Exploding Appendix Questionnaire: Nick HudsonDecember 6, 2019
Exploding Appendix is a book whose sacred heart has been ripped out, and finds itself growing, eternally, as a series of fragmented, incohesive appendices. Deprived of a singular unified core, its pages spew in multiple indeterminate directions, growing in number, pressing with increasing force against the binding that should keep them in place, as if, at any moment, the book could explode and a flurry of pages scatter through the air.
Exploding Appendix is a group of creatives and researchers united in the common task of constructing an artistic vision for the future. Drawing upon the history of avant-garde art and radical counter-culture we seek to unite artistic experimentation and intellectual vision in order to respond to the needs of our time. Central to this project is our fortnightly meetings, free and open to all, where we meet to explore ideas and share in the process of creation. Sessions usually start with an informal chat where we each share random thoughts, ideas and projects we are working on. Following this we move to the main attraction. The five-month programme for these attractions is chronicled in the proceeding pages. We seek to create a fun and friendly atmosphere where a range of ideas can be explored. We welcome a diverse array of people coming from very different backgrounds, each learning from one another in an ongoing process of exploration.
THE PROGRAMME FOR
THE EXPLODING APPENDIX
AVANT-GARDE ART PRACTICE
AND RESEARCH GROUP
FORTNIGHTLY ON A TUESDAY
19:30 – 22:30
THE BLACK DOVE,
74 ST JAMES’S STREET,
THE EVENT IS FREE
11th February 2020
The Early French Avant-garde in Context: From the French Revolution to the Paris Commune
The military term avant-garde (meaning advanced guard, and designating those on the front line of an army) was originally applied to artists at the forefront by the utopian socialist Henri Saint-Simon and his successors. The Saint-Simonians argued that the producer class, rather than the idler (upper) class would be the visionaries of the future. In Opinions Litteraires, Philosophique et Industrialles, they referred to artists as the avant-garde. It was artists, industrialists and scientists that would lead the way towards a new emancipated society.
In this session we focus on the emergence of the artistic Avant-garde in the French context and explore how, between the French Revolution of 1789 and the Paris Commune of 1871, art played a formative role in the construction of a new world. We will start by looking at the work of Jacques-Louis David and the festivals of the religion of the Supreme Being.
We will close with the short lived revolution of 1871, where the workers of Paris took over the city and began running it themselves. We will explore the artists involved in the Paris commune, such as painter Gustave Courbet and poet Arthur Rimbaud.
25th February 2020
Psychomagic and the Cinema of Alejandro Jodorowsky
This week we will explore the work of renowned filmmaker, poet, theatre director, graphic novelist, tarot reader and psychotherapist Alejandro Jodorowsky. We will look especially at his 2004 book Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy, exploring how his ideas and methods presented within this book manifest throughout his films, graphic novels and other creative works. Films to be explored will include Fando y Lis (1968), El Topo (1970), The Holy Mountain (1973), Santa Sangre (1989), The Dance of Reality (2013), Endless Poetry (2016) and more.
10th March 2020
Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism: A Live Interview with Benjamin Noys
We affirm that the beauty of the world has been enriched by a new form of beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car with a hood that glistens with large pipes resembling a serpent with explosive breath … a roaring automobile that seems to ride on grapeshot that is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
F. T. Marinetti, The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism
From as early as Marinetti’s Manifesto from 1909, the avant-garde has been drawn to speed and acceleration, and in the case of Italian Futurism, willing to tear down anything that stands in its way. In this session, Bradley Tuck will interview Benjamin Noys about his 2013 book Malign Velocities, which charts the darker history of the avant-garde, focusing on its embrace of the cult of speed, technology and capitalism. Tracing the story through Italian futurism, communist accelerationism following the Russian Revolution, fantasies of integration with the machine, the cyberpunk phuturism of the ‘90s and ‘00s, the apocalyptic accelerationism of the post-2008 moment of crisis, and the negative form of terminal accelerationism. Drawing upon a miasma of references, Benjamin Noys critically challenges this tradition, calling instead for a new politics that challenges the supposed pleasures of speed without simply countering acceleration with the desire to slow down.
Benjamin Noys is Professor of Critical Theory at theUniversity of Chichester and author of books such as The Persistence of the Negative (2010) and Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism (2013).
