Monthly Archives: November 2009

CPH:Dox Border Documents

I need to find some time to write something up about our CPH:DOX Border Documents event (AHRC Beyond Text: Creativity Beyond Borders Network event #3)… It was great fun, though we were decimated by various illnesses (Mette, Frederik, Mary Claire – be well). I have to say first, it was really cold in Copenhagen, and the DOX event was wildly dispersed, so we shivered a lot. Actually, we did not meet any of the CPH.DOX organisers as they were really busy, though our link through the tent bar-staff meant I got a poster and a booklet. They were plagued by power cuts and floods, but the room at the Akademie that we used was perfect. Of course our very own Mathias Danbolt was the hero of it all – starting us off with some context about the protests against the absurd deportations of Iraqi asylum seekers from Denmark to Iraq, and then on Queer activism. Hito Steyerl showed some really really interesting clips, and Maria Finn’s presentation was fabulous and moving. Khushwant Singh’s film in diasporic Sikhism generated a really great discussion, as did Ananya Chatterjee’s film on sex workers in South Asia the next night. By no means were these received uncritically, and I think its a good thing that were were able to have a ‘full and frank debate’, as they say. On the first day the Akademie students and some festival guests joined us, on the second and third days it was just us lot and some people from the festival – so on average we were mostly 20-25 persons. Very good group, very high level of debate – I think it works well like this. Abhijit Roy’s presentation was masterful on frontality address in cinema, while Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay gave a very detailed introduction to the cinema of Ritwik Ghatak, which has to do with the border between Bengal (ie, btw West Bengal and East Pakistan, later Bangladesh). the Goldsmiths students work was all very insightful, and sometimes incredibly lyrical – Elena Papadaki with some difficult video art, Heidi Hasbrouk provoking intense discussion of ethics of family video, Jennifer Otter stealing the show with her just complete Joy Division tribute band doc, and Ray Ganz tempting ears and minds. On the last day, we started with info-sessions from Ruth Hogarth of the Beyond Text scheme and Mary Claire Halvorson From Goldsmiths. Then Renata Woehrer, Dietmar Kammerer and Raul Gschrey engaged us with high level political issues from Germany – really adding something, and we lost count of the number of bits of film work or images people wanted to take home, linger over, replay. Of course we ate some fine food (Cafe Sebastapol, and Pate Pate), and had a few beers (so far as we could afford) and everyone seemed to have a grand time. The final discussion of what to do next I thought was especially useful – let’s see.

This is a partial account (as in, not the opposite of impartial, though it is that, but rather incomplete. hopefully more to come. If you were there, please supplement…)

Workshop for PhDs at QM – 4 Dec 2009

Queen Mary and Goldsmiths PhD Master Class
“Consensus is Oppression: Creating Conflictive Democracy through Global Movement Networks”
Friday, December 4th 2009, 1.30 – 3.30 pm, Room 4.08, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London.
Democratic rhetoric has never been so widespread, yet democracy is in deep crisis. Dominant approaches reliant on representative democratic practices view human diversity as a problem to be resolved, resulting in homogenisation and exclusion. Diversity, however, can be healthy for democracy when given room for expression. Marianne Maeckelbergh argues that conflict must be embraced in organisational processes.
Marianne Maeckelbergh’s research uses a methodology of politically engaged anthropology that calls into question the demarcation of stark boundaries between theory and practice. Her work provides some answers to the double role researchers have in interpreting the cultural practices of organisation whilst simultaneously being actively involved in creating and transforming these practices. Moreover her research confronts important questions about university-based research, its subjects, audiences and purposes. These are key concerns for doctoral researchers today. In this PhD master class, Marianne Maeckelbergh will present her PhD research on conflict in organisation and discuss the methodological approach that informed her study. She will also address questions regarding the process of publishing PhD research.
Dr Marianne Maeckelbergh is lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University, Netherlands and received
her PhD from the University of Sussex. She has many years of experience organising and facilitating the decision-making processes that lie at the heart of her recent work.
The PhD master class is open to all research students and is co-organised by Goldsmiths Centre for Cultural Studies and Queen Mary School of Business and Management, University of London.
Emma Dowling, e.dowling[at] Tel: 020 7882 8985
John Hutnyk, john.hutnyk[at] Tel: 020 7919 7061

Beyond Borders: London and Gothenburg… (to come)

Hi all

I mean ‘all’ on the Beyond Text: Creativity Beyond Borders network (plus anyone who wants to chip in):

