30.05.2018 - 02.06.2018 - ‘The Revolution of Everyday Life’, [Performance / city-wide installation / seminar], Long Division Festival, Wakefield.
This multifaceted artwork was made possible by seed funding from the Arts Council England and Long Division Festival, Wakefield, as part of the festival’s Manifesto For a New Wakefield project. Read about the Manifesto for a New Wakefield Project here.
Seed-funding from Long Division Festival allowed us to create an expansive project, arguably our most ambitious to date, which attempted to situate our pedagogico-artistic practice within the site-specific dynamics of Long Division Festival and, of course, the city of Wakefield. 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of 1968, a year which is sometimes called the ‘year of revolutions’; a year characterised not only by socio-political struggle, particularly the struggle of the subaltern, but also by the libidinal energy of a tidal wave of new youth culture. At the same time, ‘68 was also the moment of theoretical revolution, in the shape of postructuralism which engendered a number of radical critiques of the academy. Of particular interest to us were the wave of university and art school occupations that erupted across the US, the UK, and Europe; most famously, the occupation of L'École des Beaux-Arts in May-June of that year. Here, in support of student protests on the streets, and the general strike of hundreds of thousands of French factory labourers, radical students occupied the institution’s print rooms and transformed the art school into a production line of visual agitprop to foment the revolution. To borrow a concept from Deleuze and Guattari (1972), whose thought was similarly gestated on the streets of ‘68, this should not simply be thought of as a political protest, but a fundamental transformation of the art school from ‘ideological state apparatus’ (Althusser 1971) into an anti-oedipal ‘desiring-machine’.
On the occasion of such an anniversary, the events of which are formative to our practice in an indescribable amount of ways, our intervention within Long Division is simultaneously a commemoration of those events, and a Benjaminian ‘dialectical image’ which that attempts to bring Wakefield in 2018 and the Paris of 1968 into a radical dialogue, via the seductive power of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The project had three distinct elements, related by their quite different attempts to articulate something of the revolutionary potential of youth culture. To signify this, we titled the project ‘The Revolution of Everyday Life’, appropriating the title of Raoul Vaneigem’s (1967) text of the same name. This text became something of a manifesto for both the soixante-huitards and the Situationist International and, as such, its incendiary content became both inspiration and source material for our artwork. The specific interwoven elements of this complex work are best explained individually. However, they could be summarised as follows -
The creation of 8,000 A5 flyers (4 designs x 2,000 copies) based on imagery produced in 1968 by the Atelier Populaire. These images also included quotes from Vaneigem’s text, and revolutionary song lyrics from 1968, whilst functioning as festival flyers, given that they incorporated the Long Division branding on the reverse. The citywide distribution of these flyers acted as a covert intervention into the festival’s usual circuits of exchange.
The invention of a fictional band, The Wakefield Revolutionary Force, whose history we wrote as an allegory of countercultural rebellion. The events of the WRF’s backstory intertwine with real historical and political moments of rebellion, weaving a narrative of twentieth century rebellion and also the narrativization and mythologising of rebellion. We designed six different LP covers, which covered the distinct eras of the band. The evolving logos and graphic design function as pseudo-historical evidence and also as a visual survey of the visual semantics of graphic rebellion.
A unique manifestation of our ongoing and evolving Precarious University social sculpture. The Precarious University seminar was based around excerpts from Vaneigem’s text and held on the Saturday of Long Division festival. It was located right at the heart of Wakefield’s commercial district, right on its busiest shopping day, and the debates were relayed to shoppers via a PA. Therefore, this intervention functioned as a pedagogic space to debate the ubiquity of capital and spectacle but also as a physical act of détournement against the stranglehold of both in urban social space.
You can read our interview with the Long Division promoters, which explains our motivations for the project here.