┐ Francis McKee went to Istanbul └

At the moment (11th June 2013; 1pm) in Istanbul, the police is trying to clear out Taksim square with water canons and tear gas. Protesters are putting up a fight, setting up more and more barricades and lightning some points on fire. “30 lawyers protesting against handling of Gezi protests detained in front of courtroom in Istanbul” One of the lawyers tweeted (Ismail Demirci): “We’re kept under custody in a lawless way right now. Nothing written, no order, no written proceedings, not even water until our friends arrived.”

Police tried to enter the park but had to withdraw. It seems as if it’s going to be a day of strategic moves, back and forth. Erdoğan keeps telling protesters to leave the streets, or else…
Live streams from Tim Pool @ Vice (he has been live for 7 hours), RT and Reuters can keep you up to date.

Both because of the reality of the events as well as due to their symbolic significance at this moment in history, there is nothing more important today than what is happening in Turkey. It’s giving us insight into what comes next regarding urban movements and direct action. Francis McKee, writer, curator and photography passionate, director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow went to see for himself. Here are some of his photographs:

9014886124_fcd9bbbcd5_z9011404292_188cf4119a_z 8996239768_a73cf84141_z9009482945_ba93e0cce5_c9014793866_62ebb818d6_c9014901704_8a93184f4b_c8994961299_ffab656b39_call photographs © Francis McKee, Istanbul, Turkey, June 2013

Francis is updating his Flickr today so you can see more of his photographers later on

┐ Yayoi Kusama └

200© Yayoi Kusama, Silver Squid Dress, 1968-9

kusama053© Yayoi Kusama, Self-Portrait, 1962

Kusamas-Self-Obliteration-Horse-Play1© Yayoi Kusama, Horse Play

Self-ObliterationByDots© Yayoi Kusama, Self-Obliteration By Dots, 1968. Photo © Hal Reiff

nytriangle© Yayoi Kusama, photography copyright © Harrie Verstappen

“Rather than confirming the ontological coherence of the body-as-presence, body art depends on documentation, confirming-even exacerbating-the supplementarity of the body itself. Predictably, although many have relied on the photograph, in particular, as “proof’ of the fact that a specific action took place or as a marketable object to be raised to the formalist height of an “art” photograph, in fact such a dependence is founded on belief systems similar to those underlying the belief in the “presence” of the bodyin- performance. Kristine Stiles has brilliantly exposed the dangers of using the photograph of a performative event as “proof’ in her critique of Henry Sayre’s book The Object of Performance. Sayre opens his first chapter with the nowmythical tale of Rudolf Schwarzkogler’ss uicidal self-mutilation of his penis in 1966, a story founded on the circulation of a number of “documents” showing a male torso with bandaged penis (a razor blade lying nearby). Stiles, who has done primary research on the artist, points out that the photograph, in fact, is not even of Schwarzkogler but, rather, of another artist (Heinz Cibulka) who posed for Schwarzkogler’se ntirely fabricated ritual castratio.

Sayre’s desire for this photograph to entail some previous “real” event (in Barthesian terms, the having been there of a particular subject and a particular action)leads him to ignore what Stiles describes as “the contingency of the document not only to a former action but also to the construction of a wholly fictive space.”23 It is this very contingency that Sayre’s book attempts to address through his argument that the shift marked by performance and body art is that of the “site of presence” from “art’s object to art’s audience, from the textual or plastic to the experiential.”24 Sayre’s fixation on “presence,” even while he acknowledges its new destabilized siting in reception, informs his unquestioning belief in the photograph of performance as “truth.”

Rosalind Krauss has recognized the philosophical reciprocity of photography and performance, situating the 16 two as different kinds of indexicality. As indexes, both labor to “substitute the registration of sheer physical presence for the more highly articulated language of aesthetic conventions.”25A nd yet, I would stress, in their failure to “go beyond” the contingency of aesthetic codes, both performance and photography announce the supplementarity of the index itself. The presentation of the self-in performance, in the photograph, film, or video-calls out the mutual supplementarity of the body and the subject (the body, as material “object” in the world, seems to confirm the “presence” of the subject; the subject gives the body its significance as “human”), as well as of performance or body art and the photographic document. (The body art event needs the photograph to confirm its having happened; the photograph needs the body art event as an ontological “anchor” of its indexicality.)”

in “Presence” in Absentia: Experiencing Performance as Documentation by Amelia Jones
Source: Art Journal, Vol. 56, No. 4, Performance Art: (Some) Theory and (Selected) Practice at the End of This Century (Winter, 1997), pp. 11-18

Yayoi’s website here

┐ Gold Srike └

© Sofia Silva, Stop messing with my life (detail), from the series The Protester, 2012

To all authoritarian regimes insisting on a capitalist structure and austerity measures: vaffanculo!

