Whittier struggle update: Oct 4-8

click on image for video of Press Conference at Occupied fieldhouse October 8:

From press conference of the Whittier Moms on Oct 8, day 24 of the occupation:

“This is a call-out to the remaining 160 Chicago public schools who still do not have their own library — STAND UP !!”

Updates from this week at La Casita, the occupied fieldhouse at Whittier Elementary School:

Mon, October 4: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) turn off the gas leaving parents and children with no heat. As temperatures drop and school officials still refuse to meet with parents, it is clear their strategy is attrition.

Tue, Oct 5: Mothers testify at the Illinois Facilities Taskforce, an independent state commission to oversee school closures and capital improvement allocations for public schools. Taskforce stunned; shame CPS for turning off gas and demand a report.

Weds Oct 6: City council passes ordinance ordering CPS to turn gas back on and to halt demolition; Illinois Facilities Task Force charged with establishing recommendations on how to repair/rebuild. “I don’t know what genius at the board of education made this decision, but whoever it is ought to see what it’s like to live overnight in a 35-degree dwelling place,” says Alderman Edward Burke, 14th ward. CPS CEO Ron Huberman announces his plans to resign. Former Obama Chief of Saff Rahm Emanuel begins his campaign to run for mayor of Chicago. Whittier parents and kids surround his car and interrupt his “listening tour”. He does not listen.

Thu, Oct 7: a small group of 7 representatives from la Casita meet with Alderman Solis to demand his full support in maintaing the Casita open and continuing with its program, allocating the TIF money that was going to be used for demolition toward renovation instead. Embattled Moms challenge the records Solis presents in the meeting. In the evening Solis stops by the occupied fieldhouse personally to meet with the rest of the group. He tries once more to present a generic letter of support. Mothers say: not good enough and demand Solis rewrite to include their specific demands. After patient dictation, Solis includes word-for-word demands in his official letter. Solis also demands meeting with Chicago CEO Ron Huberman on Oct 13 to reach official resolution.

Friday, Oct 8: Jose Alvarez, former deputy chief of staff to CEO Arne Duncan, currently director of operations of CPS “New Schools” unit (ie man in charge of tearing down existing facilities to make way for privatized schools), comes by to deliver an official letter stating there will be a 6 moth halt to the demolition. Mothers surround him and tear up the letter: “not good enough!”. They then proceed to scold Mr Alvarez and, in an amazing display of Mother Power, sit him down to dictate his homework: he handwrites a letter committing to a meeting between Solis, the parents and Huberman. Mr Alvarez, powerful Mr Alvarez, is then unwelcomed with stern warnings about any future misbehavior. At 10:30 PM, gas is turned back on.

CPS must not have realized what happens when you threaten the kids of militant mothers.

update from parents – whittier interview

here you will find an interview with two of the moms after a long and hard confruntation with Alderman Solis

update on day/week as struggle escalates

Whittier Parents and Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel has got his eyes on the prize: the dream of speculative capital otherwise known as Chicago, the world’s best-greased political machine, the logistics management epicenter, ground zero of financial governance from futures markets to the theoretical invention of neoliberal economics (and well-groomed boys who brought it to you first) to climate exchange. White House chief of staff?? Chump change, Obama is not likely to produce a dynasty. Emanuel is getting into the real game this time.
Today began Rahm’s “listening tour”, a form of armored vehicle whizzing about branding the guy as open, engaged and in touch with the people — and what could be more dialogical, what could be more empathetic than listening? Democrats claiming jurisdiction: we’re your only saviors from the “bad guys”, its us against them… it is a kind of incorporation, life as an exposure to death.

The Whittier Moms and their kids blocked Emanuel’s car today and enforced a little bit of listening upon him.

