Glasgow Open School

Proposal from Terry by email from 5th June 2011.

So anyway, had plenty of time to think about remoteness and came up with a little idea I thought i’d run by you. Maybe we could make first contact with Glasgow open School this way or just try it in some other way. Or if you think its eggs neh bother!

I’ve been having a wee think about what was suggested about remote collaboration. I like the idea of using the idea remote collaboration as a vehicle for communicating our experiences so far to another group. It would seem interesting to avoid it being a ‘this is what we’ve experienced so this is what we are’ by explicating the subjectivity of our placing together. I have been thinking a bit about how we have something in motion but it is, for example, played out in geographically disparate regions. Of course technology affords us a certain expediency here but only to a point.

I have become interested in the idea of sending letters; a technology of communication which exists outside of our current use because of the need for immediacy. This then led me to think further about how we could make contact with GOS. I was thinking that as we don’t (can’t) have exactly the same, shared, experience of our undertaking and the continued hopes that we carry through it I was thinking that it might be interesting to contact say a representation of the GOS separately but together. For example, we could make contact with them and ask for a certain person who might be a willing receiver of our contact on behalf of GOS. We could ask them to supply say their name, address, email, telephone, fax etc. and to name a date when they would be free to receive something from Strategies for Free Education. We could then individually (I mean this through the two collaboration that are in our group – NFA and DDF) say that we will all make contact through one of these avenues on that day. Maybe the communication can be on the idea of remote collaboration or just about our individual experience more generally?

What I like about this is that rather than trying to write something together, we disperse that location of our collectivity in a way that is perhaps more representative. The receiver, ultimately GOS, will receive fragments of the same entity, with the form and the content of the communications having their own shared but individual history. I also like the idea that through this action, GOS might know more about our external collective identity than we do, which I think is an interesting way to communicate with another group on the issues and problems with identity. In doing this, our identity becomes largely constituted in our communication with GOS and is in that sense active, not refined. It is immanent. I like the potential energy that this could create between us internally and externally, if there is such a boundary.

Anyhow, just an idea. Let us know what you think.

I also came across a few other things recently. I whilst in Glasgow I found out about Andy Abbotts involvement in this. See PDF attached. Looks ace!

And also a few things that Janna Graham has done, she’s real interesting.


Marx! The Spectre is Still Haunting Us.

Just a few lines of thoughts and links that have been coming up recently.

Terry and I went to an interesting talk/reading group the other day at Xero, Kline and Coma, Pil and Galia Kollectiv‘s gallery. The talks had been organised by POCA, a research group exploring many themes but the one we were at was looking into the possibility of creating an antihumanist system for curating and whether this is possible. Central to antihumanism is the rejection of the human as an autonomous subject rather that humanity is historically relative and metaphysical. I’m still grappling with this but can be understood (I think) to reject the notion that a person stands independent and outside of expeience; knowledge and meaning is than perceived through analysis of the object beyond them. Empiricism, such as science. Science derrives meaning by experiential experiment. I suppose this is saying that the human precedes meaning. People like Marx on the other hand believes that humans are formed by the conditions they find themselves in and therefore an analysis of the whole is what is called for. This is what Capital attempts to do and why it goes beyond being just an economic work. One sticking point for antihumanists is the notion of inalienable human rights or the sovereignty of the individual, the notion that one has the right to do this and have that.

‘The young Karl Marx criticised the project of political emancipation, embodied in the form of human rights,
as symptomatic of the very dehumanisation it was intended to oppose. Marx argued that individuals are constantly in conflict with one another because of their egotism, supposedly inhererent under capitalism, and rights are necessary to protect them from each other. True emancipation, he asserted, could only come through the establishment of communism, which abolishes the private ownership of all means of production. While the mature Marx may have retained a belief in the inevitability of progress, he also became more forceful in his criticism of human rights as idealist or utopian. For the mature Marx, humanity is an unreal abstraction: because rights themselves are abstract, the justice and equality they protect is also abstract, permitting extreme inequalities in reality.’

This view is picked up on by Alan Badiou and Marx’s conception of the ‘free’ labourer being the crucial factor that turns a society towards a capitalist epoch. Anything is possible as long as we stay within the constrains of possibility. That is I am free to sell my labour-power to whoever but I have no option in whether or not. Freedom as bondage. Zizek also picks up on this in his book violence.

