogous to the above distinction between "knowing" and "knowledge". Could practice itself be understood as a form of publishing? A teaching situation, for example – a workshop, seminar, or group dialogue, where knowledge is collectively created and shared at the same time – could this also be considered as publishing? What kinds of publics are necessary or relevant to a publication process? A collaboration, a collective, a scene, a process, a dynamic, a method – can we frame any such situation or process as "publishing"? How fixed or stable does a transmission of knowledges need to be in order to be called a "publication"? And what is the function and effect of such stability?
Networked digital media technologies also replace "the fixity and the static (and, by implication, limiting) linearity of print by adding multimedia features, interactivity, hyperstructure and virtually limitless possibilities for non-verbal, interactive, reading and communication for the reader" (Mangen 2012). It is the "unbound" character of the digital that unsettles "conceptual systems founded upon ideas of center, margin, hierarchy, and linearity and replaces them with ones of multi-linearity, modes, links, and networks." (Landow 1992, 2). The unbound is a moment of recapitulation, and, according to George Landow (1992, 3), "a direct response to the strengths and weaknesses of the printed book." And Gary Hall (2016, 158) notes that the defamiliarizing effects of these new conceptions
- offer us a chance to raise the kind of questions regarding our ideas of the book (but also of the unified, sovereign, proprietorial subject; the individualized author, the signature, the proper name; originality, fixity, the finished object; the canon, the discipline, tradition, intellectual property; the Commons, community, and so on), we should have been raising all along.
Whether "bound" or "unbound," there has been much discussion of the political agency of the book, and it is often assumed that the book's political potential extends only as far as its 'content'. Yet what is of interest in the present inquiry is the book's capacity as a conceptual and material means to practically intervene, disrupt, and change existing systems of production, distribution, and consumption of knowledge. (Adema and Hall, 2014; Thoburn, 2014; Constant, ongoing)
This inquiry is grounded in my individual and collective publishing practice, which has been a long-term part of my work as an artist. Publication became a main mode of my practice early on: perhaps because as a student I spent a significant part of my studies working next to the photocopy machines in the art academy; and perhaps because through publishing it appeared that I could shape the terms and conditions of production and distribution and could act without the authorization of galleries, curators, collectors, etc. However, while this research is embedded in my long-term artistic practice using the form of publication as a carrier for ideas, this inquiry is not focusing on artists' books in particular. The descriptor "artists' books" is too narrow, in limiting the investigation to publications made by artists. The questions I will ask are more fundamental: directed towards the processes and agencies of publishing that operate across disciplines and fields, rather than limiting these to the specific commodity genre of the artists' book.
Take, for example, the early conceptual artists' books in the context of the 1960s and 1970s in the US. They have been described as "a means of democratizing and subverting existing institutions by distributing an increasingly cheap and accessible medium (the book) [...] in order to reimagine what art is and how it can be accessed and viewed." (Adema and Hall 2013, 140). As such they expanded the limits of what was commonly perceived (and traded) as art, and they challenged existing hierarchies and institutions.My understanding is that the critical agency of the artist’s book, as elaborated in this initial phase of experimentation, has become watered down over the years – the making of "artists' books" has become a mainstream artistic practice and market. This is evidenced by hundreds of newly emerging artist book fairs across the globe, sometimes hosted by the most prestigious mainstream museums, such as MoMA PS1 in New York, or Tate Modern and Whitechapel Gallery in London. Florian Cramer (2012) provocatively declares that artists' books today tend to be "a genre of graphic design." In printed form, "they strive to become coffee table books, often with warm, fuzzy and unbound characteristics," and therefore turn into "boutique collectibles for rich people."
In the field of open-source and free software, and feminist approaches in particular – exemplified by Constant, a feminist technology collective based in Brussels – we observe a very different critical energy. As Femke Snelting (2014) argues, software is a cultural object:
- Free Software culture takes care of sharing the recipes of how this technology (in a cultural sense, not a technocentric) has been developed. [...] And this produces many different other tools, ways of working, ways of speaking, vocabularies, because it changes radically the way we make and the way we produce hierarchies. So that means, if you produce a graphic design artifact, for example, you share all the source files that were necessary to make it. But you also share, as much as you can, descriptions and narrations of how it came to be, which does include, maybe, how much was paid for it, what difficulties were in negotiating with the printer, what elements were included, [...] what software was used to make it and where it might have resisted. [...] You care about all these different layers of the work, all the different conditions that actually make the work happen.
Free software culture, therefore, investigates how technologies and their protocols disrupt economies of authorship and ownership, and implicitly redefines the hierarchies and enclosures that are embedded in more mainstream publishing practices.