Live updates about the European strike journey via The Guardian and Libcom.org

┐ AUTOMATISM as direct action └

© Bryan Lewis Saunders, under the influence of butane honey oil (left) and morphine IV (right)

© Bryan Lewis Saunders, under the influence of 1/2g cocaine (left) and 1 “bump” of crystalmeth (right)

“After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of the self. So I devised another experiment where everyday I took a different drug and drew myself under the influence. Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage. I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time. I only take drugs that are given to me.”

More of these portraits can be seen here and Bryan Saunders website here

“Automatism, by allowing for the free flow of the uninhibited imagination, is at the heart of the surrealist project. Automatic writing or drawing practices need not submit to any mannered stylistic interference or be forced to bow down before confining aesthetic considerations. Though popular conceptions of surrealism tend to focus on such clichéd and easily imitated tropes as Dali’s melted clocks, the surrealist embrace of automatism seeks to unleash the radical imagination revealing knowledge and inspiring possibilities located outside of the narrow boundaries of reality. Eschewing any particular form of aesthetic expression, and rejecting the certainty of authority in favor of the surprise of a chance encounter with the Marvelous, surrealism is experimental in nature rather than didactic.

In rejecting the impoverished version of reality that we are expected to embrace, surrealism is sometimes unfairly accused of being escapist. Rather, instead of accepting an artificial dichotomy between dream and reality, in André Breton’s conception, the two can be seen as “communicating vessels” which can be reconciled in action. In this transformative sense, surrealism cannot simplistically be reduced to one of the passing cavalcade of avant-garde art movements in painting, literature, film or sound. The latter mediums of expression are merely expedient points of entry in the surrealist quest to create a more exalted reality by realizing poetry in everyday life.

What then is the nature of the passional attraction between surrealism and the anarchist notion of direct action. If a radical subjectivity is needed to overcome the miserabilist stranglehold of mutual acquiescence, then the revolutionary romanticism of surrealism can be a fecund basis for mutual aid. From the very start, the surrealist movement, in word and in deed, has allied itself with the struggle for freedom. Embracing what I will refer to as a “radical inclusivity,” surrealism has not confined itself to the art world but has repeatedly sought out kindred free spirits from among those that the dominant society dismisses or condescendingly labels as “other”. Rather than perceiving oppressed peoples exclusively as victims, surrealists have seen as mentors and accomplices all those who desire to, or who in effect, actively sabotage the absolutism of the reigning reality of industrial civilization with the poetic truth of the dream. In this struggle, the affinity between surrealism and direct action is a combination of radical refusal and emancipatory exhilaration.”

excerpt from “The Surrealist Adventure and the Poetry of Direct Action”, by Ron Sakolsky, in The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, Issue 8, Winter 2011. Continue reading here

┐ Direct Action └

© Javier Barbancho

LEADERS of a workers’ union in southern Spain staged a massive raid on two supermarkets on Tuesday, filling at least 30 trolleys with staple foodstuffs to give to the poor.

They gave their entire haul to local ‘food banks’ which supply hampers to families who no longer have any income to be able to feed themselves.

The Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores (SAT), or workers’ union of the Andalucía region, staged an uninvited supermarket sweep on Mercadona in Écija (Sevilla) and Carrefour in Arcos de la Frontera (Cádiz).

Their misplaced Robin Hood impression annoyed management at Mercadona, a national firm which is very well known for, and has received great praise for its social responsibility programmes.

All staff are on a minimum net wage of 1,200 euros a month for full-time hours, never work Sundays or bank holidays – except where at least four non-working days are strung together – and some have crèches for children of employees.

Last year alone, the chain created 6,500 new jobs, and it actively seeks to take on employees with mental or physical disabilities, who would otherwise struggle to fend for themselves.

“We resent the fact that we were forced in this way to give to charity, when our own charitable operations close to home are already extremely active and well-developed,” said a representative of Mercadona.

Mayor of Marinaleda (Sevilla), Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, is thought to have been involved in the Mercadona raid.

The regional minister for the interior has given the green light for all parties involved who are found to be arrested and tried.

┐ Calais: this border kills └

@ Julie Rebouillat,No Border Calais, manif, 27 June 2009

Refugees in Calais find shelter where they can, in spaces left abandoned or neglected by French citizens. Some sleep in the park or under the canal bridges. Most live in one of two kinds of dwellings: (a) squats in deserted buildings, of which there are many in the post-industrial landscape of the town; and (b) the ‘jungles’ or camps made up of tents and makeshift shelters on disused sites and wasteland, usually around the outskirts of the town.

