Mutlitudinario: Excerpts On Multitude And Asymmetry

Juan Pablo Macías

Mutlitudinario: la pregunta por la colectividad y sus formas was a forum celebrated in the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico City with guests curators and artists like Marco Scotini (Italy), John Holloway (Ireland), Juan Martín Prada (Spain), Pilot TV (USA), Víctor Palacios (Mexico) and Radek Community (Russia).

The program was conformed by lectures and the presentation of Disobedience: on ongoing video archive curated by Marco Scotini, with the introduction of the Mexican section with Grupo Suma,1 Mexican art collective from the mid seventies; Pilot TV curated by Emily P. Forman and James Pei-Mun Tsang, and an intervention by Radek Community.

Although the differences between what we acknowledge by "mass" or "multitude", the difference underlying the heterogeneous complexity of the second, the first one, already stated by Canetti, deployed an asymmetry that draws a systematic fall of "separation" of hegemonic structures. Not only physically but also builds temporally, a precarious and spontaneous set of tactics based on, what we could call antagonist syntaxes and epistemes. But we have to understand this antagonist counter-part as a more expanded and chameleonic dissension. The revolt, the becoming of the mass, the riots, as historic venues with a specific context of repression, although as an "undifferentiated mass" for the states intellectuals, still symptoms the latency and multiplicity of horizontalness and affectiveness, as the recursive basis that supports every-time-renovated-tactics-of-dissension that reformulate the terms and contexts in which repression draws its tentacles. Not only on the street, but as well in our artificious private sphere...

For this text I would like to share first some excerpts from other curatorial texts that had followed Multitudinario, and that give form to my curatorial agenda, and then present the original curatorial text and program of the forum of 2005:

Excerpt From Regenerations, Platforms And Utopian Spaces / Regeneration Project No. 2

by Juan Pablo Macías for

For Paolo Virno contemporary production, the post-Ford labor process, is characterized by the "sharing" (in Italian condivisione, which is both sharing and division) of linguistic and cognitive aptitudes, and no longer for technical skill or work professionalization. Language and its performative process become the main tool for economic exchange, in that the division is produced by an overlap between the qualities of work spheres and political praxis. If work was something private and politics required a public and to become a republic, work in the post-Ford era becomes an activity that demands the presence of others,4 without demanding a sphere of the public domain. That is, the kidnapping and economic use of a common good, language, being deployed in private spheres; urban space, the museum, language, become private, become interfaces whose use, access, transit, learning, information and so on, is paid for.

Today art and political action share a common ground with post-Ford work, a common platform: the public5 scene of language in potentially privatized terrain. These tensions between spheres have been producing discussions in relation to the limits between public and private, many times taking as given a certain immovable character of the terms, and ignoring the conversion of public subject into user. The subject is such in his quality of client and ever less so in his quality of republican. Which means this irreversible tension is always present, always negotiating the rules of artistic activity and our ways of life.

Now, if language and its different platforms have as finality its own execution, a process completed at the end of its performance, it is not to relegate repetition (understood as an act that produces difference) to a pure virtuosity,6 to a productless work, but to open language's action also towards the production of objects as a process. To produce as an intensive and uninterrupted act, similar to the oriental strikes based on overproduction as a form of protest. The repudiation of representation in favor of action, as a supposed measure of reality and immediate participation, is annulled when the representational system mutates, demanding new syntactic, semantic and pragmatic analysis, where the process is not obliterated by the product nor in simple action, but rather perpetuated in the reiterated action of production, where intellectual work and political praxis lobby for spaces of liberty both abstract and concrete.

Repeating, dislocating or appropriating an artistic strategy from a platform gone to seed, as would be the discursive platforms of any periphery lacking power, decenters the unilateral discourse of the predominant cultural model, beneath performative chains where action becomes a communicative strategy or an evading dialogue through which we resist or we negotiate, whether actions or objects or cultural spaces of cultural dissent and its irremediable ramification. This dissent, or these dissents, under the Virnean notion of exit7 or defection, as formulations of spontaneous epistemic strategies asymmetric to power structures, as alternatives to the traditional anti-shock practices in the struggle between oppressors and oppressed, co-activate asymmetrically viable alternatives and open laboratories where intellectual activity is continuously reformulated.