This is also true of certain emerging tendencies within academic publishing, where new material conditions of book production, organization and consumption allow for experiments with forms and concepts of scholarly publishing. Here digital publishing and open access place in question, in Janneke Adema's words, "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." (Adema and Hall 2013, 139). Open access policies, which demand that publicly funded research must be made freely available, are based on the argument that the public has already funded the research which should be consequently be made publicly available at no cost. Yet the implementation of these policies may also carry the threat of corporate take-over. In many cases commercial academic presses have merely shifted the costs from the reader (who would previously be required to pay for articles directly) back to the author, researcher, or their institution. By imposing "author or article processing charges" (APC), academic presses maintain their income-generating model, thereby creating a range of new enclosures and inequalities that are discussed in more detail in the interview "Thinking where the thinking happens" with the director of Goldsmiths Press Sarah Kember.
Universities and academic activists have addressed the "exorbitant, unaffordable and unsustainable publishing fees" charged by many scholarly journals by campaigning for "new forms of communality, designed to support the building of commons-based open access publishing infrastructures, and promote a more diverse, not-for-profit ecosystem of scholarly communication." (Adema 2018) Gary Hall laid some strategies out in his "Inhumanist Manifesto" and Mayfly Books have summed up the current situation up as follows:
- 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.
This brief mapping of developments in different fields of publishing practice also reflects the fact that my practice is situated across art, academia, and activism. The five projects I will present, typically of a long term and collaborative nature, each explore a range of specific questions in a way that is layered and complex. They are not discrete single-issue, single-question experiments but rather complex tangles of issues unfolding in real-world situations and "live" fields of operation. They often developed as responses to specific situations and to emergent problems or questions in concrete locations. As such, they don't intend to operate as works "about politics." Instead, these projects 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 and ecologies of knowledge.
More verb, less noun: the practices
The Library of Inclusions and Omissions (2016) is a practice-based experiment in critical knowledge infrastructures. Setting up a community-run reading room around intersectional feminist and decolonial materials, the project explores the politics (potentials and limitations) of libraries, online and physical, for accessing, activating, and disseminating knowledge. Defining the library as a knowledge infrastructure (Mattern, 2014), the project tests dominant policies of validation (access) and classification (organization). Furthermore, it investigates the difference between a community-run resource such as this and more institutional libraries, in terms of their selection and validation processes. With the Library of Inclusions and Omissions, I seek to develop a curatorial concept to give voice to hidden, suppressed, or unacknowledged materials and struggles. In what ways could such a curatorial strategy thereby turn the library from a repository of knowledge (Samek 2003, Springer 2015) into a space of social and intellectual encounter and action? Can such a library project help build a community or connect different communities?
The Piracy Project (2010–15), based in London, is a long-term collaboration with Peruvian artist Andrea Francke. It explores dominant understandings of authorship, originality, and the implications of intellectual property and copyright policies for knowledge practices. Through an open call for pirated books and our research into 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. Through temporary reading rooms, workshops, lectures, discussions, and debates, The Piracy Project explores the philosophical, legal, and social implications of cultural piracy. In this project, Andrea and I examine the ways in which the pirated, modified, emulated books in the collection transgress normative concepts of authorization, challenging the idea of individual authorship and the assumed authority of the printed book. In the theorization of this project, I will show how the project's unauthorized interventions into "stable" and authoritative knowledge reveal and undo the reciprocity between authorship, originality and intellectual property – a triangulation that, as I will demonstrate, constitutes one of the main blockages for collective knowledge practices.
Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy? (2015–16) is a collective investigation into intersectional feminist pedagogies, that led to (i) the organization of a three-day international mobilization at HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design (at the time Valand Art Academy), University of Gothenburg and (ii) the publishing of a workbook with the same title. It began from a working group that formed at the Academy consisting of students, staff, and administrators (Kanchan Burathoki, Rose Borthwick, MC Coble, Andreas Engman, Gabo Camnitzer, Eva Weinmayr). The group’s aim was twofold. Firstly, to provide a space to discuss the highs and lows in our own learning and teaching and to study and review university policies and institutional habits. Secondly, to organize an international conference (mobilization) to fundamentally rethink how knowledge is produced, transmitted, and disseminated. We were keen to find strategies to address the Eurocentric canon and its exclusions, to question institutional habits and procedures, and to create an understanding of equality that is not blind to difference. The mobilization itself was a practice-based investigation experimenting with non-normative uses of the classroom, paying attention to time and temporalities, languages, and the empirical body. The published workbook is understood as an "input" rather than an "output." It aims at a redefinition of the dominant understanding of "impact" in current systems of academic evaluation – an understanding often based on a reductive logic of calculation. The project proposes to reassess the instituted taxonomy of values within learning, teaching and research at the art academy. It asks what would happen if we valued and gave formal credit to all the knowledges and processes involved in how we publish. The project asks how open, enabling, and diverse our knowledge practices are; and how inclusive are our tools and protocols? It does so by practically examining the moments, formats, and temporalities of how knowledge is "practiced" within the art academy. More broadly, this experiment scrutinizes how institutional habits – how we meet, the terminologies we use, the procurement procedures we are asked to follow, the forms of "outcomes" that are expected – enable or hinder collective and inclusive critical knowledge practices.
