3 Survey of the field

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The previous chapter, 02*Setting, provided an overview of the sites, projects, initial questions and format of this PhD submission, and serves as an introduction to this kappa. In this chapter I will map the context and field for the contribution made by the research project. I will do this by delimiting a range of examples that identify the conditions of knowledge practices concerned with the politics of publishing at the intersection of contemporary art, radical education, and institutional analysis.

The practices described below operate post-representationally, or in curator Nora Sternfeld's words, they are "negotiating with reality."[1] They are widely spread in geographical and historical terms, and they draw on a wide range of disciplinary sources. This broad field of sampling stems from a commitment to working transversally, and to not be bound by the protocols of one field alone – be it contemporary art, feminist organizational practices, or radical education.

On closer inspection, the practices I discuss here share some distinct features. All are discrete instances in which the dominant paradigms of publishing and the formation of knowledges have, in one way or another, been adjusted, acting as counter-political projects. I did not start with explicit criteria to identify relevant examples. Rather, I worked my way backwards to arrive at criteria that would in turn aid me in naming and delimiting the field to which I am contributing.

The practices described in what follows interfere in distinct ways with notions of authorship, editorial processes, design, production, and distribution, as well as with methods of classifying, archiving, and reading. This affinity ties them together into a broader act of contesting power structures. I present the examples in a broadly chronological sequence. However, I do not wish to suggest that there is any developmental narrative here as such. Instead, these different practices provide a genealogy of concerns that help to locate the specific contribution of the current inquiry.



Setting up alternative infrastructures

The beginning of artists and poets using the book format as an artistic medium has been traced back to Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–98) and William Blake (1757–1827) (Drucker 2004, 21) and to Russian Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism in the early 20th century. Yet it is the emergence of conceptual art in the 60s and 70s and its tendencies towards the "dematerialization the art object" (Lippard 1973) that shifted the focus from the precious and artistically crafted "livre d'artiste" to political questions of production, dissemination, and consumption of art more generally.

Early conceptual artist books: Setting up infrastructures of production and distribution (the 60s and 70s)

Conceptual art criticized the paradigms of the art market by challenging the aura of preciousness and uniqueness of traditional art objects. In this respect, the qualities of the book are interesting, because "a book's text is infinitely replicable, the number of copies that can be printed is theoretically limitless." (Kostelanetz as cited in Lyons 1993, 13).

Early conceptual artists' books in the US have been characterized as a means to circumvent established institutional structures and perhaps, to a certain degree, as an attempt to reform the art system: "(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'" (Perrault 1973, 15–21).

Asked why the book has proved to be so attractive as an artistic medium, art theorist Lucy Lippard (1993, 45) speculates that artists' books are "considered by many the easiest way out of the art world and into the heart of a broader audience." 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.

Art-Rite magazine #14, New York, winter 1976/77. Read the artists' responses to this call here..

The challenge was to set up production and distribution systems that provided an alternative way to make the books circulate without falling back on exclusionary market mechanisms of the prevailing status quo. Investigating how artists could set up independent systems of circulation in the mid-70s, 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 catalogs.) 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. (Art-Rite 1975/76, 3).

This first appeal was followed by a second call, which attempted to generate discourse by inviting thoughts and motivations from artists experimenting with the medium:

If you feel inspired to write something informal, but brief and concentrated, about your views on any of the issues related to artists’ books, please do so. Why are you attracted to artists’ books? What are the best potentials and also the basic difficulties concerning this form (either innate to the medium itself or to its superstructure/or lack of it)?[2]

Due to their perceived potential to subvert the (commercial, profit-driven) gallery system and to politicize artistic practice, artists' books played an important part in the rise of independent art structures, claims artist Joan Lyons. She, for example, founded the Visual Studies Workshop Press, at the Rochester-based independent art school VSW in 1971. The press published artists' books by students and staff alike, as part of the educational process (Lyons 1993, 8). Artists started to set up their own distribution infrastructures by starting independent artists' book shops (some of them still thriving today, such as Printed Matter, New York, and Art Metropole, Toronto),[3] in an attempt to counter, to a certain extent, the hegemonic art gallery market. It is necessary to be circumspect about this latter point however, as history has shown that artists' books were always prone to be recaptured by the market and turned into collectibles.[4]

Descriptors and their discontents: artist book, artist's publishing

⟶  see published interview: More Verb, Less Noun – Publishing as Collective Practice (Jinglun Zhu) ⟶  see chapter 06*Analysis: Micro-politics of Publishing ⟶  see book chapter: Confronting Authorship – Constructing Practices (How Copyright is Destroying Collective Practice)

Ulises Carrión, leaflet from "Other Books and So," Amsterdam, no date. In Ulises Carrion. Dear Reader. Don't Read, Museo Nacional Reina Sofia Madrid, 2016, 194. Download book here.

Artists in this period certainly helped to expand the limits of mainstream art and pushed the understanding of what a book can be or do. Yet there is, I would claim, a problem with the descriptor "artists' book." It reduces the multi-faceted social, critical, and educational agencies involved in book production, circulation, and consumption to an object; moreover, an object subjected to notions of ownership and authorship and thus to monetary value and copyright.

Therefore, for this inquiry into the critical agency of publishing and knowledge practices, the term "publishing" seems more useful. This shift in terminology puts the focus on the process rather than on the finished object, a shift that I will explore from different perspectives throughout my inquiry. The interview with Jinglun Zhu, "More Verb, Less Noun," for example, discusses underground publishing, piracy, and collectivity. Chapter 06*Analysis: Micro-politics of Publishing, examines the shift from object to process from an institutional and educational perspective. The book chapter "Confronting Authorship – Constructing Practices (How Copyright is Destroying Collective Practice)" explores this shift from a legal perspective.

The traditional term "artists' book" is still widely in use as the numerous artists' publishing fairs across the globe evidence: "The New York Art Book Fair," founded in 2005 by Printed Matter; "London Art Book Fair" at Whitechapel Art Gallery in London; "Index Art Book Fair" in Mexico City; "MISS READ – Berlin Art Book Festival"; "Vancouver Art Book Fair"; "Tokyo Art Book Fair," to name just a few.[5] However, recent activities, scholarship, and discourse, seem to take into account the processual practice aspect of publication. For example, Eleanor Vonne Brown at the independent publishing space X Marks the Bökship in London, convened an event series "Publishing as Practice" (2010 and 2014). Since then a number of publications dealing with publishing in a broader sense have appeared, such as the anthology Publishing as Artistic Practice (Sternberg Press, 2016) edited by Annette Gilbert, and Publishing Manifestos (MIT Press, 2019) edited by Michalis Pichler.[6]

The term "artists' publishing" shifts certainly the emphasis to the processual and its social and emancipatory agency, but it also limits its applicability to makers or authors who define themselves as artists. In 1979, Richard Kostelanetz was already addressing this issue:

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. (as cited in Lyons 1993, 13)

Kostelanetz's emphasis on what books do, rather than who made them seems to be in line with Michel Foucault's critique of the author function that I will discuss and problematize from a feminist and decolonial perspective in the chapter 06*Analysis: Micro-politics of Publishing.

Counter-cultural alternative media – Radical Printshops (70s, 80s, UK)

⟶  see: See Red, Women's Workshop, London My inquiry into the micro-politics of publishing as an agent for change moves beyond the field of art and extends into the wider field of counter-cultural alternative media. Jess Baines' (2016) work on radical printshops in the UK – which can be seen as an attempt to write historiography from within – has shown how historical feminist collectives have organized themselves (1960s–80s) in a struggle for women's liberation. Baines also shows how media, such as prints, posters, magazines, and zines, were used to create communities and campaigns around the issues at stake.

Baines illustrates how alternative media and social movements have mobilized the concept of "counter-public spheres", or in Nancy Fraser's words "subaltern counter-publics." Fraser describes these spheres as "parallel discursive arenas where members of subordinated social groups invent and circulate counterdiscourses to formulate oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests, and needs." She gives the example of the US feminist subaltern counter-public "with its variegated array of journals, bookstores, publishing companies, film and video distribution networks, lecture series, research centers, academic programs, conferences, conventions, festivals, and local meeting places, where feminist women have invented new terms for describing social reality, including 'sexism,' 'the double shift,' 'sexual harassment,' and 'marital, date, and acquaintance rape.'" (Fraser 1990, 67)

It's interesting that Fraser's reflection on the question of "alternative media" in 1990, notes that not all of the subaltern counterpublics are necessarily "virtuous," but can be anti-democratic and anti-egalitarian. She argues that, in principle, "assumptions that were previously exempt from contestation will now have to be publicly argued out" and that "the proliferation of subaltern counterpublics means a widening of discursive contestation." (Fraser 1990, 67) Today, 30 years later, given the rise of far-right movements and their successful media strategies, we might have to rethink the concepts of counterpublic and alternative media more carefully.[7]

The question of what constitutes alternative media has been broadly defined as "media production that challenges, at least implicitly, actual concentrations of media [symbolic] power." (Couldry and Curran 2003, 7). Here, of course, criteria are needed to define counter-cultural practices. Jess Baines (2016, 17) summarizes these as "politically progressive and/or oppositional content; democratic organizational practices; independence from commercial and state influence; involving amateurs rather than professionals; considering audiences as participants (potential if not actual) rather than consumers; adapting/mobilizing available technologies". She notes that these criteria, generally speaking, "point in the same direction, towards the democratization of media in terms of what is produced (different perspectives), who produces it (different bodies) and how it is produced (different practices)."