The political trend is irreversible and inevitable. If we suppose that our geographic locations, our economies and capacities for dialogue, relegate us to this other, asymmetric in everything, then this asymmetry must be a total one, but within the spaces given for the same artistic practice. Already in itself, many of the practices and strategies used and repeated in the educational and professional art circuit in Mexico imply intellectual mobilizations that for the very fact of being enunciated from this meta-platform called art, but also from this otherness, deny or de-contextualize the dynamics of the terms in the execution of power. Although the form of dissension is not always affirmative, the displaced reflection of a power circuit is.

To think, to reflect from here, or from there, but always become less, become woman, child or latino, is to articulate language from a minority platform, denied and horizontal, projecting oneself in an uninterrupted encounter with the representation system and its different forms of hierarchy, whether within a picture or around a representative democracy (a representation that will always be hegemonic). Thus, intellectual activities are projected as a utopia production machine, heterotopies, which houses, incubates and somatizes something that will be, or that will not stop challenging... (excerpt from REGENERATIONS, PLATFORMS AND UTOPIAN SPACES / Regeneration PROJECT NO. 2 by Juan Pablo Macías for

Excerpt From Bunker Or Not Bunker / For A Subjects Prophylaxis by Juan Regeneración / Órgano Independiente De Combate Sintáctico

At the end we believe we can talk about identity considering two trends: 1) from the progressive atomization of the historic subject under hard and hierarchic forms: friendly forced conversions through a mise-en-scene of normalized or regularized forms of life by, in its moment, the family institution (as the basic nucleus of modern society), the clinic, or any other democratic-representative institution; by the subjective lures that bunkerize the subject-individual into his private sphere, not only into the intimacy of his home, of his perversions, of the electoral urn, of his individual warranties, or of the weekly consultations, but also in the other meaning of the word private, that is to be without voice... the public-less individual in a privatized world. And 2), from the resignifications of sub cultural communities, that there affinity is not established by a series of institutionalized objects, but by the social and political dynamics through which they redistribute their affective intensities in the differences they produce.

To talk about the first subject, lets call him individual, would only produce a series of analysis of the cultural objects through which he exists, of the identitary features through which he recognizes himself, of his bare life through which he gives his vital right to the sovereign, and of his alienated passions (that fills the archive of the modern priest) through which he gives closure to his day.

Deleuze and Guattari say that the mistake of psychoanalysis was to understand the phenomena of the body without organs (CsO) as regressions, projections, ghosts, in function of an image of the body. In that way he only apprehended one side, and substituted a worlds map of intensities by family snapshots, childhood memories and partial objects... (Mil Mesetas: Capitalismo y Esquizofrenia. Pág.: 169). In that way, the reclusion of the subject into his image, hasn't been anything but the fetished trap of a worlds ordering that pretends the same ways of life for every-body. It is in the dissolution of identity, the individual, in which the electoral-weekly distance will be decremented, emphasizing the intensities and dynamics, and not in the hard and institutionalized forms that we mistake with life.

And it is precisely through the affirmation of auto-affections through which the subject discovers itself, a multitudinal and multiple self, that it has managed to change the context in which it is submitted, giving in that way doses of protest, resistance and orgies.... (excerpt from BUNKER OR NOT BUNKER / for a subjects prophylaxis by Juan Regeneración / órgano independiente de combatesintáctico 2006)

MULTITUDINARIO the Question for Collectivity and its Forms


curated by Juan Pablo Macías

Since the beginning of the last century the mass has become an important notion in the understanding of modernity's artistic regime. It has pushed towards a reflection around the production, transmission and reception of the work of art, subjectivity, and above all, towards an ethical regime in all spheres of human practice.

