Monthly Archives: December 2008

/unvermittelt: For a Concept of Labor Beyond Overwork and Lack of Work

/unvermittelt
www.unvermittelt.net

…for a concept of labor beyond overwork and lack of work

Participants: Absageagentur, bankleer, Bildwechsel, Chto Delat, Chor der Tätigen, city mine(d), Die Heilige Kirche der letzten drei Arbeitstage, G-bliss productions, Sascha Göttling, Institut für Primär-energieforschung, Kiez ->To Go, m7red, Karin Michalski/Renate Lorenz, Netzwerk Grund-einkommen, Private Emission Trade, Sabotage-agentur, unhaltbar/leere Versprechungen, UNWETTER, Malte Wilms, Zene na delu—and the NGBK unvermittelt project group: Danijela Cenan, Uli Ertl, Frauke Hehl, Rut Waldeyer and Nadine Wothe.

demo_micronomics1About 50 activists, initiatives, artists, theorists and opinion leaders from throughout the world have been invited to redefine the concepts of work and of being active under the motto “practice, method, scope.” The project began in January 2008 with a series of lectures and workshops. Since August, a number of interventions have taken place in Berlin public space. From 13 December, the participants will be showing what they understand by a collaborative and mutually supportive space to think, explore the scope of possibilities, and act, in the exhibition space at NGBK. 

The exhibition presents both the processes involved—workshops, campaigns, radio and film productions, artists’ actions and political interventions in urban space, as well as the results—films, posters, songs and other acoustic works, sculptures and documentary material.

/unvermittelt will be accompanied by a publication in German. ISBN: 978-3-938515-21-1.

At the evening opening at NGBK the Chor der Tätigen will be singing pop-songs on the topic of work together with Judiths Krise. 

/unvermittelt is a project of the New Society for Visual Arts, its patron is Berlin’s Senator for Integration, Labour and Social Issues Dr. Knake-Werner.

Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst e.V
Oranienstrasse 25 ⁄ 10999 Berlin
13 December 2008—1 February 2009
Opening: 12 December, 7:00 p.m.

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Workers Occupy Plant in Chicago

Angry laid-off workers occupy factory in Chicago

cat_largeuebuttonUpdates on the campaign from UE (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America), the union that represents the workers at the Republic Windows and Doors plant.

And here is a good post on the occupation from the Labor Is Not a Commodity blog.

You can sign a petition in support of the workers here.

There is power in a union!

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An Open Letter on the 2008 Kandinsky Prize

An Open Letter on the 2008 Kandinsky Prize

121170281We admit it upfront: we don’t care much for the artist Alexei Belyaev (Guintovt), and we don’t care about him. His art is beyond the pale of criticism, and we have never had any illusions about his political views. By the mid-1990s, he had already drifted into the orbit of Eduard Limonov’s National Bolsheviks, and he would later join Alexander Dugin’s breakaway Eurasian Movement. You do not have to be a political scientist to recognize these people for what they are: part of a reactionary global trend toward ultra-right/ultra-left nationalism. Belyaev’s statements and artworks reflect this political identity. His work glorifies violence, imperial domination, blood, soil, and war. It does this in a consciously triumphal neo-Stalinist aesthetic, mixing crimson with gold leaf to confirm its redundant imperialist messages. Some members of the local bourgeoisie are taken with this aesthetic. Fascism thus enters the salon—a salon we would rather ignore.

We thus have no vested interest in criticizing the Kandinsky Prize. Founded on the cusp of the recent Russian art boom, this $50,000 award (with its longlist show of sixty artists) is a contemporary version of the salon, the institution that has defined art throughout the bourgeois age. Initiated by the glossy art magazine ArtKhronika, supported by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and sponsored by Deutsche Bank, the Kandinsky Prize is clearly yet another neoliberal franchise, easiest to promote with a servile, aggressively populist local contingent. Its first edition eared at least some credibility by supporting the beleaguered curator Andrei Yerofeyev and giving its top award to activist-turned-formalist Anatoly Osmolovsky. But now, as the overall socio-political situation shows signs of changing for the worse, the divided jury of the Kandinsky Prize has decided to include Belyaev in the short list of its “Artist of the Year” nomination. Belyaev, however, is a crypto-fascist. The liberal press immediately picked up this scandal. Such scandals in the salon always play into the hands of the artist, his gallery, his admirers, and the critics. Most importantly, they promote the political views of these people. We do not share the rosy liberal illusion that the free market and the circulation of capital can fully convert any kind of engaged art, that artists like Belyaev tame and defuse potentially dangerous ideologies. Instead, the market makes them fashionable among the salon’s novelty-loving clientele in a mutated, glamorous form. Continue reading

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Filed under activism, anti-racism, anti-fascism, contemporary art, open letters, manifestos, appeals, racism, nationalism, fascism, Russian society

Babi Badalov: Artist on the Run

The St. Petersburg Times
December 5, 2008
Artist on the run
By Sergey Chernov

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Artist and poet Babi Badalov feels that his life is threatened both in his home country Azerbaijan and in Russia because of his politically conscious art and because he is openly gay. Growing nationalism and increasing attacks on people from the former Soviet republics also means that Russia is not entirely safe for someone from Azerbaijan. Badalov thought he had found a new home in Cardiff, Wales, where he had been based since December 2006, but earlier this year the U.K.’s Home Office denied his application for political asylum.


