Back ground / Publishing Class III / How To Live Together
The concept for Publishing Class III – How to Live Together has developed out of the previous editions of Publishing Class.
The first edition experimented with collective publishing, and resulted in a participant-initiated journal series—Spencer's Island—which narrowcasted to a community on a small Canadian island, with whom the participating students had no direct contact. Spencer's Island experimented with modes of communication as well as group work. The second edition was dedicated to publishing with fidelity to both individual artistic practices and the collaborative working environment (what we called the 'editorial cooperative'). This edition operated in an intensive collaboration with graphic designers from the Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem. Publishing Class II resulted in 13 singular, small book editions, the majority as projects in themselves that integrated personal essays and fiction writing. For the third edition, we refocus our attention towards collective efforts through publishing a book that also accommodates experiments with both individual and collective "writing." The third edition will be accompanied by monthly guest lectures, face-to-face meetings, seminars on methods of speculative thinking and writing, and occasional workshops covering practical knowledge for publishing.
Publishing Class III is also brought about through reflection on the last few years of art publishing. The current flourishing of publication practices in contemporary art still finds its roots in conceptual art practices from the 1960s and 1970s in which the book form was taken as an alternative site for experimentation with language or other conceptual work. As a result, a conceptual play of, or anti-stance to, language is at stake in many current artist publications. These contemporary publications clearly allow for independent platforms and circulating channels for current artistic practice, new visual experimentation and forms of encounter with "readers."
However, in the time of mass media monopolies, personal and social media, and self-publishing, this mode of practice may need to be complimented by opposite forces. These forces emerge from collective artist journals such as Chto Delat, Variants, Pages, Fucking Good Art or from collective book productions such as The Book Trust, an outcome of a group of graphic design students at the Yale University School of Art, or Intersections At the Crossroads of the Production of Knowledge, Precarity, Subjugation and the Reconstruction of History, Display and De-Linking, published by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. What is shared by these collective approaches is a clear configuration of publishing as a form of knowledge production, and an establishment of knowledge in common and for the commons. In this light, let us also recall the Whole Earth Catalog, a "DIY" communal journal that formed a vast underground community of readers, and was produced on the flip side of the conceptual art publishing of the 1960s and 1970s. We could dig even further to recall avant-garde practices of the early twentieth century, when collective journals and books were actively published as 'vehicles for delivering artists' agendas and were concerned with circulating ideas' (Gwen Allen, Artists' Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2011)—a local example in this period could be the Dutch De Stijl journal. Here, the proposal is not that artists should produce a theory for what they do, but it is advocating for the appreciation and practice of singular forms of artistic research and for the knowledge that this may form.
Publishing Class III will undertake a collective writing process over the duration of one year. While leaving ample room for individual writing, the project will culminate in one book. The course will take inspiration from Barthes' 'rooms' structure: We will invite guests to write and contribute a text for the publication that generates new visions and theories around the question of living together. Figuratively speaking, their contribution will be the construction of rooms that contribute to both the living structure and future thinking of our collective house. They will construct a room for a hothouse so to speak. In successive seminars, the guests will share how they developed this vision and reflect on the 'labor of writing' as an integral part of their practice. This will in turn feed into the students' own writing, aid the creation of their own room, the formation of the "common room" and a community of writers.
Occasionally, workshops about practical knowledge on the pragmatics of publishing practice will be organised, outside of the Dutch Art Institute's regular week structure. These workshops will challenge the existing boundaries of the practical and non-practical by inviting graphic designers, artists, theorists and book-makers to share their know-how around the processes of design, distribution, copy write, editing and so on.
How to Live Together, (Trans. Kate Briggs), New York: Columbia University Press, 2012, is a published series of lectures critic Roland Barthes originally delivered in 1977 in which he searches for a way of life that reconciles solitude and sociability, and looks for the degree of contact that is necessary for individuals to co-exist and create at their own pace. Barthes' quest and journey are informed by 'idiorhythmic monasticism', a form of society that was practiced by Orthodox monks on the holy Greek mountain Athos in the fifteenth century. The monks were permitted to live separately in par with their respective rhythms of life. They would congregate for religious service and prayer but even this was optional. In How to Live Together, Barthes explores this phenomenon through five representative texts, which examine five different living spaces and possible ways of life, namely: 'Émile Zola's Pot-Bouille, set in a Parisian apartment building; Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, which takes place in a sanatorium; André Gide's La Séquestrée de Poitiers, based on the true story of a woman confined to her bedroom; Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, about a castaway on a remote island; and Pallidius's Lausiac History, on the ascetic lives of the desert fathers.' http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-13616-7/how-to-live-together.
The inspiration for Publishing Class III is further indebted to Christian Nyampeta, whose current PhD research, also titled How to Live Together, takes Barthes' writing as one of its main references.
Non-writing is understood here as a form of communication that happens in the negation of any existing writing form.
'Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity. What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, "I am going to produce a work of art". I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world-view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.' George Orwell, 'Why I Write', available online at: http://orwell.ru/library/essays/wiw/english/e_wiw.