Online Issue: October 2015
If there were ever a walking, talking, bloviating illustration of the American political tragicomedy, it is Donald Trump. The man who very well may win the Republican nomination for president due to his bottomless cash reserves is, for roughly the same reason, given carte blanche to say more or less whatever he wants under the guise of "it's what everyone is thinking." It bears pointing out that very few of his comments or platforms are "what everyone is thinking." A more apt description might be "what the anxious and insecure white male middle class is thinking."
This is likely why the art of Sarah Levy went so phenomenally viral during the month of September. The socialist, feminist and artist's rendition of the duck-faced one was a clever inversion of his words about Fox News' Megyn Kelly's menstrual cycle.
To hell with Banksy. The truly visionary artist of British pop culture is Charlie Brooker.
The iconic anonymous artist’s massive Dismaland project closed within days of an unauthorized biography's claim that British Prime Minister David Cameron once put his privates in the mouth of a dead pig during his time at Oxford. By itself, the incident would have been hilarious enough and would have certainly sent the UK tabloids into a tizzy. But the revelations regarding Cameron were made all the more tantalizing and just straight up weird by their proximity to Charlie Brooker’s Twilight Zone for the 21st century Black Mirror.
The enemy masses at ballet practice -
In this new theatre of red Madonnas,
military poetry is seen dimly glimmering
through the exquisite hostility of war.
This poetry has erred towards
emblems of superficial pathos.
Diversity and tolerance were major elements of this year’s Afropunk in New York City. It was a kaleidoscope of musical styles that oscillated between rap and electronic dance music sampling heavily from traditional African drumbeats and popular music. During the weekend of 22-23 August 2015, Afropunk took pace at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn — a park wedged between the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Clinton Hill’s predominantly black and working class community.
For two days, musicians, artists, and their spectators engaged in a festival with quirky and alternative people from various walks of life. One could find an attendee with green hair, metal chains, and nothing else.
In his ambitious defense of a contemporary avant-garde conceived as an open-ended research program, critic and theorist John Roberts weaves together a theoretically heady prescription of its conceptual methodology, analyses of several exemplary praxes that adapted pertinent avant-gardist questions to their own social conditions, and an account of dynamics of art production and reception in late-capitalism that seem to demand the advance of a contemporary avant-garde.
Roberts inevitably confronts the nearly hundred-year-old conceptual problems embedded in the historical avant-garde, along with the plethora of pertinent critical and art historical scholarship that has emerged in the meantime.
Alongside the poems that interrupt, enrich, and prompt us to reflect on her autobiographical narrative, Assata Shakur also includes in her text a number of less lyrical writing samples, including speeches she reads at trial to contest her accusers, and political statements that she issues from prison. Even behind walls and in chains, her voice continues to resonate, as it resonates still today, from exile in Cuba.
Addressed to “Black brothers, Black sisters,” Shakur’s statement from prison “To My People” makes clear that while her project is anchored in the struggles facing African Americans, the enemy is to be understood in political and in class terms.
“Look what's happening out in the streets
Got a revolution! Got to revolution!
Hey I'm dancing down the streets
Got a revolution! Got to revolution!”
The lyrics to the Jefferson Airplane’s “Volunteers” boomed out of the oversized speakers set in the 2nd floor window of the 6th Sense Boutique in College Park, Maryland. Below were rows of grim faced police in riot gear faced thousands of University of Maryland students occupying Route 1, the main road through College Park.
Constructivism presents a particular problem for contemporary artists who must produce art within capitalism. The entire meaning of Constructivism is bound up with the period of socialist construction (such as it was) in the USSR. Without the revolution Constructivism was not possible. This explains why contemporary anti-capitalist artists tend to look to different models — Brecht, Dada, Heartfield, Fluxus, Situationism, Godard, Fo, Hip Hop, punk, folk music, Surrealism, the Mexican muralists, etc. We have no socialist world in which to construct our art. Moreover, the ideological origins of Constructivism, between the 1905 and 1917 revolutions, are problematic for an over-determined “Marxist” conception of art. Many of the artists who gave birth to the most important art movement in Marxist history were essentially mystics.
For Victor Serge, there was no life possible that could be separated from a commitment to the revolutionary struggle. And his life-spanned the first World War to the Russian Revolution, the rise of fascism in Germany and Spain, the rise of Stalin and the cataclysm of World War II. Serge lived through the heights of revolutionary triumph to the darkness of what he termed “the midnight of the century.” That commitment ranged from involvement in anarchism, syndicalism, Bolshevism, Trotskyism and what is best described as socialist humanism. Serge's revolutionary career saw him take up such varied roles as organizer, journalist, theoretician, militant, soldier, translator, a prisoner under at least five different regimes, secret agent, and a historian.
I am told that you raised your hand against yourself
Anticipating the butcher.
After eight years of exile, observing the rise of the enemy
Then at last, brought up against an impassable frontier
You passed, they say, a passable one.
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