Boxing and Unboxing, a collaboration with artist Rosalie Schweiker, took place during the course of AND Publishing's six-month research residency at Marabouparken konsthall in Stockholm. It consisted of learning how to "box" and "unbox", and cutting up boxes – dealing with questions of categorization inspired by Rhani Lee Remedes's (2002) "SCUB Manifesto: Society for cutting up boxes". Together with curator Jenny Richards, AND organized a boxing club for self-identifying women. The question was whether sparring, when defined as physical play and not as competition, might allow us to rehearse ways to relate to each other in other areas. The experiment conceived of boxing not in terms of masculinity and violence or the survival of the fittest, but as a moment of intense negotiation of border space, contagion, and border linking (Ettinger 2006). In this sense, boxing renders permeable the borderlines of our "proper" subjects (an "individual" conceived as founded in the sole ownership of oneself). As a nonverbal bodily dialogue, it transgresses boundaries that we elsewhere seek to protect. During sparring, I deliberately forgo this established immunity – my contours become vulnerable through the mutuality of the touch: my fist touches and is being touched at the same time. In the reflection on this project, I connect thoughts about immunity and community (Esposito, 2010; Lorey, 2013) to the exhilarating, troubling, and demanding experiences that the sparring sessions produced. I will reflect on sparring as a radical bodily dialogue, considering its potential for learning how to compete without needing to win, and how to practice respectful disagreement.
This variety of projects, sites and strategies is important as part of a wider strategy of feminist publishing that operates in different arenas and reaches beyond traditional notions of publication. As Chantal Mouffe (2005, 114) has noted, "the globalized space is 'striated', with a diversity of sites where relations of power are articulated in specific local, regional and national configurations," highlighting the need for a variety of strategies. Mouffe describes this as "a counter-hegemonic struggle", "a process involving a multiplicity of ruptures" (Errejón and Mouffe 2016, 40). I am cautious to use the term "counter-hegemonic" since the binary implicit in "counter" simplifies (i) the multi-layered infra-actions at play in the practice itself (collective, transversal), and (ii) the complexities of the contexts in which they operate. But Mouffe helps to argue for the plurality of forms and approaches in my practice that respond to specific issues across a number of different sites: art, education, activism, institutions, culture, business, politics, technology, and media.
This inquiry is situated within a Western context and – as will emerge in the analysis and theorization of the projects – it is situated with respect to such overarching constructs as colonial modernity, possessive individualism, and the neoliberal subject. As a White European female subject, I move between practices, institutions and discourses mostly within Europe and North America. It is from this position that I investigate the micro-politics of knowledge practices, informed by concepts found in feminist theory, media theory, radical pedagogy, as well as social science and philosophy.
I started this PhD research with a range of observations and questions based on my practice to date. These initial questions were refined through the internal logic of a multifaceted inquiry – they moved, opened up, got destabilized a little.
Through thinking embedded in practice, the multiple ways of doing things, and the different entry points I found, I came to reframe, re-describe, and refine the initial problems and assumptions of my inquiry.
Drawing upon Gabriel Tarde's proposition that knowledge is a mode of socialization and social communication (1903) I set out to investigate publication as a social, pedagogical, and political process. How can publishing create spaces for better mutual understanding and rethinking relations between people? What is the relationship between "making" and "making public"? Between experience and articulation? How does the "outside space" (distribution) shape the "inside space" of publication (content) and vice versa? What is contextual publishing? Is publishing necessarily always tied to a document, whether it be the printed page or via other media such as film, drawing, or photography? What is a document? In her study Qu'est-ce que la documentation? (1951) the French librarian and pioneer of information science Suzanne Briet describes as follows: an antelope running wild in the Savannah is considered an animal, yet through being captured and brought to Europe to be exhibited in the zoo – through being caged, described, measured, and classified – the animal is turned into a document. It is analyzed, described, categorized, classified, and exhibited as a specimen, a process that constitutes a key paradigm to the project of colonial modernity. 
In short, this challenges the initial presumption that publishing is an outright positive and progressive act, a tool of giving voice and developing emancipatory agency. The research process (making, thinking and analyzing) put this idea into question and made it necessary to rethink the operating assumptions of the inquiry. Institutional pressure (publish or perish), for example, can erode the conditions for practices based on agency, creativity, criticality, experimentation, and collective knowledge making. Publishing (and writing) in institutional or semi-institutional 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, merely based on a logic of calculation." Rebekka Kiesewetter (2019) observes that "the significance of a publication is often reduced to a consumable or proof of excellence and a claim for authority; and publishing activities mostly are pursued within an output-led environment, in which the suggested formats and the institutional, economic and procedural frames tempt the interpretation of every outcome, every representation as vessels for contents, static, backward-looking, absolute, finalized, and set." Several points are raised here: firstly, it points to systems of validation and audit culture; secondly, to the stasis of the "finite" object; and thirdly, to the authority these discrete objects produce.
