Radical media, politics and culture.


mtn_magpie writes:
"www.observer.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,935460,00.h tml"

This man is called Matthew Branton and he wants to give you a present. It's the previous two years of his life: two years spent honing and crafting and agonising over his latest novel, The Tie and The Crest, the story of a poor little rich girl and 'the best thing I've ever done'. For his previous four (The Love Parade, The House of Whacks, Coast, and The Hired Gun), Matthew averaged about £50,000 a book, and every one was optioned for a film.

Cool, clever, with a sizeable following for his witty, zippy, modern writing ('both wise and cracking,' said Esquire), Matthew is shaped like a publisher's dream. The Tie and The Crest was all set to be his proper 'breakthrough' book. But - to Bloomsbury's immense chagrin - he's decided to give it away for free. You can download it from his website, www.matthewbranton.com. I've read it. It's great.


New York City

PSY-GEO-CONFLUX 2003 marks the inauguration of an annual event dedicated to current artistic and social investigations in PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY ("the study of the effects of the geographic environment on the emotions and behavior of individuals"). Part festival and part conference, it brings together visual and sound artists, writers, and urban adventurers to explore the physical and psychological landscape of the city.

Alan Moore writes

"Green Home" Art Show Opens Eco-Fest

Staten Island, NYC, Opening Saturday, April 26, 7-10 p.m.

The "Green Home" show is a group exhibition for the first Staten Island Greens Eco-Fest. It combines arts conceptual, installation, and activist with traditional media. The theme is now -- modern war is the ultimate unsustainable practice, robbing us of our future.

Artists include: Mary Walling Blackburn, Robert Bingham, Nancy Bonior, Mary Campbell, Jackie Cassen, Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), Peggy Cyphers, Stefan Eins, Steve Faust, John Fekner, Peter Fend, Karen Fitzgerald, Green Circus, Richard Hambleton, Virginia Hoge, Rebecca Howland, Sheryl Humphrey, Landscape Project, Su-Jung Lee, William T. Meyer, III, Robin Locke-Monda, Ron Moresan, Hillary Mushkin, Paulette Nenner, Adam Padavano, Claire Pentecost, Kristi Pfister, Cynthia Roberts, Tom Ronce, Christy Rupp Samoa, Phil Sanders, Mara Adamitz Scrupe, Willoughby Sharp (video of Joseph Beuys), Frank Shifreen and Thom Corn, Anne-Katrin Spiess, James Teschner, Time's Up, Alyssa Wood and more added.

"Green Home" will be open weekends 12-6 thru May.

Evening events TBA. Call (718) 556-9008;

Email: sigreenfest2003@yahoo.com.
Website: Staten island Greens

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"Punk and Autonomia"

[Please note that this is a "work in progress". The author's contact details are below.]

1. Introduction

In 1978 Crass produced a poster that said: "Germany got Bader-Meinhof, England got punk, but they can't kill it." I want to put forward the idea that it is far more analogous to punk to say Italy got Autonomia. 1977 was a year of explosions of creativity amongst sections of youth in England and Italy. In Germany it was a year of repression, of the closing of space. This contemporaneity triggers questions about potential similarities but also masks huge differences between the Italian movement of '77 and the emergence of punk rock in Britain. Punk's emergence at the heart of the Anglo-American music industry ensured the rapid dissemination of its innovations and a widespread and enduring influence. The Autonomia movement's roots however lay in a much more heated and sophisticated political environment. The Italian Communist Party (PCI) of the 1970's was the largest outside the Communist block and had a sphere of influence in the country way beyond the ranks of its members. Through the influence of the writings of Antonio Gramsci, it had developed a relatively sophisticated political culture. The development of autonomist thought out of and against this culture led to a "thorough rethinking of Marxist theory and the more systematic creation of new theoretical paradigms"(De Angelis, 1993). This highly theorised movement developed a far reaching analysis of the autonomous struggles that came to the fore in the cycle of struggles of the sixties. Also important to note is the foundational role that orthodox Italian Marxism had on the development of Cultural Studies as a discipline. Of particular note is the influence that Antonio Gramsci's ideas on the autonomy of the political had on the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. This legacy is still discernable today. A politics developed in and against this influential political culture has the potential to be of more than incidental interest. In section two I outline the main ideas of autonomist marxism in relation to the social struggles from which they developed. In section three I consider how these ideas can help us understand punk. I conclude in section four.

Brett Bloom writes "GROUPS and SPACES E-ZINE


#0004 (Networking Part 2)


Groups and Spaces is a platform for collecting information on people working in independent groups and/or running non-commercial spaces. The site encourages building networks between these organizations, disorganizations and alliances. This E-zine is a Groups and Spaces' offering. The E-zine will regularly provide feature length articles, discussions, interviews, projects and histories related to independent working.