See Red self defense.jpg

Jess Baines' in-depth study of radical printshops in the UK provides a framework for understanding the practice of the See Red Women's Workshop, which printed silk-screened posters between 1974–90, in London. These posters, and the production of media more broadly, extend, according to Baines (2016, 12), "the communicative capacities of politically, economically and socially 'marginal' groups and disputing various forms and practices of 'dominant power.'" For See Red, disputing forms of dominant power included, for instance, inventing new modes of working together that produced forms of collective authorship. Founding members of See Red, Suzy Mackie and Pru Stevenson (2013a), explain:

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 [in media and advertising]. 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!'

This account of collective creative practice that seeks to work against individual authorship and defies ideas of entitlement or ownership, is significant for the discussion of regimes of individual authorship in chapter 06*Analysis.⟶  see chapter 06*Analysis: Micro-politics of Publishing

The See Red print workshop, despite its productive functions, was a site of sociality. In a public talk, members of the See Red Women's Workshop stressed how important it was to gather in person and generate ideas on how to visualize a particular issue that was important to them. It was the activity of articulating experiences and collective brainstorming that politicized their practice, and it was the exchange of ideas that led to sharp slogans and imagery for the posters (Mackie and Stevenson 2013b). As Baines' study shows, the printshops were much more than "collaborations." The interviews she conducted with members of the printshops show that this practice "is about change, personal and social, not just as something cognitive, but also via physical, embodied practice."[8] This implicit collectivity was also seen as a form of resistance: "It was part of the politics that you sought an alternative route to the mainstream because it rejected you for race, gender, sexuality, anything, so it was ok we'll do it ourselves, and we'll do it in a different way that is non-hierarchical." (Baines 2016, 118)

The collectivity, as Baines (2016, 11) explains, generated "cultural constellations" that "produced and were produced by movements and milieus," that were "made up of groups and individuals staking particular claims, producing 'culture,' developing new ways of 'doing things' and mobilizing technologies and tools to do so."

The printshop as a site of culture and knowledge production could be related to the model of the rhizome, a metaphor borrowed from Deleuze and Guattari's critique of 'arboreal' thought (the tree as a model for knowledge). Baines explains that arboreal thought is hierarchical, centralized and linear (with roots, a trunk, and branches that subdivide in importance), whereas the rhizome is anarchic, made of points without a center, but "always in the middle, between things… the tree is filiation… the rhizome is alliance." (Deleuze and Guattari 2005, 25). "Any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be. This is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order." (7).

The figure of the rhizome suggests heterogeneity and multiplicity, processes and flows rather than structure and fixity and therefore relates, according to Olga Bailey, Bart Cammaerts, and Nico Carpentier to alternative media's potential to connect diverse struggles (Bailey et al. 2008, 27). This rhizomatic way of working that connects different struggles could also be seen as a working principle of contemporary feminist media collectives, such as Constant in Brussels that apply some aspects of radical print shops to open source technologies.

Open Source: Feminist technologies: Constant (Brussels)

Constant is a feminist, non-profit, artist-run organization based in Brussels, active in the fields of art, media, and technology since 1997. Current artistic director Femke Snelting describes Constant as "a collective of collectives [...] trying to work out 'what' feminist technologies could be, and 'how' they could be practiced." (Snelting et al. 2018).

Constant develops, investigates, and experiments. Constant departs from feminisms, copyleft, Free/Libre + Open Source Software. Constant loves collective digital artistic practices. Constant organizes transdisciplinary work sessions. Constant creates installations, publications, and exchanges. Constant collaborates with artists, activists, programmers, academics, designers. Constant is active archives, poetic algorithms, body and software, books with an attitude, correlations, counter cartographies, situated publishing, e-traces, extitutional networks, interstitial work, libre graphics, performative protocols, relearning, discursive infrastructures, hackable devices. ⟶  see: webpage Constant

The groups working with/at/around Constant explain how they make a connection between the ideas of free software[9] and feminist values: "In French the term for "operating systems" is "système d'exploitation," and as a feminist, you don't want to accept your exploitation system, you want to be able to change and modify it." For feminist technology seems incomplete "if you don't do all the layers."[10]

Constant's feminist work on technology looks beyond the front end (the devices, the software we use) to explore the back end (the channels, the servers, the infrastructures). "We were performing and enacting the feminist potential of free software and then seeing that there are many more things going on that keep back that potential and that we needed to be much more direct, explicit, and clear about our feminist intentions," says Snelting in a video conversation with Barcelona-based activist SpiderAlex. (Snelting et al. 2018).

This entails taking the consequences of thinking technology as "being embedded in practices of maintenance, of care, of resources, of shorter as well as longer time frames" seriously. Going through all the layers means thinking about how technologies produce norms, how they make space for difference, how they work from possibilities and not probabilities, how they can keep opening up that potential." (Snelting et al. 2018). According to Snelting, feminist infrastructure is not about control and ownership. For her, " it is crucial to remind ourselves that technologies are about relations with things we like to relate to, but also things we don't like to be related to. So its about practices that make the best of those situations." (Snelting et al. 2018). Snelting emphasizes a certain persistence, that is not necessarily "going towards a solution," but a persistence "that is determined and strengthening and maybe even empowering without cutting itself away from the dependencies it is entangled with." She refers here to Donna Haraway's "staying with the trouble." Haraway (2016, 4) argues in her book that, "eschewing futurism, staying with the trouble is both more serious and more lively. Staying with the trouble requires making oddkin; that is, we require each other in unexpected collaborations and combinations, in hot compost piles. We become-with each other or not at all. That kind of material semiotics is always situated, someplace and not noplace, entangled and worldly." Haraway argues that "staying with the trouble" is only possible in relationships (with people, with materials, with tools), since "alone, in our separate kinds of expertise and experience, we know both too much and too little, and so we succumb to despair or to hope, and neither is a sensible attitude."

Constant’s activities are so many, and on several different layers and fields of inquiry that it is not possible for them to be adequately "captured" here: the scale of the endeavor is truly impressive. Regardless of scale, I would argue that it is the entirety of their rhizomatic practice, its "ongoingness", that makes Constant such an important organization. Their open-source approach – an underlying principle in their mode of working – develops temporalities and effects that are very different from one-off artistic gestures, such as "interventions" that often remain in the realm of the symbolic. To be able to sustain this practice for more than 20 years, to be able to pay active members even a modest monthly salary, is exemplary of how intersectional feminist institution-building can be pursued beyond conventional structures such as the artspace, the university, the cultural center – in Constant's own words through "extitutional" network building.

Interventionist strategies “Insertions into Ideological Circuits”

Hacking and infiltrating, using infrastructures already in existence, is a different tactic of radical publishing that is being employed by artists and activists. Insertions into Ideological Circuits (1970) is a series of works by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles. He infiltrated infrastructures of circulation by printing anti-war slogans on recyclable Coca-Cola bottles as a gesture against the (then) ongoing war in Vietnam. Meireles screen-printed empty bottles and returned them to shops, making them re-enter the circulation system. The inscribed bottles got refilled in the factory and delivered via shops to consumers. Banknotes are another circulation system that Meireles appropriated for his own purposes. Taking advantage of the fact that notes pass from hand to hand in exchange for goods, he rubber-stamped critical questions about the Brazilian dictatorship onto banknotes – of varying denominations and currencies –and fed them back into circulation. Here the artist merely “piggy-bagged” on existing infrastructures of circulation as a carriers for his messages.

The Yes Men, New York Times, Special Edition, 2008.

A similar strategy was put to action in the US (November 2008), when activists around the North American prankster collective The Yes Men “hacked” The New York Times by printing a “special edition” of 80,000 copies, that were distributed for free to passers-by on the streets of several US cities. This special edition was a perfect replica of the visual appearance of The New York Times, in terms of paper, graphic design, typefaces, and size. Thus, the activists co-opted – to an extent – the authority of the brand "The New York Times " 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."[11]


Library as Infrastructure

⟶  see book chapter: Library Underground – a reading list for a coming community

⟶  watch video: Library Underground – welcome to my tent

⟶  Library Underground-welcome to my tent-film still.jpg

The discussion of the practices mapped above points to the significance of building (or intervening in) infrastructures of circulation and modes of sharing. Libraries occupy an important role in the distribution and circulation of published knowledge. Whether a physical collection of inked paper or an online archive of digitally published files, libraries are key moments for accessing, activating, and disseminating knowledge. The ethos of the public library (in contrast to private, monastic, or other specialized and restricted libraries) is intimately connected to democratic ideals of equality and free access to knowledge. As Anna-Sophie Springer points out, libraries, being usually non-profit spaces, provide citizens with material and immaterial goods and media that would otherwise have to be purchased.[12] The public library can be defined as (i) a publicly available collection, (ii) housed in a public building, (iii) indexed and made accessible with the help of a public catalog, (iv) serviced by trained librarians and (v) financed through public funds.[13] A complex body of research, as well as artistic interventions, and sociological and media studies in the last decade have focused on the function and importance of libraries. David Weinberger, for example, proposes thinking of libraries as "open platforms" – not only for the creation of software but also for the development of knowledge and community.[14]. Shannon Mattern suggests that we understand the library as a place where informational and social infrastructures intersect, and highlights the benefits to immigrants, seniors, individuals searching for work, public school students, and aspiring entrepreneurs.[15] Tomislav Medak reminds us of the many sides of the phenomenon that the public library is: a "major community center, service for the vulnerable, center of literacy, informal and lifelong learning; a place where hobbyists, enthusiasts, old and young meet and share knowledge and skills." (Medak 2015, 81). The Guardian newspaper (Flood, 2019) points out that "Britain has closed almost 800 public libraries since 2010".

