The Art of Disruption: Thoughts On An Abstract Life in a Concrete World

Scott McGehee (EN)

The double bind of modern life presents itself as a convergence of a radical individuation of life subsumed within totalizing social structures. That is to say, we grasp our own individual essence as autonomous and free yet we function as units within a larger system: without content, easily manipulated and without real individuality.  Indeed, it is precisely the universal imposition of a radical individuation that is itself totalizing; it is its precondition. At first glance this may sound like double speak, but if we realize that the primary function of power is to define the subject then we must ask how the subject is defined and by what or by whom? “The most efficient oppressor,” writes Terry Eagleton, “is the one who persuades his underlings to love, desire and identify with his power: and any practice of political emancipation thus involves that most difficult of all forms of liberation: freeing ourselves from ourselves.” In our functional daily life—work, commerce, exchange of every sort (civil society)–we imagine ourselves as egotistical individuals, independent atoms so to speak, each striving to attain a toehold in a competitive world where every other atom is a potential tool to be instrumentalized for our own success and, conversely, we might expect to be instrumentalized by others.  Yet, in truth, it is precisely here that we function communally in a primarily cooperative world that appears to be essentially a competitive world. This is a distorted form of communality to be sure.  By contrast, in the world of politics (political society), where we believe ourselves to be communal beings with strong identities as citizens—and any of the identities of race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, etc.–we are in fact atoms, characterless units stripped by these abstraction of any concrete (real) existence. We experience ourselves as abstractions. This dualism is one of the principle characteristics of the modern age and it is the basis of a mechanism that enables power to operate from the inside out; it enable the coal miner to identify his interests with that of a Billionaire, it enables millions to willingly give up their own freedoms as protection from fabricated fears, it enables the mid-west farmer to fear the Jew, the Muslim and immagrant.  The greatest challenge today is to avoid becoming part of the very crimes we denounce though involuntary complicity and consensus. This means, first and foremost, rejecting the dualism that tears us apart by imposing a life of abstraction onto a concrete life; this begins with a radical refusal, it begins by rejecting the discourse of power itself.  If we oppose the tyrant (Trump?) only to embrace his political opponent then we trap ourselves in the hall of mirrors, and we will be lost. Even the noblest causes are fraught with dangers of entrapment. We are all for “equal wages for equal work” I presume, but in the struggle to achieve such goals, are we not reinforcing a system of exploitation, the right to be exploited equally; does this not suggest that capitalism can be managed ethically.  I agree with Adorno on this futility; “A wrong life,” he writes, “cannot be lived rightly.” Art, I believe, can play a role in breaking the power of abstraction. Art’s point of departure is always the concrete sensual rather than the abstract conceptual.Hans-Thies Lehmann suggests some important direction that the artist might take regarding political art.

Firstly: The political can appear only indirectly in the theatre, at an oblique angle, mode oblique. And secondly: The political has an effect in the theatre if and only if it is in no way translatable or re-translatable into the logic, syntax, and terminology of the political discourse of social reality. What then follows, thirdly, is the seemingly paradoxical formula that the political of the theatre must be conceived not as a reproduction of the political, but as its interruption.  Post-Dramatic Theatre

We are beyond tweaking the system, beyond an adjustment here or a correction there; only a truly radical approach can lift the veil of self-imposed subservience.  The world is accelerating without pause and no adjustment will slow it, we are, it seems, careening towards self-destruction. Hyperbole? Maybe.

CrisisART come un contenitore

SIlvia dipintoSilvia Argilli

“Non riuscivo a capire fino in fondo cosa fosse il Crisis Art Festival finchè non l’ho immaginato come un contenitore. Come una zuppiera. Una raccolta di ingredienti. Un cucinare senza una ricetta precisa ma le cui uniche parole d’ordine sono “crisi” e“arte”.

Funziona così. Ognuno porta il suo ingrediente. Che tu sia un perfomer, un attore, un danzatore, un artista visivo, un comunicatore, uno che ha qualcosa da dire sul conflitto o sulla crisi in generale; che tu sia qualcuno che ha voglia di capire, confrontarsi, aprire un colloquio e un confronto, vedere, conoscere, scoprire o anche solo ascoltare. Senza limiti. Ecco. Chiunque tu sia, se hai interesse a stare in questo contenitore sei il benvenuto.

Gli ingredienti si mescolano e cuociono per cinque giorni in un luogo meraviglioso senza conoscere il risultato. Non si sa se verrà fuori un piatto dolce o un piatto salato, se sarà commestibile, troppo cotto o sciocco.

Quello che si sa è che la partecipazione al processo è il punto vitale. Che ci sarà una crescita. Cucinare insieme: questo è il punto. La ricchezza è in questa azione. Con la consapevolezza che ogni ingrediente è buono e valido. Che la tua visione è importante. Che il tuo pensiero è rilevante. Che TU sei l’ingrediente.

La crisi è crescita. Ce lo ripetiamo e ce lo ripetono da anni. E’ faticoso crederlo, è faticoso starci dentro, alla crisi. E’ fonte di complessità per le nostre vite, per la nostra professione e per il nostro sentire personale. Ma non siamo soli a starci. E’ una crisi condivisa. Un’opportunità da condividere. Si può decidere se affrontarla a porte chiuse o ad occhi aperti.