The mass is that temporality completely different to the chronological one, where all the metric and abstract distances between individuals collapse. As Canetti puts it in Mass and Power, "Only together they can liberate themselves from their burden of distance. In the discharge, every separation is eliminated and everybody feels the same. In this density, where you can hardly observe spaces between them, each body is as close to the others as it is to itself. That's how you get an immense relief. In search of this happy moment, where no one is more, no one better then the other, men become mass". It is in this polarity, between men becoming mass and the collective-democratic self, an entity with a defined profile, where social, industrial, urban and epistemic organizations are updated in a negotiation table between opposite terms. In that happy moment this oppositional logic between terms ceases to exist. The proposal of new logics and grammars over reality become possible, thus allowing for the collapse of the notion of antagonism and the construction of new dynamics and politics.

From this context, the terms public, collective, democracy, etc., are twisted by an eventuality of a different nature, by a fall of structural distance. If we take in account that a theoretical apprehension of what happens in the mass obeys to a different order, how does the mass push towards new artistic strategies, to different social organizations, to new subjectivities and epistemes, to a consciousness about the heterogeneity of the mass not based on difference?

We are interested in the way the multitude (as an eventuality constituted by different singularities), is captured theoretically. What are the points of convergence and divergence between a massified subject and a collective-democratic subject.

Multitudinario underlies the necessity to reflect on the points of encounter of the multitude and the forms of the democratic and technological filters applied to it. To question ourselves for the multitude is to question the forms of collectivity, democracy, technique and above all, of social relations and the notion of alienated subjectivity implicit in all environments of human activities. To question ourselves for the multitude is to question the processes of identification and definition of class and the practice and critical postures in regard to these antagonist movements. To question ourselves for the collectivity is to question the efficiency of contemporary artistic strategies and cultural legitimating. To question ourselves for collectivity is to question ourselves for the submission of humanity to the economical and epistemic determinations of the capitalist logic.


An ongoing video library

A project by Marco Scotini

8th - 30th September 2005

Disobedience is a video station and a platform of discussion dealing with the relationship between artistic practices and political action. It developed from a co-operation between Sala de Arte Publico Siqueiros (SAPS) and Play__gallery for still and motion pictures (Berlin) on the occasion of Multitudinario Forum. Conceived as a diverse and constantly changing archive, the project represents a guide to the geography of civil disobedience, from the social struggles in Italy in 1977 to the recent anti-globalisation protests before and after Seattle. The project is also an atlas of the plurality of resistance tactics such as direct action, counter-information and biological resistance. By setting in motion different signs and situations, Disobedience is presented as a network of open topics, brought together by artists, activists, film producers, philosophers and political groups. Each of them was invited to create a separate section by involving other artists, documents, political magazines, cheap offset printing, ephemera, etc.. Disobedience was designed as a long-term work-in-progress and as such can only be presented as a non-comprehensive and provisional archive, intended to grow and expand gradually over time and space along following steps, involving local situations and from time to time requiring new, heterogeneous forms of display..

Disobedience was presented in Berlin at Play Gallery and Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in collaboration with Transmediale 05 (January-February 2005), in Prague at Prague Biennale 2 (May-September 2005), in St. Petersburg at Manifesta Journal Discussion (July 2005).

We specially thanks the collaboration of Prometeo Associazione Culturale per l'Arte Contemporánea.

Alterazioni Video, Delphine Bedel, Franco Berardi (Bifo), Beth Bird, Black Audio Film Collective, Jota Castro, CAT-group, Chto delat? / What is to be done?, La Comunitaria TV, Critical Art Ensemble (CAE), Deep Dish Television, Dodo Brothers, Etcétera..., Marcelo Expósito, Harun Farocki, Ronith Gitelman & José Ignacio Lezcano, Alberto Grifi, Grupo de Arte Callejero (GAC), Guerrillavision, Indymedia, kanalB, Gianni Motti, Non-Governmental Control Commission, OUT (Office for Urban Transformation), Radek Community, Oliver Ressler, Herbert Reyes, Pierre-Olivier Rollin, Paula Roush (msdm), Paola Salerno, Ernesto Salmeron, Hito Steyerl, Socialist Resistance, The Yes Men, Tute Bianche, Andrei Ujica, Ultra-red, Videoteppisti, Dmitry Vilensky, Paolo Virno, Peter Watkins, Wayruro...

