We are facing a crisis the likes of what we have never witnessed (political, and economic, but first and foremost, cultural). But who exactly do I mean by We? Well, according to the prolific online writer Umair Haque, it is ‘Us’ right ‘here’ (a place that cannot but see itself as the centre) in the English-speaking world. With its anti-socialist ideology that is so wedded to the idea that pure market freedom equals pure freedom per-se (and thus must be the best possible system), as its functionality seems to have congealed with crisis, “the English-speaking World is The New Soviet Union.”
Haque, like many jaded Americans who can still see stains of social democracy in the European fabric that we here are blind to, sees the current American nation as a lost cause, whilst holds out hope for the other Anglo-Saxon countries. But perhaps whilst Haque’s American perspective helps him see still existing stains of our faded socialism, he cannot see the deeper dye of Christian values that are more surface level in his own country. This conservatism has always been one part of the UK’s great social torsion with the nature of capitalist exploitation. But I wonder for how much longer.
An unprecedented amount of scandals are rising to the surface, the tax evasions are the most recent, but are totally overshadowed by the deluge of reports of sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by individuals in positions our society underlines with trust and reverence.
I would argue that it has been caused by a three-way collision of trajectories all fueled on the rocket fuel that is capitalist culture in the ‘always on/always exposed-to age: the unprecedented exposure of corruptions that go on at the pressure points of high power and high pressure, first, colliding with the enlightenment principles of transparency, and secondly colliding with a culture that still holds true to Christian notions of what ‘sin’ is.
A painful, but necessary transformation has never felt so urgent. But left to the impulses propagated by deep-seated media tendencies, we seem to be hysterically heading towards a new age of show trials. The hysteria is tangible: “who is the next monster to be unveiled?” But where will such impulses lead us to?
I’m sorry, but anybody who is interpreting what I’m saying as acceptance of the institutionalized misogyny, and exploitation of people in vulnerable places, really has got the totally wrong end of the warning flare I’m waving around here. A crisis solved by ripping the plaster off as fast as possible is to allow blood to gush like never witnessed.
To ignore the male prison within patriarchy, to ignore that squeezing of desires into opposing sides; and then to ignore the extreme humiliations at one end of the male camp and them extreme lust for power at the other end that underpins the past 40 years, and then (!) to ignore the Pandora’s box opened by the capitalist cyber-sphere is to say, “I’d rather hysterically finger-point, and just hope the finger never turns on myself”.
A lot of men who have been made socially, and thus existentially limbless creatures, lunge out misogynistically into the mire of the patriarchal wasteland, before turning the violence back in on themselves. Whilst the men with all the power are slowly incriminating themselves, the men with no power are slowly committing suicide. With the advent of our ‘always on/always bearing-witness’ technologies, we are within a machine that stops at nothing to monsterise us. And the ghost of an Enlightened liberalism responds by saying “you don’t have to buy into it”. But this ghost is running out of bodies to possess.
Under Soviet state crises everybody was expendable for the cause; under extreme Anglo Saxonism everybody is held individually responsible for the crises. If we allow our deep-seated media structure to guide our impulses we face the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Stalin’s show trials, where everybody is forever watching their back from an out of control justice system that will become indistinguishable from a mob.
That our current cultural structures are utterly dysfunctional in the face of the conditions that have been thrown up by this collision is the biggest understatement of 2017. I’d argue that beyond our reactions, there is a post-crisis stage that the painful transformation the internet age has precipitated could arrive us at. It’s the hardest path to take in the long run, but my word it is the better one; the one where we, to quote the brilliant words of Yorkshire poet Gav Roberts, we can Put All Weapons Down. And That means fully-loaded penises as well as fully-loaded guns. I suspect the sense of liberation this would allow for, would make owning your own gun seem laughable.
The Manifesto for The Just-about-managing (2017, mixed media on paper)
The Manifesto for The just-about-managing is explicitly propaganda; it is propaganda for a kind of future that is worth living in for humankind. Surely this is not a disingenuous aim?
This is the final work I’ll finish before I begin studying a Masters part-time. Most of my most recent works have attempted to make my jaded idealism manifest itself, finding a way of expressing a conviction that the darkest of times can conversely be the times when the brightest of futures are galvanized. This is because over the past few years I’ve begun to feel that the only route possible except for oblivion borne of war and ecological collapse is one that harnesses the wealth of knowledge we have accumulated for a common purpose – no matter how long and painful that road is. It’s what I’ve been calling The Hope of The Nihilized.
