Radical Naming Strategies in Art and Politics

Please join us for an evening with Slovenian artist Janez Janša and media theorist Marco Deseriis on the subversion of the proper name in art and politics.  

Thursday, March 13, 7 PM
@ Not An Alternative
67 West Street, #304
Brooklyn, NY 11222

In 2007, three artists joined the conservative Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and legally changed their names into the name of the party leader, the Prime Minister of Slovenia at the time, Janez Janša. Was this an act of support for the leader or a subtle attack on his brand? Whenever asked for the reasons for the name change, the artists simply answered that they did it "for personal reasons." Since the change of their legal status, the boundaries between their lives and their art has blurred in numerous unforeseen ways.
 
Janša's presentation will include excerpts from My Name Is Janez Janša (Slovenia, 2012), a film that is a journey through different stages and aspects of the name changing and its consequences--including public, relational and intimate ones. Drawing from history, popular culture, and personal experiences, the movie takes the Janša experience as a departure point for a wider reflection on how the legal name may coincide with (or differ from) notions of personal identity in a Western society.

Following Janša’s presentation, Northeastern University professor Marco Deseriis will present a brief genealogy and theory of the improper name, which he defines as the adoption of the same pseudonym by organized collectives, affinity groups, and individual authors. Linking the pseudonyms shared by nineteenth-century English textile workers (Ned Ludd), Hollywood film directors (Alan Smithee), North American and European mail artists (Monty Cantsin and Karen Eliot), European anti-copyright activists (Luther Blissett), and the global “hacktivist” network Anonymous, Deseriis argues that improper names are assemblages of enunciation that are neither collective nor individual, but rather “condividual” or “transindividual.” In thinking the subject as an unfinished project, the theory of the improper also calls for a new theory of media.
 
* * * * * * * *
  
Janez Janša is a conceptual artist, performer and producer. He is co-founder and artistic director of Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana.
www.aksioma.org
 
Marco Deseriis is an Assistant Professor in the Program in Media and Screen Studies at Northeastern University. His manuscript Improper Names: Collective Pseudonyms from the Luddites to Anonymous is currently under contract at the University of Minnesota Press.
 
Janez Janša, Janez Janša, Janez Janša
http://www.janezjansa.si
 
My Name is Janez Janša
www.mynameisjanezjansa.com
  
Marco Deseriis
http://neu.academia.edu/MarcoDeseriis

Programming Series: Who Is The Contemporary Radical?

In conjunction with a new project that is planned to launch in 2014, Not An Alternative is hosting a programming series where we ask visiting speakers the question 'who is the contemporary Radical?'.

Our expectation isn't that any one speaker will provide a complete picture, but that by offering responses that derive from guests’ particular areas of research or interest the collection of presentations will begin to describe a form. Where is the Radical succeeding, and failing? How is the Radical responding to the contemporary moment? How does the Radical's practice mark a division from the dominant paradigm?

We start with our first guest, theorist Alberto Toscano, this Monday, November 4th. We hope you can join us, more info below.

@ No-Space
Monday, Nov 4, 7:00pm
67 West St, #304
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Who Is The Contemporary Radical? A presentation series organized by Not An Alternative

"Machiavelli's Prince could be studied as a historical exemplification of the Sorelian myth--i.e., of a political ideology presented neither as cold utopia nor as doctrinaire ratiocination, but rather as the creation of a concrete fantasy which acts on a dispersed and atomized people to arouse and organize its collective will." -Antonio Gramsci

The contemporary State claims that there exists “a threat” that is very real. It invokes this threat as it attempts to justify expansion of its power. The most cursory research reveals, however, that the State’s so-called “enemy” is produced out of abstractions. The State enjoins us to fear radicals, extremists, anarchists, terrorists, communists, and fundamentalists, as one and the same. Perpetually shifting and without concrete referents, we are presented with a generic threat.

Recent exposure of the massive expansions in the surveillance infrastructure point to the abolition of limits regarding the object of spying. No one is without suspicion. Anyone could be a potential threat. In spite of the inefficiency of this glaring imprecision the State’s claim that “the radical exists” justifies ever-increasing expenditures in a variety of domains.

At a time when we are told that governments everywhere are out of money the State finds value in acting as if it believes that the radical exists. Most on the Left, however, are skeptical. Most share the view that the State imposes its labels on individuals, groups, and populations with no regard for evidence. For the Left, “Reality” dictates that revolutionary potential has to be created “because there is no real movement that exists yet.”

In the upcoming programming series, “Who Is The Contemporary Radical?” Not An Alternative will reverse the Left’s “realistic” position. Conversation starts not from a place of lamenting what doesn’t (yet) exist or from a place of desiring something that should or could exist. Instead we proceed from a presumption that correlates with Gramsci’s quote. It’s not a matter of what is to be done but of what is already being done. The contemporary radical exists. Our hope is that the collection of presentations will present the contours of this collective subject, contributing thereby to "the creation of a concrete fantasy which acts on a dispersed and atomized people to arouse and organize its collective will."