Synergy Magazine, Index for 1967–71. Download PDF.

But institutional (in contrast to private or self-organized) libraries are also disciplinary institutions that play a part in determining what comes to be validated as relevant knowledge. "The revolting librarians," a movement of the 70s in California, criticized the limited range of topics and information public libraries provided at the time serving mainly a white, middle-class readership. They pointed towards the American Bill of Rights declaration that stated the library should provide information "for every member of the community"[16] and consequently campaigned for the inclusion of topics that served marginalized groups. The library newsletter Synergy, published in the 60s and 70s by the Bay Area Reference Center in San Francisco lists subjects such as "San Francisco State College-Strike," "Neglected Novels," "The Underground Press," "Right-Wing Periodicals," "Women's Liberation," "Native Americans," "Ecology," "Radicals in the Profession," "Gay Liberation," "Prisons," "Insurgent Librarians," "Occult," and "Changing Family Structure."[17]

The 70s radical library movement in the California's Bay Area, and the various attempts (historical and contemporary) to circumvent enclosures and establish "extitutional" and informal library infrastructures are discussed in more detail in the book chapter "Library Underground – a reading list for a coming community." In what follows, I will present practices of radical librarianship that operate outside institutions (extitutional) and secondly, others that operated from within institutions.


Radical Librarianship – "extitutional": Questions of access and validation

There is considerable artistic and activist work being done that draws attention to the politics of access (copyright enclosures), to processes of validation (what knowledges are legitimized, and included) and biases in organizing, framing, categorizing, and classifying knowledge. In short: what is subsumed under the term bibliographical practices (representation).

An artwork: "Martha Rosler Library" (2007)

A wide range of artists have worked with libraries as part of their artistic practice. A notable example among them is Martha Rosler. At the invitation of Anton Vidokle (e-flux) nearly eight thousand books were temporarily removed from the artist's home to be made available to the public in an e-flux organized reading room in New York, at the Liverpool Biennale and in several exhibitions across Europe – "Martha Rosler Library". Elena Filipovic (2007) describes this as

an act of incredible generosity, one of America's most important living artists temporality dispossessed herself of the vast majority of her personal library so that it could be made available for consultation. No borrowing was possible, but the eclectic ensemble of books on economics, political theory, war, colonialism, poetry, feminism, science fiction, art history, mystery novels, children's books, dictionaries, maps and travel books, as well as photo albums, posters, postcards and newspaper clippings could be studied at will.

It has been suggested that the contents of the library are "both the source of Rosler's work and an installation/artwork that continues many of the concerns – with public space, access to information and engaged citizenship – that traverse her entire oeuvre." (Filipovic 2007)

Filipovic's narrative seems to suggest that one possible interpretation of "Martha Rosler Library" is as a sort of portrait of the artist: One could read Rosler's oeuvre through her books by reflecting on the relationship between her artwork and the books. Rosler vehemently opposes this reading in an interview with Stephen Wright:

The one thing about the library I never anticipated was that people would see it as a portrait of me. That is the least interesting interpretation that could possibly exist. Why see it as a symbolic creation? Why not see it as a library, with both books from diverse sources and pamphlets and other things? Because otherwise, you have abstracted it to the point where it's offering you nothing. So I am horrified by the library-as-portrait. [... That means] they didn't have to see it as an open invitation to anything, but only as ruins, like if we decipher this, we'll have the story of Martha Rosler. No, no, no, no, wrong! Look through the artist, this artist, to the basis of the practice of an artist. (Domela and Barnes, 2008, 11).

The problem, I argue, with Rosler's suggestion is that even if one abstracts "an" artist from "the" artist, this library is framed as an artwork by an individual artist in collaboration with an initiator ("at the invitation of Anton Vidokle"). Therefore this personal library always points back to one individual, its creator, the artist. As such it is certainly a generous gesture but still, one that quite simply re-affirms a conception of art with a capital A, in which an artist creates a work, and others are invited to interpret it. The question to ask is, how would one encounter these books had she lent or donated them to a public library without adding her name to them? Or in other words, what kind of value is added by framing this collection of books as Martha Rosler's?

A network of relationships: Infoshops (1990s UK)

A fundamentally more collective approach is exemplified by various small self-organized libraries and reading rooms that have appeared in cities throughout Europe and the US in recent years. Often set up by artists or connected to newly emerging makerspaces, these small community-run libraries are informally organized and cater to 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 90s in the UK and US as part of social movements.

Infoshops are nodes "free space within a diffuse, anti-hierarchical network" (Atton 2003, 58) and are often homes not only for debate and discussion but also for alternative media and are thus connected to the radical printshops discussed above. Infoshops tended to operate independently, and not be council-run or affiliated to other organizations, and catered specifically for the information (and other, social and cultural) needs of its users (1999, 24–29). Chris Atton (2003, 58) explains that

one of the info shop's key functions is to be a repository and distributor of alternative media (mostly, though not exclusively, anarchist media), and it appears to function as a hybrid form of information resource, acting as a library, archive, distributor, and sales outlet. It can also be a site for the production of such media, often produced by the same collective that runs the infoshop itself.

The infoshop can thus be seen as having a two-way function: being the origin as well as the outcome of collective action.[18] It offers, according to Atton, a radical form of community library and plays a crucial role in developing autonomy, solidarity, and reflexivity in the creative processes of activist politics.

Shadow Libraries

"With books ready to be shared [online], meticulously cataloged, everyone is a librarian. When everyone is a librarian, the library is everywhere." (Mars et al. 2012)

In the last decade, a multitude of online shadow libraries emerged. Operating as peer-to-peer sharing platforms, they build on the idea that "when everyone is a librarian the library is everywhere." These piratical text collections pool together resources that were already in circulation and newly scanned books that are (often illicitly) uploaded by the platforms' users.

This is a library which is perfectly virtual, which has no monumental buildings, no multi-million euro budget, no miles of stacks, no hundreds of staff but which has, despite lacking all that what apparently makes a library, millions of literary works and millions of scientific books, all digitized, all available at the click of the mouse for everyone on the earth without any charge, library or university membership. (Bodó, 2015, 1)

A range of scholarly and activist work has shown the ways in which the history of book piracy is tightly connected to the history of the printing press, to the history of censorship, the history of copyright, and civil disobedience.[19] Therefore it is important to acknowledge the cultural significance of book piracy, because "ultimately it is a story about how knowledge is circulated beyond and often against the structures of political and economic power, and thus it is a story about the changes this unofficial circulation of knowledge brings." (Bodó 2015, 2). A wide spectrum of workshops, seminars, and conferences and symposia have been organized over the last decade to identify the need for, and the importance of, shadow or pirate libraries to counter the monopolies and enclosures in the prevailing knowledge economy[20]. I have been invited to participate in some of these and talk about the Piracy Project and the intricacies and blockages that regimes of copyright and intellectual property are currently producing in the fields of arts and education, a topic that I explored in the book chapter "Confronting Authorship – Constructing Practices (How Copyright is Destroying Collective Practice." ⟶  see book chapter: Confronting Authorship – Constructing Practices (How Copyright is Destroying Collective Practice)

For a full understanding of the range of specific problems copyright poses for libraries in the mere fulfillment of their basic mission of providing documents and books for lending and copying, one has to understand the effect of digital lending rights. Copyright law provides exceptions for libraries to lend physical books (one copy can be indefinitely lent and read by different library users). In contrast, libraries are only allowed to digitize their holdings for use onsite.[21] Off-site lending (e-lending) of copyrighted works is, in most cases, only possible through license agreements and digital subscriptions with individual publishers that libraries can only afford on a limited scale.[22]

This is a rough sketch of the context in which Aaron Swartz produced his "Guerilla Open Access Manifesto" calling for the liberation and sharing of scientific knowledge. Swartz forcefully asserted that scientific knowledge, produced with significant backing of public funds and the voluntary labor of academics, could not be locked up behind corporate paywalls set up by publishers. Unauthorized copying and dissemination of scientific works and their transfer from behind closed paywall repositories to public archives, he claimed, is a moral question. [23] He created, according to Balázs Bodó, "an ideological framework which was more radical and promised to be more effective than either the creative commons (Lessig, 2004) or the open access (Suber, 2013) movements that tried to address the access to knowledge issues in a more copyright-friendly manner." (Bodó 2015, 8)


⟶  see project 3*The Piracy Project In the following, I will briefly map some of the recent and current shadow library initiatives that – each in its different way – constitute the wider context for my research inquiry and for the Piracy Project more specifically.