“[In Britain] I mixed with many people who applied for asylum—Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, people from all over the world. We went to the Refugee Council together, lived at the hotel together. There is such a word used there—‘chance,’” Badalov said during a recent phone interview from Helsinki, Finland.

“You never know what will happen, everybody says it’s all up to ‘chance,’ that it’s a ‘lottery.’ You can have a solid case and still be denied asylum. Some other person can come [to the U.K.] just for the hell of it and receive [asylum].”

Badalov, who was one of the best-known artists in the St. Petersburg independent art scene centered at the Pushkinskaya 10 art squat in the 1990s, recently spent several weeks in the city, en route to Western Europe from Baku, Azerbaijan. While in town, he opened an exhibition of his work called “The Persian Ambassador,” which runs through December 28. Continue reading

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Iran: Save the Life of Farzad Kamangar

LabourStart

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Iran: Save the life of Farzad Kamangar

Please join with the thousands of trade unionists and human rights defenders around the world who are mobilising in defence of Farzad Kamangar, an Iranian Kurdish teacher and trade unionist who is at risk of execution. 

Education International received information from reliable sources that on 26 November Kamangar was taken from his cell 121 in ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison in preparation for execution by hanging. However, the latest information is that he is still alive and was able to meet with his lawyer on 27 November for the first time in over two months. His situation remains precarious nonetheless.

Kamangar, aged 33, was sentenced to death by the Iranian Revolutionary Court on 25 February 2008 after a trial which took place in secret, lasted only minutes, and failed to meet Iranian and international standards of fairness. His lawyer, Kahlil Bahramian, said: “Nothing in Kamangar’s judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him.” Indeed, Kamangar was initially cleared of all charges during the investigation process.

Education International, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Transport Workers Federation, Amnesty International and LabourStart are appealing to the Iranian authorities to commute the death sentence and ensure his case is reviewed fairly.

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To sign a letter calling on Iranian President Ahmadinejad to commute Farzad’s death sentence and conduct a fair review of his case, follow the link at the top of the post.


 

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Russia: Stop Attacks on Auto Workers Union

LabourStart

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Russia: Stop attacks on auto workers union

Alexei Etmanov.Alexei Etmanov (pictured), the leader of the Ford-Vsevelozhsk trade union and co-chairman of Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA) has been the target of two brutal attacks on November 8 and 13. An anonymous caller following the first assault contacted the union and warned Etmanov to stop his union activities or “we will take away your life,” the caller said. No one has been charged for the crimes and an investigation has been suspended. Other members of ITUA have been assaulted, including the leaders of the local trade union organisation of Taganrog automobile plant, Alexei Gramm and Sergei Brizgalov. Those incidents were not investigated either. 

The International Metalworkers Federation is carrying out a campaign to protect the leaders of ITUA, demanding that the Russian authorities conduct a complete investigation of all cases of the assaults and to punish the guilty ones – both those that took part and those who ordered the crimes to be committed.

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Please follow the link at the top of this message to sign the petition in support of Russian auto industry unionists.

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Free the Tarnac 9! (Petition)

Petition: Free the Tarnac 9

The following petition was published under the title “No to the New Order” in the November 27th edition of Le Monde. To add your name to the petition go to this site (in French).

A recent operation by the French police, intensively covered by the media, ended in the arrest and indictment of nine people under anti-terrorist laws. The nature of this operation has already undergone a change: after the revelation of inconsistency in the accusation of sabotaging French railway lines, the affair took a manifestly political turn. According to the public prosecutor: “the goal of their activity is to attack the institutions of the state, and to upset by violence – I emphasize violence, and not contestation which is permitted – the political, economic and social order.”

The target of this operation is larger than the group of people who have been charged, against which there exists no material evidence, nor anything precise which they can be accused of. The charge of “criminal association for the purposes of terrorist activity” is exceptionally vague: what exactly is an association, and how are we to understand the reference to “purposes” other than as a criminalization of intention? As for the qualification “terrorist”, the definition in force is so broad that it could apply to practically anything – and to possess such and such a text or to go to such and such demonstration is enough to fall under this exceptional legislation.
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