With such stubborn adherence to so-called “justice” and “peace”, they've killed another man. The fifth in four months. There's just grief and anger, which reinforce further how we must move past (think past, plan past, make past) the nation state and capital for other, better ways of collective life. On the housing blocks, council-installed flags line the corridors pretending everything's fine.
How have you been?
It's taken a while to get back to this. This past year and a half has been a lot, with so much being so overwhelming, and still it piles on – anxieties sustained, isolation intensified, precarity multiplied, segregations reinforced, complacency entrenched, struggles pacified, horizons obscured… all entangled between infinitely scrolling news cycles of inescapable doom, rehashed political theatre, and spectacular ecological catastrophe. None of this needs reminding, and yet at the same time, it all seems so easily hidden from view as things return to normal.
If you haven't been able to be present, to be “of value”, to “contribute”, to either “resist” nor “see the positive”, to know and speak and be heard amidst all this, you're most surely not alone. Even this has taken months to write. An even longer journey to realise: It's alright. You're enough.
There is no denying the palpable feeling of fatigue and grief all around, a feedback loop of powerlessness that may have us each turning to distractions while toiling, waiting for things to get… better. Those of us who can anyway.
Help and empathy run up against the limits of uncaring structures. It almost seems like the closest thing desirable and imaginable is indeed “return” to familiarity which some would call “normal” – even if normal was always twisted, punishing, and blanketed by atomised hopelessness. And as if the lasting effects of living through all this could simply be brushed off later, always later, as the “new” normal they decided on is once again forcefully instituted from the top down.
What is or should normal be? Could its understanding and experience still be changed now, be dissolved into myriad divergences, when it's easier than ever to conflate nation-state, capital, and authority with expertise, ability, and possibility? Does the urgency for response to climate crisis make it seem like these systems of rule could magically start working differently? When they haven’t for the crises normal of pandemic or everyday harms? How could we possibly break expectations of peace, joy, and comfort away from this colonialist reality moulded by extraction and death? What is “safety” predicated on the border, on exclusion, on hierarchy, but violence?
Even though we took a while to gather thoughts in this interview by Singapore Art Book Fair, a couple of things mentioned within haven't quite happened yet (what is Loose Assemblies? We'll explain soon!). Still, it was a great opportunity to talk about what the infoshop library is about, our approach to zines, print, and art, what dreams we have, and how we hope to organise. Thank you to the team for your questions and for publishing! We're including a few photos from our (pre-revamped) room and an excerpt below, with more in the link.
"In any case the zine as a form shouldn’t just stand on its own, but supplements other media and scales of action. Perhaps its usefulness comes in being accessible, still novel, intimate, inconspicuous, and mobile. When we talk about the political, it’s about an emancipatory horizon, about figuring out how life can be shared and held in common. Not just resisting capitalist catastrophe, but to overcome and thrive. There, we will need to have art around for healing, contemplating, educating, and sharing, which can be collective and generalised, happening alongside other needs and interests. We should start imagining what that could be like, together with how to get there and the things we can be doing right now to bring that into being."
Two Hundred Years of Dispossession
It doesn’t matter what they call it, settling on “commemoration” of this bicentennial only thinly veils the fact that they know what's wrong: that a history and legacy remains intact and unbroken, a foundation for what we still live with today, and that their desire to celebrate and acknowledge its “benevolence” has to be cynically checked for “political correctness” in place of actual confrontation and dismantling.
[Archived from original facebook event page on 28 December 2021]
16 January 2019
It's that time of the year again.
What the art week represents now is a normalisation of production and consumption under capitalism. The fate of the contemporary art fairs shouldn't even matter to us. Let them come, let them fail. All we have to know is that any idea of art driven by excitement for grooming the collecting class serves only a select few. Yet the logic of the market goes well beyond the walls of warehoused gallery booths and the commodified luxury object. This is evident in the very origin of the art week, and the way vibrancy is forcefully created through funding a deluge of activities to appear at the same time. This is an image operation for tourists and traders, but a mere extension of treating artists as content creators. They tell us this is good for the industry, necessitating the hardening of professionalised hierarchies, as if this programme could get infinitely bigger, in denial that the competitive system of art being modelled after is designed to not accommodate everyone. We clamour for gigs, thankful with whatever we land, implicitly accepting that hype and exposure in a space of scarcity is still better than nothing at all. But that scarcity is symptomatic of something untenable, like the vast differences in wealth distribution and the possibilities for life we see foreclosed everywhere.