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Necropolitics (2003) Achille Mbembe. We’ve cited this article in Trans-Horse texts, arguing that climate change should be approached as a weapon. When it is investigated as a weapon it seems to be used by those who deem themselves technologically advanced, against regions of the world deemed less developed. It is yielded collectively by masses of people who strive to express their personal freedom of choice. From this perspective “development” appears as an instrument for establishing regimes which favour hyper-individualism. This interpretation is strict but it makes the relations between polluters (the rich) and the other clear. Also, neutral concepts such as “carbon footprint” can be seen to be rooted on colonial thinking: “[…] colonial occupation entails first and foremost a division of space into compartments. It involves the setting of boundaries and internal frontiers epitomized by barracks and police stations; it is regulated by the language of pure force, immediate presence, and frequent and direct action; and it is premised on the principle of reciprocal exclusivity.”.

In the economy of biopower, the function of racism is to regulate the distribution of death and to make possible the murderous functions of the state. It is, he [Foucault] says, “the condition for the acceptability of putting to death.”

Foucault states clearly that the sovereign right to kill (droit de glaive) and the mechanisms of biopower are inscribed in the way all modern states function; indeed, they can be seen as constitutive elements of state power in modernity.

The writing of new spatial relations (territorialization) was, ultimately, tantamount to the production of boundaries and hierarchies, zones and enclaves; the subversion of existing property arrangements; the classification of people according to different categories; resource extraction; and, finally, the manufacturing of a large reservoir of cultural imaginaries. These imaginaries gave meaning to the enactment of differential rights to differing categories of people for different purposes within the same space; in brief, the exercise of sovereignty.

[…] colonial occupation entails first and foremost a division of space into compartments. It involves the setting of boundaries and internal frontiers epitomized by barracks and police stations; it is regulated by the language of pure force, immediate presence, and frequent and direct action; and it is premised on the principle of reciprocal exclusivity.

[…] body here becomes the very uniform of the martyr. But the body as such is not only an object to protect against danger and death. The body in itself has neither power nor value. The power and value of the body result from a process of abstraction based on the desire for eternity.

[…] under conditions of necropower, the lines between resistance and suicide, sacrifice and redemption, martyrdom and freedom are blurred.

The Necropolitics article is also useful for understanding what Mbembe is writing about in regards to afrofuturism. Achille Mbembe on Afrofuturism and the “Genealogies of the Object” (2016).

In rejecting humanism outright, Afrofuturism contends that humanism can only exist by relegating some other subject or entity (whether alive or not) to a merely mechanical status as object or accident.

If one wants to adequately grasp the contemporary condition–the Afrofuturists contend–one must do so from all the assemblages of human-objects and object-humans, for which, since the arrival of the modern era, the Black has been both prototype and prelude. For, once Blacks erupt onto the modern world scene, there is no longer a “human” who is not already enmeshed in the “non-human,” the “more than human,” the “beyond human,” or the “otherwise-than-human.”

[…] the Black embodies pure transformative potential through an almost infinite plasticity.

[…] the plantations of the New World would never have functioned without the large-scale utilization of these “creatures of the sun,” these African slaves. And even after the industrial revolution, these fossils, these human fossils, would continue to serve as coal for the production of energy, for the dynamic energy needed to transform the economy of the Earth System.

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Good stuff to listen to when fixing the socks of strangers around the world (only 5 pairs to go). We had an open studio event on the weekend at ISCP. I was in a flue for the entire event and sat in the corner darning socks. A hipster complemented my stitchwork. He told me I’d make 300$ for a pair!

Anna Tsing & Donna Haraway: Tunneling in the Chthulucene (2015) University of Idaho, Moscow. A long and loose (in good way) presentation of their thinking. Tsing reminds audiences that non-human life does not live in harmony. Symbioses develop trough violence and struggle. Haraway reminds audiences how multicellular entities form: By single cell organisms attempting to eat each others, partially devouring each others bodies, getting stuck and living together anew.

Imagining infrastructures (2017) The British Academy. A (too) detailed talk about infrastructure. Partially good for developing an understanding of infra as a social, life-supporting network. It starts with an interesting analysis of air-conditioners as colonial apparatuses! The idea that people work best in climate controlled cool environments should be re-evaluated. The negative effect that air-conditioners have on communities was addressed in a recent reading group too. Air-conditioners break communities by endorsing indoor, private comfort for closed families. Manuel Tironi’s account on how communities rebuild after catastrophes is very rewarding too. He suggest that infrastructure should be approached as a social network and a compost (as defined by Haraway).

The Facebook Economy (2018) Zero Books podcast. Douglas Lain chatting with Rob Larson. They work their best to frame Facebook (and others) as monopolies and do a good job clearing out how exactly the monopolies make their profits.