ABOUT ALBERTO TOSCANO
Alberto Toscano is lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Toscano is a member of the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory. He is a cultural critic, social theorist, philosopher and translator best known to the English-speaking world for his translations of the work of Alain Badiou, including Badiou’s The Century and Logics of Worlds. He is the author of The Theatre of Production (2006), and his book Fanaticism: The Uses of an Idea (2010).

From Wikipedia: “Toscano's work has been described both as an investigation of the persistence of the idea of communism in contemporary thought and a genealogical inquiry into the concept of fanaticism. In an article on the Tarnac 9 case, written for The Guardian in December 2009, Toscano argues that society is losing its ability to distinguish between vandalism and terrorism.”

Summer Update 2013

Hi friends, it’s been a long time since we’ve been in touch with y'all with an update. As you may know in the Fall of 2011 we were “rentrified” out of our Williamsburg storefront, and thanks to the support of you and others in our extended family we relocated to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Since then, we’ve been busier than we've ever been in our 9 year history. Here's a sampling from the last 2 years:

* We dialed back public programming and event curation for a spell, and ramped up our work as an arts collective and production company, producing visual communications anonymously in support of the Occupy movement and other mobilizations. Some of that work can be seen here, and here, and even here.

* We’ve written some articles about the politics of representation in social movements, and the idea of organizing around a “name in common”.

* We’ve expanded our team. We birthed a new comrade and collaborator, just 20 inches tall and a real pistol. Occupy Baby (aka Mila Amie Economopoulos Jones) came into this world like a true direct actionista, as evidenced by the lights, sirens and media cameras...this child has a bigger google footprint than most folks we know. We also welcomed new collaborators Jodi Dean, Anjali Cadambi, Lucky Tran, Jonathan King, and Victoria Sobel, as well as interns Mon Ellis and Josh Yoder. Learn more about our team here.

*We’re incubating new projects. We’re excited to be working with Occupy Homes Minnesota and Occupy Homes Atlanta on their anti-foreclosure and eviction defense efforts, and in a few months we’ll launch the biggest project we’ve worked on to date, relating to climate change and natural history museums.

Amidst all that, we’ve been missing you. And so we’re thrilled to start hosting public events again. As always, our programming lies at the intersection of art, activism, and theory, bringing together filmmakers, artists, activists, and academics, with an aim toward putting theory into practice.

We hope you can join us for our inaugural event in the new(ish) space on Thursday, August 29 at 7pm. Brandon Jourdan and Marianne Maeckelbergh from the Global Uprisings team will screen their latest film about Occupy Gezi Park and the Taksim Commune. Event deets on Facebook here.

Taksim Commune: Gezi Park and the Uprising in Turkey

Film Screening and Discussion
Thursday, August 29th @ 7:00 PM
@ No Space, 67 West St, #304

Join us for a night of film and discussion with Brandon Jourdan and Marianne Maeckelbergh from the Global Uprisings team. They will screen their latest film about Occupy Gezi Park, the Taksim Commune, and the ongoing uprising in Turkey.

About the Film
In the latest documentary in their Global Uprisings series, Brandon Jourdan and Marianne Maeckelbergh tell the story of the occupation of Gezi Park, its violent eviction, and the mass uprising it sparked.

Since the end of May 2013, political unrest has swept across Turkey. In Istanbul, a large part of the central Beyoğlu district became a battle zone for three consecutive weeks with conflicts continuing afterward. So far five people have died and thousands have been injured.

The protests were initially aimed at rescuing Istanbul’s Gezi Park from being demolished as part of a large scale urban renewal project. The police used extreme force during a series of police attacks that began on May 28th 2013 and which came to a dramatic head in the early morning hours of Friday May 31st when police attacked protesters sleeping in the park.

Over the course of a few days, the police attacks grew to shocking proportions. As the images of the heavy-handed policing spread across the world, the protests quickly transformed into a popular uprising against the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his style of authoritarian rule.

This short documentary tells the story of the occupation of Gezi Park, the eviction on July 15, 2013, and the protests that have continued in the aftermath. It includes interviews with many participants and never before seen footage.

About Global Uprisings

Fall Internship: POSITION FILLED

PLEASE NOTE: This position has now been filled. We are no longer reviewing applications.

Not An Alternative (NAA) is seeking a Fall intern to assist with our current and upcoming writing projects. The ideal candidate has strong writing chops and a background in art, media/culture, or political theory (or a bit of all the above). The ability to comprehend theory and translate it for a lay audience is important.

