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

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

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…)

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.


Call for Interventions


Global Webcast, Saturday, August 12 2006, 15:00 – 19:00 PM CEST [–> 16:00 – 20:00 EEST] http://beirut.streamtime.org

Outraged at Israel’s ongoing aggression on Lebanon – which since July 12 2006 has killed over 900 people (mostly civilians), displaced nearly one million people (1/4 of Lebanon’s entire population), and wrecked Lebanon’s infrastructure and economy – we say: khalas! enough! (more…)

Dispatch from Oaxaca

by Nancy Davies
August 1, 2006

In the manner of a marcha de las caserolas made famous in Argentina, the women of Oaxaca took to the streets with their pots, frying pans and spoons to beat out the call “Ruiz Fuera!” Ruiz out!

On Tuesday morning about 2,000 women gathered at the Plaza of Siete Regiones and marched toward the zocalo, a distance of five miles. Along the route they were greeted by cheering onlookers who handed them water and waved signs in support of the social movement that has set as its first and foremost goal the removal from office of the governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO). The women tapped out the rhythm of “Ya Cayó” and used pan covers as cymbals. Many carried wooden spoons and drummed on their frying pans.

new additions to the blog

6Plus is a collective of artists living in the US who have been trying to develop projects in Palestine in collaboration with 7 Palestinian women artists. Two exhibitions are scheduled for September at the International Center in Bethlehem, and December at the Sakakini in Ramallah. The December exhibit is also intended as the conclusion of a collaboration with a group of young women from a refugee camp close to Bethlehem. (more…)


Center for Getting Ugly Special Fellows Sue Kenney and Alexandra Matute are self-appointing to the Council of Peripheral Visionaries and inviting you to yet another sleep-out (more…)

Iraqui Women Call for Peace

March 9, 2006
CONTACT: John Arnaldi 813-974-7363 or 813-988-0734

As Violence Escalates in Iraq, Dr. Entisar Mohammad Ariabi will speak at the USF College of Public Health in Tampa on March 15, 2006 about daily life in Iraq, the impact of war upon public health, and the possibility of an impending civil war. (more…)

Sami Al-Arian Defense Fund

Coming to Tampa to Benefit The Citizen’s Committee for the Legal Defense of Sami Al-Arian

Dave Lippman With George Shrub, The World’s Only Known Singing CIA Agent (more…)

Tampa Rally to Ban Torture

Friday, March 17, 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Across from the US Federal Courthouse
1000 N. Florida Ave. Tampa, FL
Sponsored by the Social Action Committee of First United Church (UCC) Tampa, Tampa Bay Friends of Human Rights, Tampa Bay Peace with Justice Network

Workshop with Brian Holmes

The Stuart S. Golding Endowment Lecture Series and the common_places Center for Getting Ugly invite you to a series of provocative lectures, discussions and workshops with Brian Holmes

March 6-9, on the USF campus, FAS building, all events free and open to the public.

Monday, March 6 6-8 PM in FAH 288
Lecture: The Potential Personality: Trans-subjectivity in the society of control
This presentation considers the possibilities for art practice in the society of control – characterized by procedures which “channel perception, intellection and affection into predetermined behaviors”.

la Casa Tranzit in Cluj

common_places va invita luni, 11 iulie orele 17:00 si 20:00 la Casa Tranzit
str. Bariţiu/Malom u., Nr. 16
Cluj, Romania
Tel: +40364 101705
Mobile: 0724 209604
e-mail: office@tranzithouse.ro
intrucit common_places nu este nici un colectiv de artisti, nici un proiect, ci mai degraba o practica in dezvoltare, asazisa prezentare va consta in punerea in functiune a colectiei — activarea, nu reprezentarea, ei.

common_places invites you Monday, July 11, 5PM and 8PM to Tranzit House
str. Bariţiu/Malom u., Nr. 16
Cluj, Romania
Tel: +40364 101705
Mobile: 0724 209604
common_places is neither an artist collective nor a project, but rather a developing practice — our presentation therefore will be an opportunity to activate the collection — enacting, not representing, the practice.

new host: Vector Gallery in Iasi, Romania

Our next hosts will be the Vector Association, a group of artists in Iasi, Romania — they have invited us to bring the archive to their gallery. Rozalinda Borcila, one of our members, has an exhibiton there and common_places is presented as part of this show. Many thanks to Vector for hosting us in their space. The archive will be there June 2-12

new blog – welcome back!

dear friends

after some trouble with the previous blog, we have managed to migrate most of the posts here. we have also recently created a back-up photo album on flickr, which should (?) contain more images than the ones on this site — any of the thumbnails here will send you to flickr, where you can browse our image sets. apologies for some date inconsistencies or drop-offs, this is a work in progress.

a few words about our interest in blogging:
we are still developing this practice, and found the question of how to represent the project a difficult one. we wish to avoid, at least for the time being if not forever, a representational logic that would overdetermine the work. a blog is not necessarily the perfect answer, perhaps the recent coolness of blogging (isn’t that what all the kids are doing?) it subsumes the work within a very particular logic, and complicates our desire to travel slowly. our active withdrawal from certain strategies of visual representation is not an uncritical engagements with virtual space, as though ideologically neutral. finally, as you may have noticed, our efforts are also marked by our primitive use of canned software, and visually our blog only minimally departs from a prefabricated profile. but we believe in free software, and we are, to be honest, somewhat charmed by the transparency of a canned blog. this site will develop as our relationship with it becomes clarified or complicated. we gladly welcome conversations about this format.

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