2015, Fri, Jan 16

Artistic Strike

with Claire Fontaine, Stewart Martin, Hito Steyerl; Moderation: Esther Leslie

The art strike is a curious figure in the landscape of contemporary art. In many of its most vivid instances it has been a figure of failure and folly. And yet it has also accumulated considerable respect as a decisive configuration of radical politics and art. This panel offers a range of new approaches to the art strike, occasioning a reconsideration of what it has been and what it might be, its stakes and its significance.


Stewart Martin: The Withdrawal of the Work of Art
The 'Art Strike' stands out as a radical - but also contradictory, or perhaps fantasmatic - attempt to combat the subsumption of art by capitalism. But the issues that have attended its realization are as profound than those attending its conceptualization. What conjunction of artistic and political form is proposed by the Art Strike? In particular, what is the artistic significance of the political withdrawal of labour? And what is the political significance of the artistic withdrawal of labour? Moreover, what significance does the withdrawal of labour have for capitalism? And for communism?

Hito Steyerl: Lorem ipsum
'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.'
Everyone has seen this generic sample text. Why is it used? Because there is no copy, as of yet. Perhaps the text has not yet been written or aggregated. Or there is no time or money to fill the space at all. Perhaps the writer is dead or asleep or busy on a different tab. In the meantime, the space has to be filled and designed. Advertisements have been sold already. The deadline swiftly rolls near. This is when “Lorem ipsum” swings into action. It is a dummy providing yet another extension, pretending a presence where there is none.

Claire Fontaine: Human Strike or an Art of Revolt
The concept of human strike designates the most generic revolt against any oppressive condition. It is a less defined action than a wildcat or a general strike and it attacks the economic, affective, sexual and emotional positions within which subjects are imprisoned. It provides an answer to the question 'how do we become something other than what we are?' It isn’t a social movement although within uprisings and agitations it can find a fertile ground upon which to develop and grow, sometimes even against these. It is a strike that involves the whole of life and not only its professional side, that acknowledges exploitation in all the domains and not only at work. It is a movement that could potentially contaminate anyone and that attacks the foundations of life in common, or at least what feeds segregation in them. It is a strike with no claims, that deterritorializes the agora and reveals the non-political as the place of the implicit redistribution of responsibilities and unremunerated work. Claire Fontaine will analyze the debt that this concept has towards certain feminisms and certain political and social movements that refused to separate the existential aspect of life, politics and aesthetics.