You will work closely with NAA resident theorist and author Jodi Dean, as well as other NAA team members, on the following: packaging case studies for a new website for the organization; writing rapid response articles for publication responding to key political moments; drafting video animation scripts; and researching and writing grant applications for Fall fundraising season.

We’re looking for candidates who are detail-oriented, organized, and motivated. Solid communications skills and an interest in Not An Alternative’s mission are a must.

Compensation: positions are PAID, and academic credit may be possible depending on the institution.
Location: Brooklyn, NY (Greenpoint)
Hours and Duration: Quarterly 2013; 25-30 hours per week
Application Deadline: Rolling until filled. We would love to begin the internship as soon as possible so that there is overlap with our summer team. Applicants are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO APPLY BY AUGUST 9TH.

TO APPLY: Please send cover letter, CV, a minimum of 2 writing samples, and contact information for two references to info@notanalternative.net. Please use the subject line “WRITING INTERN Application FALL 2013”

VOLUNTEERING
Volunteer opportunities are available for a number of Not An Alternative projects. Volunteers can assist with art production, design, research, social media outreach, and more. Interested applicants should send an email to info@notanalternative.net with "VOLUNTEER" in the subject line. Applicants will be contacted as opportunities arise.

ABOUT NOT AN ALTERNATIVE
Not An Alternative is a hybrid arts collective and non-profit organization with a mission to affect popular understandings of events, symbols, and history. The group curates and produces interventions on immaterial and material space, leveraging the tools of architecture, exhibit design, branding, and public relations.

Not An Alternative's actions, installations, and presentations have been featured within art institutions around the world, and in the public sphere, where they collaborate with community organizations and activist mobilizations. They host programs at a variety of venues, including their Brooklyn-based gallery No-Space (formerly known as The Change You Want to See Gallery).

ABOUT WRITING INTERNSHIP SUPERVISOR JODI DEAN
Jodi Dean is a political and media theorist who has been a core collaborator with Not an Alternative since 2010. She has given invited lectures in galleries, universities, and public fora around the world. Her most recent book is The Communist Horizon (Verso 2012). Previous titles include Blog Theory (Polity 2010), Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (Duke 2009), Zizek's Politics (Routledge 2006), Publicity's Secret (Cornell 2002), Aliens in America (Cornell 1998) and Solidarity of Strangers (California 1996).

Stand for Justice: Repeal Stand Your Ground

It's been a dark week since the Zimmerman trial verdict, but the breadth of actions across the country is inspiring.

The hoodie continues to be a powerful symbol, with dozens of distributed events this week that include "million hoodies" or "hoodies up for trayvon", etc. in their name. Countless people turn out in hoodies of different colors.

Looking at what's already happening in the visual/symbolic landscape, Not An Alternative is producing more visuals that marry the hoodie to a demand: Stand for Justice, Repeal Stand Your Ground.

We've made a life-sized torso/hoodie stencil and cut coroplast to create figures that function as signs. They say "Stand for Justice" on one side and "Repeal Stand Your Ground" on the other (not depicted in images above). We've also sourced hoodies in different colors that we'll screenprint to have both messages.

The online and offline visuals share an aesthetic vocabulary. As documentation of on-the-ground actions makes its way to mainstream and social media, the graphics and field photos can reinforce each other. Ideally, charging the symbol that exists in cultural consciousness and the media stream with a pointy-ended political demand.

In a lot of our work, bringing the excluded subject that isn't present into the equation is something we aim for. In this case, representing Trayvon, but Trayvon as a collective subject, not just an individual. This collective subjectivity is represented by the cut-outs; the individual by the people in the demo wearing the different colored hoodies with the messages on them. And so, not trying to BE Trayvon or say that "we are all Trayvon". (We like the "iamnottrayvon" tumblr for that reason). Because of Stand Your Ground there are many many Trayvons, most of whom we'll never hear about.

From the Zapatistas to Super Barrio Man to Anonymous to Pussy Riot, anonymity plays an important role in social movements. The thousands of people who make the small gesture of giving up their individuality when they change their Facebook pics to a symbol in common, to an image of Trayvon Martin, embody an Idea.

The symbol of the hoodie asserts, in relation to justice, that we are not individuals. It doesn’t matter to whom the law commits an injustice, we must respond in the same way. It is said that 'justice is blind'. This means that, if true, justice must apply to everyone equally.

We wear masks of de-individualization, of liberating anonymity, of Standing For Justice.

'You cannot evict an idea whose time has come'. Or as the anonymous character behind the Guy Faulks (Anonymous) mask said in V For Vendetta, 'Beneath this mask there is an idea... and ideas are bulletproof'.

You cannot kill an Idea!