Whittier Occupation, day 20

CPS has sent People’s Gas to shut off the service for the Whittier Field House. The previous attempts to shut down water failed when the plumbers dispatched decided they were union men and refused in their words, to “cross picket lines”. The demolition contractors also were successfully blocked, and even the cops hesitated and then backed off when protestors stormed the barricades and surrounded the schoolyard. In all these instances, parents and protesters were able to trigger nervousness or empathy in the individuals dispatched against them; hesitation turned into resistance and solidarity, albeit grudgingly so.
But this was not so in the case of People’s Gas and its workers; service was promptly shut off, leaving the fieldhouse with no heat, on one of the coldest days of the season so far. Clearly People’s Gas is not really… people’s gas. So, whose gas is it, anyway??? (research topic for future post).

Statement of solidarity with Whittier parents

drafted together with allies, parents, a brief introduction the struggle. also an online petition at

The Whittier Parents’ Committee is staging a sit-in to fight against the demolition of the Whittier Dual Language School’s field house (la Casita), in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The sit-in has been widely reported as the struggle of a community against the blind austerity cuts instituted by a cash-strapped school board. But in fact this struggle brings to light larger and more contentious issues in Chicago and nationally: control over Tax Increment Funding and the top-down reshaping of public education.

The Whittier Parents’ Committee has been organizing for seven years to push Pilsen alderman Daniel Solis to allocate some of the estimated $1 billion in Mayor Daley’s TIF coffers to their school for a school expansion – he finally agreed to give $1.4million of TIF funds for school renovation. Cynically, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has earmarked a part of this money for the destruction of the school’s field house, which has been used for years as a center for community organizing and services. This would directly undermine the ability of the Whittier community to organize and struggle for educational rights. Parents are demanding to be part of the decision-making process.

CPS has been conducting an extreme makeover of public education: privatization, demolitions, school closures and turnarounds, massive firings of seasoned teachers have been part of the large-scale redesign of public education. Public funds are being used to renovate schools that are privatized, while low income neighborhood schools are being starved of the most basic resources. The fight over the survival of this little field house is an important one in the larger struggles around educational rights, community self-determination and control over public land and institutions.

The undersigned organizations support the demands of the Whittier Parents’ Committee!
1. Do not demolish the field house – use the same $354,000 allocated to demolish the field house to remodel the building and expand the programs offered, including a school library
2. Work with parents and the local community instead of imposing a top-down vision for the school

Whittier School occupation begins

An extreme makeover has been underway. The structure of “public” has been cast as inadequate, as an offensive and dangerous obstacle. That is to say public infrastructures and resources, but also the very notion of public or shared or common, the terrain of social life that is not organized primarily around the rules of profit maximization, the forms of ownership, use and value that do not begin and end with exclusive private property rights, this larger social process is cast as the source of all our social and financial problems. It stands for a logic of inefficiency and waste, of sluggishness, resistance to innovation and lack of individual opportunity. It is the realm of limited individual choice, and of small-thinking. To move forward is to tear it all down.

To a certain extent, this is a politico-economic strategy related to devaluing or undervaluing public resources: public schools have been ruined, resources have been exposed to decay, public projects, institutions, infrastructures defunded, pilfered, bled dry. Private hands dipping liberally into the public purse, simultaneously help to push everything into the market at rock-bottom prices: sell the highway, privatize the schools for pennies on the dollar. This way you make money both coming and going.

This is also an ideological project, one that recasts all of life in terms of its efficient management. Because unlike commodities systems, living systems have waste, fat, redundancy, and operate at differing speeds. Living systems resist enclosure; and are always under construction, always generating endless possible outcomes. The future of living systems is not easily amenable to management.

Once the jurisdiction of the market expands over all of life, from the territory of the body, into the future of the air we breathe, into our very way of relating to each other, it tends to appear as though it was inevitable, as though it could not be any other way. It is a peculiar characteristic of jurisdiction: that it erases the process of its own making, its authority appears as a given, as inevitable. And it appears as the new notion of the “public good”.

In Chicago , over the last 7 years, 100 public schools have been slated for closure or subjection to “turn-around”, while 70 private, charter or “under private management” schools have been funded. This is the vision of the Renaissance 2010 program, a vision that became national policy once former Chicago Public School CEO Arne Duncan became Education Secretary for the Obama administration. Backed by the largest Education reform budget of any US administration in history, the opening of the US public school market is being rolled out at a stunning pace.