Sci-hub ("Remove all barriers in the way of science") was founded in 2011 by Alexandra Elbakyan, at the time a graduate student in science (Kazakhstan). Frustrated by the inaccessibility of scientific papers for research and education due to high costs, Elbakyan created a website that enables users to download PDF versions of scholarly articles, including many articles that are paywalled at their journal's site. As of April 2020 Sci-hub provides access to 81,327,483 journal articles and papers[24] and receives, according to Michael S. Rosenwald (2016), approximately 400,000 download requests per day. Elbakyan stresses that the important part of Sci-Hub is the script that can download papers that are behind paywalls directly from the publisher.[25] One method that Sci-Hub uses to bypass paywalls is to obtain leaked authentication credentials for educational institutions. These credentials enable Sci-Hub to use institutional networks as proxies and gain access to subscription journals (Himmelstein et al. 2018) – a tactic that differs from other shadow libraries that rely on users to digitize physical copies (often manually) for uploading to the repository.


⟶  see archive: Memory of the World A second example is Memory of the World set up by Marcell Mars and Tomislav Medak around 2012. They explain that Memory of the World has two main aims: firstly, to make a case for the institution of the public library and its principle of universal access to knowledge; secondly, to explore and develop distributed internet infrastructure for amateur librarians. Memory of the World invites amateur librarians to scan their book collections and upload the digital PDFs or e-pubs to the shared repository for others to download. Convinced that knowledge should be free and not curtailed by big publishing monopolies or copyright notes, Memory of the World offers a new interpretation of what a public library could be. Or in Balázs Bodó's words, "users left to their own devices, can produce a library by themselves for themselves. In fact, users are the library. And when everyone has the means to digitize, collect, catalog, and share his/her own library, then the library suddenly is everywhere." (Bodó 2015, 10)


Aaaaarg.fail, comes at the issue from a slightly different angle. It is an online text repository, which initially served as a library for the "The Public School," a framework supporting autodidact activities that began in Los Angeles in 2007.[26] The Public School's initiators, Fiona Whitton and Sean Dockray, were critical of the assumption that a curriculum must always come with an institutionalized agenda defining a prescribed canon of learning. In the Public School, people propose classes they'd like to take or want to teach.[27] The Public School has now spread to other cities, including Buenos Aires, Berlin, San Francisco, New York, Durham, Helsinki, London, Vienna among others. Aaaaarg has grown over the years into "a community of researchers and enthusiasts from contemporary art, critical theory, philosophy, and related fields who maintain, catalog, annotate and run discussions relevant to their research interests."[28] Sean Dockray describes aaaaarg as "a conversation platform – at different times it performs as a school, or a reading group, or a journal. Aaaaarg (originally aaarg, an acronym that stands for "Artists, Architects, and Activists Reading Group")[29] was created to develop critical discourse outside of an institutional framework. But rather than thinking of it like a new building, Dockray suggests imagining scaffolding that attaches onto existing buildings and creates new architectures between them."[30] Quite significantly, there is no moderation of the site beyond the maintenance of the server and the technical infrastructure. This open approach distinguishes it from other shadow libraries and, most importantly, it shows that aaaaarg transcends the understanding of a library "as service" supplying distinct and finite objects to distinct and individual readers.


⟶  see archive: Monoskop ⟶  see: Monoskop, Compendium of digital shadow libraries ⟶  see: Monoskop, Inverse Reader

Monoskop, set up and run by Dušan Barok (Amsterdam), is akin to aaaaarg in that it is a wiki (including a blog) where anyone (who creates a wiki account) can contribute. Monoskop creates a densely networked repository by aggregating and interlinking documents, works, and initiatives related to the avant-gardes, media arts and theory, and activism. In an interview with Annet Dekker, Barok explains that "besides providing access, digital libraries are also fit to provide context by treating publications as a corpus of texts that can be accessed through an unlimited number of interfaces designed with an understanding of the functionality of databases and an openness to the imagination of the community of users. [...] This can be done by creating layers of classification, interlinking bodies of texts through references, creating alternative indexes of persons, things, and terms, making full-text search possible, making visual search possible – across the whole of the corpus as well as its parts, and so on." (Dekker 2017). The Monoskop wiki is a structure that truly highlights potential of intertextuality in digital libraries. It provides, for instance, a compendium of digital shadow libraries as well as a reader linking to a wide range of writings, talks, and conversations about digital libraries, whether shadow, independent or artistic.[31]


The second strand of shadow libraries and digital repositories that should be mentioned here also aim to counter enclosures and monopolies but they differ in one crucial aspect from user-generated peer-to-peer platforms in that they are individually curated. Ubuweb, for example, is a meticulously curated online archive for text, audio, and video run by US-based conceptual writer Kenneth Goldsmith. The Public Collectors online archive is administered by Marc Fisher (Temporary Services) in Chicago; it hosts "cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible".[32] Antonia Hirsch's The Surplus Library on Affect & Economic Exchange promotes the lending of privately owned hardcopy books, mediated through an online platform, which indicates the location of the books available for lending..[33] This second set of critical archiving practices is mostly connected to an individual (artist). This raises the question of maintenance, a problem that has been getting increasingly more attention in recent activist discourse. Strategies are needed to secure the accessibility and usability of this work – often decades of digitizing and archiving content – for future generations. How could such infrastructures be collectivized? The questions of maintenance are pressing, as are those of legal prosecution.[34]

Ultimately, the question that emerges is what could institutional libraries learn from "extitutional" and disobedient practices? Balázs Bodó points out that book pirates excel in some of the core services of libraries. "For the moment, pirate libraries provide significantly better services than most of the institutional libraries. They offer far more electronic books, with much fewer restrictions and constraints, to far more people, considerably cheaper than anyone else in the library domain". Therefore, the question is not meant as a joke, but as instigation to learn from book piracy, to take it seriously, not just as a threat, as Bodó proposes, "but as an opportunity". (Bodó 2015, 4)


Radical Librarianship – "institutional": Questions of organization and classification

⟶  see chapter 05*Reflection theorization of projects: Perspectives and framing under the disguise of neutrality We are now moving from community-run, code-based searchable online repositories into the halls of a library building with shelves, shelfmarks, subject headings, and printed volumes tagged with unique identifier labels. It is a highly classified space that formalizes and arranges knowledge into categories, both intellectually and spatially. As librarian and scholar Emily Drabinski explains, classifications are built of two parts: subject headings that locate materials intellectually (grouping them under a defined subject) and call numbers that translate the intellectual map into the linear reality of library shelves. "Subject headings fix books in a stable intellectual space, call numbers fix them in physical space. Each subject heading is correlated with a number that places the book in linear order on library shelves. This is an inescapable material constraint; each book can occupy one and only one space on a library shelf." (Drabinski 2009, 16)

The catalog captures and represents the knowledge in the collection via index cards. They list the author's name and the book's title, the metadata description (format, publisher, year, etc.), the subject heading (the field), keywords (what it is about) and the book's shelfmark (the location in the library). In such a traditional physical setting, the entry points for searching are limited to either author name, subject heading, keywords in the catalog, or eventually, to serendipitous browsing of the shelves (good neighbors). The library, therefore, is a place of rigorous organization and discipline.

The two most widespread classification systems are (i) Dewey's Decimal Classification system (DDC) – the prevailing system in public and research libraries outside of the US and (ii) Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) – that govern mainly libraries in North America. In addition to these, there are also a few National Standards – in Sweden, for example – and other classification systems outside the Global North.[35]

The two main systems are based on a "universal language" and a so-called "controlled vocabulary" to formalize the classifications and the terms used. There are inherent limits to the concept of "universal language" that I discuss in detail in chapter 05*Reflection, theorization of projects: Perspectives and framing under the disguise of neutrality. Descriptors are not neutral: whether classifying, indexing, naming, or key-wording, there is always an act of interpretation. They frame and therefore control whether content will be found and to an extent how it will be read. Melvil Dewey's biographer, for example, points out that DDC is grounded in "a patriarchal White Western (and Christian)" worldview and therefore excludes a whole range of alternative perspectives on humanity's knowledge.[36] Another caveat regarding DDC is identified by philosopher Hope Olson (2001, 652) who asserts that "DDC typically follows the liberal approach of instituting equality or sameness more often than it represents diversity. The problem of equality is its homogenizing presumption that the same model will apply universally."

We have three dilemmas that I summarize here and will discuss in more detail in chapter 05*Reflection, theorization of projects. Firstly, descriptors are needed, but an universal "one size fits all" approach is known to be inadequate for some purposes. Library users seeking material outside of traditional mainstream topics will often be met with frustration, as they are likely to miss relevant materials, or indeed be unable to find any at all.

Secondly, the implicit function of naming is to delimit one thing from another. However, such delineations are intrinsically based on particular cultural perspectives – as described regarding DDC above – and can potentially invite and inscribe distortions, exclusions, and marginalizations into systems that rely on those operations..

And thirdly, as Emily Drabinski (2008, 198) notes, "we cannot do a classification scheme objectively; it is the nature of subject analysis to be subjective. [...] 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."