As I will argue, these three topics form the main "blockages" for emancipatory, collective knowledge practices. I wrestled with these blockages practically and theoretically throughout this inquiry, each with different entry points and from different perspectives. To be more specific: as the inquiry developed it became clearer that I set out to explore the coercive mutual reciprocity between authorship, authorization, and authority. In this sense, this inquiry seeks to move from a vague apprehension of these three terms' mutual interaction to a clearer framing of their "coercive reciprocation." The result of this inquiry could be described as the development of this insight alongside potential models for emancipatory, critical, intersectional feminist models of knowledge "making and sharing". In practice, doing things, one gets caught in tensions, paradoxes, and double binds. These double binds may become frozen or locked, especially if one stays at the level of writing, or thinking, or talking about it. As soon as one involves multiple ways of tackling the issue practically, experimenting with different ways of doing, it is often possible to find new resources with which to rethink the way the problem is set. By implementing these different experiments I began to refine the description of the problems in terms of the described set of blockages and their reciprocal interaction.
The majority of this work was conducted between the United Kingdom and Sweden, 2010–20. A significant amount of the policy referenced in this inquiry is specific to the UK, where I spent the majority of my "university life". The UK may also be taken as indicative of wider tendencies in higher education and research elsewhere – the UK started early on with an explicit formulation of the changing agenda in higher education and research, in the form of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), for example, reflecting the broader shift towards a culture of audit and metrics.
"Thinking with": the format
The format I choose for this PhD inquiry is a compilation thesis, comprising a distinct set of practical experiments and a "kappa" (Swedish, translated to English as "cape" or "coat").
The kappa is what you are reading now, on this wiki. 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.
In Swedish academia, the kappa is understood as an outer layer that bundles, connects, discusses, and reflects on its contents. I use the kappa as a way to engage with the range of experiments I have carried out, without turning them into a monolithic entity (as can happen with a monograph, the typical format for a doctoral submission). The kappa is meant to allow the components to retain their discrete, self-contained identities, but also to enable them to be joined together as elements of a larger construction. As Gary Hall pointed out in an earlier discussion of the work in progress, one could think of all the different elements of a coat: the sleeves, the collar, the lining, the buttons, all stitched together to form a larger construction. (Here it could be interesting to think about the nature of the joints.) But these metaphors still do not reflect exactly how I worked in this inquiry. The stitching together of different parts suggests a unified whole – the coat – and the formless cape or wrapper suggests an enclosure that shields the different parts from the outside. Perhaps Ursula Le Guin's "carrier bag theory" is more fitting? The vessel, Le Guin suggests, is mankind's earliest tool – not the spear, as often claimed. "A leaf a gourd a shell a net a bag a sling a sack a bottle a pot a box a container. A holder. A recipient. [...] what's the use of digging up a lot of potatoes if you have nothing to lug the ones you can't eat home in – with or before the tool that forces energy outward, we made a tool that brings energy home." The only problem, as Le Guin notes, is that a carrier bag story is not at first glance very exciting. "It is hard to tell a really gripping tale of how I wrested a wild-oat seed from its husk, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then I scratched my gnat bites, and Ool said something funny, and we went to the creek and got a drink and watched newts for a while, and then I found another patch of oats…" (Le Guin 1996). As well as its wandering narrative, a carrier bag story contains no heroes. Instead, as Siobhan Leddy (2019) observes, there are
- many different protagonists with equal importance to the plot [...] and the bag's inside is messy and sometimes conflicted. Like when you're trying to grab your sunglasses out of your bag, but those are stuck on your headphones, which are also tangled around your keys, and now the sunglasses have slipped into that hole in the lining. This lack of clear trajectory allowed Le Guin to test out all kinds of political eventualities, without the need to tie everything neatly together. It makes room for complexity and contradiction, for difference and simultaneity.
I have been thinking a lot about protagonists in this narrative, in this PhD. Since most of the practices are collaborations, I saw a danger in the fact that it will be mostly me who is narrating, framing, and to an extent historicizing them from my perspective alone. The struggle was to differentiate the "I" and the "we" throughout this writing and thinking; they are often difficult to disentangle. This "I" also shifts, is not stable, perhaps incoherent, because it has been populated by others while working and thinking together.
I have also been thinking a lot about tools and "containers" for this kappa, and how the tools shape the way I write and read. After one year of writing, and after meeting Femke Snelting and Michael Murtaugh from Constant at a three-day research meeting in Basel, I decided to drop the solitary Word document on my hard disk and continue in the form of a MediaWiki. This for me was a "paradigm shift" from the protected, private and proprietary environment of my hard disk to a web-based, open, and "public" environment for my tentative thinking, writing and archiving. There were moments of anxiety when I shared the URL, knowing that lots of things were unresolved, not thought through or tentatively worded. But it felt important to share this process because it created dialogues and conversations. It was always cooking, and lots of precious ingredients have been added by others throughout these conversations – only because it was open and accessible throughout.
One specific tool that had been coded by Cristina Cochior and Manetta Berends from Varia (Rotterdam) is the annotation feature.
