Unthinking Utopia –Borderlessness as Method

Excerpt from a chapter for the book Utopia Pulse – Flares in the Darkroom, Oliver Ressler and Ines Doujack (eds), Pluto Press, London, 2015.

During a drawing workshop in Western Sydney Mona tells me she had packed a Persian translation of George Orwell’s 1984 to read on the way to Australia, but once on the boat she was told it was too heavy and she must throw it overboard. She complained that hasn’t been able to find another translation to finish the book. We joke she doesn’t need it–her years in Australia being an ample introduction to the double-think of Orwellian dystopia. Read more…

Transfield, Mandatory Detention, and the Biennale of Sydney.

Article by Zanny Begg and Ahmet Ögüt published in Afterimage, 42(2):4-7 31 Aug 2014

The 19th Biennale of Sydney (BoS): You Imagine What You Desire, opened on March 21, 2014, overshadowed by weeks of controversy over its founding sponsor Transfield, an Australia-based multinational corporation that recently secured a $1.22 billion AUD contract for operations on its Manus Island (Papua New Guinea), and Nauru mandatory detention centers. Read more…

Counter-Cartography on the Google Earth

Catalogue essay for Baadlands: An Atlas of Experimental Cartography, 2014

The “seamless” geography presented in Google Earth is evocative of the “smooth space” of Michael Hardt and Antoni Negri’s Empire, a global order where territorial boundaries have been superseded by the mobility of a globalized flow of communication, labour and exchange: Empire is a “decentered and deterritorialising apparatus of rule that progressively incorporates the entire global realm within open expanding frontiers”. Hardt and Negri’s use of the term “smooth”  is borrowed from Deleuze and Guattari – for them smooth space describes an open nomadic landscape one traverses with the flowing tides of the ocean, the shifting  sands of the desert or the undulating steppes of ice. For Hardt and Negri Empire has progressively expanded into this space, subsuming this flow into one dominated by global capital. Read more…

I Don’t Know Much About Revolution, But I Know What I Like

Article in Overland Magazine,#199, 2010.

This is not a protest. Repeat. This is not a protest. This is some kind of artistic expression. Over. – A call which went out on Metro Toronto police radios on May 16, 1998, the first global street party.

The May 16 1998 Global Street Party represented one of the first globally co-ordinated manifestations of the counter-globalisation movement. As people danced, marched and cavorted through streets the Global Street Party provided an early indication that something new was happening in politics. This feeling would be irrevocably confirmed a bit over a year later during the riots and demonstrations in Seattle when the colourful street party turned serious and shut down the WTO meeting, effectively scuttling that round of trade negotiations.

The call out on the Toronto police radios indicates the sense of shock and concern which accompanied the emergence of this new movement. What exactly was it: A demonstration? A party? Art? Of course it was neither and all of these things combined, and it was this very ambiguity which was to be such a source of strength for culture and politics at the turn of the new millieum.

The global street parties helped create a new political movement which was both born out of the process of globalisation and its most serious critic: the riots in downtown Seattle were a product of the high speed, networked, informational capitalism known as globalisation and plea against its devastating social consequences. The demonstration brought together several lineages of political protest and culture – rave, cyber-punk, Marxism, anarchism, grunge and avant-garde art – into a movement which unforgettably coalesced in “five days which shook the world.” Read more…

Message is the Medium

Article in Realtime, 2009

Just over ten years ago Sydney media activists rushed to finish a version of Active software which would enable the first Indymedia site to go live in time to cover the protests against the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle, November 1999. As riots erupted in downtown Seattle millions of people logged into the new site launching a media network which reportedly received more hits in its first week of existence then media heavyweights such as CNN. Ten years later the Indymedia network, while relatively small and fragmented in Australia, has grown to over 150 outlets around the world and has become a global phenomenon based around the simple slogan: “don’t hate the media, become the media”. A decade on it is now possible to see that Indymedia not only helped established a global media service it also helped forge a connection between digital innovation and activism which has had a lasting impact on culture and the net. Read more…

Confusion, a trip to the dentist and the Sydney Biennale:
a conversation with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Michael Rakowitz

Article for Broadsheet, April 2008.

 Zanny: In the statement which accompanies the announcement of the theme for the 16 th biennale of Sydney you make a play on the space between “revolution” and “forms that turn” suggesting that perhaps the second part of the title could be reversed to “turns that form”. If we conceive of revolution as a turn then we could say these turns have generated new aesthetic forms. How do you conceptualize the relationship between art and revolution? Read more…

Ex-Argentina Review

Moscow Art Magazine, 2006

La Normalidad (normalisation) was the theme for the third exhibition component of the Ex Argentina project which opened in Buenos Aries at the Palais de Glace on February 14th 2006. Ex Argentina was initiated by Andreas Siekmann and Alice Creischer after the dramatic economic collapse in Argentina in December 2001. They travelled to Buenos Aries in November 2002 to begin an investigation, through artistic methods, of the global and local power relations which precipitated this collapse and its aftermath. Through the exhibition program, and its associated discussions and publications, they hoped to create a geneology of the crisis in Argentina which would help foster a minoritarian and local critique capable of challenging the production of global knowledge on the collapse in Argentina, situating this within a global context. Read more…

Recasting Subjectivity: Globalisation and the Photography of Andreas Gursky and Allan Sekula
Article printed in Third Text ,V19, Issue 6, 2005.

This essay explores two aspects of globalization —”smooth space” and “the multitude”—through looking at the work of Andreas Gursky and Allan Sekula. A close examination of these photographers work provides a unique vantage point for a more nuanced understanding of these concepts, and, through this, the process of globalization itself. Read Article…