24th March 2020
Tzadik listening Session
Composer John Zorn’s record label Tzadik has brought together some of the most intriguing and experimental music from musicians and composers such as Mark De Gli Antoni, Mike Patton, Lesli Dalaba, Noah Creshevsky, Danny Cohen, Carolyn Yarnell, Ikue Mori and many more, and delving into experimental music from Japan, radical Jewish culture and the ‘lunatic fringe’. In this session we will be listening to, and discussing, a selection of tracks from a range of Tzadik albums.
7th April 2020
Spartacism and Dadaism in Revolutionary Berlin
Dadaism was an art movement born in 1916 that embraced nonsense, play, provocation and railed against petty-bourgeois moralism. The Spartacus League was a Marxist revolutionary movement organised during the First World War. Different as they may have been Dadaists and Spartacists found themselves living side by side in a Berlin on the brink of revolution. In 1919, inspired by the events in Russia, the Spartacus League mounted a revolution. The revolution would fail, and the leaders of the Spartacus League, Rosa Luxemberg and Karl Liebknecht, were murdered. Whatever the ambivalences of Dadaists’ views on politics, the Dadaists of Berlin seemed to share the Spartacist’s radical political commitments. After the failed uprising, Richard Huelsenbeck and Raoul Hausmann wrote ‘What is Dadaism and what does it want in Germany?’ in which they declared that
1) The international revolutionary union of all creative and intellectual men and women on the basis of radical Communism.
2) The Introduction of progressive unemployment through comprehensive mechanization of every field of activity. […]
3) The immediate expropriation of property (socialisation) and the communal feeding of all; further, the erection of cities of light, and gardens which will belong to society as a whole and prepare man for a state of freedom.
In this session we will explore this connection, examining the development of these two movements in the Berlin context.
21st April 2020
Homage to the Bauhaus: Artist led Creative Session and Workshop
The Bauhaus was a school of design, architecture and applied arts that existed in Germany from 1919 to 1933. It was founded by the architect Walter Gropius. Rejecting the student-teacher relationship, and favouring instead the utopian craft guild, the Bauhaus sought to combine all the arts in order to construct a new building, and thus a new way of living. Central to this was a return to craft, an embrace of industrial production, and an educational programme that taught practical crafts in workshops, equipping students with a knowledge of colour theory, materials and formal relations. In his Proclamation of the Bauhaus, Gropius writes,
“So let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen, free of the divisive class pretensions that endeavoured to raise a prideful barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us strive for, conceive and create the new building of the future that will unite every discipline, architecture and sculpture and painting, and which will one day rise heavenwards from the million hands of craftsmen as a clear symbol of a new belief to come.”
While the Bauhaus’ mission implied a focus on architecture, design and the visual arts, Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet, especially, signals the respect in which the Bauhaus provided unique contributions to theatre, dance, music and costume design in their pursuit of the total work of art. In this session, we invite artists of every stripe to respond to the work of the Bauhaus, by sharing work inspired by it, and engaging in exercises drawn from it. If anyone would like to contribute, please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org
5th May 2020
The Radical Feminism of Shulamith Firestone: A Live Interview with Victoria Margree
When Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex was published in 1970 it caused controversy. Arguing that the oppression of women lay in women’s biological capacity to reproduce, Firestone saw nature as a central barrier to woman’s liberation. Her solution was a fundamental transformation of nature itself, through the creation of artificial wombs, to free women’s bodies from the process of reproduction. Integrating the work of Marx, Freud, De Beauvoir and Engels, Firestone created a radical vision of gender liberation and utopian cybernetic feminism.
In this session, Bradley Tuck is joined by Victoria Margree, Principle Lecturer at the University of Brighton and Author of Neglected or Misunderstood: The Radical Feminism of Shulamith Firestone. In her book, Margree argues for the continued importance of Firestone’s work. In this session we will discuss her book and Firestone’s, exploring its pertinence today.
19th May 2020
1970s Japanese Cult Cinema
In this session we will be sharing and discussing clips from 1970s Japanese films such as Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s Hausu, Norifumi Suzuki’s Sex and Fury and School of the Holy Beast, Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna of Sadness, Shuji Terayama’s Pastoral: To die in the Country and Emperor Tomato Ketchup, Shunya Ito’s Female Prisoner Scorpion, the films of Kôji Wakamatsu and many more.
2nd June 2020
How to make a happening: A workshop
Drawing upon Allan Kaprow’s ‘How to make a Happening’ and examples from the work of Yoko Ono, Carolee Schneemann, Red Grooms, Robert Whitman, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Delford Brown, Lucas Samaras, and Robert Rauschenberg, we will run a practical session on how to create a happening.
