The Activist Object

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The wave of political uprising in recent years has made visible the inventiveness and creativity that characterizes contemporary social movements and political activism. Digital infrastructures, mundane technologies, ad-hoc architectures, and new modes of narrating and documenting are refurnishing the political practices of activists and citizens. We know that politics is not only made of discourse, on the contrary, it is made of objects and infrastructures that we should take into careful consideration. We want to draw inspiration from this insight to approach the material culture of political activism. Specifically we intend to explore the precarious condition of the improvised design of activist objects and the implication of practices of documenting and curating political materials.

Curating the Activist Object aims to approach the political life of objects drawing on theoretical approaches to politicised objects more broadly conceived. We want to explore the entanglement of practices of design, documentation and curation, as they are framed and tested by academics, curators, activists and artists. We ask in which contexts and through which dynamics these objects are designed and forged? Is the circulation of documentation what transforms an otherwise mundane object into an activist one? Is the documentation (the creation and circulation of photos, videos, websites) an activist practice in itself? Is it possible to curate and exhibit objects without disarming their distinctive political capacity?

This website is an archive that we think as an experimental site from which to explore the documentation of activist objects. In the next 6th and 7th of July of 2014 we will organized a two day workshop around this topic in the May Day Rooms in London (More information here). It continues a previous meeting held at the Victorian & Albert Museum in September 2013 [More information on the history LINK]. If you are interested we invite you to activate your imagination in the exercise of documenting activist objects and send us a proposal.

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Materiality of a workshop

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Invitation Letter 1

As part of the workshop on ‘Curating the Activist Object’ we wanted to engage the materiality of documentation from the start so we send a written invitation with the details of how we were planning this event. We asked presenters in the first workshop to send us back a short text/provocation concerning the object that they presented at the Victoria & Albert Museum in September 2013, including images, video, and/or text.

Invitation Letter 2

Curating Activist Object, a two day workshop

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6 -7 July 2014
May Day Rooms (Map), 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH

The wave of political uprising in recent years has made visible the inventiveness and creativity that characterizes contemporary social movements and political activism. Digital infrastructures, mundane technologies, ad-hoc architectures, and new modes of narrating and documenting are refurnishing the political practices of activists and citizens. We know that politics is not only made of discourse, on the contrary, it is made of objects and infrastructures that we should take into careful consideration. We want to draw inspiration from this insight to approach the material culture of political activism. Specifically we intend to explore the precarious condition of the improvised design of activist objects and the implication of practices of documenting and curating political materials.

In this workshop we want to approach the social life of activist objects drawing on theoretical approaches to politicised objects more broadly conceived. We want to explore the entanglement of practices of design, documentation and curation, as they are framed and tested by academics, curators, activists and artists. We ask in which contexts and through which dynamics these objects are designed and forged? Is the circulation of documentation what transforms an otherwise mundane object into an activist one? Is the documentation (the creation and circulation of photos, videos, websites) an activist practice in itself? Is it possible to curate and exhibit objects without disarming their distinctive political capacity?

This initiative will be organized around a workshop and a website that will create an archive as an experimental site from which to explore the documentation of activist objects. It continues a previous meeting held at the Victorian & Albert Museum in September 2013. We invite participants in the workshop to explore the work of documenting what they consider an activist object. The document could be a photo or a collection of images, a text, a video, or a recording of a story. We invite you to activate your imagination in the exercise of documenting activist objects.

More information: ‘Curating the Activist Object’