Adventures in New America (2018) an afrofuturistic buddy comedy. A fun and easygoing podcast.

WRITING ABOUT ART TODAY MEANS BEING WRITTEN ONTO (2018) Kimmo Modig. Modig is developing a socio-material analysis of contemporary art-exhibition practices. They pleas for a broader acceptance of social practices (workshops etc.) as a critical medium for artistic expression. Social practices and community-building-as-art is a vital field of practice for groups and individuals, who cannot exist alone. Art practices which center on objects & orchestrated performances, advocate exclusive infrastructures. I would like to extend their critique to problematize material & energy demands object centered & orchestrated performance aesthetics rely on. Using Modigs critique we can argue that Chris Burden was more of an antibiotic artist then a performance artist. He was more hospitalized and medicated, then shot in the arm. #ॐ

Modig offers a diagram Social Anxiety Matrix #2 which can be used for analyzing personal motivations for attending art events. They argues that “Contemporary art has never been about class revolution [the temporal and generational rotation of positions of wealth past classes people are born to], but the cementing of its horizontal power structure while adding a new coat of paint on it.” which I don’t agree with. I believe that artist networks and support structures (grants, residencies etc.) are currently the best (if not only) systems for advancing the temporal and generational rotation of wealth and power. Quotes from the text below.

Public has become the primal form of new art, and exhibition the secondary one. The word public here is a (suboptimal) placeholder for assemblies, collectives, public gatherings, non-patriarchal familial constellations and so forth. […] What was once the fringe program (talks, workshops) is now the headliner. When I look around, I can see some people having not really realized this. Others are angry, even. “Why is art about the other stuff nowadays?” This is another way of saying “I”m white and feel like I can’t get enough exposure.”

Managing a nuanced perspective on things is particularly vexing when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the extreme, life-destroying urgency of climate change, for example. Often, you can catch an artist having gone through these motions and realizing that, say, flying to biennials is bad for the environment and a grueling way to live, too. So they turn their own realization into a dictum and hold everyone up to this standard of their own making.

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The Black Panther was a good movie (for a Marvel movie). It is definitely a emancipatory experience for many but it’s definitely not a decolonial movie. It was fun to see how white characters are bashed on screen, told to be silent while the heroes of the story talk. White character were only used for comic relief and depicted as amoral and/or goofy. Some segments of the white characters story arcs were cut away and only mentioned through the heros dialogue (The event were CIA agent Everett K. Ross is locked in his room is not depicted on screen). The director Ryan Coogler is aware of what he is doing and not shy to show the reality which he has to work trough. The casino scene is a great example: T’Challa the king of the fictional Wakanda kingdom wins at the roulette wheel but a battle erupts before he can collect his winnings. A random casino visitor, depicted by Stan Lee casually collects the chips and cracks a joke while ripping him off.

Unfortunately the movie depicts muslims as savage kidnappers and offers a universalist techno-optimistic narrative. The Wakanda nation (an utopian African nation which is untouched by colonialism) has developed exactly the same technologies as their North American peers. Their military corps use remotely controlled drones for abroad military missions. They weaponize cars to pursuit their enemies remotely. The capital city of Wakanda is a mirror image of Manhattan, only color schemes and building facades look different. Wakandan scientist are shown to use medical technologies which penetrate bodies and produce 3D renderings of injuries.

As if unhinged innovation would result into identical technological development in every culture. There is a joke about this in the movie when Shuri (naïvely) invents a Wakandan version of sneakers (so that the Black Panther can move silently). The joke was fun until a quick search online reveals multiple franchise deals with multiple shoe companies, licensed to manufacture Black Panther branded footwear.

Despite the faults it’s great that a mainstream superhero film from Hollywood discusses colonisation and the history African slavery. As a part if the plot a museum is shown to falsify African history, so Erik Killmonger as a museum guest (a decent of a culture which artifacts are on display) reclaims the items from the museum (the museum staff is killed in the process). M’Baku the Man-Ape is a cool hero, he is proud to display his raw strength and savage attitude (the character feels like a direct comment to the H&M “coolest monkey in the jungle” controversy!). The movie plays on a binary reversal of stereotypical roles, which makes it difficult to sypher. Some parts feel like meta-critique of western-white-culture but the binary reversal somehow turns against itself. The movies fetisizes the US army trough the figure of Killmonger: The characters military merits and killcount are casually drooled on.

The most radical part of the movies was a scene where T’Challa and Okoye (Bodyguard from the all-female special forces of Wakanda) negotiate with CIA agent Ross how to organize the interrogation of a prisoner. The agent informs them that the CIA will handle the situation and advise them to stand down. T’Challa and Okoye ignore him casually, they don’t even understand what the agent is saying: They can’t even imagine taking orders from a representative of a foreign nation – They can’t imagine a reality were whiteness grants authority.