Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Conversation at 16 Beaver (Ad)


1. Introduction
2. Thematics
3. How to Participate

1. Introduction

What: Conversation
When: Sunday, 12:00 - 5:00
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
Who: All are welcome

This Sunday we would like to invite friends, colleagues, interested parties (i.e., you) to take part in a conversation. The conversation will be initiated by some opening questions and prepared statements. The event will be videotaped with the specific desire to produce a political document of our present moment and to open up our conversations to a wider public.

Rather than stream this event live (as we have with all other editions of Continental Drift), we are looking to edit a version that will be available for broadcast on alternative television networks and for download after the event.

It is open to anyone interested. We will briefly outline some themes below. You are invited, if you like, to select one of them and prepare questions or a brief statement (0-4 minutes).

2. Marking The Turning Point or Holding the Baby?

Sudden changes in the social and political spheres have painted question marks all over the future. On the American streets the Democratic and Republican conventions just saw a new militarization of public space, with preemptive raids on the alternative media, intimidation of citizens exercising their rights to free speech and above all, mass arrests, in some cases with charges of "conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism" (according to Minnesota's homespun version of the Patriot Act).

What will come of this rising authoritarianism? In the corporate media sphere where such abuse is considered normal, the presidential campaign has lurched over into the worst kind of populism, with the Republicans posing as the unbridled candidates of war, ecological rape and yet more market "fundamentals" -- all in the pretense of challenging the "Washington insiders" of their own party, whose policies have created the crisis of the present. Is it possible the Americans could put total denial of reality into the White House again? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rage on, and the politicians seem to think they can win. Yet where the crisis is unfolding at the most extraordinary speed is in the transnational realm of finance, which for the last decade and more has set the parameters of neoliberalism for the entire world.

The magnitude of the credit crisis is staggering, as major banks in Britain and the USA fail and are nationalized, setting the stage for a long and deep recession that might extend as far as China. We are told by the economists that this is the biggest thing since 1929, but what does that mean? Not one of them has the answer. Anyway, this much is certain: neoliberalism as an ideology of purely economic governance is dead, good riddance! We're at a turning point, the past is retreating into history
and something new is struggling to be born. What a scene for a birthday! Come next January not only the new US president, but all of us will be left holding the baby.

This Sunday, the major themes that we have debated in the last three years of Continental Drift are back on the table, in the first person. The idea is not formal presentations, but conversation about the shape of our worlds to come. We want to speak in a time of crisis about new possibilities. Now it's your baby!

3. How to participate.

This event is meant to take in the present and to offer up different positions or perspectives - both considering our Drift discussions in the past years and taking into account the questions you feel most important. We ask each of you to either prepare your own questions or a statement concerning this moment in time, something we have been thinking about and
need to ask to a collective of people. The questions or statements can use the following thematic framework outlined below or you can offer your own.

A. How would you assess the use, abuse, health, status of the concept of democracy today?

B. How do we understand the great political challenge(s) of our contemporary moment and what is the most interesting role that cultural practice can play in that context? or more generally, ... Where do you situate the role of cultural practice in political struggle today? Where do you locate the space of agency?

C. Is this current economic tumult truly a turning point in the model of neoliberal government and if so, how will this crisis be used? Many thinkers and artists have explored how crisis has been used as the primary mechanism through which power is consolidated, but it has historically also offered moments of opportunity for various political struggles. What might this point mean for us as cultural producers?

16 Beaver Group
16 Beaver Street, 4th fl.
New York, NY 10004
phone: 212.480.2099

for directions/subscriptions/info visit:

4,5 Bowling Green
R,W Whitehall
2,3 Wall Street
J,M Broad Street
1,9 South Ferry