After a very successful meeting in Copenhagen (write ups pending here) we’ve been thinking a little in advance of our next meetings – in London (March 2010) and Gothenburg (June 2010):
In each case there will be the usual workshop (20-30 people) with some bigger public lectures and a link up with another event.
London – March 22-24 2010 (confirmed)
Gothenburg – June 9, 10 & 11th (dates tbc, but followed by Clandestino Festival 11-13th June 2010)
The theme for the meeting in London (March 2010) is “Border Infections” – we think it important to address new constituencies and audiences/areas of work. The metaphor of infection, virus and health in relation to the myths and politics of Borders will be our organizing guide/prognosis. We hope to join up with LDN-BRU at the Institute of Contemporary Arts).
Confirmed speakers: Vivek Bald, filmmaker; Eyal Wiezman, Goldsmiths; Angela Mitropoulos, writer – plus artists, activists, reprobates, border dodgers.
Border Infection…Border Infestation…  Border indigestion! … Each of the workshops in the series so far have been around themes where have been heavily invested in the ironies of these terms – Sonic Border was an earache, chaotic, noisy, cacophonia inserted into the ear-hole of postcolonial Britain. ‘Theatre border’ performed and misbehaved, clowning around with pantomime, and staging cross border apparitions of other worlds; Cinema Border-documentary tried to film ways across the border, looping reels and cut and splice to re-forge the documents of immigration control. So, this next “Border infestation” workshop takes the virus and infection metaphor a bit more seriously, critically and its obviously more on the edge, but its not the only governing metaphor of our event. The usual cross border excursions will apply. leave your suggestions below.
We are not sure of the theme for the Gothenburg June meeting as yet. One suggestion is to call it Border Reverb. This does engage with the end of our Beyond Text series theme (this will be the last meeting in the Beyond Text series), but it does not and cannot just be a return to text (back to school!). We need to provoke and challenge the idea of the border as an end.
So, having so far engaged with a variety of ideas around the themes of Sonic Border, Theatre Border and Border Documents, suggestions open for March and for June. Your views are very welcome on either the Border Infections theme for London, and/or the possible theme of Border Reverb for Gothenburg (which is in association with the great Clandestino music festival).
all best

To Gaza with Love – 6pm Goldsmiths Cinema, Monday 30 Nov 2009

The true story a rag-tag team of international peace activists aboard two fishing boats, who decided to take on the might of the Israeli military and break the siege of Gaza. Refusing to be intimidated, only one thing could stop them; and that was them-selves.

Screening, 6pm Goldsmiths Cinema, Monday 30 Nov 2009



Malevich painting of four figures

Goldsmiths UCU and Goldsmiths Students Union Open Meeting

The new ‘points based’ new immigration rules represent a serious threat to campus democracy and freedom of speech. They require non-EU students and staff to have biometric ID cards, involve checks on the financial background of applicants and mean that staff are obliged to report students to the UK Border Agency when they have not attended regularly. Come and hear why these new immigration controls are unfair, unwarranted and undemocratic.

Helena Kennedy QC, Labour Peer and Civil Rights Campaigner
Manick Govinda, ArtsAdmin & Manifesto Club Arts Visa Campaign
Tom Hickey, National Executive, University and College Union
James Haywood, National Executive, National Union of Students

Time: 5pm
Place: The Stretch, Goldsmiths Students Union

For more information, email Matthew Fuller m.fuller [at]

Proposal for presentation in Kolkata – 15 December 2009 at the Cultural Preservation Workshop

Preserves Takes More than Standard Time: Internationalism, Corporate Citizenship, and Security Fear – John Hutnyk

I am wondering if preservation-talk is confined to certain areas and domains and should be either expanded or done away with. This is not just a two-part provocation, but in between the calculations of intervention and documentation, can we talk of continuities of action, of commitment, of engagement or – conversely – the loss of these – preserve solidarity, preserve the party form, preserve the international… And what is the difference between preserve and re-institute/renew? Corporate preservation and gentrification on the one hand, and Nietzsche saying ‘what is falling down should be pushed’ on the other. Old forms abandoned in some cases, others guarded by right. I would like to describe three different contexts in which these issues seem pertinent: a) the work of internationals in relation to NGOs, activist groups and political struggles that perhaps need an ‘about face’ to escape a drain on scarce resources ‘on the ground'; b) the hijack of community, participation and care by corporate and commercial interests who proudly announce their token initiatives in press release and annual report (what I will call ‘glossy anthropology’); c) and the disjunct of heritage funding and political context, using the London Underground and the security situation in the War on Terror as example.