In Chicago, a small group of parents have been fighting against the ruining of their neighborhood school for ten years. On September 16, they occupied the building to resist its demolition. Extreme makeover, public-school edition, interrupted.

An Immigrants’ Freedom Ride

On Labor Day weekend (Sep 3-5, 2010), the Moratorium on Deportations Campaign undertook a “Freedom Ride: Immigrants’ Caravan” through the vast suburban sprawl of the Chicago metropolitan area. The 3-day, 100 mile bike ride, as well as the actions, rallies and meetings along the way, addressed the collaboration between local police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the rise in xenophobia as expressed in recent English-Only legislation, and the locally-specific ways in which capital accumulation is predicated on the degradation of work, the management and policing of migration, and the reorganization of urban/suburban space.

As the expanding logistics management industry consolidates enormous warehousing centers ( “inland ports” ) in foreign trade zones west and south of the city, tens of thousands of precarious workers, in large part immigrants, are pushed out of the city into planned suburban developments and into “perma-temp” jobs. The vast suburban landscape we rode through is a system of highly policed and regulated subterritories that are at once separated and connected by a limited number of county roads and an expanding system of freight rail lines. The logistics industry does not consist only of the warehouses and the flow of commodities in the supply chain, but also of the residential districts and of the efficient management of the flow of cheap, precarious labor – it is, in other words, a “people” system. Suburban Chicago appears in this sense as a logistical landscape: that is to say it is a spatial and social arrangement of differential mobilities – and immobilities – that links land speculation, the efficient warehousing and distribution of commodities and the efficient warehousing, detention and controlled migration of people.


Letter to CCC Geneva

Dear friends

I write this letter with a heavy heart, a few days after Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara. The power of the flotilla campaign is in how it provokes us to understand the occupation as a function of a global regime — in which we are all a part, with which we are complicit. But mainstream media debates in the US would have us focus on whether or not the activists used metal poles when a heavily armed commando unit descended upon them in the middle of the night. Once again, it is the activists who are to appear as “violent”, in a normalized order of things in which “stability” and “way of life” for some are predicated on the controlled exposure to death of millions of others.
But you asked about interventionist art, so I shall begin again.

Dear friends

10 years ago the discourse around interventionist art was still relatively new to my students in Florida – even though many practices described as “interventionist” seemed familiar, particularly for those students with activist backgrounds. In our discussions about what these terms may mean, we tried to look at how and where they were used, what claims were being made and by whom? More importantly, we tried to chart what were some of the effects of this emerging discourse: what was changing, what was staying the same? How was the discourse itself changing over time, and what did this change do?

It seemed clear to us that this was our question, and by this I mean that the intervention-ist tactic emerges from and within the privileged spaces of neoliberal globalization – the smooth spaces where social conflict is rendered invisible, where we become subjects through our enjoyment and our “way of life”. It also seemed clear that “intervene” meant “intervene into the political”, and that the search for oppositionality was in relation to a politics of visibility – based on the assumption that increased representational visibility is linked with political agency. But intervention has at times also complicated notions of visibility, in the sense that it has tended toward disrupting the processes by which things become normalized or “hidden in plain sight”. And it has often been accompanied by much experimentation with, and debate around, what we could call an ethics of conflict – an attempt to explore ways of practicing social conflict that are an alternative to violence and annihilation.

However, we have also seen how the massive deployment on the international art circuits of interventionist, relational and socially-engaged art has worked to defuse the threat of more widespread confrontational or oppositional processes – so that the success of intervention as an art genre, its mobilization within the circuits of capital, has also worked to produce a certain normalization or, as the organizers of the Art Goes Heiligendam project have stated in their promos, “de-escalation” (the discussions around this very project and the critical response by HOLY DAMN IT and others can, I think, serve as an instructive case study for understanding how the larger dynamic can be seen to operate in specific conditions).