Below are some quotes from Kaprow’s text.
“Forget all the standard art forms. Don’t paint pictures, don’t make poetry, don’t build architecture, don’t arrange dances, don’t write plays, don’t compose music, don’t make movies, and above all, don’t think you’ll get a happening out of putting all these together.”
“You can steer clear of art by mixing up your happening by mixing it with life situations”
“The situations for a happening should come from what you see in the real world, from real places and people rather than from the head.”
“Break up your spaces. A single enactment space is what the theatre traditionally uses.”
“When you’ve got the go-ahead, don’t rehearse the happening.”
“Perform the happening once only.”
16th June 2020
Acid Communism: A Live interview with Jeremy Gilbert
“The concept of acid communism is a provocation and a promise. It is a joke of sorts, but one with very serious purpose. It points to something that, at one point, seemed inevitable, but which now appears impossible: the convergence of class consciousness, socialist-feminist consciousness-raising and psychedelic consciousness, the fusion of new social movements with a communist project, an unprecedented aestheticisation of everyday life.”
Mark Fisher ‘Acid Communism (unfinished introduction)’ in K-Punk, Repeater, 2018
Before his untimely death in 2017, writer and cultural theorist Mark Fisher had been working on a book entitled Acid Communism. Rejecting the idea that the neoliberalism of Thatcher and Reagan was inevitable, and that the counter-culture of the sixties and seventies would merely lead to a culture of narcissistic consumerism, Fisher sort to recover the radical promise of sixties counterculture, the term signalled the fusion of psychedelic mind-expansion with radical politics.
Outside of Fisher’s own work, the concept continues to be developed and explored, not least with the emergence of the term “Acid Corbynism” that links themes of countercultural radicalism to current labour activism. The podcast #ACFM has been at the forefront of Acid Communist and Acid Corbynist research, exploring topics such as collective joy, consciousness raising and the weird left. In this session, Bradley Tuck is joined by Jeremy Gilbert, a member of the #ACFM team and friend of Mark Fisher, to discuss these themes and topics. Jeremy Gilbert is Professor of Cultural and Political Theory at University of East London, his books include Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound (1999), Anticapitalism and Culture: Radical Theory and Popular Politics (2008), Common Ground: Democracy and Collectivity in an Age of Individualism (2013) Twenty-First Century Socialism (2019) Hegemony Now: Power in the Twenty-First Century (2020) and The Last Days of Neoliberalism: Politics, Culture and Society Since 2008 (2020).
30th June 2020
Pasolini and Gramsci: A Live Interview with Darrow Schecter
A red rag, like those the partisans
furled around their throats
and, nearby the urn, in the waxen soil
differently red, two geraniums.
Here you lie, exiled, with cruel Protestant
neatness, listed among the foreign
dead: Gramsci’s ashes… Between hope
and my ancient distrust, I draw near you, happening
by chance on this meagre greenhouse, in the presence
of your grave, in the presence of your spirit, afoot,
down here among the free. […]
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Gramsci’s Ashes (1957), translated by Michelle Cliff
Antonio Gramsci was a Marxist Intellectual and founder of the Italian Communist Party. His Prison Notebooks, written whilst in Prison during Mussolini’s dictatorship, have exerted a profound influence on Western Marxism and cultural theory, not least for his concepts of cultural hegemony that described a cultural battlefield preceding the political one. The workers had to develop their own culture, and own common-sense, for political victory to be possible.
Pier Paolo Pasolini was a filmmaker, poet and essayist, whose films include Accattone (1961), Mamma Roma (1962) La Rabbia (1963) The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966), Oedipus Rex (1967), Theorem (1968), Pigsty (1969), Medea (1969), The Decameron (1971), The Canterbury Tales (1972), A Thousand and One Nights (1974), Salò, Or 120 Days of Sodom (1975). Expelled from the communist party in 1949 for ‘moral indecency’, and often turning to classical and religious stories, Pasolini, nonetheless, continued to grapple with the possibility of radical political change that required both a continuity with, and departure from, the ideas of Antonio Gramsci.
In this session Bradley Tuck interviews Darrow Schecter, Professor of Critical Theory and Modern European History at the University of Sussex and author of many books and articles on Gramsci, Critical theory and the History of the left. Using a variety of clips from Pasolini’s work they will discuss the respects in which Pasolini was influenced by Gramsci and the respects in which he departed from him.