Occupy Homes Mobilization at the Department of Justice

Dozens of underwater homeowners from around the country and hundreds of allies took to the streets on May 20th, 2013 to confront the Department of Justice, demanding an end to their "too big to jail" policy. Despite rampant fraud, abuses, and illegal foreclosures, not a single bank has been prosecuted. The home defenders marched, stormed the door at the DOJ, blocked all building exits, set up street blockades and an encampment on the front lawn.

On the following day, home defenders occupied the lobby of Covington & Burling in DC, the law firm that defends Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs, among others. It's where senior DOJ officials came from (and are expected to return). 8 underwater homeowners were arrested blockading the revolving door. Both actions were organized by Occupy Homes and Home Defenders League.

Not An Alternative produced all the visuals for the event, including mili-tents: tents emblazoned with messaging that could function as mobile protest signs or as sleeping tents; a 100-foot flexible mesh netting with messaging that could serve as a banner or as a street barricade; banners, flags, signs, and a mobile stage and float in the form of the facade of a foreclosed home.

We also created social media graphics during the action that were pushed via multiple Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, telling the story of the day as it unfolded in a form that was easy to share. Here they are in reverse chronological order.

The People Are Too Big To Fail

May 20th: Day of Action
Homeowners VS. Banking Execs
Showdown at the Department of Justice

Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail?

Millions of underwater homeowners have paid the price for Wall Street's crimes. From mortgage fraud to predatory lending, it's time to put bankers in jail.

On Monday, May 20, at 1:00pm, dozens of home defenders and hundreds of allies will take action and risk arrest to Bring Justice to Justice – demanding an end to the “too big to jail” policy, and relief for families and communities devastated by the financial crisis and foreclosure epidemic.

Call for Interns!

Not An Alternative is seeking interns to assist with our current and upcoming projects. We’re looking for candidates who are detail-oriented, organized, and motivated. Solid communications skills and an interest in Not An Alternative’s mission are a must. A background in art, design, or previous experience working with activist mobilizations or community organizations is highly desirable. Positions are paid, and academic credit may be possible depending on the institution.

Location: Brooklyn, NY (Greenpoint)
Hours and Duration: Quarterly 2013; 20-30 hours per week
Application Deadline: Rolling until filled. STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO APPLY BY APRIL 26TH.

1) Art Production Internship
Help realize the production of Not An Alternative projects. Work in a team with Not An Alternative’s Creative Director and Principal Designer. Responsibilities include sign-making, stencil cutting, vinyl cutting and sign-making, screen-printing, basic carpentry, and basic painting. You are dexterous, detail-oriented and have a precise hand. Photography, video, and graphic skills a plus.

2) Graphic Design Internship
Seeking a junior designer with experience in typography, imaging and photo touch-ups, and strong familiarity with Adobe programs (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator). AfterEffects and HTML5 a plus. Design work to be featured online, in print publications, and in projects deployed within art institutions and in public space.

3) Social Media / Online Communications Internship
Polish your online communications, promotions, and community engagement chops using Hootsuite, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. Get direct hands-on experience with social media outreach, organizing, and strategy development. Research and implement creative campaigns to boost the profile of art/activist projects. Additional responsibilities may include blogger engagement and maintaining the Not An Alternative website. Great skills development opportunity - work one on one with a senior online organizing and social media strategy consultant. Strong writing skills and comfort level with social media required.

4) Research and Development Internship
Not An Alternative is hiring a Research and Development intern to identify opportunities for our organization and further the development of our practice. “Socially engaged art”, “design for social innovation”, “art and politics” -- these fields are exploding and so is the discourse surrounding these practices. Dive into it with research and writing for grants, residency openings, and for the development of arguments and examples used in Not An Alternative presentations and programming.

TO APPLY: Please send cover letter, CV, design portfolio or work samples (if applicable), and contact information for two references to info@notanalternative.net. Be sure to indicate which position(s) you are interested in. Please use the subject line “INTERN Application Spring/Summer 2013”

VOLUNTEERING
Volunteer opportunities are available for a number of Not An Alternative projects. Volunteers can assist with art production, design, research, social media outreach, and more. Interested applicants should send an email to info@notanalternative.net with "VOLUNTEER" in the subject line. Applicants will be contacted as opportunities arise.

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ABOUT NOT AN ALTERNATIVE
Not An Alternative is a hybrid arts collective and non-profit organization with a mission to affect popular understandings of events, symbols, and history. The group curates and produces interventions on immaterial and material space, leveraging the tools of architecture, exhibit design, branding, and public relations.

Not An Alternative's actions, installations, and presentations have been featured within art institutions around the world, and in the public sphere, where they collaborate with community organizations and activist mobilizations. They host programs at a variety of venues, including their Brooklyn-based gallery No-Space (formerly known as The Change You Want to See Gallery).

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