About

The Communist Gallery’s main form of intervention is the ‘guerilla TV Station’ or CGTV – an entirely freestanding and independent broadcasting station in which individuals and groups can show 1 minute films to an extended public. The CGTV Station viewing booths are usually placed in public spaces which become a focus for interruptions and performance.

This project is completely unfunded and receives no support whatsoever from any arts organisation or political party but we are open to work with people with similar political aims and learn from their experience.

The project seeks to undermine the practices, privileges and protocols of cultural industries.

(the following was written by Andrew Cooper; one of the instigators of the Communist Gallery)

The representation of art in the business model and the neutralization of its power-What is to be done?

What is it that we’re really trying to do? Many doing art projects don’t seem to really ask this. I don’t think those involved with art have asked this enough, even for example why art is important in a school. It’s interesting that when something is threatened you start to realise how important something is, I think one of the reasons I think arts important is that it is a domain where we decide what areas we problematize.  Unlike the Grotesque Image of Culture Deleuze describes-

” ……….Such is the origin of the grotesque image of culture that we find in examinations, government referenda as well as news paper competitions (where everyone is called upon to choose according to his or her own taste, on condition that taste coincides with everyone else). As if we would not remain slaves so long as we do not control the problems themselves, so long as we do not posses a right to a participation in and management of the problems. ” (Deleuze ‘Difference and Repetition’ p.197)

This is precisely one reason why art and the humanities are so important.

But the way in which we are supposed to ‘represent’ ourselves so we can be ‘recognised’ as artists is part of the problem of inoculation because this so often becomes the ‘IT’ that the work does in the Real. For example; statement of cultural capital followed by description of work.This is a cultural problem and can only be addressed collectively as people take personal responsibility and it’s bloody difficult partly because it’s taboo to talk about.

I suppose what I’m saying is we need to move away from the business model in all it nefarious forms, even those masking as ‘social concern’ .

The process of thought in culture needs to move from a descriptive (marketing model) to a real social methodological approach, something that really reacts with, to or against something. It is this that needs to be at the front not the image or representation of the artist which can be recognised.

I would like to propose the following points for consideration in moving towards a manifesto. Any feedback or comments would be welcome: –

  1. We oppose and resist the capitalist monoculture and insist on social equality and are proactive in using art in the practice of social justice.
  2. The process of thought in culture needs to move from a descriptive (marketing model) to a real social methodological approach. Real in the sense that it has nothing to do with the culture of self referencing within art and use of theoretical text to dress up empty art careering driven by the forces of capital.
  3. ‘We have to convince ourselves that there is nothing ridiculous or criminal about having a great idea. The world of global and arrogant capitalism in which we live is taking us back to the 1840s and the birth of capitalism …. Too many people now think that there is no alternative to living for oneself, for one’s own interests.’ (p. 67 Alain Badiou The Communist Hypothesis). Practically as far as art practice goes this means taking a stand with the oppressed and not being concerned about the opinions of those who act in a capitalistic individualistic way at the expense of everybody else. Especially it means not being concerned about offending people who have any control about what work gets seen.
  4. The process of discovering or cognizing truths must be taken on and reinvented by us, this is a political act. It is vital to define what we mean by truth. It is not a revealed religious truth, it is something we have to discover and continue to discover, but once we do, we have a commitment to that truth as we understand it. We have to act with that knowledge because one thing’s for sure, those in control of capital with all their vested interest in tying up the population in an ideology of competitive individualism will not rest.
  5. As to the monolithic ‘religious’ version of truth it can be compared to a view of education that sees knowledge as a fixed body, privileging the image of knowledge over the activity of learning. So we are committed to a vision of the future which allows and provides resources for active life long learning for all. We see art as a vital method of learning available to all.
  6. How do we tell our truths/encounters and to whom? Surely if this is important how and where we communicate will change and be open to examination, not just within a narrow claustrophobic art discourse but one that takes into account the whole social landscape within which the work operates.

5 Responses to About

  1. Andrew Cooper says:

    These comments are taken from our art Agora site
    Anne said…
    Thank you for this –
    I would suggest some kind of point about basic human creative acts like painting and mark making and how these resist the idea of enclosure, also resisting complacency about about land/property ownership and wealth.

    This quote is from Carl Einstenin – writing in 1929:

    ‘The time seems to have come to identify the crisis, not to offer supprt to things as they gain stability, given that we are surrounded by idlers living off private incomes who cheerfully go about exploiting outdated acts of rebellion that have been rendered naive surrounded by people who wish to live without being dead.’
    (from ‘Andre Masson, Etude Ethnologique’ in Documents, 1929)

    18 JANUARY 2011 07:29
    Andrew Cooper said…
    Yes this is a crucial point, it is one way, perhaps, how we can resist becoming objects. What we need to do is to think about new ways of how ‘this’ relates to the ‘other’. ‘This’ being an activity of thought/being which may include drawing ,scratching, movement sound manifestation via material. Try to find real ways this connects, reacts or antagonizes with the social body. It is important to move towards creating new forms and structures which allow for the learning experiences via acts with materials which is open to people normally denied the opportunity to explore this. This is a question trying different forms out that allow people space and then perhaps there is a chance of us gaining a real subjectivity.
    This in my view should directly challenge the inequalities in society because the new forms we need to make are needed because of the inequalities. They are born out of the antagonisms that ownership land and wealth creates. We should absolutely not deny these antagonisms their expression or covering up with aesthetics. It is interesting that the CIA actively promoted abstract expressionism as an advert for free market capitalism; how something is used does matter and I think we should take control of that use.
    I’ve been thinking about these things a lot and trying to find words is quite difficult!

