Radical media, politics and culture.

Theorizing Wikileaks, Los Angeles, Feb. 12, 2011

Theorizing Wikileaks
Los Angeles, Feb. 12, 2011

Call for Papers

[“The notion of “heterology” refers to the ways in which the meaningful fabric of the sensible is disturbed: a spectacle does not fit within the sensible framework defined by a network of meanings, an expression does not find its place in the system of the visible coordinates where it appears. The dream of a suitable political work of art is in fact the dream of disrupting the relationship between the visible, the sayable and the thinkable without having to use the terms of a message or a vehicle. It is the dream of an art that would transmit meanings in the form of a rupture with the very logic of meaningful situations. As a matter of fact, political art cannot work in the simple form of a meaningful spectacle that would lead to an “awareness” of the state of the world. Suitable political art would have a double effect: the readability of a political signification and a sensible or perceptual shock caused, conversely, by the uncanny, that which resists signification.” -Ranciere, The Politics of Aesthetics/The Distribution of the Sensible]

Julian Assange describes a "corrosive servility” that has come to infuse present day life and our resignation towards the established political order. As we, as bourgeois bohemians, buy organic at Trader Joe’s, dutifully download Democracy Now episodes and make sure to buy the next Arundhati Roy bestseller as glib gestures of a boutique liberalism in between lining up recommendations for our MFA applications, a tacit acceptance of our impotence in the face of a repugnant sociopolitical order, verging on involuntary complicity, is so hackneyed so as to not even need to be stated.

Wikileaks fills a gaping chasm where civil society has failed: academia, media, constitutional law, representative democracy, the “intelligentsia,” theory, protest culture. In Ranciere’s terms, it has ruptured or “reconfigured the territory of the visible, the thinkable, and the sayable” in an arena in which the stakes could not be more fraught: the rhetoric, practice, and implementation of American global hegemony. It has whittled away the edifice upon which power takes for granted that it can operate; with comparatively minuscule resources it has found the chink in the armor through which it can untether a whole superstructure of acting, speaking and governing; it has imbued kum bah yah empty clichés and platitudes like “social justice” or a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-like fantasy of populist democracy with an exhilaratingly unexpected palpable reality.

How can we theorize Wikileaks, transparency activism, and leaking itself as speech? Austin’s notion of the “speech act” is based on the notion of the “illocutionary act” in which language is not merely descriptive, but performs an action within a social context. Given this, is the “action” Wikileaks’ speech performs a form of civil disobedience? Anarchic guerilla resistance? An art intervention? The Institute of Applied Autonomy describes, “Interventions change the behavior of a system in a way that the system is not prepared to deal with.” Alex Villar says, “An art intervention is a diagonal force that bursts through a power field. It can cause a disruption, shaking up, a rearrangement of plateaus.”

Seeking a wide range of 10-25 minute presentations, papers, performances, debate arguments, interventions, art, etc. addressing Wikileaks at the Public School, a school-as-artist-project founded by Sean Dockray consisting of visual artists, performers, writers, thinkers, and theorists funded by Telic Arts Exchange. Please send 200-500 word proposal on Wikileaks with a brief bio (optional, max 200 words) by February 12, 2011 to naxalbelt@gmail.com. Also welcome are proposals opposed to stances stated here.

For More Information:
The New York Public School: http://nyc.thepublicschool.org/class/3128
TELIC Arts Exchange: http://telic.info/the-public-school
Naxal Belt: http://naxalbelt.blogspot.com