Crash Course in Australian 1970s music

First band I went to see was Skyhooks, though apparently I was taken to Sunbury Festival, but I do not remember (first international act I saw was Deep Purple, followed soon after by the Sweet). Anyway, Australia had some fine live bands allthrough the seventies, and thanks to things like GTK, Meldrum’s Countdown and Rage, you can see some of it. I nclude a selection of the more popular and somehow usually topically about TV/Media, below. But first…

Because I can (reciting from memory got 80% of this) I reproduce the lyrics from the track ‘Living in the Seventies’, written by Greg McAinish for the ‘hooks 74 album of the same name:

I feel a little crazy
I feel a little strange
Like I’m in a pay phone
Without any change
I feel a little left yeah
I feel a little weird
I feel like a schoolboy
Who’s grown a beard

I’m livin’ in the 70’s
Eatin’ fake food under plastic trees
My face gets dirty just walkin’ around
I need another pill to calm me down

I feel a bit nervous
I feel a bit mad
I feel like a good time that’s never been had
I feel a bit fragile
I feel a bit low
Like I learned the right lines
But I’m on the wrong show

I’m livin’ in the 70’s
I feel like I lost my keys
Got the right day but I got the wrong week
And I get paid for just bein’ a freak

I feel a little insane
I feel a bit dazed
My legs are shrinkin’
And the roof’s been raised
I feel a little mixed up
I feel a little queer
I feel like a barman that can’t drink a beer

I’m livin’ in the 70’s
I feel like I lost my keys
Got the right day but I got the wrong week
And I get paid for just bein’ a freak.


So as to show that Skyhooks did not come out of nowhere, nor have little influence on what comes after, here is my version of how to get from the Real Thing to the Go Betweens. Course this is arbitrary, reliant on memory,and not at all to be considered even remotely related to difinity (the possessive form of the noun definitive). Let me know what you think.

1969 (Russel Morris – The Real Thing

1971 (Daddy Cool – Eagle Rock)

1972 (Aztecs – Most People I Know)

1973 (Dingoes – Way out west)

1974 (Skyhooks – Horror Movie)

1975 (Skyhooks -Ego is not a dirty word)

1974 (again) (ACDC -Jailbreak)

1976 (Jeannie Lewis-Celluloid Heroes [I loved her so much)

1977 (Radio Birdman -TV Eye)

1976 (again) (Angels – Am I ever going to see your face again)

1978 (Go Betweens – Lee Remick)

1979 (Loaded Dice – Mam’selle)

1982 (More Go Betweens – Your Turn My Turn)

And your favourites are?:

Eleven theses on art and politics, #10 & #11 (not the last)

IMG_527610. Repetitions as farce from the Brumaire. 20 years ago Rushdie was the part catalyst for an insurgent Muslim political articulation in Britain. Among the reasons why the threat to Rushdie was picked up so prominently – as a case of freedom of expression – was that the demonization of Islam and the Ayatollah greatly suited a West that had recently lost its favourite cold war era demon. 20 years ago this year also the Berlin Wall fell down, heralding the end of sausage-and-three-veg socialism. Recently we organised a conference in Berlin on the theme of Borders and the anniversary of this event was a topic of conversation after a presentation by the Goethe Institute on their plans for a commemoration ceremony (here accessed 6 June 2009).

The wall was famously a site for artistic expression in critique, and sometimes denial, of its repressive function. Famously graffiti marked the wall, appearing for example in films like Christiane F and Himmel Uber Berlin – during which the artist ThierryNoir appears himself, chattingtoBruno Ganz. Each act of resistance becomes a contribution to the economy of film. In 2009, the commemoration involves recreations of some of the art work – controversially – and the Goethe Maurriese project which also, not without problems, focus only upon artistic elements and wholly ignore, for various politically sensitive reasons, questions about the political wall, the place of the former DDR in contemporary Germany, the changes since unification, and the ways this symbol of division has become a marketing tool for a new (hygienic) Berlin. Instead, neat project this may seem, with cheesy website, foam sections of the wall have been made and shipped to Goethe Institutes worldwide. These are to be decorated by children at the various global Goethe offices, and returned to Berlin where they will, in November, be lined up in the manner of dominos along part of the path of the former wall, to be ceremoniously toppled on the anniversary. Without irony this is presented as the Goethe Institute’s effort to do work within ‘all’ Germany and to change its perception as primarily a West German international agency.

