I'm not sure quite where to start my rant on this public art project in Times Square by Steve Lambert (http://gothamist.com/2013/09/12/talk_about_capitalism_in_the_heart.php), given that it perturbs me on so many levels. The artist might respond, "That's the point!" And certainly I'd like to respond, "You're right!" Instead, my first disgruntlement with this piece it that it only appears to perturb, and so cleverly.
Like capitalism, and its "creative capitol" version in city's such as, say, New York City, it lures us with an aesthetically pleasing, humorous, fun thing, asks for and probably receives our voluntary participation (free labor, not even wage labor!), and thus, convinces us to "buy into" a social relation that's hidden by the thing itself.
I had the good fortune of getting airfare and a lovely flat in Vienna for two weeks, June 16-27, in exchange for doing a talk related to my book Paths toward Utopia (PM Press, 2012) as part of the Unsocial Sociability exhibition at Kunstraum Lakeside, Klagenfurt, Austria. As usual, getting to know a city is, for me, all about walking for hours without knowing where I'll end up, and in the first of my many strolls, including right outside the front door of my flat, I noticed an unusual amount of anarchist/autonomist/antifa street art. So began my obsession of taking snapshots of a good amount of what I chanced on, though far from all of what I saw.
I created a tumblr out of the photos, "Red and Black Vienna," http://redblackvienna.tumblr.com/. Enjoy scrolling through all some or all of the images, to get a good sense of what graces the sidewalks, walls, lampposts, and other public exteriors of Vienna. Below you'll find the short introductory text to that tumblr and one photo.
A commentary about the "Free Education for All" struggle, via a Cooper Union artist-organizer rally in NYC on February 20, 2013. For photos too, see the original post at my Outside the Circle blog, cbmilstein.wordpress.com and/or my "Free Education for All" tumblr at http://free-educ-for-all.tumblr.com/.
This evening, several hours after standing around outdoors in chilly winter weather at a rally beneath the clock tower of Cooper Union and a giant "free education for all" red banner high above, a young Egyptian revolutionary, an active and articulate organizer these past couple years in Tahrir Square, said that freedom isn't just a word; it's how one practices it and tries to enact it.
This is the first in what I hope becomes a series under the heading "The Culture of Capitalism." For the original post and many other pieces of writing, see my Outside the Circle blog at cbmilstein.wordpress.com.
New York City is perhaps one of the best places to be a flaneur, engaging in the act of idly strolling through the streets, taking in the little moments that otherwise go unnoticed, appreciating them as pinholes, turning the world as we know it upside down, all the better to see it for what it is.
(Originally written on November 9, 2012)
[i]Note: If you're looking to lend some love and mutual aid in post-hurricane NY and NJ, look no further than http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/.
One of a series of blogs from Cindy Milstein on living through the hurricane. While power is out and tanks roll in, somehow people are still making it in to work...
At around 5:00 p.m. yesterday, out of some perverse curiosity, because I almost didn't want to believe it, I wandered up as far as Times Square. No need to take a photo; it looks like any other day, packed full of shoppers and tourists, and glaringly lit up like an extra-sharp slap in the face to all those areas and people in cold, dark apartments facing food and water shortages.
(Originally written on November 1, 2012)
On the last day of October 2012, I walked across the Manhattan Bridge twice, each time mostly with downtrodden-looking workers, going to and/or from likely dismal and low-paying jobs that might not even be there when they arrive. It’s hard to get info in some parts of the city; in others, it feels like business as usual.
I keep meaning to write something about the abrupt halt to my "Dispatches from Maple Spring" posts -- written during the best summer of my life in the rebellious, romantic city of Montreal. In fact, I have two unfinished stories languishing in my Wordpress box and several pieces I've been meaning to write. Hopefully I'll have the energy, focus, and stomach for writing again soon about the Quebec student strike and other related politics, but also, first, about the surreal turn in my own life.
The short version, for now, is: both my parents got seriously sick at the same time, but my dad profoundly so. I stayed up all night in Montreal some 3.5 weeks ago to decide what to do.
Cindy Milstein on the Québec student strike as some general assemblies start to vote to return to class.
On August 10, I posted a photo on my Facebook page of a delicate red square with the caption "[the] fragility & sweetness of social struggle." Little could I have guessed, however, just how fragile the Quebec student strike movement would prove to be only three days later.