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Re: <nettime> TACTICAL OUTRAGE
Dan S. Wang on Fri, 4 Jun 2004 09:04:24 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> TACTICAL OUTRAGE


> There has been a staggering amount of email exchange
> about the Steve Kurtz case on a wide variety of
> list-serves in the past two weeks and it is highly
> unlikely that anyone in the artistic communities
> receiving these messages agrees with the FBI.
> Letters from individuals denouncing the FBI moves
> would best be
> directed at public officials, law enforcement and the
> media, rather than continuing to preach to the
> converted.
> 
> I hope I never have to post another story on nettime
> about artists and activists in Latin America, for
> example, who are getting shot at, arrested, jailed
> without trial,or otherwise mistreated ALL THE TIME
> only to have those reports garner no other response
> than a dry comment on how multinational corporations
> are more violent that right wing populist regimes or
> what have you.  
> 
What do you expect from nettime? It is a boys club, mostly, and an
overeducated white one, at that. Mostly.

I'm not white, but hey, I know what to expect from white boys. Maybe BECAUSE
I'm not white. Which is--a concern about and for white people's problems,
primarily (but not always). Which are, SOMETIMES, problems that concern more
than just those kind or group of people. I would say this is one of those
times.

So, while I admire your voice of conscience, and I try to be one, too, I
also am never surprised by the disproportionate attention given to a
situation like the CAE case on nettime, and the almost zero attention given
to equally heinous cases involving people living and working in universes
outside of the nettime demographics. Factor in the reality that many people
on the list either know CAE members personally or are only a degree or two
removed, and there you have it: This is a PERSONAL case for many nettimers,
and for that reason also there will be a lot of traffic around this case.

Of course there are similar and worse things going on right now. We all know
that. Here in Chicago there is a situation involving the death of a police
brutality and wrongful conviction activist while in police custody, striking
for its parallel to the Kurtz situation in that a family tragedy becomes
completely intertwined with a case of political repression and cover-up.
http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/41834/index.php  Its relevance
to nettime? On first glance, and if we were to judge by list traffic were I
to send out a notice of the campaign regarding this police crime, not much,
beyond the generalized observations that, as you've pointed out, we can and
do make ad infinitum, ad nauseum. How to build campaigns that use language
that would link (just for example) these two situations is the question.
Which is really a question about how persons who do not normally or
intuitively identify with a particular people and their situation, come to
make that identification.

> Numerous other stories have been circulating about the
> recent arrest of Animal Rights activists in New Jersey
> on terrorism charges, about the arrest and torture of
> anti-globalization activists in Guadalajara, about the
> brutal treatment of Arab journalists working for NBC
> in Iraq at the hands of US soldiers, and about
> the unprompted arrival of undercover cops in yellow
> cabs to the "Majority Whipped" opening at White Box
> Gallery in NYC last month to shut down an event
> designed as a warm up for the Republican National
> Convention. "Art veterans" of battles with the US
> government during the culture wars of the early 90s
> will recall that the fetishizing of Mapplethorpe and
> Serrano turned out to be a very stupid move -- because
> it left the rest of the arts community completely
> vulnerable to the repercussions of those highly
> publicized skirmishes. As a result of those
> individualistically oriented tactics, we now live in
> an artworld that has completely introjected and
> naturalized the conservative cultural views of the
> backlash against institutional critique, civil rights
> inspired interrogations of gender,class and race, and
> all forms of art that addresses the social.
> 
> Learn from the past so as not to repeat it.
> 
> Coco Fusco

We're in luck here. CAE's own work offers some guidance, as Andreas
suggested:

> if you have support to offer, remember that this moment is not only
> one in which, in some twisted way, the work of the CAE of the last
> years makes it possible to actually deal with the
> scientific-political dimension of the legal case building up, and
> with the biotech regimes which it is connected to. to actually turn
> this case into an arena of cultural activism is one important task
> now.

My take on it is this: CAE have been fairly tight-lipped about "what to do,"
I think, for a reason. If they believe their own ideas, then I think anybody
wanting to offer support can expect very little in the way of concrete calls
for help, besides the usual legal funds donations thing. They put the story
out there and asked people to forward, understanding that discussion would
ensue. Other people on other lists are right now asking each other, Should
there be a media campaign? Professional association resolutions? Street
demonstrations? Letter writing? What? The answer, I think, is whatever one
or a group wants to do, whatever one or a group thinks should be done, and
whatever one or a group can do.

The story was put out there with minimal elaboration. How each of us builds
on and transmits the story matters in that a mutation can (and will) occur.
If I, or Coco (who has kind of already started it), or others decide to
articulate the repression experienced by CAE in terms that include issues of
difference, and how statuses of difference can determine the attention and
support a dissident or activist can expect, well, then perhaps we are on our
way to broadening this particular case in one direction to include other
concerns. The point being, CAE has no control over how this goes, and if I
want to link whatever larger concerns I perceive to the CAE defense
campaign, it's probably not a bad thing as long as uncontrollable others are
hitching  their larger concerns to it, too. I think the idea is to offer any
number of rhetorical/political/conceptual frameworks, and to have them
emerge continually, so as to resist exactly the trap of individual martyrdom
as dominant narrative.

That all being said, I will second Coco's earlier point and  put most of my
attention to making this situation known and comprehensible to people
outside of nettime...

Later!

Dan w.

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