It is used by the folks in the various collaborations. So far, Andrea Francke (Piracy Project), Andreas Engman, MC Coble (Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?), and Rosalie Schweiker (AND, Boxing and Unboxing) have added anecdotes, thoughts, and observations about working with these specific projects. In working together, there are always assumptions, motivations, and misunderstandings that are not necessarily articulated while plotting and "doing stuff". Strangely, you often assume that everyone else thinks the same as you do. Therefore, the annotation feature invites the collaborators to comment, add, and disagree with my accounts of the projects. And as such, it turns the thesis from an authoritative text into an occasion for negotiation, disagreement, and consultation. This approach is not a "writing up," but an experiment in itself. Lastly, this work is not locked up in a scholarly monograph in a university collection, but accessible via the internet – opening up its readership beyond those having access or are inclined to visit European university libraries (Cusicanqui 2011). This also means it is open to feed back into communities outside academia, in which most of the activities developed and are grounded in. And as such, it tries to avoid extractive economies that are addressed in Appendix 2*Interview with Femke Snelting.
The kappa, the textual format that synthesizes and summarizes the contribution made by the PhD research project, is structured in 6 chapters plus appendices. It is important to note that the kappa is not the final or only form of disclosure. The kappa is a device being used to disclose the practice to meet the terms of a doctoral examination process – the work also circulates more widely in the world in other wrappers (carrier bags) and on different terms. It will be useful to explain the different layers of text you are reading on this wiki. The main body text (black) is the text I have written. It has a substantial notes section at the bottom of each chapter that operates as a parallel layer to the main text. I wanted to keep the main text concise and easy to follow. Therefore, lots of more detailed information, and unpacking of specific terms or concepts takes place in the notes. The left-hand column is the navigation menu that brings you to the individual pages (chapters). It does the same job as the index page but is easier to use since it stays visible on each page. In the right-hand column, you will find annotations by persons I collaborated with in the projects, as well as peers, friends, and colleagues who were thinking with me during this inquiry. These annotations vary between textual comments and visual comments, since not everyone felt that text is the medium with which they can best express themselves.
The page About this wiki explains the purpose of this Mediawiki as constituting the submission of a Doctoral thesis leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Artistic Practice. It also contains the abstract.
Chapter 01*Contents presents the table of contents of this kappa.
Chapter 02*Setting gives an overview of what the inquiry is about – of the basic research task, agenda, and purpose. It lays out the context, the problems I will address, and the questions I started with. It also gives information on how the wiki is structured and how it can be read.
Chapter 03*Survey of the field presents and discusses practices, movements, and concepts that others have developed. These examples are spread widely in terms of geography and history, and they draw on a wide range of disciplinary frames and epochs. This broad approach stems from a commitment to work transversally and not to be bound by the protocols of one field alone – such as contemporary art or feminist organizational practices or radical education. The examples I have chosen are all instances where the dominant paradigms of publishing and the formation of knowledge have been in one way or another adjusted, acting as declared counter-political projects. This chapter also maps a network of relationships, since I have been working with some of the discussed projects in the form of workshops, seminars, talks, friendships, and other moments of thinking and doing together.
Chapter 04*Summary of projects & submitted material provides a short factual description of the submitted material to make explicit the projects and activities that form the basis of the contribution made by this research project. It details five long-term practice projects, and includes published (fixed) materials, such as articles, chapters, papers, and ephemera as well as discursive (unfixed) practices describing the workshops, talks, and moments of "thinking with" that constitute not an "outcome" but a practice.
Each of the Project pages (1–5) describes one of the five practice projects in more detail. They break down the context that each project responded to or intervened in. They also give a step-by-step sketch of their main elements, methods, and strategies employed. The five practice projects are: AND (1); Library of Omission and Inclusions (2); The Piracy Project (3); Let's Mobilize what is Feminist Pedagogy? (4); and Boxing and Unboxing (5). All of these projects are collaborations and developed over time.
Chapter 05*Reflection and theorization of projects and submitted material provides a more in-depth and extended reflection on the projects and experiments I have carried out. This is provided to disclose the significance and importance of the contribution made by the research project. It discusses the complexities and contradictions of each of the practice projects individually and articulates their underlying concepts and theories.
Building on the reflection and theorization of the five practice projects, the chapter 06*Analysis zooms in on the micro-politics of knowledge practices and crystalizes a range of topics that surfaced throughout the projects. Touching on the politics of citation and experimental authorial practices, I analyze the experiment of writing this thesis in the form of a MediaWiki – as a way that practically experiments with some of the claims made.
07*References lists the resources that have informed the practices, thinking and writing of this research. It goes, therefore, beyond a strict list of "cited sources" since it includes materials that have informed my practice indirectly. Where possible, I have linked directly to sources or uploaded them to this wiki database. As such, this section also extends beyond a typical bibliography and operates partly as an archive.
08*My integrated circuit acknowledges the collaborative effort of this research project.
The appendices present further materials that did not fit within the index structure above.
Appendix*01: Let's Mobilize Revisited presents a collaborative writing experiment with multi-layered commentary, conducted by Rose Borthwick, Andreas Engman, MC Coble, Eva Weinmayr in 2017.
Appendix*02: Interview: Femke Snelting, Eva Weinmayr, March 24–25, 2020 (Resolutions are always temporary) features an interview with Femke Snelting (Constant, Brussels).
Appendix*03: Rosalie's Visual Comments collects the visual annotations that Rosalie Schweiker produced for this kappa in 2020.
- Without presenting a premature definition of knowledge, a short insert is needed here to point out that knowledge is connected to an apparatus of legitimization that is discussed and problematized in the following chapters. The term "acknowledging" points towards a dialogical and relational act, to acknowledge means "I see you". To acknowledge is an act of recognizing, of interacting "with other people’s worlds" in the words of Maria Lugones (2003, Introduction):
- By traveling to other people’s “worlds,” we discover that there are “worlds” in which those who are the victims of arrogant perception are really subjects, lively beings, resisters, constructors of visions even though in the mainstream construction they are animated only by the arrogant perceiver and are pliable, foldable, file-awayable, classifiable. I always imagine the Aristotelian slave as pliable and foldable at night or after he or she cannot work anymore (when he or she dies as a tool). Aristotle tells us nothing about the slave apart from the master. We know the slave only through the master. The slave is a tool of the master. After working hours, he or she is folded and placed in a drawer until the next morning.
- The idea of public that I have in mind is not one that is built on Habermas's concept of the bourgeois public sphere (Habermas 1962), because it does not differentiate between a public and the public. Michael Warner (2003) describes the public as "a kind of social totality, the people in general" and a public as a concrete audience, "a crowd witnessing itself in visible space, as with a theatrical public. Such a public also has a sense of totality, bounded by the event or by the shared physical space". Also Nancy Fraser’s sense of “counterpublic” (Fraser 1997) seems problematic since a counter-public presupposes a universalizing concept of the bourgeois mainstream public that it can oppose, that can be "countered".
Similar to Nancy Fraser's concept of counterpublics, María Pía Lara provides an account of counter publicity in subaltern groups and stresses, according to Lugones, that the public address is an "attainment of recognition […] that is addressed not just to subaltern groups, but in a wider direction."(Lugones 2000, 176). In her text "Multiculturalism and Publicity" (2000), Maria Lugones provides a short summary of Lara's argument:
- Dialogue between author and public is necessary for recognition. Engaging the other in an understanding of the ego is crucial here; disclosure is crucial to identity formation. [...] thus, requires public recognition (Lara 1999, 87). Recognition is complete only when “acceptance of the public has taken place” (Lara 1999, 82). If differences are necessary for subjective expansion, their value must be “asserted in front of others” and the dialogue must not only show what makes one different but also that those differences are “part of what should be considered worthy” (Lara 1999, 156, 157). Groups needing to be heard must “conquer channels of communication to call attention to the way they have been treated”; recognition is thus a struggle (Lara 1999, 151, 157). It is their descriptions of what is missing in their lives that make their claims meaningful and understandable to others (Lara 1999, 151). In this case, subaltern publics must aim to reach recognition from both oppressors and oppressed. (Lugones 2000, 179)
- It may help to briefly explain how these three intersecting terms are employed here, by way of locating the inquiry. "Contemporary art" refers to the broad terrain of art production from the 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-representational" (Sternfeld 2018), "post-conceptualist" (Osborne 2010) or "relational" (Bishop 2006). "Radical education" 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, Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire 1970) and bell hooks’ writings on intersectional feminist pedagogy, such as Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (hooks 1994). Radical pedagogy has been practiced and tested by projects such as the "Anti-University" in London, the artist collective Ultra Red, and Malmö Free University for Women; and it has been theorized for example in the field of art and curating in books such as Curating and the Educational Turn (O'Neill and Wilson 2010) and in the field of higher education in, for instance, The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent (Chatterjee and Maira 2014). By "institutional analysis" I am intending not to describe a sub-domain of sociology, organizational 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 different literature. For more on this see Institutions by Artists (Khonsary and Podesva 2012), How Institutions Think (O'Neill, Steeds and Wilson 2017), and the research project Creating Commons (University of the Arts Zürich, 2016–19).
