Categotry Archives: Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination


Combination Acts

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Categories: Alan W Moore, Fred Moten, Gee Vaucher, Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, Stevphen Shukaitis

Combination Acts. Notes on Collective Practice in the Undercommons
Stevphen Shukaitis

Dialogues and essays exploring collaboration in artist collective & self-organized cultural production

During the industrial revolution artisans and craft workers sparked struggles against exploitation while the force of law drove unions underground. Today conditions are different… yet they are not. Collective organizing is pre-empted not by legal prohibition but rather by a perverse internalized neoliberal logic that celebrates the precarious creative worker as its exemplar.

Combination Acts draws together fifteen years of conversations with artists, musicians, activists, and theorists about the nature of collaborative practice. What sociality is produced by their practices? What forms of collectivity do they animate and embody? Taken together these dialogues provide a series of study notes for and from the self-organization of the undercommons, gesturing towards an aesthetics that occupies a space of power for itself by coming to close to, but never finally reaching, a set form.

“The mood and tense of revolution can be obscure even to those who act it out – as polyphonic combination, cutting normative conceptions of person and number – in beautifully everyday experiments that strain against the brutally ongoing. Thankfully, in this timely primer, Stevphen Shukaitis reminds us how to conjugate the verbs to live, to fight, and to enjoy.” – Fred Moten, New York University

Combination Acts offers an overview of political cultural tools and tactics radicals have mobilized over the 20th century and into the 21st.  Shukaitis steers through rebellious terrain, from cyberhacking and forms of sabotage to critiques of global neoliberal institutions and horizontal re-commoning, opening new terrains of speculative imaginative possibilities. A necessary guide to militant culture in the new millennium.” – Jaleh Mansoor, University of British Columbia

Combination Acts is an exhilarating read as it boldly combines optimism (the always renewed burden of struggles on the left) and pragmatism (the requirement of actually existing praxis). Engaging dialogues and theoretical analysis are also combined in this cutting-edge study, on material and in ways that are indispensable for carrying forward the spirit and actuality of insurgent togetherness. The key question of the book – what interventions would be needed so that the grammar of self-organization would not find itself rendered into the fixed forms of capital’s continued accumulation demands? – is answered through multiple narrative documents of real-life experience crossing through the art field. At the very least, the book informs us of the depth of critical thought from which practices of anti-status-quo alternatives stem; as for what the book achieves at its best, this is dependent on whether and how we seek to implement what we learn from it. An essential and inspirational reality check on collaboration, labour, its content and discontent, and the conundrum of art activism, among numerous other markers of the zeitgeist.” – Angela Dimitrakaki, University of Edinburgh

Bio: Stevphen Shukaitis is Senior Lecturer at the University of Essex, Centre for Work and Organization, and a member of the Autonomedia editorial collective. He is the author of Imaginal Machines: Autonomy & Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Day (2009) and The Composition of Movements to Come: Aesthetics and Cultural Labor After the Avant-Garde (2016). His research focuses on the emergence of collective imagination in social movements and the changing compositions of cultural and artistic labor. Continue reading →


Six Impossible Politics Before Breakfast

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Categories: Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

Six Impossible Politics Before Breakfast: A Discussion on Art & Politics in an Age of Austerity
Wednesday July 6, 7:30 PM @ Post-Museum 107+109 Rowell Road S209033

‘Be realistic, demand the impossible’ is one of the most famous slogans to come out of the May 1968 student movement. It marked a shift away from a politics of pragmatism, away from already existing institutional and political forms, and towards a demand for giving power to the imagination.

Over the last forty years later the situation is both radically different and strangely the same: the impossible is still demanded, but this time it is demanded of us. Immense efforts are mobilized to stabilize capital (bailing out the banks), while declarations of austerity are used to justify cuts to social welfare, pensions, and virtually any forms of public good that still exists. Perhaps the slogan for today should be something more like ‘be impossible, demand the realistic’ – but even this would a ‘realism’ where the horizon of possibility seems to have shrank. Continue reading →


A Users Guide to (Demanding) the Impossible

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Categories: Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

User's Guide

A Users Guide to Demanding the Impossible
by the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

This guide is not a road map or instruction manual. It’s a match struck in the dark, a homemade multi-tool to help you carve out your own path through the ruins of the present, warmed by the stories and strategies of those who took Bertolt Brecht’s words to heart: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

It was written in a whirlwind of three days in December 2010, between the first and second days of action by UK students against the government cuts, and intended to reflect on the possibility of new creative forms of action in the current movements. Continue reading →