Towards a Politics of Evasiveness

A discussion of our in-built programming might not allow us to see any other point of view and condemn us to repeating the same errors – to paraphrase oft quoted words of Einstein ” you can’t get out of the crap with the same thinking that got you into it inthe first place……”

An op-ed from Philadelphia by Aaron Levy via Domus

A practitioner at the intersection of arts and activism proposes a path to overcoming traditional oppositional politics and establishing new paradigms for peace

1. Problem
As a cultural practitioner interested in questions of art and activism, there seems to me a need today to rethink these terminologies, if only to resist habitual ways of thinking about them. I am interested in getting at another modality than a strictly oppositional stance by cataloging and collecting under the concept of “evasion” other possibilities for practice. Throughout, a persistent question for me is what a practice of evasion can lead to in my work and the work of those around me.

In the course of undertaking recent projects in the United States, for instance, I have witnessed an escalating, and disorienting, reclamation of key concepts and language associated with art and activism. From the “grass-roots” activism and “civil rights” rallies of the Tea Party, to the corporate embrace of “organic” terminology, the militarization of “humanitarian aid” in Afghanistan, or the museological embrace of ‘institutional critique,’ these terms now correlate to seemingly antithetical goals and aspirations.[1] I am also concerned that positions and arguments that address environmental sustainability and green urbanism on an exclusively local level undervalue the consequences of allowing public policy to remain unchanged. The intensification of focusing on the local has to be accompanied by a radical rethinking of our ability to enact changes on a larger scale. Further compounding this predicament, I am worried that the left has often relied on political discourses that reproduce the aggressiveness it should instead resist, as the Italian philosopher Rosi Braidotti has recently argued.[2] I feel that there is an ambiguity concerning how to speak about activism and responsibly enact change which is further exacerbated when we undertake inter-cultural collaborations, where the concept of “culture” itself is not immediately translatable across such different social and political contexts.

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