Prejudices and Antipathies

Sanford Berman, Prejudices and Antipathies: A Tract on the LC Subject Heads Concerning People.

Similarly to DDC, the subject headings at the Library of Congress have come under critical scrutiny since Sanford Berman published his study Prejudices and Antipathies: A Tract on the Library of Congress Subject Heads Concerning People in 1971 (Berman, 1971). Berman's study revealed that the 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, 54). In a word, many subject headings exhibit "bias" in favor of particular points of view, and against others. Many possible subject headings are omitted altogether. Substantial research has been done, and concerns raised.

Steven A. Knowlton, "Three Decades since Prejudices and Antipathies: A Study of Changes in the Library of Congress Subject Headings"

Berman's careful reasoning for each entry makes this work particularly relevant and insightful. Some of the subject descriptors Berman identified and for which he recommended carefully reasoned "remedies" showed, in Berman's view, open racism, homophobia, and misogyny. He suggested the subject heading "Pan-Pacific relations" instead of "Yellow Peril." "Race Relations" for "Race Question." "Mexican-Americans" instead of "Mexicans in the US" and the cross-reference "Sexual Perversion" for "Homosexuality" and "Lesbianism" was eventually deleted. By 2005, 64% of Berman's "remedies" had been implemented in the Library of Congress Subject Headings.[37]


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

⟶  see website: Kvinnsam at Gothenburg University Cataloging not only controls how specific content is framed, but it also determines whether content is likely to be found at all.[38] At Gothenburg University, as early as 1958, three librarians and archivists, Eva Pinéus, Asta Ekenvall, Rosa Malmström, started collecting and cataloging women's literature about women's struggle for suffrage and founded, as a private initiative, the "Women's History Archive". Their aim was threefold: to collect manuscripts and archives documenting the Swedish women's movement; to compile and catalog literature on women and to index it in such a way as to make gender aspects manifest; and thirdly, to support scholarship on women studies by publishing research reports and dissertations on women's history for a wider market. When in 1971 the collection became part of Gothenburg University, they became aware that within the holdings of the University library there was plenty of material relevant to women and gender struggles, but it was not cataloged as such. The relevant keywords were missing and, therefore, hard to find. The librarians started to establish a parallel keyword catalog, "Kvinnsam", by indexing – through analog means– the existing holdings of Gothenburg University library with the aim of making aspects of gender manifest and, therefore, searchable. Today, KvinnSam is a parallel digital keyword catalog at Gothenburg University library for finding gender-related material, resources that would not be likely to appear as results of a search in the standard catalog.[39]

Feminist Search Tool

⟶  see website: Feminist Search Tool Similar concerns regarding the implicit biases in the organization of knowledge drives a group of contemporary artists, who are affiliated with the Read-in Collective in Utrecht. In collaboration with librarians at the Utrecht University library, they developed a "Feminist Search Tool", departing from the question: "Why are the authors of the books I read so white, so male, so Eurocentric?"[40] The group developed a digital interface that maps the existing library records at Utrecht University (2006–16) applying different search categories, such as race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and class. Users can apply different filters to their search (language of publication, place of publication, type of publisher, gender of the author) with the results then mapping how many female non-Western authors and female authors of color are represented in the library holdings and thus reveal the inclusion and exclusion mechanisms of our knowledge institutes.

Feminist Search Tool, Utrecht University library

In contrast to the KvinnSam subject search developed in Gothenburg, it is not a search engine for "known-item or delivery search", which is a search for a specific item for which either the authors or the title is known. Instead, the 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)."[40] As such this intervention is not to be seen as a replacement for the library catalog, "but [as] a supplementary tool for any inquiring person to approach one's own biases and taken for granted truths that one is reproducing while studying and researching."[40]

Infrastructural Manœuvres, Rietveld and Sandberg Library Amsterdam

⟶  see website: Infrastructural Manœuvres Infrastructural Manœuvres at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam could be discussed in the Shadow Libraries section above, but as it is an initiative by librarians and critical code practitioners located at an art academy, I will consider it here, as an intervention in an institutional setting. Infrastructural Manœuvres was initiated by Anita Burato and Martino Morandi in 2018 to explore the limitations as well as the possibilities of a library's technical infrastructure. Convinced that there is "no such thing as 'technical' choices'" they introduce with Infrastructural Manœuvres a more "generalist and collective approach to the socio-technical issues" of infrastructure.[41]

Infrastructural Manœuvres at the Library, Raspberry Pi, 2019.

They do this by, for example, abandoning the "cloud service" model, as this standard set-up does not allow librarians to directly access the catalog but merely to use a preset interface provided by the service company. Instead, Infrastructural Manœuvres approached the IT department of the art school to be able to set up the open source "Evergreen Integrated Library System"[42] on one of the academy's servers subsequently and went through the process of installing this system and learning how it works. This move away from proprietary software with limited choices to using Evergreen open-source software opened up the possibilities for different layers of usage and engagement with the catalog and, most importantly, the potential for modification.

This switch is informed by the desire to "understand and care" for the catalog software and to question the prevailing separation between the user and the service systems, as well as the division between the work of a technician and the work of those using a technical structure. This approach is rather radical: it redefines both the role of the library as a service provider as well as the role of the student as a service receiver, i.e., user. In contrast, Infrastructural Manœuvres promotes a collective effort to explore and understand the different layers of the catalog and its interface. For example, the "Online Public Access Catalog" (OPAC) that forms the front end of the catalog does not show the MARC records (Machine Readable Cataloging)[43] on which the OPAC is based. MARC records are standardized templates with predefined form fields that enable the sharing of bibliographic resources across information systems using a common format.

Infrastructural Manœuvres experiment with making these records (and their implicit limitations) not just readable, but also to a certain extent "writable". Writable here can mean that (standard) record entries – that are usually "untouchable" – can be discussed, negotiated, and changed. This is an attempt to make porous categories that were assumed to be fixed and stable. This undertaking raises interesting questions of regarding authority, responsibility and accountability in the representation of knowledge.

Draft version of Rietveld's new library catalog interface showing the MARC fields, as well as a feature "selection" that contextualizes the book by connecting it to related materials, 2020.
Draft version of Rietveld's new library catalog interface, 2020.

In addition, Infrastructural Manœuvres experiment with ways to track and record these changes in order to show that the records themselves are cultural objects. This is an important shift, as the catalog user doesn't usually see "the dramas of cataloging,"[44] i.e. the negotiations and rationales that lead to a catalog entry. By making the book records readable and writable these rationales and decisions can be discussed and adjusted. Currently in the development phase, this takes place in the form of workshops and discursive events at the art school.

Another infrastructural choice was to set up a Raspberry Pi, a local autonomous server – "Splotr.rietveldacademie.nl" – that is only accessible from within the Academy building. This local network encourages for the sharing of digital formats within the perimeter of the school, but not on the internet. In this way, materials can be circulated at a smaller scale and in a more informal context, allowing for a different quality of encounters and collaborations. The informal repository hosts digital books, texts, and documents sourced from online shadow libraries, but also related materials such as discussion notes, and bibliographies, references and affinities generated by a book's content. During a joint workshop, Martino described it as a "log system" of different events around a book, one that keeps the context and maps the relational web of knowledge practices.[45]

The library catalog and the activities on Splotr interact – the catalog entries link to the associated materials on Splotr. Here the catalog and the records are approached as sites of local knowledge and negotiation, rather than authoritative and stable bibliographic descriptions. Infrastructural Manœuvres' activities make plain that the library catalog, often seen as an abstract and merely functional searchability tool, can potentially be turned into a site of negotiation, and critical reflection on its own contradictions and conflicts.

Teaching the Radical Catalog

In a similar vein, Emily Drabinski proposes to shift one's understanding of the library catalog as a mere search tool to a much deeper engagement, via the form of discourse and teaching. Her rationale is that Sanford Berman's interventions to "remedy" some of the openly racist, homophobic, and sexist descriptors in the LC Subject Headings have certainly drawn attention to the hegemonic nature and bias of classification. However, she argues, while Berman was campaigning to improve the thesaurus, he leaves the structural problems untouched. He did not take issue with the general goal of library classifications of bringing human knowledge together under a single unifying, universalizing structure and language, but worked from the assumption that there "could" actually be a "right" language, that "could" be universally understood and applied. [46] In contrast, Drabinski contends that the politics of language are virtually always contested, as they are informed by cultural practices and reflective of social power. Therefore, "the struggle for a universal "right" language does not account for how language is inherently political and contextual (Drabinski 2008, 202).

⟶  see chapter 05*Reflection, theorization of projects: classification – an architecture to house the universe of knowledge A further problem is that classification's function of fixing and naming creates a static and hierarchical structure that does not allow for language and descriptors to be in motion when it comes to describing shifting identities, for example, in lesbian, gay, and trans contexts (Drabinski 2013, 94–111). Once a book is cataloged and assigned a shelfmark, it mostly stays on the very shelf it has been placed.