Where this now brings us to to Louis Althusser. Althusser is famous, apart for strangleing his wife, for teaching Alan Badiou, Ettiene Balibar, Jacques Rancierre among others and it is with Rancierre that he co-authored the book reading capital. This can very basically be seen as trying to remove what was left of an humanist aspect of Marx’s writing out of Capital. One online resource is here (which also has lots of other bits). A key text though is the one you will find on the POCA website under anti-humanist curating. Not read this yet but had a crash course in it on the night and still trying to get to grips with things so if you see glaring holes in my above analysis please point them out!

This is I think something that we will all relate to and understand as anti-humanism seems to point toward an inherent equality in the subject that does not need to be moralised but is rather like math 1=1 as such (this may be my most wild assertion here). The project of extracting meaning from Marx’s capital is one we have taken up and I think we would do well to follow these strands. You can listen to the previous seminars on the POCA website too. A good summary can be found on the venerable wikipedia

‘Althusser believes that Marx’s work is fundamentally incompatible with its antecedents because it is built on a ground-breaking epistemology that rejects the distinction between subject and object. In opposition to empiricism, Althusser claims that Marx’s philosophy, dialectical materialism, counters the theory of knowledge as vision with a theory of knowledge as production.[15] On the empiricist view, a knowing subject encounters a real object and uncovers its essence by means of abstraction.[16]

On the assumption that thought has a direct engagement with reality, or an unmediated vision of a ‘real’ object, the empiricist believes that the truth of knowledge lies in the correspondence of a subject’s thought to an object that is external to thought itself.[17] By contrast, Althusser claims to find latent in Marx’s work a view of knowledge as “theoretical practice“. For Althusser, theoretical practice takes place entirely within the
realm of thought, working upon theoretical objects and never coming into direct contact with the real object that it aims to know.[18] Knowledge is not discovered, but rather produced by way of three “Generalities”: I, the “raw material” of pre-scientific ideas, abstractions and facts; II, a conceptual framework (or “problematic”) brought to bear upon these; III, the finished product of a transformed theoretical entity, concrete knowledge.[19]

On this view, the validity of knowledge is not guaranteed by its correspondence to something external to itself; because Marx’s historical materialism is a science, it contains its own internal methods of proof.[20] It is therefore not governed by interests of society, class, ideology or politics, and is distinct from the economic superstructure.’

In terms of the rejection of ideology this is particularly of interest in the Homeland project the corpus of Bloch’s work being a Utopian Humanist one. Where does this take us then?

Minutes from Sheffield meeting

Glasgow Open School – we talked about making contact with this lot, initially through email with a text about what we’re up to/interested in, or maybe visiting them. Charlotte was keen to visit Glasgow and there were others there who people wanted to make contact with… (Variant lot? Ellie Harrison? eeek, can’t remember)

Remote Collaboration – Terry spoke about this in relation to looking at our working practice (sorry Terry I can’t remember the source of this). Looking comparatively at Carrot Workers, the intensity of their activity as inherent to their close geographical proximity. How might we think / talk about our remote collaboration? We have set something in motion but what is it and how is it sustaining/developing?

Access Space – Charlotte is programming some forthcoming events and put forward the possibility of us doing something… Could/would this be in relation to the open source discussion?

Marx Reading Groups – We updated each other on how these are going. The feeling was really positive, particularly in terms of connecting with new people/networks in the cities through the reading groups.

DIY Proposal – Dan has started the proposal and will lead (I can help and edit) with others to feed in thoughts/ideas (Sorry for corporate language!). The basic outline is a reading week in a location in which all the participants stay, cooking/eating/exploring together and sharing in discussion and other activities which the texts will feed into. it will be open to between 5-10 other artists (plus the 5 of us), advertised by open call and selected by us.

C, T and I talked mainly about the location/accommodation as this seems to be key in terms of how we write about what we’re doing, what are the key areas of theory/research we might draw on to think about it.

The key thing with the location seems to be what are we positioning ourselves in relation to? How important are the elements of being cut off, geographically and technologically?

We got quite excited thinking about the possibilities of where we could go. Peripheries, urban/agricultural hinterlands and bleak suburbia seemed to have potential, also small/market towns like Matlock. We also thought of places that were linked to the beginnings of the industrial revolution, mining towns etc as this could tie in with our position of thinking about advanced industrialised capitalism.

We also talked about whether we should be visible, how or whether we would engage with the publics of these places, and how that might be charged in terms of artists engagement with places perceived to be outside of the urbane, the “Cultural”, whatever.

No conclusions really about all this but some interesting discussion.

Take Me Free

Take me free from Terry Slater on Vimeo.