It’s hard to remind yourself of this when the nihilism finally demolishes your spirit when the day in hand has done you . The goal I’ve set myself for this MA is the goal I’ve realised everything has to lead to: to fight through pessimism and depressive solitary pleasure seeking borne from burnout, to ignore the demons of the spirit so to work more with others, and to use whatever tools I may have as part of a constructive collective project I can’t even see yet.
And to be honest it’s a big ask, and towards the completion of the work the negativity from the exhaustion of workaday anxieties has crept over my spirit, and I was propping up its completion with cans of cider, a story readers familiar with this blog will know too well.
The Manifesto For The just-about-managing is the manifesto of depression. The sense you get when you turn on the news and text scrolls past you stoking fear of Other, whilst eclipsing Otherness – an ability to think beyond the norm. Its the sense you get when the sparks of political optimism in the spring of a new year disappear under the white noise of consumerist commands in the deadness of mid-seasons.
The Manifesto For The just-about-managing argues against all naive goodwill; promotes the pursuit of happiness only in loneliness. It screams at us to enjoy but yet creates a structure to cope with the scattered fallout of depressive-pleasure-seeking, or (as I prefer), dead-end pleasure-seeking.
It’s what makes you cynical of everything; cynical of climate change, cynical of good-will to others.
It is all that makes you reach for your drug of choice, because ‘there’s nowt you can do’.
Yet, the drawing is an argument that a miserable status quo is becoming harder and harder to maintain. The toxicity of the manner in which we are pumped up like battery farm chickens on information isn’t just making us into the consumer addicts of the 20th century, but soundbite addicts, super-aware of just how disagreeable the status-quo of things is. We know too much to be content. We have seen too much for our well-being. We are becoming deeply unwell as the structures built to make reassuring sense of life dissolve. We don’t need another Hiroshima, because it is happening in our heads. The interior landscape is being forced to recompose itself, and its craving for a new horizon is being suppressed by the Manifesto For the Just-about-managing. But below the crust the earth is moving.
The Manifesto For the Just -about-managing is being bombarded by more and more proof of its stupidity and folly. This piece of work is like no other I have made before, and I have used as many of the most telling quotes as I could find. Due to this, it is also like an essay, which means I have had to list my reference points. Which are below:
The Coming ’17, Franco (Bifo) Berardi
Art and Revolution, John Berger
The Soul and The Operator, Expressen, John Berger
Pascalian Revelations, Pierre Bourdieu
Culture Design Labs – Evolving the Future, Joe Brewer
The Look and Feel of 21st Century Science – Joe Brewer
Injustice, Danny Dorling
Humans are Most Atrocious When We Live under The Weight of Great Inequalities, Darling Dorling
Is Inequality Bad For The Environment?, Danny Dorling
Abandon Hope (Summer is Coming), Mark Fisher
Good For Nothing, Mark Fisher
What We are Fighting For, A Radical Collective Manifesto, Mark Fisher
Four Futures – Life after Capitalism, Peter Frase
We Already Grow Enough Food to Feed 10 Billion People – And Still Can’t End Hunger, Eric Holt Gimenez
The End of The American Experiment – Bad Words – Umar Haque
The Likely Cause of Addiction has been Discovered, and it’s not What You Think, Johann Hari
A Storm is Brewing in Paradise, Dalarna University lecture, Dougald Hine
David Graeber interview: ‘So many people spend their working lives doing jobs they think are unnecessary’, Stuart Jeffries
London, Patrick Keiller, BFI
This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs Climate Change, Naomi Klein
The Robots are Coming, John Lanchester
The Case For Despair is Made. Now Let’s Try To Get out The Mess We’re in, George Monbiot
Neoliberalism is Creating Loneliness, That’s What’s Wrenching Society apart, George Monbiot.
Sick of this market-driven world? You should be, George Monbiot
The Age of Loneliness is Killing us, George Monbiot
Philosophy and Human Values, lectures, Rick Roderick
Capital’s Hunger in Abundance, Andrew Smolksi
Island Story: Journeys Around Unfamiliar Britain, JD Taylor
Super-intelligence and eternal life: transhumanism’s faithful follow it blindly into a future for the elite, Alexander Thomas
We are all very anxious , We Are Plan C
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Do Better, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
Inventing The Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work, Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek
“The Art of Menschlichkeit…Some works from the Treadwell Collection and Related Art. Opening Sunday 29th January from 2 till 6 pm
Two of my older works ‘People Factory’ (2008), and ‘We are Watching Ourselves Sink’ (2009) will be on show as part of The Art of Menschlichkeit (‘the human condition’ – English)…Some works from the Treadwell Collection and Related Art. Opening Sunday 29th January from 2 till 6 pm
Kirchengasse 4; A – 4160 AIGEN; AUSTRIA; Tel: +43 (0) 7281 20000 or Mobile: +43 (0)664 3449543
I have three works in the open exhibition at The Old Market Gallery in central Rotherham. A town of a 1/4 million people, which has possibly been let down by the powers that be more than my home town Barnsley. I don’t often visit the town, normally spending time in nearby Sheffield when I travel this way. But when I do I feel a massive grievance for a place this size to be given such little, especially in regards to transport infrastructure – which is appalling when you take into consideration how the place now actually makes up a large part of a continuous South Yorkshire urban sprawl of possibly over 700,000 people.
