There have been key moments when forms and modes of perception and expression shift in a profound manner. Such shifts may be met with skepticism, even hostility. Eventually, a new paradigm seems to emerge, although the malleable nature of art is such that the new paradigm can co-exist with its forerunners – yet not always peacefully so. The predictable and easily danceable swing tunes of Benny Goodman-era jazz developed into the more amorphous, multi-dimensional bebop. The realism of 18th century paintings gave way to the new imageries of “modernism” and later to “postmodernism” (a term simultaneously impossible to prescriptively define and curiously passé).Read More
The uses and abuses of Rosa Luxemburg as a revolutionary icon are many, and they tend to focus excessively on the tragedy of her death or on her intellectual relationship with Lenin. Old Stalinists display great alabaster busts that disfigure her as a mute, empty eyed martyr to the cause of the mass murderer with whom she shares a bookshelf. Far worse than irrelevant or instrumental, the left has managed to render one of the most magnetic, vivacious and daring of its intellectuals as boring. Consequently the most exciting thing about, Red Rosa, Kate Evans’ graphic biography of the Polish-born German revolutionary is that when she undertook this extremely ambitious project, she scarcely knew anything about her.Read More
What’s the best thing about Gary Ross’s The Free State of Jones? It is clearly a film that will rile the “All Lives Matter” crowd. For conscious white-supremacists and “color blind” racists alike, the portrayal on screen of a white Southerner – an army deserter – in league with runaway slaves in defiance of the tax man, the war machine, and the system of human bondage, amounts to a giant slap in the face. And it should be. But The Free State of Jones is much more than that. Here we have a mainstream film about a band of rebels in conscious opposition to economic inequality and horrendous racial injustices. What's more, they are led by a proponent of a utopian, agrarian-socialist vision of society.Read More
A collection of anti-racist activist and photographer Syd Shelton’s work from Rock Against Racism has been collected together for the first time. Is this book a nostalgic trip to the bad old days of 1970s racial conflict or does it have something to offer a new generation fighting the changing face of racism in the 21st century? Maybe both?
Shelton’s starkly black and white photographs portray the sharp contrasts in 1970s Britain. National Front marchers and anti-racist crowds, the police and the youth on the street, the punks and Rastas, Sikh pensioners and black and white kids, the bands and the audiences.Read More
Remi Kanazi’s second, and most recent collection of poetry, Before the Next Bomb Drops: Rising Up from Brooklyn to Palestine, could be summed up with the line: “the world is a messed up place,” the first line of the poem, “Nothing to Worry About.” Is the line fitting? Yes, and, no. Most poems, after all, are connected by themes of exile, displacement, colonialism, homelessness, violence, and police brutality, themes that, at first glance seem bleak. Nonetheless, to the attentive reader, these themes are the building blocks of a larger argument, an argument that calls for human solidarity against oppression of all kinds.Read More
Robert Wyatt, now in his 70s, is surely one of the most intriguing, distinctive and sometimes infuriating musicians born out of 1960s Britain. His musical output has been intermittent, not surprising for someone suffering depression throughout his life, as well as the consequences of an accident in 1973 that left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Yet his recorded output contains many wonders. The surrealist psychedelia of the early Soft Machine and Matching Mole, the intensely personal bittersweet Rock Bottom, the series of Rough Trade singles which include his forlorn interpretation of Chic’s “At Last I am Free”, his version of Elvis Costello and Clive Langer’s anti-war “Shipbuilding” about the Falklands War as well as an eclectic series of collaborations with musicians such as Bjork, the Raincoats, Carla Bley and Brian Eno.Read More
"Corpocracy,” currently at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston, provides another opportunity to reexamine important questions of a genuinely militant and engaged art practice. The show features political, mostly contemporary work by artists such as Michael D'Antuono, Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, Packard Jennings, Eugenio Merino, Yoshua Okón, Stephanie Syjuco, and Judi Werthein. One arts collective is featured as well: the Beehive Design Collective.
Modeled on retro, aluminum signage, with chasing lights that flicker on and off in different patterns, Steve Lambert’s Capitalism Works For Me! True/False (2011) spells out the work’s exclamatory title...Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
“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.Read More