Reading Marx’s Capital

Call for Organisers/Participants
Reading Marx’s Capital Volume 1

The global financial crisis has provided conservative governments across the globe with an alibi for launching an assault on society – slashing public spending and welfare whilst digging us deeper in to the quagmire of the markets through rampant privatisation. This recession, the biggest since the Great Depression, has generated a renewed surge of interest in Karl Marx’s work in the effort to understand the origins of our current crisis.

In recent months, a growing number of autonomous groups have been forming in cities internationally with the aim of providing support structures for the reading and interpretation of Marx, activating his texts as catalysts for discussion and action. From March 2011, new reading groups will meet in Sheffield, London and Liverpool to study Capital Volume 1 with the aid of David Harvey’s free on-line video lectures, operating autonomously but forming connections through the reading and discussion that will develop.


If you are part of a collective or group that is interested in reading Capital Volume 1 in 2011, or if you would like to organise or join a group please get in touch with your name and location. At your request we will aim to put you in touch with others in your area.

Also, if you are already part of a group that is reading Capital Volume 1 or planning a similar course please get in touch.

General email

Individual groups:


Bi-weekly meetings will be held on the second and fourth Monday of each month 6.30-8.30pm at Static Gallery 23 Roscoe Lane, Liverpool L1 9JD, starting in March 2011. Please contact in advance to check availability of places.

This callout was initiated by Strategies for Free Education. Liverpool based activity is associated with The Politics and Aesthetics Reading Group, a Liverpool based reading/discussion/action group.

This movement is not affiliated with any political group or party, it is intended as a radical use of the spare time which our new found unemployment currently allows us and it is built on a belief in free education without the burden of lifelong debt. For support we recommend that groups use David Harvey’s online video lectures and his book A Companion to Marx’s Capital, Verso, 2010.


Spend time discussing what we are doing philosophically, critically, politically, or do it, framing it loosely, and support our individual development. Source of much debate in itself. Problematic!

Minutes from Skype meeting 13th December 2010.

– We started to speak about how we work together and separately at the same time and how we can develop strategies for us all to have agency within the group.

– How to approach people at this stage about the project. We discussed that it might be good if by Friday each of us suggested two or three people who they would like to contact about the project. This could be people whose practice that we might admire, whose perspective we would value on what we are undertaking at this stage, who we would like to develop a relationship with. We said that we would give a few lines about that person, what they do, where they are and why we would like to meet them. We can then see what each other is thinking in terms of what they would like to get from their education at this stage. Maybe there are some crossovers, if so we can act on them.

– As an extension of this we said that it would be a good idea to extend that by having a regular turnover of people to meet up with, to keep formulating questions for and to keep being visibly accountable for a development of ideas. This could be much more open, meeting people outside of art etc. This would be something that we could all report back on, transcribe or even record. We agreed that one person per month be about right, so we can talk about them at our monthly meetings etc. Although if we want to do more, of course that’s fine…

– We will now be meeting next on the 10th of January in London and will continue after that on the second Monday of every month. On this day we will be critiquing each others work from the Plaza Principle show before we get too far removed from it. We will circulate the meeting place.

– In terms of deadlines and an idea of collective accountability – after Dan spoke about the text that he wants to produce – we spoke about how we can all be included in deadlines that we set for ourselves, provide help if required but mainly to create a sense of the pressure that we all need to be able to complete things for a specific time. Penny also suggested that the deadline that Dan sets for himself could also be an opportunity for us all to bring something to the group, and that this could continue within the structure of how we proceed.

– There was also an extension on the idea of crits where we said that within our monthly meetings we could set some time aside in that day for other people to come in and crit our work or be part of the day in some way.

– As for the reading of Capital, this seems to be gathering momentum and we can all in a way direct how we proceed with that.

– We spoke of how the Marx Library in Liverpool or even connecting up with the one in London, and also the work with the Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies are uptakes which are open for development together and that there is no authorship attached to either potential opportunity as of yet.

– Dan suggested the idea that, as is often the case with PhD’s, it might be interesting to try and develop a relationship with someone who might play a supervisor role over the period of study.

– Penny will be setting up the account this week once everyone has put forward their details.

– And finally, we will be having another skype meeting before Christmas on 20th December at 7pm.

FINALLY a quote:

A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defence. Power runs with ideas that only the crazy would draw into doubt. The ‘taken for granted’ is the test of sanity; ‘what everyone knows’ is the line between us and them.

(Lessig 2001: 5)