    18 JANUARY 2011 11:00
    Andrew Cooper said…
    Thinking more about resisting the complacency about land/property and class antagonisms in relation to art anything that reinforces social relations of hierarchy and net works of privilege needs to be exposed. If art is, in potential, an autonomous voice independent of the capitalist state even in the limited democracy we have, such considerations of social relations of hierarchy and net works of privilege are responsible for the inoculation and social marginalization of art practice. Capitalism can never really tolerate for long a real shared learning space that seriously challenges social relations.
    Arts been out of the gallery for years. BUT this space has now been occupied by the forces of capital; it doesn’t matter where it is as long as THEY agree to it being there so they can maintain the image of freedom essential in masking the truth of exploitation through economic manipulation. The practice of stunts of publicity are of course tolerated but all the while they are in control albeit indirectly, it is a ‘galley’ space. An unquestioned big other that approves of stunts as good art business practice needs kicking out of the collective psyche. We are all still slaves jumping through hoops unless we determine the problems we address and the long and the short term coordinates of the space in which we address them. This why it is important for people to have free open access to the arts and humanities in education and why the government wants to make this space even more for a narrow section of society. Only the sons an daughters of the rich will be able to dream of art and philosophy unless we resist.

    18 JANUARY 2011 13:12
    charlie fox said…
    Just a comment about the ethos and/or ether – the question of the autonomy (or a false freedom) in art. I have just read translation of Albert Camus’ speech given at the Labour Exchange, Saint Etienne, on 10 May 1953 titled: BREAD AND FREEDOM.

    It begins:
    “If we add up the examples of breach of faith and extortion which have just been pointed out to us, we can forsee a time when, in a Europe of concentration camps, the only people at liberty will be prison-guards who will have to lock up one another…Of course, this is a prophecy and, although governments and police forces throughout the world are striving, with great good will, to achieve such a happy situation, we have not gone that far…”
    Camus goes on to state:
    “Freedom is the concern of the oppressed, and her natural protectors have always come from the oppressed.”
    Then concludes with this rousing passion:
    “It is true that freedom, when it is made up of privileges, insults labour and separates it from culture. But freedom is not made up principally of privileges; it is made up especially of duties. And the moment each of us tries to give freedom’s duties precedence over its privileges, freedom joins together labour and culture and sets in motion the only force that can effectively serve justice. The rule of our action, the secret of resistance, can be easily stated: everything that humiliates labour also humiliates the intelligence, and vice versa. And the revolutionary struggle, the centuries-old straining towards liberation can be defined first of all as a double and constant rejection of humiliation.
    …freedom is not a gift received from a State or a leader but a possession to be won every day by the effort of each and the union of all.” (Camus 1960: 66-71)

    19 JANUARY 2011 06:32
    Anne said…
    Really agree about art ‘out of the gallery’ and apparently or even intentionally radical ‘edgy’ art becoming marketable – a humiliation of the labour of the artist. Recuperation happens so quickly & it IS hard to find words to talk about. The idea of what capitalism will ‘tolerate’ is interesting. Actually exploding the ‘big other’ is in some way about exploding assumptions about how we live in a broader context. Freedom for anyone who wants to make art is tied in to other freedoms and restrictions imposed through the systems of wealth/property ownership/land enclosure. So,physical freedoms, of the body as well as time to dream.Maybe it would be good to work somehow with the idea of ‘residency’ as it is one of those words that is used a lot in artworld/art school contexts that has loads of contradictions attached – about who has the right to occupy spaces for living, working, studio, learning and so on.

    20 JANUARY 2011 04:09
    charlie fox said…
    The enclosure of space, time

    20 JANUARY 2011 05:53
    Andrew Cooper said…
    This post has been removed by the author.
    23 JANUARY 2011 05:13
    Andrew Cooper said…
    This is all really interesting may be we can say-
    To act with freedom today and not betray the weak including our selves is not to betray class antagonisms. This is being masked all the time-
    it might be good to consider http://freefreeschool.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/the-violence-of-class-war/
    By Enda Deburca
    which gives a good Lacanian perspective in my limited understanding
    and this Brecht essay The Five Difficulties of Writing the Truth1935 It shocked me in it’s relevance today
    http://freefreeschool.wordpress.com/texts/

    23 JANUARY 2011 05:16
    Anne said…
    Thanks for links – also shocked about the absolutely immediate pertinence of the (1935!) Brecht text, especially:
    Under governments which serve to promote exploitation,
    thought is considered base.
    &
    Under such governments thinking in general is considered base and falls into
    disrepute.

    with the blatant attack at the moment on access to ideas through libraries and in conventional education studying ‘arts & humanities’ just cut back to the point where only the rich can get access, but the arguments now being put forward all the time about ‘society’ are more and more insidious as in the website…
    http://thebigsociety.co.uk/what-is-big-society/
    which looks all jolly alternative, radical-friendly, pro-student etc etc… sidetracking people from trying to act with freedom

    25 JANUARY 2011 05:10
    Andrew Cooper said…
    The Big Society Network exists to generate, develop and showcase new ideas to help people come together to do good things. An untapped social energy exists in our villages, towns and cities that if unleashed could help us completely reinstall a rigid class based society where people know their place!
    That site is something else i always knew the new age was dodgey.

    31 JANUARY 2011 08:13

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