These settlements are not just shelters, but homes. Here people sleep; eat; sit and drink coffee around the fire; play cards; read and study; listen to and play music; dance; wash their clothes; welcome newcomers and visitors; and share food, water, tobacco, conversation, and each others’ company. But this life is under constant threat. Police raid the squats and jungles every day and night. A particular settlement may be left alone for two or three days, but never for long. Or it may be targeted with repeated visits, and attacked multiple times in one night.

These raids raise a number of questions as to their legality. Under French law, the police normally require permission from the owner and/or occupants in order to enter a property, or, failing this, a warrant from the court. CMS activists have witnessed and documented quite literally hundreds of police raids in Calais. We believe that the vast majority of these may have been carried out without authority.

Besides arresting people, when police officers raid they frequently slash or flatten tents; smash windows; throw away or contaminate water; spray bedding with CS gas; and generally destroy or take peoples’ personal belongings. This is an everyday reality. During bigger raids, council workers accompany the police to demolish buildings; confiscate tents and belongings in trucks; and/or spray disinfectant and other chemicals, on possessions, including on bedding.

In particularly nasty incidents, activists have returned to Africa House following major raids to find that bedding had been damaged and urinated on, and that walls had been daubed with what appears to be Neo-Nazi graffiti. We have also witnessed damage to Muslim prayer spaces and the desecration of holy books, including a Tigrinyan Bible, and the Koran.

Along with beatings, arrests and identity checks in the street, these raids contribute to a constant state of fear for refugees in Calais. This in itself has obvious effects on peoples’ mental health and well-being. Yet raids further undermine bodily and mental health by making it impossible to create stable and hygienic living conditions. For example, since cooking utensils as well as food supplies are regularly stolen or destroyed, it becomes near impossible for migrants to feed themselves adequately.

Finally, to add to the pressure, police employ what can only be described as tactics of psychological warfare, such as repeated nightime visits with sirens, bright torches and loud music.

Full document compiled by Calais Migrant Solidarity of the No Borders network, documenting police violence from June 2009 to June 2011 can be found here

More of Julie’s work here

┐ Chen Qiulin └

© Chen Qiulin, Ellisis’s Series No. 3, 2002 (photograph)

© Chen Qiulin, Peach Blossom, 2009 (dvd still)

At a time when her understanding of contemporary art was still limited, Chen was unexpectedly invited to partake in Parabola, a satellite show of the First Chengdu Biennale (2001). On this occasion she created Ellisis (. . . . . .), a performance piece that she documented in film and photographs. The work is based on a Chinese expression that roughly translates as “sweet harm” and refers to all the enticing things that modern society throws at young women. In Ellisis, Chen sits in front of a vanity table placed outdoors among the rubble of an undeveloped site with new buildings, a coal power plant, and factories on the horizon. She is wearing a pretty dress and is admiring herself in the mirror, oblivious to a man throwing pieces of a soft, creamy cake at her until her hair, face, and dress are coated. Her absorption in herself and indifference to her surroundings are a metaphor for the situation that many young Chinese women find themselves in. Unlike older women, Chen’s generation has not lived through revolutions or hard times. Rather, they are seduced by the sweetness of a prosperous society while ignoring the potential emotional harm hidden within.
Sichuan Province experienced the worst earthquake in its history in May 2008. Only three months before the Beijing Olympics were scheduled to open, with China the focus of world attention, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, their loved ones, their homes. The severe sense of loss reverberated with Chen, whose most recent body of work reflects on life in Sichuan after the disaster. Peach Blossom (Tao Hua, 2009), on view for the first time in the United States at the Hammer Museum, was created in the same spirit as the earlier Wanxian video works—with an archival instinct and a lens on the personal, social, and environmental changes shaping people’s lives. In Chen’s words: “We cannot avoid natural disasters—life goes on. I made videos and performed in the areas hit by the earthquake as a commemoration and hope that more people will see how people are living in these areas and help them.”

source: excerpt from text by France Pepper. Continue reading

More of Chen’s work can be seen here

┐ Alessandro Nassiri Tabibzadeh └

© Alessandro Nassiri Tabibzadeh, la verità non esiste (the truth does not exist), 2005

© Alessandro Nassiri Tabibzadeh, I won’t change the world

If a man die
it is because death
has first
possessed his imagination.
But if he refuse death–
no greater evil
can befall him
unless it be the death of love
meet him
in full career.
Then indeed
for him
the light has gone out.
But love and the imagination
are of a piece,
swift as the light
to avoid destruction.
So we come to watch time’s flight
as we might watch
summer lightning
or fireflies, secure,
by grace of the imagination,
safe in its care.

excerpt from the poem “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower“, by William Carlos Williams

More of Alessandro’s work here