A Vocabulary of Revolutionary Gestures – Text

Abstract

These four chapters take their material and draw their momentum from instances of revolution or large-scale uprisings of the past years, but most of all from an energy that was set lose by a movement of me being swept up and then crashing back down in the autumn and winter of 1989/90, and that still ricochets around.

In some ways it is also a story about the project of communism, told from its end. But it tries to tell it into some kind of a future, too.

In a time-space that stretches back from 1989 into the past, to the beginnings of the hopeful and horribly flawed project of state-socialism, and that stretches into a future that is our present, the time of my writing, a concept for a contemporary Politics takes, loses, and changes shape.

The text proceeds by detours. It stops to dwell on the stories, questions, anecdotes it encounters on the way.

There are some thoughts about a number of artists that are trying to impact, or at least do some kind of justice, to the situations in which they live and work, and that succeed and fail in different ways, as they avail themselves of an aesthetics of achieving distance, or one of keeping things close. There are stories about people’s ways of remembering, and forgetting. And there are stories about the louder and quieter tricks people can, and do use to upset the flow of a smooth policing of the everyday that keeps the waters quiet for those who are already floating on top.

Such smaller and bigger observations have caught in the web of a writing that thickens around four different concepts or words: to circle, to interrupt, to repeat, and to stand still. A geometry, a physiology and morphology, a psychology, a political theory, an anthropology, an archive of forms of being political spins off from each of the four words, to which countless others could add themselves. In many ways, this text has no beginning, and no end.

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