ARTICLE: "A Collectography of PAD/D, Political Art Documentation and Distribution: a 1980's Activist Art and Networking Collective," by Gregory G. Sholette 3/03

ANNOUNCEMENT: 18th Avenue Artists' Compound Opens July 2003, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines.

|||| ARTICLE ||||

A Collectography of PAD/D, Political Art Documentation and Distribution: a 1980's Activist Art and Networking Collective

Gregory G. Sholette

"Our goal is to provide artists with an organized relationship to society, to demonstrate the political effectiveness of image making, and to provide a framework within which progressive artists can discuss and develop alternatives to the mainstream art system."

(PAD/D Mission Statement)

Anonymous Comrade writes: Found this story at www.delawareonline.com/:

New military mortuary being built

Dover Air Force Base facility will be state-of-the-art and larger

By BETH MILLER Staff reporter 03/29/2003

Construction should be completed by June at Dover Air Force Base's new $20 million mortuary, and Army Corps of Engineers officials led a tour through the facility Friday to reveal some of the enhancements it will provide for the military's largest such operation.

As they steered guests through what will be hospital-quality radiology units, autopsy and embalming facilities, workers at the old Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs nearby were preparing to receive more remains from the war in Iraq.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

Reclusive author and critic whose political and philosophical writing informed the work of Derrida, Foucault and Barthes

Maurice Blanchot was probably the least-read yet most influential French writer of the postwar era. Reclusive to a degree, shunning all public appearances, refusing even to be photographed (though once snapped unawares), he nevertheless played a decisive part in the transformation of the literary and philosophical landscape of France in the second half of the 20th century. He had no disciples, his readers were invited to act as if he did not exist, yet no writer can have devoted himself more selflessly to the simple intimacy of friendship, from which much of his influence stemmed.

hydrarchist writes

Okay, so this is a fucking crap review, and I disown the very gesture of submitting it (?). However, the existence and beginning of this exhibition shoudl be publicised and this was the only article available. If anyone finds a better one, which should not be difficult, please submit it and a substitution will be effected. Please. Please......

Bruises, blobs and bug-eyed dogs

The Cobra artists wanted to change the world - but they just ended up making a horrible mess, says Adrian Searle

Tuesday March 4, 2003

The Guardian

There was a time when artists habitually wore berets, smoked and drank incessantly, lived the bohemian life and painted like there was no tomorrow - and no yesterday either. They rejected their immediate predecessors, invented movements, wrote splenetic manifestos and believed in such a thing as the avant-garde, a phrase that today sounds almost quaint. They thought art had a primary social function, even if they were not entirely sure what it was or how exactly their art would change the world.

Such a time, by and large, seems to have passed (though the beret has lately made of a bit of a comeback). It is, then, perhaps timely and surprising that the first proper British survey of the Cobra group, a movement founded in a Left Bank cafe in 1948 and disbanded in 1951, should take place now at the Baltic in Gateshead.

As a movement, Cobra fulfilled pretty much all the stereotypes of the 20th-century art movement - in fact, it could be the model for most of them. Cliche has it that, while postwar Paris was in the throes of existentialism, New York was roaring with abstract expressionism and British art was filling up the kitchen sink, examining the forms of the teasel and doing spiky, angular things for the Festival of Britain, the Cobra artists were colluding to overthrow Mondrian, churn up the landscape, embrace the Outsider and reject social realism. The movement was founded in Paris, but its name (properly CoBrA, though rendered otherwise in all the material relating to this exhibition) derives from three other European cities, Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam - cities of occupation in which the artists involved had lived throughout the war years.

Cobra was, in part, an amalgamation of artists disaffected from various national groupings, particularly the Surrealist-Revolutionary Centre in Belgium, the Danish Harvest Group and the Dutch Experimental Group. So many factions. It is hard to imagine such tight-knit, ideologically motivated artist groups today, when movements tend to be little more than journalistic labels (the School of London, the YBAs) or self-promotional packages (the Stuckists, heaven forbid). There was a time when such things mattered and were more than cabals of art-world career lobbyists.

The movement's founder and organiser, the Belgian poet Christian Dotremont, famously described Cobra as: "Like going on a train journey. You fall asleep, you wake up, you don't know whether you've just passed Copenhagen, Brussels or Amsterdam." If Cobra was an art in transit, it was also a transitional movement, its protagonists somehow moving between a self-conscious, individualist "primitivism" (if that is not a paradox) and a sense of a universal art that transcended language. In part, Cobra anticipated the truly revolutionary ideals of the Situationist International and the 1970s "return to painting" of the neo-expressionists. It was also an art in transit from the most appalling war to a world in which things, so the artists believed, had to be done differently.

