Society for Cultural Anthropology
Society for Humanistic Anthropology
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
I begin with a form, an activity, and a sensation. Some years ago I began to collect small objects of printed matter: pamphlets, zines, manifestos, and so on. I was enthralled by their riotous, fragmented, palpable, and sprawling forms that emerged out of and were linked to cultural worlds not always already wedded to commodified and/or instrumental reason. Then I wrote two pieces for a zine-like art book which took courage because I had not learned to write in zine-like ways. Here I begin from within the midst of these experiences to approach the enchanting sensations and moods I – together with others – associate with modes of creating and writing not necessarily attached to uncomplicated modes of realism and documentation. If forms and designs are integral to world-making, then what kind of forms can we imagine to produce an “otherwise” into being?
The small-scale newspapers produced by the Russian political art collective chto delat’ (what needs to be done) signal the form through I envision an answer to this question. On the one hand the collective’s self-produced paper indexes a conventional representational form: it is compact, folded, and appears in print. On the other hand, it is sensuous, joyful, and non-expedient because it is distributed for free. In moving the analysis out of the realm of critique into realms of rapture and wonder, I seek to capture the ability of form to enchant.