Talks and Poster Presentations (without Proceedings-Entry):
"The Activist Design-Labourer";
Talk: Design Activism and Social Change, Design History Society Annual Conference,
My contribution will be contesting the general asumption of design-activism to be per se resistant, dissident and/or oppositional. I will be outlining an understanding of design-activism as an inevitably performative practice shaped by and entangled within a - so called - post-fordist / late-capitalist / control society, that is not yet political, nor socially relevant. By drawing on two historic, performative projects from 1969 I am outlining different strands of a contemporary design practice that are an integral part of an ever wider immaterial economy of surplus value production. Through this heteronomic understanding of design - as opposed to an idea of an autonomous design-practice that is able to distance itself from a given situation - I will be able to ask for the political singularity of design practices.
For my line of argument I will be drawing on two performative projects from 1969: (1) John Lennon and Yoko Onoīs dissident - and today legendary - peace performance Bed-In. In its first instance it can be read as the resistant appropriation of the Grand-Hotel typology for the self-initiated activism. (2) the Austrian architect Hans Holleinīs TV performance Mobile Office, in which Hollein portays a young mobile architect/creative labourer working - no matter where in the world - in an inflateable, futuristic bubble, drawing conventional buildings.
Taking up the French philosopher Jacques Ranciéreīs aesthetic-politic terminology, I argue that both performative projects complicated the distribution of the sensible in the very moment of the performance, by slightly shifting the meaning and codification of the hotel-bed and the myth of the poor poet working in his attic (Spitzweg, 1829), or the figure of the globally engaged creative labourer. But no matter how dissident, or critical these projects might be understood, they also worked on the creation of a new life-form, somehow intensifying general tendencies, that today - like the bed-room producer of the music-industry - have become part of the mainstream discourse and have lost all its ideological impetus.
Heteronomic design-practice, the political in design, Jacques Ranciére, Hans Hollein, John Lennon & Yoko Ono
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