I’m exhibit 3 pieces. ‘Whilst We Were in The Eternal Now…’ from 2014
‘Debtland’ from 2015
And my most recent piece ‘Hope of The Nihilized’
If you are passing, or fancy going out of your way to visit, here are the details:
The open exhibition runs until Saturday 17th December
The gallery opens 11-3, Tuesday to Saturday
Market St, Rotherham S60 1NU
This month 10 years ago I made a breakthrough within my work. The disjointed, erratic visuals that I was using to give myself voice suddenly came together. It was the first term of my final year of my BA degree. I can honestly say this breakthrough, and the momentum it was generating, made this one of the most special, if not the most special point in my life so far. Waged work, and the inevitable social pressures such environments put on you have tested my sense of self worth over the following years. But although I may not own, or even rent my own property, have a highly valued job, or a partner in crime as I head further into my 30s, I’ve still got my artwork. It’s still ploughing on.
Novmber 2006 to November 2016
This is our video documentary, crafted and produced by Connor Matheson/DEADIDEA Productions. It accompanied our recent exhibition. Please take a look.
A Grief That’s Been Gagged and Buried (2016, mixed media on A3)
I don’t know when you could say such a time began (maybe at some point during the past decade or even earlier?), but I sense we are overdue some grieving time. And that’s because our civilisation (specifically our faith in a capitalist model – one based on exponential growth – to bring well-being and prosperity) has died. Grief is a natural process in order that we can rehabilitate so as to move on to the next stage of life, but it has been emphatically denied us. Its existence has been denied, and the denial has been played out in a turbo-charging forwards with the persistence of now-dead beliefs. And look at the pain that it is causing; to be forced to work harder for something deep down we know is not only going nowhere, but is in a process of perpetual deterioration. It has made knowing-zombies out us, an anxious-undead, clutching our Iphones, trying to climb out of the daily dread. But it has to give-way at some point. More and more of us are suffering under the psychological strain of knowing we will have to work harder and harder for diminishing returns from a dead/dying system, and all around you can see people cracking up. Nobody knows what this outcome will finally lead to, but there is potential for a rebuilding, not so much physically, but culturally. However, right now we are in need of an healing process.
This work will feature in the Wakefield Redshed section of Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain
Fighting For Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is a group of artists from Yorkshire working amidst the after-effects of Austerity Britain 2.0.
The project was inspired by the film ‘Invisible Britain’ (based on the work of Sleaford Mods) that looks at overlooked UK towns and cities, and motivated by a request to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘The RedShed’ (Wakefield Labour Club). The event is based in Sheffield and Wakefield and explores the position of art, and artists, in a period when we are all being pressured to ‘strive’ for crumbs – a time when wages are low, and the market dictates creativity
Monday 8 August: Opening night. 6:30 – 9pm
Friday 12 August. Music and poetry night. 6:30 – 9 pm
Saturday 13 August. 1Pm onwards. Film-viewing, and talk by JD Taylor
Normal gallery opening times: 8 August – 13 August, 7-11pm (call 01924215626 to check room is not in use).
Here are photographs of my exhibition ‘Under Digital Rain’, curated by John Wright. Held at the Bowery Gallery, Headingley, Leeds, it runs until 29th July.
Gallery opening times
Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 18:00
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
54 Otley Road
The World-Wide Oneupmanship (2016, 8X4ft, mixed media on paper)
Title of work below: £$[We]€$[Can’t]$£[Take]£€[Any]$€[More!!]$£ (2016)
Titles of works in image below (from left to right): Gimme Shelter [Closure No1] (2015); The Self[ie] Under Siege (2015); “Sad, LONELY, Frightened” (2015); Drainage System (2016); Tired of Life/I Want to Leave Myself [Closure No2] (2016); NoteToSelf2016; The Capacity to Care (Closure No5) (2016); A Cognitive Austerity (2015); A Deep Paralysis (2016); Hunger Games Darwinism (2016); Bound up in Binary (2016); “Can We Stop now, Please?”; I am Becoming Nothing (Closure No3) (2015).
The World-Wide Oneupmanship (2016, 8X4ft, mixed media on paper)