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Poznań: Workshops of Revolution
May 11, 2018 - June 10, 2018
REVOLUTIONS IN SYRUP
Dreaming of California on a winter’s day was possible in the 1960s, when revolution was still sexy. What’s been left has a lightly sweet aftertaste of happiness which is best reflected in California Dreamin’ by Mamas and Papas, listened to somewhere between Poznań and Berlin. Today the hippy happy-go-lucky attitude seems to be a thing of the past, even if it is at the same time as accessible as peaches in syrup — exotic, marinated and tightly sealed. I write these words from the perspective of a generation that grew up on the post-transformation myth of entrepreneurial spirit and individualism, where concern was devoured by ambition, adults sold the old world for a bunch of bananas and the new generation, powered by turbo chewing gum, rushed forward in pursuit of some unknown future.
Today, after landing on neoliberal ground, mature depressions are cured with home-made nationalisms. Happiness seems far more inaccessible, if not endangered, given the unfavorable post-enthusiastic climate. The regime of positive thinking, which replaced joy in my generation, seems to be best personified by an internalised figure of a coach who treats melancholy with start-ups and who recommends Prozac in the event of doubt.
When I mentioned happiness at the start, I did not mean, however, its commercialised, pharmaceutical substitute, but publicly experienced pleasure as defined by Hannah Arendt – rejoicing in the participation in events of the world that transcend the individual particularism, as during the May ’68 Revolution, which infamously began in March in Poland … Public happiness, irrespective of what the world of advertising seems to imply, means a sharing of utopian moments where it seems that reality can still be changed, as during the Black Protest or annual MANIFA protests. Contrary to post-enthusiastic contemporary trends, I believe that revolution is precisely about the joy derived from shared action, irrespective of the results achieved. Revolution means equal access to satisfaction, both mental and by all means physical; it is the egalitarian care of one another and a proximity which allows us to transcend the sense of alienation. The revolutionary power of happiness lies precisely in the transcendence and transgression of the barrier of fear, caused by the injustice of the system, the same is a real alternative to nationalistic kind of autism and neoliberal depression.
Revolution must be affective, or it will not be at all
The collectives invited to contribute to Workshops of Revolution, such as The Army of Love, Feminist Health Care Research Group or Gyne Punk suggest that we assume the perspective of a sick person – someone elderly and excluded – in order to give up privileges in the name of desire, especially those who we initially distance ourselves from affectively. All of this should be done in the name of a fully democratic society. Otherwise, they warn us, we will remain a regime of normatively beautiful and healthy bodies dominant over the weaker and the aesthetically underprivileged. Tolerance is no longer enough, since the politically correct terms conceal well-known chauvinism, ageism, ableism, and racism. In order to develop an inner readiness to desire our neighbor, no matter what his or her physicality, Ingo Niermann from The Army of Love proposes a radical revaluation of what has so far defined an autonomous human identity, i.e. its demasculinization, so that it might become more empathetic. The principle of competition is replaced here by care, and the need to dominate by a desire that transcends hetero-normative patterns and moves towards complementarity, or a selfless sharing of love with those who need it most.
On the 50th anniversary of May 1968, shameless and public experience of happiness and love will be the principal feature of Workshops of Revolution. Institutions, like a glasshouse, will provide optimum conditions for the revolution’s development, so that it will be able to grow freely before spilling over into the streets.
words: Zofia nierodzińska
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