So where are we now – especially if the “we” asking is art teachers and students struggling in increasingly corporatized institutions?

The rise of interventionist practices/discourses has given my students an alternative way of imagining their occupation, at least an alternative to that of producer of commodities – a different understanding of an artist’s work, a different set of possible colleagues, interlocutors, communities and social arrangements, a different set of possibilities for coexistence. In a sense, this may have been the greatest opening for young artists in the US: the possibility for a reorganization of the conditions in which artists live and work. However, in the absence of more widespread struggles for systemic change, this reorganization cannot be actualized, cannot become a lived reality – not for students who are heavily indebted, who pay for college by going to war, whose families have lost homes and safety nets, who are watching the oil spill deep into their lives. We face the limits of artistic intervention and of course of the artistic paradigm itself in opening up possibilities for social relations that are not determined by our relation to capital. In other words – without social processes at all scales, whatever we may designate as an artistic arena or an artistic process that is “interventionist” does not seem to me to be propositional.

You asked me to write about intervention based on my work with the 6Plus collective. At first I found this curious, perhaps because our work has been much “quieter”, more implicit in how it attempted to disrupt or intervene, focusing instead explicitly on supporting certain institutions, communities and practices. Still, the overall project is one that desires to unmask, to disrupt a normalized logic, and our experience can also serve as an example of the contradictory dynamics and limitations I mentioned above.

As you know, 6Plus organized traveling art exhibitions of work by US and Palestinian women artists, both in the Occupied Territories of Palestine and in the US. We also conducted several workshops and experimental media projects with young women in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank. I think the most important thing to understand about this work is this: it comes out of a struggle to understand how we might act in solidarity with our dear friends in Dheisheh. And solidarity is based in action, in a specific sense, as the Compass group remind us in their developing glossary: solidarity hinges on being recognized in the eyes of another as an ally, based on one’s actions. This also requires finding (or creating) the specific institutional, social and political conditions under which such a relation is possible.

Even though there are several international non-profits doing remarkable work in Dheisheh, our experience has lead us to working within the framework of the (then much besieged) Al Feneiq Cultural Center. This is a self-organized and self-built institution, run by members of the camp Popular Committee, itself an expression of the self-governing process which began during the first intifada. Due to the very purposeful conditions of our engagement in Dheisheh, our activities became part of a specific struggle, and our work became accountable to it.

However, at the request of the Dheisheh organizers and staff, we have also developed print, video and web-based works intended for international circulation through mainstream educational and cultural institutions. This at once reframes our relationship with the Dheisheh community under conditions of extreme asymmetry, and removes our activities from the immediate context of the struggle which gave them meaning and initial form. Much of our internal conflict over the slippage between these two arenas of action, and the ways they each structure a range of possible relations between different co-participants and “publics”, is traced in a brief essay published in Third Text. It remains quite current, and I hope you will access it on the 6Plus website.

My best wishes?

“Daughters of Palestine” at the Incheon Women Artists Biennale

6+ collective (Sama Alshaibi, Wendy Babcox, Rozalinda Borcila, Mary Rachel Fanning, Yana Payusova and Sherry Wiggins) are presenting “Daughters of Palestine” , and ongoing web project developed through a series of workshops with young women in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank, Occupied Territories of Palestine. The next stage in this workshop series continues early November.


For the biennale website see

Publication — Rising and Falling: How We Walk in Tampa

Rising and Falling: How We Walk in Tampa is a publication that resulted from our 8 month effort to work with walking, in a city that renders disposable bodies not confined to vehicles. This small book is our way of reflecting on our work, but it is also meant as a teaching and learning tool for young people in Tampa who may form their own walking communities. Contributors: Laura Bergeron, Rozalinda Borcila, Martin Bosman, Robert Brinkman, Desiree D’Alessandro, Sarah Hendricks, Sarah Lewison, Lou Marcus, Alan Moore, Raul Romero, Victoria Skelly

The book contains 5 durational walking projects and 6 walk/talks, folded in a handmade box. We have made a limited number of hardcopies (running out of the energy and time to make more boxes !!), and are distributing to friends and allies; please contact Rozalinda at borcila@arts.usf.edu if you would like us to mail you one. A hires pdf is available online at


This is a large file, please be patient. The book layout puts the walking conversations in relation with the durational walks; it includes images and descriptions of the walks and documents their translation in a number of different public exhibition situations. I am working on translating the booklet into a web-friendly presentation, with links to images and videos.