Library classifications, however, remain necessary; we would not find the material we sought without them. And yet they are problematic. Therefore, a range of initiatives have come up with bespoke and user-centered classifications that develop a local solution and a contextual thesaurus for their contents.[47] These experimental approaches seem possible in smaller and independent libraries. In larger research or public libraries, however, the amount of extra labor that the constant adjusting of catalog records would cause seems prohibitive.It is a double-bind. We understand the limits and power enacted by classification systems and, at the same time – for practical reasons – are not able to address them inside the catalog itself. Therefore Drabinski proposes to "teach the radical catalog". Combining information literacy with radical pedagogy, she openly discusses such issues with students, drawing attention to the fact that the catalog they engage with is a necessarily flawed construct. Paulo Freire calls this "problem-posing education" in contrast to the "banking model" of education.

The banking concept (with its tendency to dichotomize everything) distinguishes two stages in the action of the educator. During the first, he cognizes a cognizable object while he prepares his lessons in his study or his laboratory; during the second, he expounds to his students about that object. The students are not called upon to know, but to memorize the contents narrated by the teacher. Nor do the students practice any act of cognition, since the object towards which that act should be directed is the property of the teacher rather than a medium evoking the critical reflection of both teacher and students. (Freire 2005, 80)[48]

The distinction between "property" and "medium" that Freire's makes here will become relevant in the discussion of the role authorship plays for collective knowledge practices that I present later on in chapter 05*Analysis – Micro-politics of publishing: How could we imagine authorship without ownership. ⟶  see chapter 06*Analysis: How could we imagine authorship without ownership

Freire's proposal of problem-posing education is relevant for Drabinski's point, that, if the teacher or librarian doesn't allow for critique and acknowledgment of the limits and power of classification – which is necessary, but problematic – "we perpetuate the dominance of story 'told' by the classification. Problem-posing education allows us to unveil the hegemonic production and reproduction of the problematic language cited by Berman and the troubling staticity of hierarchies of sameness articulated by Olson." (Drabinski 2008 , 204)[49]⟶  see chapter 05*Reflection, theorization of projects: Sameness and Difference Instead of passively teaching classifications, she suggests, it would be more generative "to teach students to engage critically with the classifications as text, encouraging critical thought in relation to the tools." (Drabinski 2008, 204)

Performative Propositions: Policy Document at ERG

Encouraging critical thought is also at the center of an intervention by a group of students and staff at École de Récherche Graphique (erg) in Brussels. In early 2018, they circulated a policy document "Proposal for amendments to the Study Regulations." [50] Article 2 in this document refers to library policies: ⟶  see policy document: "Proposal for amendments to the Study Regulations"

"When the author identifies themself as a man, cisgender, heterosexual and white, their books will be moved to the archives, to recall, on the one hand, that this is a point of view among others, on the other hand, that the latter is hegemonic. A warning page should be included in each book. Strict quotas will be implemented regarding the selection of the books acquired and on display. Attention will be paid to the topics, the writing context, and the gender of the authors." The topics under quota to be represented are "gender issues, queer questions, issues of feminism, Afro-feminism, trans-feminism, cyborg feminism, xeno-feminism, intersectional feminism, ecofeminism, ecosexuality, LGBT, and questions of LGBTQQI2SPAA+ (to be updated regularly)."
"Proposals for amendments to the study regulations", erg Brussels, 2018.

The document, collectively produced by the research group "Teaching to Transgress" that formed at erg in 2018, [51] was officially sent out by Laurence Rassel, the director of the art school to all its members, including staff, technicians, and students.

In an even bolder step, Article 3 of the same document proposes to correlate the amount of tuition fees with the level of privilege of each student. How to determine the status of privilege? The document lists a catalog of ten criteria: "man", "straight", "cisgender", "white", "normalized body", "valid", "literate", "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: Firstly, the percentage (in this case, 30 percent) is added to the amount of tuition fees to be paid. Secondly, the percentage will be deducted as "penalty" from achieved grades in academic evaluation and assessment of the student's work.

The circulation of this document caused a major stir among students and staff at the art school since some took the newly proposed policies at face value. Caroline Dath, one of the co-authors of the document, reflects on the reactions of the art school community and explains that many overlooked that this was "a work of fabulation, with a certain sense of humor, where power structures were overturned." (Dath 2020)

When I traveled to Brussels, to visit erg in summer 2018 and meet the document's creators, they explained – not without an abundance of giggles – how much this proposition had stirred up day-to-day assumptions regarding privileges connected to class, race, and gender at their art school.

Annette Krauss thought a lot about habit formation in institutional settings as well as about unlearning one's privileges in the context of her artistic research practice "Sites for Unlearning."[52] Discussing how Gayatri Spivak's conception of habit formation builds on and differs from Gregory Bateson's and Antonio Gramsci's, Krauss explains "what is crucial in habit formation, is exactly what is missing in it. [...] Habits lack the critical capacity to interrogate themselves" (Krauss (2017, 51–52) – since "a habit does not question." (Spivak 2012, 8). What I understood from Krauss's discussion of habits is that Spivak suggests that philosophical argumentation is powerless when it comes to disrupting habits of thinking and doing. Instead, Spivak proposes a "training of the imagination" with a certain aesthetic that "short-circuits the task of shaking up this habit of not examining [its premises]."[53]

I believe the intervention at erg was potentially such an imaginative "aesthetic short-circuit.", because even if it was evident that the implementation of the document’s proposals was not possible, their mere circulation was generative. It stirred up long-established habits and normalized positions within the institution by instigating staff and students to consider, acknowledge, name – and as such possibly unlearn – their privileges. This alone could help to adjust the standardized positions of authority in Western education.

What's next

⟶  see chapter 04*Summary of projects and submitted material

Having in this chapter mapped the field of practices and interventions that provide the context for this inquiry I will describe in the following chapter, 04*Summary of projects and submitted material, the projects and interventions I have carried out as part of this PhD submission. In that chapter, I will provide an overview of (i) the projects, (ii) the publications, and (iii) related event-based activities that constitute the practice.

The descriptions of the five projects are on distinct pages that can be accessed via the left-hand sidebar. These project pages describe the elements and methodological steps taken within each project. (1*AND Publishing, 2*Library of Inclusions and Omissions, 3*The Piracy Project, 4*Let's Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy?, 5*Boxing and Unboxing) ⟶  see chapter 05*Reflection, theorization of projects This compact factual information will then be followed by chapter "05*Reflection and theorization of projects" in which I will reflect and theorize the projects' working process, their aims, and the contradictions that emerged during the working process.


Notes (Survey of the field)

