The Arts of Occupation: A Call for Crowd Sourcing
Critical Inquiry announces a call to assemble a virtual archive of the Arts of Occupation. We invite our readers to send images in all media, as well as links, anecdotes, brief essays, reports, games, scripts for performance, and videos that will document the aesthetic as well as the tactical and political side of practices of occupation. We are interested in the “creative” aspect of the global occupation movement, the ways in which it produces new forms of spectacle, space, face, and inscription. We are asking for our readers’ aesthetic judgments, not just their political views. What images and statements have impressed them as especially elegant, powerful, salient, eloquent, penetrating, and—well, yes—beautiful? What specific images (both metaphors and visual images) have had the most impact, and why? Is there a new image of the crowd itself, as a bodily presence in a real place, and as a virtual entity, a mass social movement? Is there a new image of the individual, at once non-subject and non-sovereign? How have the media, both old and new, from Twitter to the People’s Mic, produced and reproduced the emergent forms of democracy? How is the “sensible,” meaning both sensuous and thinkable, re-distributed by the actions and images of the Occupy Movement?
We do not wish to limit the archive to 2011, though this year just past will clearly stand as the historical beginning of a new sense of the words and images associated with “occupation.” After a half century of thinking of this word as invariably coupled with military occupation, and with landscapes of conquest and colonization, a new meaning has suddenly imposed itself. At the same time the image-concept of the camp and encampment has shifted from a site of detention and dehumanization to one of insurgency and non-violent resistance. “Occupation” has turned from the sphere of power to that of weakness, disenfranchisement, poverty, as well as resistance, insurgency, and creative direct action. What are the aesthetic aims and effects of lying down under a red carpet at the entrance to a Chamber of Commerce gala? Camping in a public park until the police remove you? Erecting a tent city in the midst of Tel Aviv? Shutting down harbors in Oakland, Long Beach, Portland, and Seattle? Opening free clinics, libraries, clothing exchanges, media centers, educational projects? Scribbling slogans, questions, declarations, accusations, demands, and jokes? Assembling as an embodied movement on symbolic sites—capitols, city halls, banks, museums, schools, and foreclosed homes.
And, finally, we invite critical and theoretical reflection on the Arts of Occupation. There needs to be some recognition of the “black arts” of occupation (violence, exploitation, domination) that have mostly characterized the preceding era. We want to know which arts, and which specific performances, have had the greatest effect in mobilizing this counter-movement? What have been the failures and successes, and what can we learn from them?
Submit your entry simply by responding to this post.
And to follow Critical Inquiry contributors Slavoj Žižek and Judith Butler on the Occupy movement, click on the following links: