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Kuba Szreder

To firmly ground the following entries in the social and political urgencies of our period, let me briefly discuss the Anti-fascist Year, a fine example of the politics of radicalised art workers and proof of their capacities for self-organisation. The Anti-fascist Year was organised in Poland between 1 September 2019 (the eightieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War) and 8 May 2020 (the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe). The goal of the Year, as stated in its manifesto, was to

in The ABC of the projectariat
Living and working in a precarious art world
Author: Kuba Szreder

The book addresses – in 66 accessible entries – the global circulation of contemporary art in the moment of its fundamental crisis. By using the term ‘projectariat’, the book detours the classical Marxist concept to talk about the life and work of artistic freelancers – artists, curators, critics, academics, writers, technicians and assistants – who, in order to survive, have no choice but to make one project after another and many at the same time. The majority of projectarians do not own much beyond their own capacity to circulate. Thus, they are torn between promises of unrestrained mobility and looming poverty, their precarity only amplified by the global crisis caused by COVID-19.

The book is intended as both a critical analysis and a practical handbook that speaks to and about the vast cohort of artistic freelancers worldwide, people who are currently looking for ways of moving beyond the structural conundrum of artistic networks, where everything that is solid melts into flows – and where nothing is certain except one’s own precarity. The book’s narrative is based on a carefully crafted balance between its three constitutive strands: an uncompromising critique of the cruel economy of global networks of contemporary art; an emphatic, non-moralistic understanding of the perils of artistic labour; and systemic advocacy for new modes of collective action aimed at overcoming the structural deficiencies haunting the global circulation of contemporary art.

Kuba Szreder

In March 2019, a group of → art workers in Warsaw joined the annual anti-fascist march carrying placards with copies of historical anti-war and anti-fascist posters and paintings, including the fragments of Guernica (in the grand tradition of → repurposing this painting for the sake of street performances and demonstrations) and anti-fascist collages of John Heartfield. This protest-exhibition was → interdependently self-curated on the basis of the Atlas of the → Anti-fascist Year , a database of historical and contemporary examples of

in The ABC of the projectariat
Kuba Szreder

amnesia is one of the prerequisites of their success (→ A is for Anti-fascist Year ).

in The ABC of the projectariat
Abstract only
Kuba Szreder

affiliating with social struggles were tested during the → Anti-fascist Year in Poland. Such activities are always linked, both within the struggle itself and internationally, with other networks and coalitions. The Anti-fascist Year, for instance, established and maintained strong connections with campaigns like the Anti-fascist Coalition in Poland, collectives like the UK-based Keep it Complex, which emerged in the context of anti-Brexit advocacy and continued after, and institutional alliances like the L’internationale. In order to stay with the struggle and establish

in The ABC of the projectariat
Kuba Szreder

use various → opportunities at their disposal to pursue this cause. Thus, the → art workers summit in the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw was used to jumpstart a coalition spearheading such undertakings like the → Anti-fascist Year , and a micro-grant from the EU was utilised to organise the first meeting of the international alliance of the interdependent organisations (→ I is for interdependence ), and an artistic commission was → repurposed to establish Company Drinks, a sustainable artistic enterprise (→ M is for mutualising ). In this sense, radical

in The ABC of the projectariat
Kuba Szreder

(I. J. Brown 2020 : 113). This would explain why the Polish authoritarian state TV channel was possibly one of the last media outlets on earth to concede the defeat of Trump in 2020 presidential elections. In any case, these kinds of racist identifications are protested by many (→ A is for Anti-fascist Year ) and cannot be considered as either a Polish national trait, or a speciality of this region. For slightly older people, who still remember Polish jokes traded by our Western neighbours only two

in The ABC of the projectariat
Kuba Szreder

rising fascism, → instituting the commons represents an institutional bulwark against micro-fascism, articulating new left politics (Szreder and Majewska 2016 ) (more in the entry → A is for Anti-fascist Year ). The best practical example of such resistant patainstitutionalism in action is the OFF-Biennale in Budapest, Hungary, a biannual grassroots event, the first edition of which was organised in 2015 (Zafiropoulos 2017 ) in protest against the right-wing takeover of all major artistic institutions in Hungary (András 2014 ). The OFF-Biennale, despite lacking

in The ABC of the projectariat
Kuba Szreder

Europe, the history of using the term art worker harks back to Russian productivists and constructivists, who considered themselves as technicians designing the aesthetic dimension of new, revolutionary societies (Apostol 2015 ). Actually, very similar sentiments were expressed by Polish artists and writers, who in 1936 organised the Congress of Cultural Workers in Lviv, emphasising their solidarity with working men and women, and ethnic minorities, aligning themselves with the Popular Fronts against Fascism (→ A is for Anti-fascist Year ). Also in the 1930s, in the

in The ABC of the projectariat
Kuba Szreder

university cluster is no less exposed to → neoliberal assaults on social welfare than a collective located in the midst of gentrifying city. For this reason more often than not such clusters tend to align themselves in progressive constellations. In this sense, paradoxically, one of the factors holding the greatest potential for different initiatives to come together on an international scale is the global return of fascism (→ A is for Anti-fascist Year ) and the rekindling of → neoliberalism as disaster capitalism. In order to effectively struggle against them, the

in The ABC of the projectariat