The fall of the wall marked the end of the Cold War and ushered in a new demonization, of Islam, that culminates in the 1990s and early 21st century Iraq wars, not to mention ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Palestine. But it should be noted, that just as the fall of communism has been cleansed, the art burned but resurrected in film and in commemorations (though there will need to be two new walls to protect the reconstructed domino wall), there is a readiness to move on in Berlin that moves past the old wall and border. The wall was degenerate, not the art.

11. Might things also be moving on elsewhere? Is it plausible to see another event of 20 years ago as significant? This month in June the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen is commemorated. The build up to Tiananmen had been a protest by students, then joined increasingly by workers, against the corruption of the Dengist capitalist road clique. A media event as much on television as in China, the protest was aggressively crushed, a famous image of a man in front of a tank becoming the iconic, and ironically inverse, image of Beijing controlled by tanks and the 4th Army. Deng Xiaoping’s control affirmed, in some ways this event can be seen as the confirmation of China’s economically driven capitalist restoration today, with Tiananmen erased – no press or TV commemoration in China – in favour of a new nationalism, ‘to be rich is glorious’, the celebrate the Olympics, to take a place on the security council, China ascendant, significant growth rates… Only outside China is Tiananmen recalled in books, and even in a Tank Man ballet, a favourite on you tube (with instructions on how to perform the tank man dance). Here art contains a critique that is inverted in the real. That the elevation and erasure of the tanks coincides today with the credit crisis and global anxiety about the environment. Three Gorges Dam, plastic manufacture, six billion car owners and other news about economic growth is calculated in terms of climate change and corruption, so that China-anxiety has a certain significance not unrelated to the triple crisis of the automobile industry, financial regulation and environment. Would it not be a surprise to see China emerge soon as the new scapegoated demon for a war that is neither cold nor hot, but played out as an art of manoeuvre, with orientalist backdrop, over which an inter-imperialist rivalry of a new type is engaged between the West – Obama/Clinton – and the East – Deng/Hu Jintao group. Art – the tank man – here becomes hygienic yet again in the face of a struggle over productive power – the struggle for productive dominance, mediated via the financial markets, the steel industry and climate (read oil). It may seem a strange thing to say, but the culture industry could be set a task now, if we were cynical enough: never more than ever was there a need for Chinese Rushdie. What shall we burn?

Of course that would not be serious. But the exposure of Art as always being caught up with politics, at both its moment of explicit politicization and at the times when it claims conceptual or abstract separation, are in a certain way equivalent. The role of bees is to busy themselves with flowers, but this does not set them apart from the biosphere nor disconnect them from architecture, or institutions, or commerce or geopolitics. The secret omnipotence of production shoots through the most obscure corners of the culture industry and only the bee that turns to drawing has a chance to make this apparent – there is where attention can be focussed, there is a contribution towards changing the world – the point is not just to paint it.

Previous posts in this list:





Theses 8 and 9 (its getting ropey now)

There may be more than 11 of course.

Border Documents – final program, with venues


Monday 9th November 2009
Venue: Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi
Kongens Nytorv 1, 1050 København K (The seminar is free)

11.30-12.00 (Room: Den gule resilit)
Prof Frederik Tystrup & Prof John Hutnyk:
‘Introduction’ to “Border Documents”

12.00-13.30 (Room: Den gule resilit)

Lecture by Mathias Danbolt:
‘Queers Without Borders: Activist Travels in Elliat Graney-Saucke’s Travel Queeries’.

Presentation and screening by Maria Finn: ‘A Technical Problem’ (DVD, 16. min).

13.30-15.00 Lunch break

15.00-16.30 (Room: Den gule resilit)

Lecture by Dr Hito Steyerl: ‘Border performed’
On 3 recent video art works, parts of which will be screened (Amar Kanwar’s “A season outside”, plus work by von Wedemeyer and Mik) and discussed in relation to their relation to border and performance.

