On being together; memberships, collectives and unions
A project commissioned by Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall (BGV).
13 Sept – 24 Nov 2018
The PSC project at BGV (with Architect Sean Griffiths) was to explore what happens when groups work together - from diverse encounters, for example, the building of a barricade, making placards for a march or even the creation of a union of people that are working towards a new collective cause – which could be for and against something imposed on a space or community. We do not campaign for local groups but discuss the process of politics for subjective transformation.
We are concerned with agonistic political ideas and debates therefore our methods of working together aim to support the exchange of opinion and values and also the discussion of differences through conversational narratives. Our processes engage publics and members through techniques that derive from artistic techniques of montage: individuals and groups are temporarily cut out of the community and pasted into new configurations, rearranged through processes of splitting and joining (disagreeing and agreeing) and then reassembled in a new totality through acts of collective publishing.
With the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, we have to learn to cooperate for the sake of a better more equal world. Since the current system is pretty much based on multiple versions of capital this new world has to be made by those sceptical of capitalism. We have to coordinate, mobilise, act and speak for a better place to be together and as political scientist and academic, Lea Ypi says, ‘Capitalists are united and so should anti-capitalists be’. (Ypi, L: 2011)
Jonathan White and Leah Ypi believe that the role of partisanship could be a method to improve existing versions of democracy. “Partisanship is typically associated with negotiating and bargaining from a self-interested perspective recognised as best a concession to political realism.”(ibid). However, partisanship unlike factionalism involves efforts to harness political power not for the benefit of one social group among many but for that of the association as a whole. Partisanship is a practice that involves citizens acting to promote certain shared normative commitments according to a distinctive interpretation of the public good. Their goals are to make their concerns heard in the public sphere so that they may be brought to bear on the course of collective decision-making. (ibid)
For the project, On being together; memberships, collectives and unions, the PSC called for members to join in a series of workshops which would enable, the design, the build and the programming of activities around collectives, unions, groups and clubs. Working with spaces like BGV offer an alternative place in the public domain in which to construct membership – a marginal place to form mini counter-publics. This process enabled a new assemble to emerge who worked together to publish ideas and thinking on collectivising now! Members came from a range of places – local people supportive and known to BGV, students and friends of ours, University of Westminster, Royal College of Art and the University of Northampton. The project was open to the public, displaying the remains of the collective working in the form of a series of temporary artworks as well as a programme of events and workshops through the duration of the project. A scarf was made ‘Sceptics of Capitalism Unite’. A closing event that featured Partisan Bingo conceived and delivered by members Alison Gill, Liz Murray and Simon Tyszko. Richard Galpin was invited to speak about his recent project the Kennington Chartist’s and present his seed ‘cleaning’ machine.
The Partisan Social Club at BGV were: Lewis Allum, Xenia Busalova, Zhishan Chen, David Crawforth, Chris Daubney, Sadie Edington, Riccardo Fregoni, Chang Gao, Alison Gill, Sean Griffiths, Bekki Herbert, Andy Hewitt, Felicity Holmes, Hanxuan Jiang, Mel Jordan, Khaver Idrees, Louise King, Tiantian Liu, Liz Murray, Gabriela Nicolescu, Annabelle Nguyen, Joanna Osieglewska, Tina Rousou, Iza Sasaran, Alexia Soteriou, Naomi Siderfin, Sven Storm, Allan Struthers, Yukako Tanaka, Toby Tobias, Ewelina Trejta, Simon Tyszko, Kai Wang, Wei Zhou.
White, J & Ypi, L, ‘On Partisan Political Justification’, The American Political Science Review Vol. 105, No. 2 (May 2011), pp. 381-396
Ypi, L, 2018 ‘Capitalism will not give us the will to fight capitalism – what we need is a new International’, Permalink