Culture Wars/La Colonie


As Futurity Report is making its way through reopened bookstores and online retailers, another edited volume has just arrived from the printer’s: Deserting from the Culture Wars, which comes out of the project I did with BAK last November, and which is co-published by BAK and MIT Press. The book won’t actually hit stores before October, but it can be preordered. Editing this volume sometimes felt like Achilles racing the tortoise, as it seemed impossible to keep up with events. Even so, as the culture wars keep raging (now with face masks being added to the arsenal), I think the book’s urgency and pertinence have only increased.


One text is, sadly, a document of a bygone era: in his essay in Deserting from the Culture Wars, Kader Attia expounds the thinking behind La Colonie, the decolonial space he founded near the Gare du Nord in Paris. By now, La Colonie is no more; it did not survive the corona lockdown. For me, in the last few years La Colonie has been one of a handful of art and cultural spaces in Europe whose practice define and transform the moment. Kader and the team created and curated a montage of positions and practices that was more than the sum of its parts, and at its best went beyond the simulation of dialogue or confrontational one-upmanship. The whole thing amounted to a generative social sculpture that the likes of Beuys and Hirschhorn can only dream of.


To help the team “open a new La Colonie space in Paris or its banlieue,” you can make a donation on one of the following platforms:

Ettore Sottsass and the Social Factory

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From the “apocalypse in slow motion” that is Miami, Gean Moreno informs me that the publication accompanying his exhibition Ettore Sottsass and the Social Factory is finally out. The publisher, Prestel, touts the book as a “revelatory collection of essays by leading thinkers in the fields of political theory, economics, the media, design history, and cultural theory”—but, in a kind of lateral dick move, they do not deign to name any of said thinkers. I suppose I must be one of them, as I contributed an essay titled “From the Imaginist Bauhaus to Olivetti: Ettore Sottsass between Proto-Situationism and Post-Fordism.” Sara Cattin provided essential research assistance in Italy, and equally necessary translation services.

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I’m not that frequently invited to write substantial monographic texts (and given the time to do it), so I’m very grateful to Gean for making this possible. I have no doubt that this book will be a remarkable resource. Gean is also the editor of the recent-ish Verso volume In the Mind But Not From There: Real Abstraction and Contemporary Art, to which I likewise contributed.

Images: The Elea 9300 computer installed at the Monte dei Paschi bank, early 1960s; model office with Olivetti Synthesis Sistema 45 furniture, Florence 1971 (photo: Gabriele Basilico).