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<nettime> Occupy the University: Reconsidering the Local, my new journal
micha cardenas / azdel slade on Sun, 17 Jan 2010 01:18:59 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Occupy the University: Reconsidering the Local, my new journal article is out!


The new journal from the graduate students of the UCSD visual arts
department, pros*, was released this week, and its awesome. It deals with
questions of public culture, electronic media, the changing nature of public
space and the question of the university as a site of political engagement.
You can read the whole journal at http://pros.ucsd.edu and my article is
here, with an excerpt below: http://bang.calit2.net/pros/?page_id=11
Occupy the University: Reconsidering the
Local<http://bang.calit2.net/pros/?page_id=11>

*Micha C?rdenas*

In a conversation recorded for *pros** journal, Teddy Cruz and Rick Lowe
agree that socially engaged art has the ability to actually change the
material conditions under which art is made and in which people?s lives
occur. They seem to agree that the best way to change housing conditions is
to engage at the level of local legislation, housing associations and city
governments. I would like to intervene on this point. While I agree that
socially engaged art can change people?s lives, my intervention, to be
simple, is to say that the decision about how to intervene is not so simple.
Cruz and Lowe urge artists to engage in local city politics, yet I argue
that perhaps an even more local focus may be more beneficial. In her book *When
Species Meet*, Donna Haraway describes a feminist approach to political
ethics, which accepts our finitude, contingency and historical situatedness.
Her approach acknowledges that from a position of a lack of certainty,
?there is no outside from which to answer that mandatory
question?[2]<http://bang.calit2.net/pros/?page_id=11#footnote-2>of
what political action to take. Refusing to take a political action is
still a political action, and so we are faced with ?bearing the mortal
consequences? of our choices of where to put our artistic energies in this
expanded field where any artistic practice is apparently acceptable. My own
affinity with a feminist ethics of uncertainty grew out of my work with
Avital Ronell at the European Graduate School where I asked, ?But how can we
sit and discuss the deep meaning of this punctuation mark while bombs are
being dropped on people?? Her response was, to paraphrase, that by
introducing doubt into commonly accepted definitions of ideas and political
strategies, that the decisions about dropping those bombs, or imprisoning
people, may be stalled, changed or ended.

By considering the university institution in which this discussion takes
place, with its framework of research and knowledge production, we can find
ourselves implicated and complicit on a new level. While the rhetoric of
humanist charities or of helping the poor children of the world may sound
convincing as a call to involve artists in questions of social engagement,
it also serves the institution to appear engaged in the communities. In
fact, one could argue that reproducing this dialogue serves to entrench the
existing conditions instead of changing them. I propose that a wide section
of contemporary artists are concerned with shifting, altering, rethinking
and recreating the material conditions of society and choosing very
different approaches from Cruz and Lowe, a few of which I will outline here.
These artists and activists question the structures that create and enable
political and economic conditions, and structures of knowledge production,
such as scientific dogma and medical definitions. The Electronic Disturbance
Theater?s notion of Science of the Oppressed will serve as a useful guide
for understanding practices which seek to re-imagine knowledge production in
the service of social movements and oppressed peoples. The practices
presented here seek to intervene in society at the level of the causes of
social inequity, of the underlying knowledge structures, instead of working
through local legislation, which could be seen as merely a symptom....

Read the rest at pros.ucsd.edu <http://bang.calit2.net/pros/?page_id=11>


-- 
micha c?rdenas / azdel slade

Lecturer, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego
Artist/Researcher, Experimental Game Lab, http://experimentalgamelab.net
Calit2 Researcher, http://bang.calit2.net

blog: http://transreal.org


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