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.
regularly reflect on apparent epistemic certainties represented by political elites in many parts of the world. I seek approaches to research that foreground intersectional experiences of inequality.
In the same vein, Rachel Lewis’s work on female migrants in London has been shaped by her personal experience of migration; although a privileged one, it has still drawn her attention to precariousness and displacement. Her testimony accounts for the deterritorialisation of hierarchies of observers, the dichotomy between internal and external actors. She says:
colonialism, the planned, as well as spontaneous and derelict, deterritorialisation of Native Americans who were forcibly dislocated to reserves on so-called Indian Land. 1
As this chapter will argue, contemporary Indigenous artists have in recent decades consciously retraced the paths that such missionaries, settlers, and ethnographers travelled across the Atlantic. In ironic and satirical gestures they swap the positions of European explorer and Indigenous subjects, and in doing so reverse the colonial current’s direction. Yet beyond that, one might ask to what extent
increasingly a necessity for survival. Postmodern leftists can replay the usual denunciations of bourgeois individualism but what post-Fordism demands is not individualism, it is absolute determinism, now defined in various ways as deterritorialisation, flexibilisation, connectivity, and so on. The option is not simply between conformity and individuality either. In today’s post-political context, there is an ideological injunction against the choice of the vanguard party and its avant-garde cultural projects. The very prohibition on the prohibition, the fact that we more
, Žižek argues that the dogma of today’s petty-bourgeois left has the features of a ‘humorous superego’ that bombards those in power with impossible demands – for example, the demand for constant resistance, for continuous subjective deterritorialisation, and for rebuilding every known institution from the ground up. This superego agency then mocks us for failing to meet these demands. 60 This nomadic indeterminacy is paradoxically consistent with the technological and labour determinism that anarchists associate with communicative semio-capitalism. The productive
effect some notion of the big Other that is operative in society, however unconscious it may be. A Master is not someone who tells us what to do in the same way that symbolic representations tell us how to enjoy; it is rather an agent who, in Žižek’s estimation, disturbs us into freedom. In the present democratic conjuncture, we are compelled to accept capitalist domination as a free choice and deterritorialisation as opportunity. There is no freedom in this. The Master, in contrast, is not an exemplary figure who must be followed or emulated, since, in Lacanian terms
Creations of diasporic aesthetics and migratory imagery in Chinese Australian Art
7 www.westernsydney.edu.au/aciac/about . Accessed 19 November 2018.
8 In the short brochure accompanying the exhibition, Bond spoke of the artists’ interest in ‘identity and cross-cultural references’ (quoted in Chiu, 2006 : 173).
9 In globalisation studies, transborderness is described as an effect of deterritorialisation and trans-border movement. This definition can be applied to study the impact of global migration on spatial representations and perspectives in the visual arts.
10 This refers to the display of Han Xizai’s screen painting
Edith May Fry and Australian expatriate art in the 1920s
standards of their own culture, broadening their artistic techniques and perception. The idea that distance from home, or geographical displacement, provides a better vantage point for artistic and cultural criticism than centrality and stability has been conceptualised by feminist scholars. For instance, Caren Kaplan and Janet Wolff have taken up Deleuze and Guattari’s term of ‘deterritorialisation’ to suggest that displacement (such as exile, travel, or relocation) has enabled women writers to negotiate their identity (in relation to home and their new location) in a
. Historically, the conceptualisation of
place and movement in the social sciences has been dominated by a dichotomisation between sendentarism and deterritorialisation, i.e. the tendency to
perceive human beings as either static, and dwelling in a specific place, or
as placeless nomads – and to take the locational stability of sendentarism to
be the norm. The mobility turn opposes this dichotomy and testifies to the
ongoing attempt to chart and understand how international migration and
other mobilities – such as tourism and travel mobilities, for example – have
transposed onto most of the twentieth-century avant gardes. Whether or not one agrees with his critique of dialectical materialism will largely determine how one responds to Raunig’s transvaluation of tradition. His critique removes art from its Marxist-Hegelian understanding and in turn hypostatises terms like art, state and life in order to propose a deterritorialisation where Wagner and Lunacharsky can figure within a transhistorical pattern of art practice and politics, liberated into a series of concatenations that overlap into zones of emergence that neither follow