- The feminist critique of modern epistemologies refers to modernity's claim for abstraction and universalism that originates, in Haraway's words, from a "vision from everywhere and nowhere equally and fully." (Haraway 1988, 584) Boaventura de Sousa Santos summarizes the characteristics of modern epistemologies, which he calls "Epistemologies of the North" as
- (i) the absolute priority of science as rigorous knowledge; (ii) rigor, conceived of as determination; (iii) universalism [...] referring to any entity or condition the validity of which does not depend on any specific social, cultural, or political context; (iv) truth conceived of as the representation of reality; (v) a distinction between subject and object, the knower and the known; (vi) nature as res extensa; (vii) linear time; (viii) the progress of science via the disciplines and specialization; (ix) and social and political neutrality as a condition of objectivity. (de Sousa Santos 2018, 6)
- For Lugones, streetwalker theorizing implies a "pedestrian view – the perspective from inside the midst of people, from inside the layers of relations and institutions and practices” (Lugones 2003, Introduction) In contrast, the bird’s-eye view promotes "the perspective from up high, planning the town, the takeover, or the analysis of life and history" (Lugones 2003, Introduction). With "streetwalker theorizing" Lugones proposes an active subjective agency (in place of the liberal model of agency) that “does not presuppose the individual subject and it does not presuppose collective intentionality of collectivities of the same. It is adumbrated to consciousness by a moving with people, by the difficulties as well as the concrete possibilities of such movings.” (Introduction, emphasis added). This "moving with" shifts the understanding of agency of individual subjectivity, which is here not ascribed to a single rational actor to formulate and pursue her own conceptions but rather "the oft-impeded, multi-directional efforts of social beings moving within and against power structures." (Chang et al. 2018)
- From a decolonial perspective, Boaventura de Sousa Santos argues that the concept of the author in Western modernity forms part of the same cluster of idealist philosophies that underlie modern possessive individualism, namely originality, autonomy, and (individual) creativity. Such concepts, he claims, have little validity in the epistemologies of the South (as opposed to the epistemologies of the North, i.e Western modernity) as, "for them, the most relevant knowledges are either immemorial or generated in the social experiences of oppression and the struggles against it. In any case, they are rarely traceable to a single individual. Underlying such knowledges, there are always new or ancient collective experiences." (de Sousa Santos 2018, 54). See also the book chapter "Confronting Authorship, Constructing Practices", in which I discuss prevailing Western assumptions of authorship and ownership based on both property rights and moral rights and the blockages these assumptions create for collective knowledge practices (Weinmayr 2019, 267–307).
- This citation, without pointing to a specific stabilized publication, might surprise the conventions of academic standards. It refers to a 20-year practice of Brussels-based feminist technology collective Constant, who explore and demonstrate through their practices modes of how "to practically intervene, disrupt and change existing systems of production, distribution, and consumption of knowledge" – a question I raised at the start of this inquiry. See: website "Constant", http://constantvzw.org/site.
- 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 ten copies each on consignment. What an empowering moment – more exciting than any exhibition opportunity I ever had.
- Having published with big mainstream commercial publishing houses (Hatje Cantz) as well as small independent presses (Temporary Services, Half-Letter Press, Occasional Papers, Book Works) I got more and more interested in exploring and setting up a publishing infrastructure and subsequently co-founded in 2010, with American artist Lynn Harris, AND Publishing in London (today run with Rosalie Schweiker).
- 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 of 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 despite this.
- For a summary of the range of open access models that have been introduced, such as "Gold," "Green," and "Hybrid," see "What is open access?" https://www.openaccess.nl/en/what-is-open-access.
- The focus of these newly emerging open access presses is not limited to "providing online access to scholarly publications but was also about rethinking what an academic publishing culture should look like in a digital environment." (Adema, Moore 2018). One example would be the Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC), a community of scholar-led, not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access projects that at the moment consists of more than 50 members promoting a progressive vision for open publishing in the humanities and social sciences. http://radicaloa.disruptivemedia.org.uk/about/. The collective's aim is "to push back against the growing dominance of market-driven versions of open access – particularly those connected to exorbitant, and ultimately unsustainable, article and book processing charges – in order to promote non-commercial and not-for-profit forms of publishing that work against the neoliberal grain." http://radicaloa.disruptivemedia.org.uk/philosophy/. See also the range of topics debated at the two Radical Open Access conferences organized: "Radical Open Access" (2015) http://radicalopenaccess.disruptivemedia.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Booklet.pdf, and "Radical Open Access and the Ethics of Care" (2018) at Disruptive Media Lab at Coventry University, http://radicaloa.disruptivemedia.org.uk/conferences/roa2/concept/.
Gary Hall's "Inhumanist Manifesto" proposes ten strategies:
1. Work collaboratively and collectively.
2. Operate according to a non-profit philosophy.
3. Act in a non-rivalrous, non-competitive fashion to explore new models for property, ownership and the economy.
4. Take a hyper-political approach. Gift labor as a means of developing notions of the community, the common and of commoning that break with the conditions supporting the unified, sovereign, proprietorial subject.
5. Generate projects that are concerned, not only with representing or critiquing the world but also with intra-acting with the world.
6. Interrogate those propositions that are often taken for granted by theory. The list is a long one. It includes data, the digital, the human, technology, the printed text, the network, and copyright. Other propositions that are assumed by theorists when drawing conclusions about the media are capitalism, liberalism, humanism, freedom, democracy, community, communism, and the commons.
7. Engage with the existing institutions – especially those to which theorists are most closely tied such as the university, the library, and the scholarly publishing industry – so as to transform them.
8. Use different personas or masks to experiment with producing multiple authorial 'I's, different to the liberal humanist subjectivity that is the default adopted by even the most supposedly radical of theorists.
9. Reinvent both the humanities and the posthumanities as the inhumanities by adopting ways of being and doing as theorists that actually take account of and assume an intra-active relation with the nonhuman. (Hall 2017, 177).
- See Mayfly Books,"About Mayfly Books", http://mayflybooks.org/?page_id=2.