Grupo Suma as a contribution by Juan Pablo Macías

Pilot TV: Feminist Autonomy and Trespass

Presented by / Presentado por James Pei-Mun Tsang and Emily Forman

This lecture and video screening presents new work from a community of feminist and queer cultural workers, who encourage visible power through their intellectual projects. As marginalized communities, we are often located to the edge of difference, and are likely to reject the mainstream. At same time we sometimes want to recognize, to feel belonging, and walk in safety. The strategies of declaration are an ongoing, onstage sacrifice, to make complex concerns radically accessible in the name of coalition-building.

Pilot Television represents an experiment to engage with the public television format. As a cross-discipline video project, Pilot involves collaborative synthesis under the heading of feminist trespass. The philosophy is to create a convergent environment where artists, media activists, and all kinds of border crossers can collaborate and share strategies. Additionally, as a site for performance and polemic capital-free zone, Pilot functions to generate new perversions out from under the expected regimes resistance.

Artists / Artistas: Math Bass, A.K. Burns, Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy, Tara Mateik, Marriage, Ulrike Muller, Megan Palaima, Stephen Remington, Emily Roysdon & LankaTattersall.

Radek Community

Is a group of artists, cultural activists, authors, musicians established in 1997 in Moscow. Right from the start, the group has made its mark with its political, highly critical urban interventions, such as the occasion during the 1999 electoral campaign when they burst into the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square waving a banner bearing the words Against All. In 2002 they showed at "MANIFESTA 4", Frankfurt/Main. In 2003 they participated in Utopia Station of the Biennale di Venezia, 50. In the same year they staged a real hunger strike in Beautiful Banners of the First Prague Biennale. They participated on Collective Creativity: Common Ideas for Life and Politics, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel 2005. They had their latest solo show Re-action in Play__gallery for still and motion pictures 2006, and Radek Invasion, in Prometeo Arte Contemporanea in Lucca 2005.


  1. GRUPO SUMA was an artistic collective born in the academy of San Carlos in Mexico City under the teaching of Ricardo Rocha. During 1976 until 1982, Grupo Suma questioned Muralisms legacy as well as the Revolution of 1910, both institutionalized into hegemonic national discourse. Their name was an explicit answer to the generations rupture with the trend of individual art practice, instead they proposed that a summon of people would produce a higher degree of intellectual production. As well as Suma there were several collectives, so called ¨groups¨, like Taller Arte e Ideología (TAI) mobilized by Alberto Hijar at the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (SAPS), Proceso Pentagono, Tepito Arte Aca, Tetrahedro, and many others that during 1977 assisted with a high degree of political action and contestation to the Biennial of Young Art at Paris. Muralism and Revolution, as reflections and actions from the above, now institutionalized into a high level not-for-everybody-space, were in some how transformed by Grupo Suma into a street practice where paint, later on stencils, graffiti, posters, artist books, installations with recycled material, documentation of actions and many other manifestations, took the form of an ephemeral apparatus engaging, transforming and adapting art practice and space into a spontaneous public domain of resistance. Grupo Suma marks a paradigm living in oblivion but latent in Mexican contemporary art production. The revival of an interest in the relation between art and politics, emphasizes the need to set revisions of past utopias in order to create incessant realizations of liberty. Grupo Suma is one of our era's links between modern art practices and what we could call post-artistic practices, where the production and reception of the work of art, as well of a geographic displacement, sets up new forms of engaging with social reality.

  2. Paolo Virno. Gramática de la Multitud. Ediciones Colihue. Buenos Aires. 2003. p 45.

  3. Public in terms of the public character of something.

  4. Virtuosity: something that requires a public and that is complete at the end of its performance. Such as a musician, a speaker, an actor, an actionism, etc. (Paolo Virno. Ibid. p. 45.)

  5. ...exodus. Breeding ground of disobedience are the social conflicts that are manifested not only and not just as protest, but rather as defection... as exit... Nothing is less passive than an escape, an exodus. Defection modifies the conditions in which protest takes place before presupposing them to be an immovable horizon... the context in which the problem is inserted changes... (Paolo Virno. Gramática de la Multitud. Ediciones Colihue. Buenos Aires. 2003. p. 72.)