20200715

NYC Horse Carriages vs. Carriage Horses (2014) Jason Hribal. A short and acute response to Liam Neeson’s speech, which he made to support the “Save NYC Horse Carriages” campaign. Approaching horses primarily as members of the working class, Hribal argues that they should be seen as an unpaid and exploited labor force, which is forced to serve capital. A detail of our relationship with animals he address is that animals are working also when they are made into glue. Historically, working horses have seldom been seen as companions. I agree but remain optimistic that currently we have a good chance in developing horse-human working relationships which are founded on companionship.

The [horse cart] drivers were middle management and their job was to get the horses to work harder, longer, and faster. In fact, the drivers’ wages were dependent upon this arrangement.

20200602

Started working at the Malmi cemetery. I’ll serve as a gardeners aid for two months. Manual labor. Its ten years since I had a punch-card (side)job. Colleagues lineup at the machine at 15:23 and wait for the clock. People rush in to meet the 06:59 punch-in que. Thursdays we get off at 14:53 and Fridays at 14:52. The odd schedules are due to the KIKY (economic competative ability contract?) which our previous shameful rightwing coalition government forced on working folk. People obey these schedules rigorously. Getting off a minute earlier gives a minute more time to be who you are.

Preparing texts, new mineral water works and Horse & Performance course for the autumn. There are some fun exhibition things scheduled too. After covid pressure, I have two-jobs pressure from where I jump to a teaching (and other) gigs pressure. Feels unfair. Got accepted to the Aalto University Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture. Joined a Achille Mbembe reading group.

20200204

Telecommunications Reclaimed (2019) Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay & Félix Tréguer. A book on community networks. I read the history part and some shorter interviews/reflections. Unfortunately it reads as a tactical project publication, made more for the sake of having a publication for a project, then an effort to advocate a cause.

Aruna D’Souzas talk (2020) for the Creative Time Summit X is great! She problematises empathy as a strategy for political resistance and argues that institutions created the need for racism: “Slavery was not the product but the origin of racism “. Hence changing attitudes cannot undo structures. She also identifies how empathy is utilized to validate the global-wests efforts in assuming control over others (which is something we’ve explored trough Trans-Horse). She then takes a critical view on artworks which seek to “give voice to marginalized communities” and argues that in many cases these kinds of artworks expose individuals in the same ways as dehumanizing institutions (such as border control) do.

20190409

Participated in the first Performing the Fringe -event or un-conference in Stockholm last weekend. The research project is organized by curators Inga Lace & Jussi Koitela and the process will continue till 2020. The project feels very similar to the Alkovi Gallery Russian-focus program and activities I’m participating in (which is convenient). We walked and talked for two days around the Hökarängen district. Our group was introduced to the area by researcher Moa Tunström and other activist/artists. We visited Kulturhuset Cyklopen, local allotment gardens which were introduced to us by Janna Holmstedt, an old (still active) graffitiwall which was introduced to us by Lina Eriksson and a horse stable where we met Svarten (horse). Activities were centered around Konsthall C, which managing director Erik Annerborn hosted us warmly. The group participating in Performing the Fringe consists of artists from the Baltic-Nordic region. I had the pleasure to meet Andrej Polukord (he also is the director of Galerie Uberall, we coined the term Easternational in a chat), Asbjørn Skou (we talked about kettlebells!), Flo Kasearu (who gave a great presentation of her house museum), Jon Benjamin Tallerås (we talked about carpentry. Tallerås shared his view that urban structures which are designed to guide our movements work because they have a “semiotic quality to them”. We could easily bypass a fence but it is intended to be read read as like a language. The fence speaks to us and says: “Don’t move from here.”) and Valentina Karga (whom I know from her work in Maunula). The group will head to Pori during the summer and my next engagement with the project will be in Vilnius.

Will Brexit break up the UK? (2019) An Other Europe Podcast. A very tight analysis of the ideological backgrounds of Brexit. Offers many useful concepts such as “structural emotion” which explains the process when politicians work to justify their feelings using rational arguments.

20190403

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.