- The term "counter-political" is not to be read as "against politics" or "anti-politics". Counter-political is thought of as a practice that exceeds politics as an act of public demonstration and proclamation, or declarative, symbolic gestures. Its political agency lies in "doing things", the creation of facts, employing specific methods to achieve a certain goal. Counter-political comes close to infrapolitics with the difference that for infrapolitics anonymity is a key concern, "a politics that 'dare not speak its name,' a diagonal politics, a careful and evasive politics that avoided dangerous risks." (Scott 2012). See also the discussion of publicness and the public sphere. (02*Setting, note 3).
- I am using the name "HDK-Valand Academy of Arts and Design", or its short form "HDK-Valand" throughout this kappa. During the time when the project was in progress the Art Academy's name was "Valand Academy". "HDK-Valand" is the new name of the merger (2020) of the two art schools, Valand Art Academy and HDK Academy for Design and Craft.
- French sociologist Gabriel Tarde stresses in his book La lois d’imitation (1890), The Laws of Imitation (translated into English in 1903) the fundamental collective and pluralistic dimension of society by examining how any societal effort of invention is built on imitation. He states there is no tabula rasa on which ideas and knowledge emerge from, but ideas always build on already existing ideas. "Our acts are what they are because they are the fittest to satisfy and develop the wants which previous imitation of other inventions had first seeded in us; our thoughts, because they were the most consistent with the knowledge acquired by us of other thoughts which were themselves acquired because they were confirmed by other preliminary ideas or by visual, tactile, and other kinds of impressions which we got by renewing for ourselves certain scientific experiences or observations, after the example of those who first undertook them". (1903, 94)
- Suzanne Briet wrote this treatise as a contribution to the discourse of what constitutes a document. This question was fiercely discussed in the early 1900s, with Paul Otlet claiming that not just written documents but also three-dimensional objects could constitute a document when they serve as evidential objects. Briet expanded this concept by saying that naturally occurring phenomena could as well be documents, such as stars, pebbles, and animals when they had been observed and recorded and classified by an individual (Briet 1951).
- I relate colonial modernity to the concept of coloniality, as Nelson Maldonado-Torres explains:
- Coloniality is different from colonialism. Colonialism denotes a political and economic relation in which the sovereignty of a nation or a people rests on the power of another nation, which makes such nation an empire. Coloniality, instead, refers to long-standing patterns of power that emerged as a result of colonialism, but that define culture, labor, intersubjective relations, and knowledge production well beyond the strict limits of colonial administrations. Thus, coloniality survives colonialism. (Maldonado-Torres 2007, 243).
- See Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Generous Thinking – I refer to the published draft version: Generous Thinking: The University and the Public Good, especially the chapter "Critique and Competition" (Fitzpatrick 2018). Fitzpatrick’s working method with writing this book presents an interesting approach to scholarly publishing. She published the draft of her book online on Humanities Commons, inviting readers to comment. Based on these responses, what one could call a process of open peer review, she revised the initial draft for publication with John Hopkins University Press. While one could say this is some form of collective authorship, the now published title carries her individual name. The final print version is published as Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University (Fitzpatrick 2019).
- For example, the "Research Excellence Framework" (REF) is the UK system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The primary purpose of REF is to assess the quality of research and produce outcomes for each submission made by institutions. The four higher education funding bodies will use the assessment outcomes to inform the selective allocation of their grant for research to the institutions. The assessment is meant to provide accountability for public investment in research and to produce evidence of the benefits of this investment. The assessment outcomes aim to provide benchmarking information and to establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the higher education (HE) sector and for public information. The quality of research is assessed according to three criteria: (i) the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions), (ii) their impact beyond academia, and (iii) the environment that supports research. Note that the criteria to assess the research environment are based on quantitative indicators such as (a) data on research doctoral degrees awarded, (b) research income, and (c) research income-in-kind). The shortcomings of quantitative assessment will further be discussed in chapter 06*Analysis. The REF was first carried out in 2014 (replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise in 2009) the second one is scheduled for 2021. It is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE). https://www.ref.ac.uk/2014/
- Mediawiki is an open-source web-based content management software that also powers Wikipedia. The first wiki software (WikiWikiWeb) was developed by Ward Cunningham in the mid-1990s to enable a community of software developers to work together. Wikis are web-based content management systems that allow users to collaborate on content asynchronously. They contain a series of extendable hyperlinked pages to which users can add, edit and delete information, alter the structure, and so on. Every change is automatically recorded, viewable and reversible by users. Wikis use a very simplified mark up language and as such users require no knowledge of code, nor any specialist software or plugins. Cunningham described wikis as the "simplest online database that could possibly work." See http://www.wiki.org/wiki.cgi?WhatIsWiki.
- Charlotte Cooper produced a helpful "Research Justice Diagram" that shows the ethics of research that draws on communities outside academia; in Charlotte's case research on Fat Activism. For the diagram see: http://www.antiuniversity.org/Fat-Activism-and-Research-Justice. See also Charlotte Cooper’s website, http://charlottecooper.net/.