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Socially engaged art and theory

The avant garde is dead, or so the story goes for many leftists and capitalists alike. But so is postmodernism an outmoded paradigm in these times of neoliberal austerity, neocolonial militarism and ecological crisis. Rejecting ‘end of ideology’ post-politics, Vanguardia delves into the changing praxis of socially engaged art and theory in the age of the Capitalocene. Reflecting on the major events of the last decade, from anti-globalisation protest, Occupy Wall Street, the Maple Spring, Strike Debt and the Anthropocene, to the Black Lives Matter and MeToo campaigns, Vanguardia puts forward a radical leftist commitment to the revolutionary consciousness of avant-garde art and politics.

From the globalisation of the movement (1968) to the movement against globalisation (2001)
Author: Antigoni Memou

Throughout its brief history, photography has had a close relationship to social movements. From the Commune of Paris in 1871, the first political uprising to be captured by camera, to the 1990s anti-globalisation movement, the photographic medium has played a crucial role in political struggles. The book reflects critically on the theory of photography and the social movements themselves. It draws on a range of humanities disciplines, including photography theory and history, social movement theory, political theory, cultural history, visual culture, media studies and the history and theory of art. The book takes as a starting point 1968 - a year that witnessed an explosion of social movements worldwide and has been interpreted as a turning point for political practice and theory. The finishing point is 2001 - a signpost for international politics due to September 11 and a significant year for the movement because of the large-scale anti-capitalist protests in Genoa. Within these chronological limits, the book focuses on a selection of distinctive instances in which the photographic medium intersects with the political struggle. The three case studies are not the only pertinent examples, by any means, but they are important ones, not only historically and politically, but also iconographically. They are the student and worker uprising in France in May 1968 and two moments of the contemporary anti-capitalist movement, the indigenous Zapatista movement in Mexico and the anti-capitalist protests in Genoa in 2001.

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Antigoni Memou

Conclusion T h e global wave of mobilisations that emerged in the late 1990s and challenged the dominance of neoliberalism bore considerable similarities with the student and worker opposition to the dominant political order in France in 1968. While May ’68 and the anti-globalisation movement were symptoms of and were formed by specific historical and socio-political conditions, they both interrupted periods of prosperity for Western capitalist societies, challenging the stability of the dominant system. The two movements also shared common elements in terms of

in Photography and social movements
Marc James Léger

anything, it breaks with the established circuits of the art world, along with its usual methods of art description, evaluation and consecration. The exhibition A World Where Many Worlds Fit , a presentation of anti-globalisation protest artworks curated by the Austrian artist Oliver Ressler, provided an opportunity to reflect on the stakes of contemporary anti-capitalist art, especially as the latter coalesced around the anti-globalisation movement. First shown in the context of the 2008 Taipei Biennial and in 2010 at the Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University in

in Vanguardia
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Activism and design in Italy
Author: Ilaria Vanni

Precarious objects is a book about activism and design. The context is the changes in work and employment from permanent to precarious arrangements in the twenty-first century in Italy. The book presents design interventions that address precarity as a defuturing force affecting political, social and material conditions. Precarious objects shows how design objects, called here ‘orientation devices’, recode political communication and reorient how things are imagined, produced and circulated. It also shows how design as a practice can reconfigure material conditions and prefigure ways to repair some of the effects of precarity on everyday life. Three microhistories illustrate activist repertoires that bring into play design, and design practices that are grounded in activism. While the vitality, experimental nature and traffic between theory and praxis of social movements in Italy have consistently attracted the interest of activists, students and researchers in diverse fields, there exists little in the area of design research. This is a study of design activism at the intersection of design theory and cultural research for researchers and students interested in design studies, cultural studies, social movements and Italian studies.

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Antigoni Memou

Introduction T h r o u g h o u t its brief history, photography has had a close relationship to social movements. From the Commune of Paris in 1871, the first political uprising to be captured by camera, to the 1990s anti-globalisation movement, the photographic medium has played a crucial role in political struggles.1 The camera’s presence at very important moments of political resistance resulted in some of the best-known photographs in the history of twentieth-century photography. Some of these photographs transcended the historical and geographical

in Photography and social movements
Death and press photography in the anti-capitalist protests in Genoa 2001
Antigoni Memou

Western protester in the anti-globalisation protests that took place in an Italian city.16 The first self-evident difference is that torture and death at this point is not the result of an appalling war, but of a public demonstration in a democratic society. In theory, any of the Western citizens who travelled to Genoa to protest could have been in Guiliani’s position. This therefore urges us to think how the European mass media represent political protest, and whether press representation of the anti-G8 protests in Genoa are indicative of a wider mass media policy. The

in Photography and social movements
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Ilaria Vanni

processes of change (both imply movement and change). Throwntogetherness means the way in which different ­elements – social, cultural, material, human, non-human – come together and define a here and now; it is used to stress the ‘coexistence of multiple stories-so-far’.6 This multiplicity of stories-so-far in the first chapter illuminates the transnational affective networks of anti-globalisation movements, the plurality of elements in relation with each other in the EuroMayDay parades, and the ways in which objects, visual and material culture animated it. In the

in Precarious objects
Antigoni Memou

9 Joel Sternfeld’s anti-photojournalistic images of Genoa J o e l Sternfeld’s Treading on Kings: Protesting the G8 in Genoa is a series of twenty-seven formal portraits, which form the basic body of a book, published on the occasion of an exhibition of Sternfeld’s project at the White Box Gallery in New York.1 The photographs were taken during the anti-globalisation protests in Genoa in 2001, and document the diversity of participants in the transnational movement against neoliberal globalisation. The movement, which took to the streets in Seattle, Prague

in Photography and social movements
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Dérives of the Quebec Maple Spring
Marc James Léger

‘gearing up for militarized urban struggles as the front line of class struggle in the years to come.’ 6 This perception is consistent with studies that show how neoliberal regimes have begun to shift policing strategy from that of negotiated management towards criminalisation. According to Leanne Serbulo, the purpose of policing in the wake of anti-globalisation protests is no longer the differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protesters, but the incapacitation of demonstrations through the creation of a climate of fear. 7 In the spirit

in Vanguardia