17.00-19.00 (CPH:DOX Tent)

European Premiere screening of Musafer: Sikhi is Travelling with Q@A with one of the directors Kushwant Singh (the other director is Michael Nijhawan)

Musafer is an independent documentary film that has been shot in Frankfurt, Paris, London, Delhi and San Francisco between 2003 and 2009. The film portrays the interconnected lives of a younger generation of diasporic Sikhs by giving emphasis to their artistic expressions and in-depth conversations about the meaning of Sikhi in times of political upheaval and social uncertainty. Musafer does not attempt to portray the Sikh tradition (Sikhi) in its multifaceted forms, but instead sheds a light on the inner and outer journeys of particular individuals, their homing desires, as well as their boundary crossing endeavours.


Tuesday 10th November
Venue: Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi
Kongens Nytorv 1, 1050 København K (The seminar is free)

11.00–13.00 (Room: Den gule resilit)
‘Borders and Selves’

Heidi Hasbrouck:
‘Personal Borders: The Filmmaker’s Family through the Lens’

Elena Papadaki:
‘Even better than the real thing: when fiction becomes more convincing than the truth – Stefanos Tsivopoulos’ documentaries’

13.00 Lunch break

15.00-16.30 (Room: Den gule resilit)
‘Verité Border’

Ray Ganz:
‘Radio Verité and Acoustic Osmosis’

Jennifer Otter:
‘[Dancing In] Isolation: Joy Division Tribute Bands Transmission of 2.0’s Melancholy’

17.00-19.00 (Room: Den gule resilit)

Lecture by Dr Bhaskar Mukhophadhyay:
‘Ritwik Ghatak Documentarist’

Lecture by Abhijit Roy:
‘Documentary Diversions? Factual Popular and the Reality Debates’

19.00 Dinner break

20.00 (Festsalen)
European Premiere screening of Understanding Trafficking plus Q&A with the director Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti

Legend goes, there is a magical line that Laxman drew around Sita, which no woman is supposed to cross. If any woman dared to cross the magical line, she would risk being kidnapped by Ravan the demon.
Women have for centuries been discouraged to cross the line, to remain indoors, and within limits. The lines and limits of their existence have always been defined by patriarchy.
So what happens if a woman does cross the line? By circumstances, through need, or just by a desire to dare the magical line?
Camera Joydeep Bose, Sound Sukanta Majumdar, Editing Saikat Sekhareswar Ray, Direction Ananya C. Chakraborti
Reviews here:


Wednesday 11 November
Venue: Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi
Kongens Nytorv 1, 1050 København K (The seminar is free)

11.00–11.30 (Room: Den gule resilit)

Ruth Hogarth (Beyond Text Program Co-Ordinator): ‘The Wider Program’

Mary Claire Halvorson (Goldsmiths Director of Professional Development): ‘Alterity, mobility and rhizomatic model of learning’

11.30–13.30 (Room: Den gule resilit)

Dr Dietmar Kammerer:
‘Official, unofficial, invisible – the role of the filmic document in “Operation Spring”’

Renate Wöhrer:
‘How (Not) to Be Seen. Contemporary Attempts in Social Documentary to Contradict Hegemonic Discourses on Labour’

13.30 Lunch break

15.00-17.30 (Room: Den gule resilit)

Raul Gschrey: ‘Between Fact and Fiction. Artistic Works on Visual Surveillance’

All: Discussion of the Future of Beyond Borders.

uses of trinketization

IMG_2763Various posts from the interwebtoday using the term trinketization (I claim no copyrite):

From Maverick Kansas: “So I’m part New Yorker, so what? But that’s not the end of the story, not by a long shot, because it’s a part of my identity that has a lot less purchase now that I am back in New Zealand. About three months after I returned here I was invited to what I was told was a “Natives Party”. And, after forgiving the hosts for the horrid example of the trinketization of culture that such a party theme provokes, I decided to attend, and so began the business of imagining what kind of a native I was”.

From Devu Dada: “this kind of change is known as or the process of becoming smaller is known as trinketization. since the art becomes touristic product, the artist will not follow iconography. this means the art becomes fake which has no originality”.

From High Peaks Alliance: “Social Costs May introduce lifestyles, ideas, and behaviors that conflict with those of residents • May create crowding, congestion, and increased crime • May encourage “trinketization” of local arts and crafts”

From SlackBastard: “speaking of expensive trinkets, john hutnyk (sounds troublingly foreign to me) has a blog called trinketization, and on it a post all about rock against racism”

From Absent Narrative: “It is somewhat disheartening to think of how commercialized modern holidays have become, what I call the trinketization of celebration; there isn’t one major American holiday where you can’t find enormous amounts of junk decorations”


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