OCCUPY EVERYTHING [I]ntimacy and Scale

March 30, 2011

I have made a rather radical decision today. I have decided to write with my hands. So what? It’s the tiniest gesture toward embodiment.

My own.

I understand I am to speak today on behalf of someone[s] and something[s] other than myself. This strange [and impossible task is one I’ve set out to do every day for several years now. And while I don’t intend to turn my back on it–especially not now–I am first struck by the foreign impression of my own hand hitting paper.

To set out to write in this way is to see my own handwriting for the first in a very long time. It’s grown sloppy. I dreamt last night I was looking at my writing from years ago. How clearly cloying my penmanship was then. It expressed a sincere desire for legibility and understanding–even approval.

I’ve said that I am interested in exploring issues of intimacy and scale. It seems to me this has to do with a certain agency and trust; the Derridian, the multitudes, the figure and the ground. It has to do with Sedgwick, Ettinger; the interpersonal and the many many ways we become distanced from ourselves and one another.

I am writing outside and without pause or hesitation.

This goes to the question–and what is at stake– in the term ‘militant research’. We have chosen this term, this phrase, to indicate a set of intentions and manner of working that operates in resistance. One that is not [for the moment] easily absorbed into the language of the institution as, say ‘research-based art practices’ or ‘activist art’ might be. When it loses its force of resistance, we will abandon it, tactically [evacuate].

OCCUPY EVERYTHING [and/or EVACUATE]

We’ve said that Occupy Everything is an artist run platform dedicated to militant research, critical pedagogy and public practices that include mediatic intervention, feminism and the anti-enclosure movement.

It began at The Public School in Los Angeles in a class called The UC Strikes and Beyond and was inspired by the words and actions of occupiers everywhere.

It is an autonomously organized group that operates with both vertical and horizontal modes of distribution. It is porous and connected to an expanding [and/or contracting] constellation of projects that include The Public School, AAAARG and The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest. Respectively, these represent variously ‘flat’ or ‘horizontal’ approaches to institutional frameworks that could be understood as a school, a library and a press.

This emphasis on information-sharing and militant research takes place in an openly declared ‘Information War’ that is, in fact, nothing less than a Class War.

[I]

As I write this, I pause to consult with a social worker who directs me to public resources for food and shelter. I respond to an email from my friend and collaborator asking when I might come to stay with them. I overheard another friend last week explain my presence in her home by saying I was ‘between places’. I reflected at length on these things, the cost of transportation and liminal spaces [neither here/ nor there].

The project of OE as it stands is configured around occupation and evacuation; embodiment and withdrawal. The militance of this investigation is not one of over identification with institutional frames, but rather, a recognition of their violence.

4 Responses to

  1. Luis Guerra

    I was talking with my partner today(via gmail, because she is in USA meanwhile I’m still here waiting for entering to USA… contemporary restriction of body free displacement!) about the fact about how our procedures of “art” are working. It has been a long journey since we have withdrawal absolutely from the class-hierarchical form that, in this case Latin American Art Scenes, have been being built by those who were at some moment the so call “left artists”. Today, all of them finally transformed into a capitalist mockery of what they seem to think it is the “real world” of Anglo-Continental Art. That platform, a phantasmagorical platform produced by their desires of being considered by those in power has finally shown its true face: another form of colonialism produced over a left european conception of reality. It is a huge matter of research the necessity of a History of The Left in Latin America, without the religious symbols of the 60’s-70’s, but I am writing about this because this text and the project OE. I mean, it is so clear for me the capacity of OE, but not in the sense that any capitalist mind could think about it. For years, my partner and I have been living “between places”, with all the difficulties, but at the end we have been probing the possibility and the capacity of this condition of production. Even though knowing how strong is the mainstream media message, so strong that it lives within us, in our minds, it is interesting to open spaces in the daily life for getting involve in a strike that considers the uses of the body, this case the handwriting. Thinking different, or really critically, reasoning outside the norm, can be, as always has been, the last space where having, again, new notions of Body, Subject… of course, Event or as I like to say: Acontecimiento. Now, from Cara’s text I would like to return to the notion of Pure Violence, a Benjaminian concept but, as I think, truly analyzed by Giorgio Agamben in The State of Exception. Notion that Agamben finally extends to the Anomie Space/Zone, understanding that anomie place in its original sense of lawlessness, and how important seems to be the existence of that “condition” (a void) for “producing” a reference to what really exist-happen: “Law seems able to subsists only by capturing anomie, just as language can subsists only by grasping the nonlinguistic (…) In both cases, Law and Logos, the conflict seems to concern an empty space: on the one hand, anomie juridical vacuum, and on the other, pure being, devoid of any determination or real predicate.” Pure Violence for Benjamin was the revolutionary capacity of (I could try to say today) Creativity.
    all the best and hope my english is OK…

  2. heath

    The ways in which this makes me emotional reveals its urgency, I think. To touch pen to paper, in its own way, is to occupy and evacuate, to transform in a double-movement and feel something different on the other side, or maybe on the in-between.

    I’ve read this three or four times now, and I’m not sure how to articulate it, but your text makes immediate sense to me. It crystallizes the terms occupy / evacuate, but doesn’t bind them. It allows us to step into them and make use of them.

    • Cara Baldwin

      Heath, I have a lot of respect for you and the work you do. I was thinking, as I read this, how grateful I am that if one person was to read this and relate to it too. Well, I’m glad it’s you.

      One of the things I’ve been thinking about, in terms of political subjectivity and formation is really something Silvia Federici brought to my attention. I’m thinking of it now as PHONE HOME.

      As a student radical in Italy in the seventies, many student organizers were arrested. For her, this was formative as an experience because it made real networks of support visible. What do you do when you need help?
      Who do you call? I think she’s done an amazing job of pointing out and working through this expanded field of social critique and action.

      I would also add that my friend Chris Chen wrote this year very supportively, and also suggested that ‘we need to build robust forms of mutual aid’. I think this is really true and a challenge as we see incredibly hard won forms being dismantled in the present.

      Thank you for your thoughts…