Below are excerpts from the Introduction, a transcribed introduction to a walking seminar with Sarah Lewison and the first walk/talk with Martin Bosman.
Many cheers



A Very Short Critique of Relational Aesthetics

Radical Culture Research Collective
from http://transform.eipcp.net/correspondence/1196340894

Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics (Les presses du réel, 1998; English translation 2002) undeniably has been an effective generator of debate. In the wake of critical responses by Claire Bishop (in October in 2004 and Artforum in 2006) Grant Kester (in Conversation Pieces, 2004, and in Artforum in 2006), Stewart Martin (in Third Text in 2007) and Julian Stallabrass (in Art Incorporated, 2004), the strengths and limits of Bourriaud’s book will be no secret. Our remarks at this point will not be new, but we think it may still be helpful to formulate some critical propositions with a sharper political orientation.


Rising and Falling: How we Walk in Tampa

Dates: November 26 – December 1 2007

A week of participatory walks, PDF available HERE
Walking and Not Walking has returned, with small experiments and workshops over the past few months. You are invited to participate in this week long series of events in Tampa – from the USF campus to the Hyde Park Historic Village and the Sulfur Springs Kmart desert.

1. Stroll Towards a Dream (Home)
In this intimate walking tour, you will guided by your friendly Dream Estate Agent through Historic Hyde Park. You will be exploring, shopping for and acquiring your ideal “home”.
When: Tue, Nov 27 — Thu, Nov 29 – Fri, Nov 30 between 3-5 PM
Where: Old Hyde Park
To participate: To reserve a spot on this walking tour, contact Laura Bergeron, your friendly Dream Estate Agent:
(813)751-4609 laura.m.bergeron@gmail.com


The Sublime Whiff of Criticality – On the Functions of Documenta

Radical Culture Research Collective

from http://transform.eipcp.net/correspondence/1189078355

Radical Culture Research Collective (RCRC) is a group of activists, artists, researchers and writers in Berlin, Hamburg, London (England), Montreal, London (Canada), New York, San Francisco, Tampa, Weimar and Vienna aiming to build structures and processes for critiquing the capitalist art system, reflecting on politicized artistic practices, and developing modes of a militant praxis within and without the field of art.

Our recent discussions have revolved around the ways in which criticality is recuperated through neo-liberal managerialism.  This text, written for Radical Philosophy, briefly sketches some aspects of this problem using Documenta XII as a case study.


Report: A Meeting is a Question Between – BLW

I think this small video can be a good place to start an initial, quick report of BLW’s week of public meetings in Millennium Park, July 1-5, our contribution to the Pathogeographies exhibition (see HERE for more details). There is, from the beginning, a sense that the overwhelming imperative for positivity exposes us to something damaging, to a kind of suffering. As people who are visibly struggling with the performance of exceptional enjoyment, we receive some helpful advice: click HERE to watch the video, and pls be patient…


A Meeting is a Question Between

BLW is participating in the Pathogeographies exhibition at the University of Illinois at Chicago Gallery:
– a respeaking performance on Saturday , June 30 at 2PM
– a series of interventions in public space over the next week
– we conclude with a final presentation on July 7th.

“A Meeting is a Question Between”
BLW invite you to five public meetings in Millenium Park, Chicago, to investigate this site as a theater of (pre-emptive) warfare. We will use different forms of research, including theoretical discussion, re-enactment and body work to reflect upon and intervene into the site.

“I looked in the water of the monument fountain and I saw green.,.”

