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collective art practice research group

Collective Art Practice – Performative and Networked Approaches to Challenging Power

This class took place in the Spring 2008 quarter at UCSD, on Wednesday nights from 5-8pm. It was a VIS198 Directed Study Group. The class is supported by an Open Classroom grant from UCIRA and is receiving support from CRCA.

Class Overview

This class begins with the assumption that the contemporary world is an assemblage, a network of networks, a nested set of groupings at varying scales which are constantly in flux, temporary and shifting. Building on this assumption, the contemporary form of power has an assemblage structure, so does the contemporary form of resistance. A question follows the assumption, given this decentered, constantly shifting form of power, what are artists doing in response to challenge power?

One part of a response to this question will occupy the majority of this class: collective art practice. The class will look briefly at the history of collective art practice, its motivations and its trajectory, situating it within contemporary art practice. It will go on to look in more detail at contemporary art collectives and their motivations, their ties to contemporary politics of globalization and efforts to maintain an egalitarian or non-hierarchical collective practice.

This class has three main foci:

– to introduce students to collective practices
– to facilitate student understanding of social issues embodied in the san diego / tijuana borderlands
– to explore online space as public space, its limitations and possibilities


Week 1 – April 2: A Class Without A Teacher? Critical Pedagogy and Intro to Collective Practice

Readings: Selections from

bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress

Jo Freeman, The Tyranny of Structurelessness http://www.jofreeman.com/joreen/tyranny.htm or (pdf) http://struggle.ws/pdfs/tyranny.pdf

On Conflict and Consensus, At Least Ch 3, but Ch 1 is good too

Optional: Henry Giroux, Border Crossings: Cultural Workers and the Politics of Education

Lecture Notes Week 1

Presenters: Members of the Groundwork Books Collective

Week 2 – April 9: A Rich Legacy of Collective Practice

Readings: Selections from

AT A DISTANCE “Fluxus Practice”

Collectivism After Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination After 1945


A New Philosophy of Society, Manuel Delanda, Intro

Presenters: Brett Stalbaum, Ricardo Dominguez

Project Due: Login to class wiki and add a page about yourself and your work.

Week 3 – April 16: Social Sculpture, society is the sculpture, collectively creating change

Readings: Selections from

A New Philosophy of Society, Manuel Delanda, Ch. 1

Christoph Spehr, “Free Cooperation”




Presenters: The Boredom Patrol of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army

Project Due: Form collective groups.

Week 4 – April 23: Transnational corporations, transnational resistance

Readings: Selections from

Horizontalism, Marina Sitrin

The Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandon

(original here, seems to be down http://www.ezln.org/documentos/2005/sexta1.en.htm)

Intro to the No Borders Camp

Perpetual Restart. On the Hybrid Praxis of no one is illegal:



Presenters: Members of Colectivo Zapatista and Simon Sedillo of El Enemigo Comun

Project Due: write a group statement of intention and post it in the class wiki or somewhere online.

Week 5 – April 30: Gaming Theory, “In Game” Resistance

Readings: Selections from

Desktop Theater: Keyboard Catharsis and the Masking of Roundheads, Adriene Jenik

Celia Pearce and Artemesia, “Communities of Play: The social Construction of Identity in Persistent Online Game Worlds”, SecondPerson: Role Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media [pdf]

Second Front

The Cute Cat Theory

Presenters: Adriene Jenik

Optional reading:

Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life

Profiles as Conversation: Networked Identity Performance on Friendster [pdf]

Week 6 – May 7: Autonomous Space in the Borderlands

The Electronic Disturbance, Nomadic Power and Cultural Resistance [pdf]

Border Postcard: Chronicles from the Edge ///

Resistance Against the Wall: A Report from the No Borders Camp

Trip to Tijuana to see the Lui Velazquez art space and meet with students from the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC).


Selections from Okupa! [rough cut] online video

Presenters: Members of the Lui Velazquez space, Claudia Algara

Project Due: Do a first performance in online public space using Second Life.

Week 7 – May 14: Collective Practice in the Borderlands

Read selections from Borderlands / La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua

Presenters: Teddy Cruz, Architect and Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Department at UCSD.

Felipe Zuñiga, MFA Candidate, UCSD, part of Lui Velazquez

Ignacio Lopez, Discos Invisibles

Begin final project. For your final project, you must use Second Life as a site for a collective performance engaging with the social, political and aesthetic issues presented in this class. Your performance may involve one or more performers in virtual space and one or more performers in physical space. Your performance will be presented in class and, if you choose, at a public presentation the last week of class. Possible issues for consideration are public space, exclusion/inclusion/flows, national/social/ideological borders, identity as a social process, material/immaterial property, to name a few.

Discuss and work on final projects.

Week 8 – May 21: Gender, Sexuality and Erotic Art Practice


On How Porn Can Teach Us All to Share by Sophie Le-Phat Ho

C’lick Me – A Netporn Studies Reader – read the introduction and optionally read this chapter: Ten Fragments on a Cartography of Post-Pornographic Politics by Tim Stüttgen

[high res or low res versions here]

Presenters: Member of the Sharing Is Sexy.org collective

Discuss and work on final projects.

Week 9 – May 28: DIY, Self-Publishing, Craftivism

Readings: selections from

Week 10 – June 4th: Present final projects in class

Other Readings and Resources


[full documentation of this course at: http://sharingissexy.org/wiki/CollectivePracticeClass]

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