Cobra celebrated the irrational (as had surrealism); it was wild, colourful and filled with imaginary symbols. It was an art that, as Roger Malpert says in the current catalogue, represented an antidote to melancholy. Cobra also attracted some terribly mediocre artists, whose toe-curling works hang alongside the more significant figures - Asger Jorn, Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille and Pierre Alechinsky - in the Baltic exhibition.

Visitor, brace yourself: prepare to see some utter dreck in the Cobra show. Malpert writes that Cobra works "are among the most popular and accessible of 20th-century works in the museums that house them, and reproductions serve to brighten up the corridors of hotels and office buildings". A dreadful apotheosis, this, for an art that aimed for a rather different kind of universality. I would also argue with the idea that Cobra art is "popular" in any meaningful way.

Faced with this stuff on the hotel wall or office partition, I have the feeling that people probably just feel stuck with it and soon stop noticing it at all. When you do notice it, you probably wish it were a Paul Klee or a Joan Miro, whose work Cobra often resembles in a low-rent way. Cobra's lack of class is, I suppose, meant to be democratic. Its feeble imagism - the bug-eyed dogs (Dogs? Sheep? Badly drawn bovines? It is often hard to tell), the festering suns, the blob people - are meant as utterances in a universal language that has its roots in the art of children, of the mentally unwell, in the "primitive", in tribal art or prehistoric artifacts. All of the above one now views with suspicion, whether or not one is sensitised by the more overt and occasionally ludicrous pieties of political correctness.

This is often the kind of art that leads to the invariable, but not always philistine, complaint that a child of six could do it. In fact, one spends much of one's time thrashing about in front of Cobra paintings searching for redeeming features and looking for parallels: this one is a bit like Arshile Gorky, that painting is like a Matta or a late-1940s De Kooning, there is a ghost of Dubuffet here, an early Alan Davie there, a presentiment of Georg Baselitz or AR Penke somewhere else.

What we are trying to do, perhaps, is dignify this art, when one of the good things about it is its lack of dignity, its crudeness, irreverence and rawness. Even the speed with which so much of this work was made can be seen as an antidote, if not to melancholy, then to good manners, as a way of bypassing the deliberations and niceties of style. Constant's bruise-faced woman, open-mouthed and flailing wildly, her face spookily lit, may well be a kind of revenge painting against a spurning lover.

But mostly the show is just horrible. The borrowings from Guernica-period Picasso, from Bernard Buffet or Miro (straight line, curved branch, blob - hey presto, there's a stick-man waving at you) show up the imaginative paucity of much of it.None of the Cobra artists seen here extended the language of the artists from whom they borrowed. Some of the artists shown - Corneille and Alechinsky, for example - are much milder, more careful designers than their Cobra affiliation might suggest.

Where Cobra's influence has always lingered is in the soppier, more naive regions of art-school painting (as has Wassily Kandinsky's work: both influences are equally pernicious). But it is worth reminding ourselves that the artists associated with Cobra were intelligent, often intellectual artists. Constant, for example, was a co-founder of the Situationist International (of which Jorn was also a member), and devoted much of his time, post-Cobra, to developing radical architectural ideas, before returning to painting in the 1970s.

We must be careful, too, about fashion, what it dismisses and rediscovers. What is strong and enduring in the Cobra show (apart from its idealism, which is always refreshing) are the drawings and prints. There are great drawings here - Constant's lithographs of La Guerre (Picasso-like though some of them are), Alechinsky's hilarious etchings, Jorn's scratchy, inked Burning Cities, and Pedersen's beautiful ink drawings of phantasmagorical heads and birds. Drawing always has a timeless aspect, an ability to go beyond style. It is, at best, intimate and direct. It is democratic (everyone does it, if only to doodle) and seems to tap something approaching the universal. The show is worth it, to be reminded of that alone.

· Cobra is at Baltic, Gateshead, until April 21. Details: 0191-478 1810."

Preface to Gone to Croatan

Ron Sakolsky

This volume is an episodic account of the ancestral dance of our crossblood brothers and sisters across the vagaboundaries of North America. By taking a liminal, rather than only a marginal, perspective on its subjects, it seeks to open doors whose very existence may have in some cases not previously been apparent to historians. It does not claim to be a comprehensive history, but it is a start in plotting the points on this particular cognitive map.

Alan Moore writes "March 13, 2003 - International Arts Group Exposition 2003 (I've got an answer / I've got an anthem), Organized by Red76 Arts Group, at The Laurelhurst Theater, Portland.


Over the past several years, dozens of arts group have come into existence and met the need to serve as models for new and innovative arts platforms. Similar in practice to the ethics and culture of DIY punk/indie bands, arts groups have circumvented the stopgaps of their mainstream counterparts and, subsequently, created a vibrant and successful alternative to museums and galleries. They are the public's most accessible outlet for contemporary thought and practice in the arts.


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