July 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – at noon sharp
Meet in front of the Exelon Visitors Information Center in Millennium Park and depart from there.
What if?
If you arrive late, please SMS (813)789-0122 and we will reply with our exact location

BLW is: Rozalinda Borcila, Sarah Lewison, Julie Wyman

Catalin Gheorghe, on (collective) authorship in Romania

forwarded from Ziarul de Iasi, Romania


Serviciile drepturilor de coautor
Autor: Catalin GHEORGHE
Sintem responsabilizati sa acceptam drepturile proprietatii intelectuale si, in acelasi timp, sintem tentati sa apelam la argumentul libertatii accesului la cultura.
Producem si consumam cultura, vindem si cumparam, chiar si simbolic, insa atunci cind vine vorba despre drepturi ne aflam la mijloc, intre copyright si copyleft. (more…)


Here are a few images from the public hearing at the ICA, instigated by BLW (Rozalinda Borcila, Sarah Lewison and Julie Wyman) and Think Tank that has yet to be named (represented by Lena Helen and Meredith Warner). project description and more details about the investigation can be found HERE. Below is a summary of Assessment as to the Perpetration of Harm:

– Language is deceiving the public about civic and other plans.
– Language conceals the reality of the kinds of lives people are really living and the intent of activities people are engaged in.
– Language refers to civic engagement, but works to disable participatory democracy, or to work against civic education, or to actively create stupidity.
– Language facilitates diversions of funding or diversions of property from places it is needed.
– Language is pre-empting the possibility of alternative futures by “putting words in people’s mouths.”

Click HERE for testimony submitted in absentia by Jeremy Beaudry of Think Tank that has Yet to be named
Click HERE for more on the hearing from the website of Think Tank that has yet to be named


Public Hearing
Saturday March 10, 2007
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art – 118 South 36th Street in Philadelphia, PA.

The Coalition of Inquiry into the State of the Future (herein referred to as “The Coalition”) alleges that
language used in certain documents of public and journalistic record, and written with the
intention of informing a general public as to the nature of certain subjects (below), bears a spurious
and suspicious relationship to the truth.

The Coalition further alleges such language has the potential of causing harm through false
representation, through the perpetration of an illusion of participatory democracy, and through other
forms of harm to be assessed. The subjects allegedly misrepresented by said language include but are not
restricted to the following:

I) The nature and demographics of the city of Philadelphia

II) The transparent and participatory nature of certain institutions and current and future initiatives associated with the city of Philadelphia

III) The condition for artists and cultural workers in the city of Philadelphia.

IV) The condition and status of working people and/or residents of the city of Philadelphia.

V) The nature of democracy and democratic process


What is a collective body: exercises for labor day

The Center for Getting Ugly invites you to participate in a skill-sharing workshop in calisthenics for collaboration. This is an invitation to share your experiences and ideas with others rather than an organized presentation.

Sunday September 3, 2006
6-8 pm workshop, followed by dinner (under $7.)
Studio 27
689 Bryant Street (ring bell) between 4th and 5th
between Leavenworth and Hyde
RSVP: limited to 12. Please RSVP to sarah lewison at sacamixta@gmail.com or call: 610-220-8634
Cost: Free (a small donation to the space is gratefully accepted)

Plausible Art Worlds

Plausible-Artworld3.jpgtipsy and ugly will be going to Philly in September 2006, invited by Basekamp — see below.

From http://www.basekamp.com

Basekamp & InLiquid.com received a 2006 Philadelphia Exhibitions initative grant to plan Plausible Artworlds, an international conference and exhibition (to take place in 2007), with a significant web component, devoted to collaborative and socially-engaged artists’ projects and open forms of curatorial practice.

The funding so far is for planning only – we are still seeking funds to stage the actual planned project. In the interim we are asking a small selection of groups to work with us during the planning process in 2006. We see this process as a kind of ’project-in-itself’ which can be a chance to meet, talk and think together about the future. We hope this initial planning stage will grow organically into the planned event for 2007, with tangible outcomes along the way.


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