  1. Sternfeld (2018) describes the post-representational as curatorial and artistic strategies of knowledge practices that rather than "representing valuable objects" intervene in "the space between representation and presence" and therefore "challenge what can be seen, done, and said" in form of "a negotiation with reality".
  2. With respect to the late John Baldessari, it is funny to read his response to this "idea poll" 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.” Art-Rite, (1976/1977): 6.
  3. Printed Matter was founded in 1976 by a group of artists, critics, and publishers including Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard, Carol Androcchio, Amy Baker (Sandback), Edit DeAk, Mike Glier, Nancy Linn, Walter Robinson, Ingrid Sischy, Pat Steir, Mimi Wheeler, Robin White and Irena von Zahn – in in the Tribeca neighborhood in New York. https://www.printedmatter.org/about/mission-history In the same year just a few blocks away, Franklin Furnace opened and set up an artists' book archive. http://franklinfurnace.org/research/index.php Art Metropole was founded in 1974 in Toronto by the artist collective General Idea as an artist-run center. Mexican artist Ulisses Carrión started Other Books and So in 1975, in a small, basement-level storefront in Amsterdam. Other books and So ran for five years and could be, in hindsight, described as a project bound to an individual artist, whereas the other initiatives still operate today as non-profit organizations.
  4. This is interestingly evidenced in a letter by Ed Ruscha to John Wilcock, the founder of The Village Voice in New York, in which Ruscha reflects: “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”. (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 traded in March 2020 on the second-hand online book store Abebooks for £14,062.83. https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30170507913&searchurl=an%3Druscha%26sortby%3D20%26tn%3Dtwentysix%2Bgasoline%2Bstations&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title15, accessed: 13 March 2020.
  5. According to Printed Matter, The New York Art Book Fair attracts yearly over 39,000 visitors and features over 370 exhibitors from 30 countries. In addition to the location New York, in 2014 PM founded the Los Angeles Art Book Fair that "features over 300 exhibitors from the west coast and some 20 countries, and is attended by more than 35,000." See: https://www.printedmatter.org/programs/4-art-book-fairs. Index Art Book Fair in Mexico City with satellites in Madrid, Chicago, and Toronto was founded in 2014 by Frances Horn, Kit Hammonds, Jorge de la Garza, Maxime Dossin, Chantal Garduño, Tania Isabel Garduño Israde and Rafael Prieto. Today it is run by Jorge de la Garza, Maxime Dossin and Chantal Garduño Israde. The website states: "IABF brings together leading independent art publishers from Europe, Asia and the Americas, with special emphasis on artist books and printed matter resulting from experimental approaches to editing, writing, and printing." http://www.indexartbookfair.com/site-general/. The London Art Book Fair has been organized by the Whitechapel Art Gallery since 2009. Less international and less experimental in scope, it attracts more established art publishers and galleries. Whether or not artists' book fairs attract artists hinges, in large part, on the costs. The London Art Book Fair charges £850 for publishing houses and distributors. £650.00 for museums and galleries. £450.00 for non-profit and small presses. £250.00 for artists and individual publishers. See: https://www.whitechapelgallery.org/london-art-book-fair-2020/. These costs create pressure to sell a large amount of books in order to be able to cover the costs of participation, travel, and accommodation. Consequently, one could say the more costly the participation the less experimental the fair.
  6. See Publishing as Artistic Practice edited by Annette Gilbert (Berlin, New York: Sternberg Press, 2016). Or Publishing as Practice, X-Marks the Bökship (London, 2010 and 2014), convened by Eleanor Vonne Brown. http://bokship.org/. See Recto / Verso: Art Publishing in Practice, New York, edited by Michaela Unterdorfer, Paige Landesberg, Kristen Mueller (New York, London: Hauser and Wirth Publishers, 2018). Publishing Manifestos, edited by Michalis Pichler (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2019).
  7. See "Infiltration", Florian Cramer, Stewart Home, Tatiana Bazzichelli at Disruption Network Lab #14, Berlin, September 27, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBSLrwTdJzs&t=3738s; See also Post-Digital Cultures of the Far-Right – Online Actions and Offline Consequences in Europe and the US, edited by Maik Fielitz, Nick Thurston (Bielefeld: transcript-Verlag, 2019).
  8. One interviewee states: "There was a belief and engagement in collective and participatory democratic practices: [...] We were always trying to work out how things might change, having intense arguments but I think the main thing we all adhered to was lifestyle. We were very much of the belief that if you lived it, that was part of the way to make it happen. So you lived and worked communally, in collectives.” (Baines 2016, 118).
  9. Richard Stallman published the GNU Manifesto in 1985, articulating the founding principles of the free software movement. Whereas non-free (proprietary) software was – in Stallman’s eyes – a way to divide users and prevent them from helping each other, free and open-source software was designed to help anyone use the software – and share code – without breaking the law. As Stallman (1985) notes in the manifesto, “by working on and using GNU rather than proprietary programs, we can be hospitable to everyone and obey the law. In addition, GNU serves as an example to inspire and a banner to rally others to join us in sharing. This can give us a feeling of harmony which is impossible if we use software that is not free. For about half the programmers I talk to, this is an important happiness that money cannot replace."
  10. Feminist technology activist SpiderAlex (Barcelona) explaining the relationship between feminism and free software, quoting Constant co-founder Laurence Rassel. (Snelting, SpiderAlex, Sollfrank, 2018).
  11. New York Times Special Edition. See documentation "New York Times Hoax – The Yes Men Fix The World", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoZQNgAnvqs. See also the 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/.
  12. Anna-Sophie Springer' book Fantasies of the Library provides a rich contribution including essays and interviews with artists. Looking at collections of books and the exterior space that contains them (the library) she explores the potential for curatorial reflection. "If the book is traditionally seen as the preferred medium for private consumption and research, and the gallery is understood as the space for public exhibition and performance, the library – as the public place of reading – is thus a hybrid site for performing the book." (Springer and Turpin 2015, 11).
  13. For a short history of the public library and related processes of organizing and processing information and knowledge, see Tomislav Medak, "The Future After the Library, UbuWeb and Monoskop’s Radical Gestures" in Tomislav Medak, Marcell Mars, and What, How & for Whom/WHW, eds., Public Library (Zagreb: Gallery Nova, 2015). https://monoskop.org/images/e/ef/Medak_Mars_WHW_eds_Public_Library_Javna_knjiznica.pdf#page=122
  14. David Weinberger proposed to think of libraries as “open platforms” – not only with regards to the creation of open catalog and indexing software but also with regards to the development of knowledge and community. Weinberger argued that libraries should open up their entire collections, all their metadata, and any technologies they’ve created, and allow anyone to build new products and services on top of that. The platform model, he wrote, "focuses our attention away from the provisioning of resources to the foment those resources engender. A library as platform would give rise to messy, rich networks of people and ideas, continuously sparked and maintained by the library’s resources.” (Weinberger 2012)
  15. See Shannon Mattern's detailed study, "Library as Infrastructure," Places Magazine, (June 2014), https://placesjournal.org/article/ library-as-infrastructure/. She points to a then-recent report (2013) by the Center for an Urban Future highlighting the benefits to immigrants, seniors, individuals searching for work, public school students, and aspiring entrepreneurs: “No other institution, public or private, does a better job of reaching people who have been left behind in today’s economy, have failed to reach their potential in the city’s public school system or who simply need help navigating an increasingly complex world." (Center for an Urban Future 2013).
  16. The American Library Association's "Library Bill of Rights" (1939, with several amendments since), states:
    1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, age, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
    2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
    3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
    4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
    5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
    6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
    7. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.
    Library Bill of Rights, adopted June 19, 1939, by the Ala Council and amended throughout. The last amendment was January 29, 2019 – including the privacy paragraph. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill.
  17. See Synergy Magazine, Index for 1967–71 (San Francisco: Bay Area Reference Center, 1972). See also, Revolting Librarians, edited by Celeste West and Elizabeth Katz, (San Francisco: Booklegger Press, 1972). And “Conversation with Celeste West,” interview by Milton Wolf, Libraries for Social Change: Women’s Issue, 31/32 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1983), 29–35. See also, Tony Samek, “Intellectual Freedom within the Profession: A Look Back at Freedom of Expression and the Alternative Library Press,” Library Juice vol 6, (2003). http://libr.org/juice/ issues/vol6/LJ_6.6.html.
  18. Alberto Melucci has proposed a definition of collective action based on "a network of active relationships between actors who interact, communicate, influence each other, negotiate, and make decisions. Forms of organization and models of leadership, communicative channels and technologies of communication are constitutive parts of this network of relationships." (Melucci, 1996, 75) In this reading of social movements, the role of the network (active relationships) and media as activators of that network assume key positions.
  19. For scholarly research into piracy see Johns (2010); Hall (2016); Bathurst Judge (1934); Karaganis (2018); Liang (2012); Swartz (2008). For a legal perspective, see Bently et al. (2010).
  20. Below follows a list of a few events that came to my attention, or to which I was invited to: "Piracy and Beyond: Exploring 'Threats' in Media and Culture", Higher School of Economics, Moscow, October 23–25, 2019, https://cmd.hse.ru/mediapiracy/; "Shadow Libraries – Ubuweb in Athens”, (Symposium, March 16–18, 2018) convened by Ilan Manouach and Kenneth Goldsmith, https://www.onassis.org/whats-on/shadow-libraries-ubuweb-athens/; "States and Markets" @ Institutions by Artists Convention, Vancouver, October 12–14, 2012; "Interfacing the Law", XPub, Piet Zwart Institut Rotterdam, convened by Femke Snelting, 2015–19, http://constantvzw.org/site/-Interfacing-the-law,212-.html?lang=en; "Copycats vs Mr Big", at Truth is Concrete, Steirischer Herbst, Graz, convened by Florian Malzacher, September 21–28, 2012; Piracy and Jurisprudence, Faculty of Business, Law and the Humanities, University of Southampton, the Centre for Law, Ethics and Globalisation (CLEG) and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, convened by Oren Ben-Dor (law), Stephanie Jones (English), Alun Gibbs (law), June 21–22, 2013.
  21. In the European Union, the "Infosoc Directive" (“Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society,” 2001) allows for libraries to create digital copies for preservation, indexing, and similar purposes, as well as for the display of digital copies on their premises for research and personal study. (J.-P Triaille et al. 2013).
