MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology / NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano)
Disobedience – An ongoing video archive
Curated by: Marco Scotini together with Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas
Assistant curator: Andris Brinkmanis
December 9, 2011–February 3, 2012
The Media Lab Complex Lobby (E14), 75 Amherst Street, Cambridge, MA, USA
The Disobedience Archive research and exhibition project is produced in collaboration with the students from the ACT courses Art, Architecture, and Urbanism in Dialogue and Introduction to Networked Cultures and Participatory Media under the instruction of Gediminas Urbonas, with the assistance of Anna Bleuler (NABA, Milano), Slobodan Radoman and Sung Woo Jang (MIT, Cambridge, MA).
At a time when many still consider the reterritorialisation of the classic Left as a possible response to the advancing neo-capitalistic cultural barbarism, Disobedience Archive, an ongoing video archive aims to provide an alternative model of thought and action, which is wide-reaching, though limited in its space-time dimensions.
It is an investigation into practices of artistic activism that emerged after the fall of the Soviet bloc, which paved the way for new ways of being, saying, and doing. What the Disobedience Archive intends to represent is the set of artistic strategies and dissent tactics that have been brought to bear over the past few years as a way of overcoming
classic modernist dichotomies. In particular, this is a way to escape an idea of art and culture that, in a modernist manner, recognizes only its use—but not its intrinsic nature—in political terms.
Disobedience Archive, on the contrary, shows how the political status of the image today is bound up with recognition of the aesthetic character of its manifestation. What matters in Disobedience is not so much an “alliance” between activist demands and artistic practices in order to achieve common goals, it is more that of a common space or a common base that is emerging.
This space is not clearly defined, thus making it impossible to draw a precise line between forces and signs, between language and labor, between intellectual production and political action. Disobedience Archive brings together a series of practices and forms of self-representation whose practitioners are finding the key to their strength in an alliance of art and activism: a transformation in the languages that society produces as a political subject and as a media object. It does so using the format of an archive, in which all the materials on display share the same level of equivalence—without hierarchies and without exhibiting any preordained set of institutional rules. It is up to the public to make choices about how they visually organize the available material: turning the archive into a toolkit ready for use.
Marco Scotini writes that “the theoretical premises that underpin the idea of disobedience, mainly emerged from radical political thinking in Italy which, starting from the time of the societal events in Italy in 1977, viewed post-Fordism as the destiny of late global capitalism.”
Compared with previous presentations (Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin; La Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico D.F.; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham; Raven Row, London among many others), this version of Disobedience Archive installed at MIT will retrace many of the implications of this theoretical notion in the very subsoil of Italy, through a whole constellation of events and videos that intermittently transpire as the exhibition tour progresses. One section of the exhibition will be dedicated to 1977 Italy, while other rhizomatic series of videos will shed light on events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall; the social turmoil in Argentina in 2001; the ubiquitous nature of anti-globalist movements from 1994 onwards; the former Eastern European bloc; the Israel-Palestine affairs; the post-9/11 America; the recent insurrections on a global scale; and new research on the history of disobedience in the Boston area.
Archival material from: 16beaver group, Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA), Gianfranco Baruchello, Bernardette Corporation, Beth Bird, Black Audio Film Collective, Copenhagen Free University, Critical Art Ensemble, Dodo Brothers (Andrea Ruggeri and Giancarlo Vitali Ambrogio), Etcètera, Marcelo Exposito, Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, Grupo de Arte Callejero (GAC), Alberto Grifi, Ashley Hunt, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Kanal B, Laboratorio di Comunicazione Militante, Non Governmental Control Commission, Margit Czencki/Park Fiction, Radio Alice, Oliver Ressler with Zanny Begg, Joanne Richardson, Eyal Sivan, Hito Steyerl, The Department of Space and Land Reclamation (with StreetRec., The Institute for Applied Autonomy, Las Agencias and AffectTech/BikeWriters), Mariette Schiltz and Bert Theis, Ultra Red, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Dmitry Vilensky and Chto delat / What is to be done?
With contributions and material from: Mel King, Juliet Kepes, Sylvere Lotringer, Harvard’69, Urbano platform, ACT UP and Food not Bombs among others.
This exhibition is possible through the support of the Office of the Dean at MIT SA+P, Council for the Arts at MIT, the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT), and NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milano.