Sunday, September 11, 2011

Auto Italia

Auto Italia South East is an arts project based in a former car showroom on the Old Kent Road (just up from Asda). A couple of weekends ago it hosted 'We have our own concept of time and motion', a programme of discussions themed around self-organisation.

I went along on the Sunday (August 28th) for a discussion, with speakers including Franco Berardi and Nina Power. The former is a veteran of the Italian autonomia movement of the 1970s, in particular in Bologna where he was involved in the radical Radio Alice. The latter is the author of One Dimensional Woman and has been very active in the last year's education protests.


There was a big crowd there to listen and take part with perhaps 150 people inside and others turned away because the venue was full. It was a wide ranging discussion on the nature of capitalism and its opponents today, taking in feminism, the riots, Italian fascism and much more... If like me you can happily spend your Sunday afternoon listening to phrases like 'You cannot have solidarity between fragments of time', 'self-organisation of the general intellect as a body' (Bifo) or critiques of 'revolution as grand rupture' (Power) this was the place to be!

There was also an exhibition of UK radical literature from the 1980s, some of which I was tangentially involved with at the time. It felt slightly strange seeing these publications exhibited under glass and I know that if anybody had told us at the time that they would end up in an art exhibit we would have been horrified. But hey, the world moves on...

Mainly a youngish crowd, but at the other end of the age spectrum it was good to see Gustav Metzger there, making a comment about species exctinction (pictured below). Metzger, legendary auto-destructive artist, came to London as a Jewish refugee from the Nazis (his parents were both murdered in the Holocaust). A long way from 1930s Nuremburg where he grew up to 21st century Old Kent Road.

4 comments:

THE RUINIST said...

'But hey the world moves on...'. But where is it moving on to? What was your overall feeling about this event? Your post doesn't really say. Just curious...

Transpontine said...

Well... guess I was a bit ambivalent. Does discussing this stuff in an art context take away its edge and render it 'safe'? Maybe a bit. I also made a comment in the discussion about the fact that there was a danger of discussions not being linked in to anything going on outside. After all we were just a few days and a few metres from the riots, but it felt like the same discussion could have been going on almost anywhere in the world (getting into the mood I may even have used the phrase 'deterritorialized radicalism').

On the other hand it was good to see so many people engaging with serious ideas. And from my mythologising localist perspective I loved the notion of these threads coming together in a room on the Old Kent Road.

hutnyk said...

i was there on sunday morning and participated in an evaluation discussion while Emile scooted around the mostly empty space on his balance bike. Best criticism heard of the event - 'its anarchist Ikea'. Both E and I had a good time. The Bookshop is supposed to be coming to Goldsmiths eventually, on the corner of Laurie Grove opposite NXH - J

THE RUINIST said...

"I may even have used the phrase 'deterritorialized radicalism'". As long as you didn't use the P word - Problematising!! I am campaigning for this word to be banned in polite crowds where Art meets Pol Uptown!