  22. This relates mostly to journals which charge subscription rates. A recent study by a group of researchers points out the politics and effects of digital lending rights and digital subscription rates: "The price of journal subscriptions has grown at a faster rate than inflation for several decades (Association of Research Libraries, 2017), leading to an ever-present “serials crisis” that has pushed library budgets to their brink while diverting funds from other services (Roth, 1990). Meanwhile, publishing has trended towards oligopoly (Larivière et al., 2015), with nondisclosure clauses obfuscating price information among subscribers (Bergstrom et al., 2014) while publishers profit immensely (Morrison, 2012; Buranyi, 2017; Van Noorden, 2013b). Price increases have persisted over the last decade (Bosch and Henderson, 2017; Lawson et al., 2015; Lawson, 2017a). For example, EBSCO [the leading provider of research databases, e-journals, magazine subscriptions, e-books to libraries] estimates that per-journal subscription costs increased by 25% from 2013–17, with an annual subscription to a journal for research libraries now averaging $1,396 (EBSCO, 2017)." (Himmelstein, et al. 2018).
  23. Swartz put his ideas into action and used his Harvard University JSTOR account – a digital repository – to download approximately 4.8 million articles of academic journal articles through MIT's computer network in late 2010 and early 2011. (See United States v. Aaron Swartz, July 14, 2011.) Federal prosecutors filed an indictment for a maximum criminal exposure to 50 years of imprisonment and $1 million in fines. Swartz and his attorney rejected a reduced sentence on the condition that he plead guilty, opting instead for trial in which prosecutors would have been forced to justify their pursuit of Swartz. Swartz committed suicide before the trial. (Cullen and Ellement 2013).
  24. The number of papers available on Sci-hub is shown through an automatic counter on the Sci-Hub website. Since Elbakyan was sued for copyright infringement the domain name has kept moving. As of March 2020 the following domains were active. https://sci-hub.tw/, https://sci-hub.se, http://sci-hub.si. Importantly, the above-cited study points out that Sci-Hub users "should note that, in many jurisdictions, the use of Sci-Hub may constitute copyright infringement. Users of Sci-Hub do so at their own risk. [...] There is a possibility that Sci-Hub users – especially those not using privacy-enhancing services such as Tor – could have their usage history unmasked and face legal or reputational consequences." See Himmelstein, et al. (2018).
  25. Elbakyan (2017) described the project’s technical scope: “Sci-Hub technically is by itself a repository, or a library if you like, and not a search engine for some other repository. But of course, the most important part in Sci-Hub is not a repository, but the script that can download papers closed behind paywalls.”
  26. “The Public School was initiated in 2007 in Los Angeles in the basement of Telic Arts Exchange. It describes itself as follows: "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.
  27. Public School has been spreading to other cities such as Buenos Aires, Berlin, San Francisco, New York, Durham, Helsinki, London, and Vienna among others. See also the interviews that Cornelia Sollfrank (2012) conducted with Sean Dockray as well as with Marcell Mars as part of her research project "Giving what you don’t have".
  28. See Monoskop, also for a comprehensive bibliography of texts interviews and discussions around aaaaarg. https://monoskop.org/Aaaaarg, accessed 31 March 2020.
  29. See Jonathan Basile, "Who’s Afraid of AAARG," in Guernica Magazine, August 25, 2016. https://www.guernicamag.com/jonathan-basile-whos-afraid-of-aaarg/.
  30. Asked to explain the model of scaffolding Dockray explains: "The image of scaffolding was simply a way of describing an orientation with respect to institutions that was neither inside nor outside, dependent nor independent, reformist or oppositional, etc. At the time, the institutions I meant were specifically Universities, which seemed to have absorbed theory into closed seminar rooms, academic formalities, and rarefied publishing worlds. [...] When a reading group uploaded a few texts as a way to distribute them among members, those texts also stayed available. [...] The concept of 'Issues' provided a way for people to make subjective groupings of texts, from 'anti-austerity encampment movements' to 'DEPOSITORY TO POST THE WRITTEN WORKS OF AMERICAN SOCIALISM. NO SOCIAL SCIENCES PLEASE.' These groupings could be shared so that anyone might add a text into an issue, an act of collective bibliography-making. The idea was that AAAAARG would be an infinite resource, mobilized (and nurtured) by reading groups, social movements, fringe scholars, temporary projects, students, and so on."(Dean et al. 2013, 158, 166)
  31. The reader was produced for the exhibition "Open Scores" at Panke Gallery in Berlin in the framework of the research project "Creating Commons", ZHdK Zürich, convened by Cornelia Sollfrank, Shusha Niederberger, Felix Stalder. Published August 2019. http://creatingcommons.zhdk.ch/reader-on-shadow-artistic-independent-autonomous-digital-libraries/
  32. Public Collectors describes its motivation as "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 feature 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/
  33. The Surplus Library states: “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.” http://thesurpluslibrary.com/about.
  34. aaaaarg.fail has been offline at least since March 2020. The URL is redirected to Sebastian Lütger's "textz.com." Sean Dockray has been sued by a Quebec Court for copyright infringement in 2016, and to my knowledge, the case is still pending. More info on e-flux conversations, https://conversations.e-flux.com/t/the-lawsuits-against-and-global-reach-of-aaaaarg-org/3141.
  35. For a discussion of alternatives to DDC and LCSH, such as Ranghanatan's non-hierarchical facet system watch the recording of my performance lecture "Library Underground – welcome to my tent." See also: Senior (2008).
  36. See Wiegand (1998, 183). Wiegand examines meticulously how the conservative mindset at Amherst College, where Dewey was a student and library assistant, shaped Dewey’s concepts of classifications and their hierarchies. “Its moral center was located in ‘Anglo-Saxonism’ a doctrine that defined ‘objectivity’ and touted the unique virtues, mission, and destiny of the Anglo-Saxon ‘race.’” It is quite important to understand, that with the very headings, he came up with, Dewey framed and cemented “a worldview and knowledge structure taught on the tiny Amherst College campus between 1870 and 1875 into what became the world’s most widely used library classification.” (Ibid., 188).
  37. Steven A. Knowlton (2005, 128) also discovered that the 80 items that remained unchanged show some patterns of thought pertaining to the Christian religion.
  38. Internet search engines, such as Google are the front door to the www. Search algorithms can be easily adjusted, and search results manipulated according to specific interests. See the conference and published reader "Society of the Query – Reflections on Web-Search" (Institute for Network Cultures Amsterdam, 2014). https://networkcultures.org/query/2014/04/23/reflect-and-act-introduction-to-the-society-of-the-query-reader/ See conference program/.
  39. See the list of KvinnSam's subject headings on the Gothenburg University library webpage, http://www2.ub.gu.se/kvinn/kvinnsam/listor/amnesord.html. For a detailed discussion of subject analysis at Kvinnsam see Bränström and Modin (1998).
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 See Feminist Search Tool. https://feministsearchtool.nl/.
  41. See Infrastructural Manœuvres, https://catalogue.rietveldacademie.nl/about.html.
  42. Evergreen is an open-source library software developed by the library of Georgia to further a community around nonproprietary library software. "The Evergreen Project develops an open-source ILS (integrated library system) used by more than 2,000 libraries around the world. The Evergreen community is also marked by a high degree of participation by the librarians who use the software and contribute documentation, bug reports, and organizational energy. As such, Evergreen is very much about both the developers and the users," http://evergreen-ils.org/.
  43. The newest standard of Machine-Readable Cataloging, MARC 21, which prevents duplication of work and allows for sharing of bibliographic resources across information systems using a common format, is developed and maintained by the Library of Congress. MARC 21 breaks down record metadata into a series of fields (0xx–9xx) and subfields (a–z) in a way that can be easily ingested by existing cataloging systems. See Library of Congress website "What is a MARC record, and why is it important?", accessed May 1, 2020, http://www.loc.gov/marc/umb/um01to06.html.
  44. This quote is from an online writing pad conversation with Anita Burato and Martino Morandi (Infrastructural Manoeuvres) during the one-week worksession Unbound Libraries organized and hosted by Constant, Brussels, https://constantvzw.org/site/-Unbound-Libraries,224-.html, and http://media.constantvzw.org/wefts/130/.
  45. See notes (thanks to Ann Mertens) taken at a workshop at Rietveld and Sandberg library in May 2019 instigated by Femke Snelting. Martino Morandi & Anita Burato (Rietveld and Sandberg Library) presented and discussed the project when I visited the library to learn about Infrastructural Manœuvres with students from X-Pub (Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam), https://pad.constantvzw.org/p/rietveld_library.
  46. Drabinski points out that Berman wrote in his 1971 introduction to "Prejudices": "Knowledge and scholarship are, after all, universal. And a subject scheme should, ideally, manage to encompass all the facets of what has been printed and subsequently collected in libraries to the satisfaction of the worldwide reading community." (Quoted in Drabinski 2008, 3) Thus, Berman's political claim was in some ways limited, argues Drabinski: "The primary problem with the Library of Congress Classification is a lack of correct language. Structural critiques of classifications, however, suggest that Berman's pragmatist, yet reformist stance is fundamentally limited." (Drabinski, 2008, 3)
  47. For a discussion of alternative approaches, such as S.R. Ranganathan's colon classification that uses nonhierarchical facets see chapter 05*Reflection: Perspectives and framing under the disguise of neutrality as well as Weinmayr (2016).
  48. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), (New York: Continuum, 2000), 80. This is Freire's opening of chapter two: "Education is suffering from narration sickness. The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. [...] His task is to "fill" the students with the contents of his narration – contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated and alienating verbosity. [...] Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to memorize mechanically the narrated content. Worse yet, it turns them into "containers", into receptacles" to be "filled" by the teacher." (Freire 2005, 71–72).
  49. I discuss Hope Olson's reflections (2001) on the principle of sameness and difference in chapter 05*Reflection and theorization of projects: Sameness and Difference.
  50. See proposed study rules, sent out by the director of École de Recherche Graphique Brussels (erg) via email to all members of staff and students in 2019, translated from French to English by Caroline Dath. http://wiki.evaweinmayr.com/images/d/dd/Proposals_for_amendments_to_Study_Regulations_erg_Brussels.pdf.
  51. The research group "Teaching to Transgress" formed at erg in connection to the seminar "No Commons Without Commoning" (January 2018). The question "what makes a framework for a community?" triggered the in-depth reading of the Study Regulations of the art school that subsequently were revised from a feminist, post-colonial and queer perspective. See Dath (2020).
  52. See Krauss (2017, 51–53). See also: Sites for Unlearning, https://siteforunlearning.tumblr.com/; and (Choi et al. 2018).
  53. Spivak (2012, 6). Spivak refers here to Bateson with the quote: "The economy consists precisely in not re-examining or rediscovering the premises of habit every time the habit is used. We may say that these premises are partly "unconscious", or – if you please – a habit of not examining them [the premises] is developed." (Bateson 1972, 274).