Il Crisis Art Festival ha infatti come mission:

To bring together performing artists and activists from around the world to discuss the arts, economics, and everything in between.

Perciò è questo che il Festival vuole: riunire artisti performativi ed attivisti da tutto il mondo per discutere di economia, arte e tutto ciò che sta nel mezzo.

Un’opportunità unica e viva, creativa e collettiva.

Il Crisis Art Festival è infatti interamente organizzato dal Collettivo CrisisArt, “un’organizzazione di artisti ed attivisti che riconoscono la vitale importanza di trovare momenti di impegno al di fuori del quadro istituzionale o finanziario”istituzionale e finanziario.”

Un contenitore, un processo, un’opportunità.

Aperta a tutti.”

CrisisART as a container

Silvia Argilli


I couldn’t understand what Crisis Art Festival was until I started imagining it as a container, as a soup pot. A collection of ingredients. An action of cooking without a specific recipe, where the only two key words are “crisis” and “art”.

Everyone brings their own ingredient. You can be a performer, an actor, a dancer, a visual artist, a comunication expert, someone who has something to talk about, about conflict or crisis in general. You can be someone who wants to better understand, to open a discussion, to see, to discover, to look deeply or just to listen. Without any limits. Whoever you are, if you are interested in being part of this container, you’re more than welcome to do so.

The ingedients are mixed and cooked for five days in a beautiful place without knowing the result of the recipe. It might be a salty dish or a cake, it can be eatable or not, it can be fried or flavour silly.

What we know is that the participation in the process is the vital point for the main goal, which is growth. Cooking together, this is the point. Richness embodies this action. With the counciousness that every ingredient is good and valid, your vision is important, your ideas and toughts are relevant: YOU are the ingredient.

“Crisis is growth”. We repeat this ad nauseam, and everyone around us is repeating it, the same thing for years. It’s hard to believe, it’s hard to stay in it, in the crisis. It’s a source of complexity for our lives, our professionalities and our feelings and emotional world. But we are not alone. It’s a shared crisis, an opportunity to share. We can decide to deal with it alone, behind closed doors or, together with our eyes open.

The mission of Crisis Art Festival is: “To bring together performing artists and activists from around the world to discuss the arts, economics, and everything in between” and this is exactly what the Festival wants to create.

A unique, alive, creative and collective opportunity.

The Crisis Art Festival is in fact entirely organized by the CrisisArt Collective, an organization of Artists and Activists who recognize the vital importance of finding moments of engagement outside of the framework of institutional and financial domination.

A container, a process , an opportunity.

Open to all.


For artists and activists who would like to publish an article on the Crisis Art website please contact us by writing to


15th of January 2017, Scott Dickinson McGehee (EN)
The financial crisis of 2008—now being referred to as the “Great Recession”— seems destined to mark the beginning of a long durèe of instability and uncertainty of every sort: economic, political, environmental, social and personal. Ours is an age in which the pillars of meaning, which tenuously made sense of the world yesterday–are today crumbling. The neo-liberal doctrine, that the unbridled pursuits of personal gain works for the benefit of all, seems embarrassingly naïve today. Indeed, we live in a strange world. Trapped in a bizarre dance of progress and regress; we are simultaneously inundated by the appearance of ever-new technological wonders paired with the relentless decomposition of the social fabric. Isn’t one the advertisement for the other, forever promising a bright future with the next innovation before its too late? The flash points of this developing crisis greet us each morning as image after image appears to us as a phantasmagoric display of human misery: the children of refugees washed up on Italian shores, militarized police attacking peaceful protesters in Dakota, apocalyptic cityscapes in the Middle East. The endless list overwhelms our sense of empathy to the point of numbness and slowly we begin to experience a slow death through our own dehumanization.
What can we do in a world that appears more menacing with each day? The lucky retreat into the imagined safety of home and hearth, others by withdrawing from the “grid,” a growing number by experimenting with alternative modes of living, others through the direct confrontation with power itself. At this stage it is impossible to say what is a “correct” response; we are all experimenting. There are so many issues that warrant our urgent attention it seems quite impossible to find the starting point. But we must. We really have no alternative.


December 2016, Novi Sad, Nhandan Chirco (IT)

Tempo staccato – staccato dal lavoro e dagli impegni familiari, staccato alle prove e le performance che mi tengono in vita. Il viaggio inizia al Romagna Center di Savignano, comincia banalmente con l’acquisto dell’attrezzatura – zaino, tenda, sacco a pelo, pila elettrica e un quadernino giallo per i contatti.


Quelli che vorrebbero essere altrove – migrando – e invece sono abbandonati e custoditi ostinatamente nel parossismo schizofrenico e paradossale della politica europea sulla gestione dei confini. Quelli che ora sono l’umanità nella sua semplice realtà, senza mistificazioni, senza privilegi, senza parola. Ma con la forza delle azioni. Quelli che ora sono dentro il mio cuore, speranza e bellezza oltre e grazie a ogni differenza. E i compagni. Quelli che amo e rispetto perché sono lì, nel posto dove ha senso essere adesso. Gli altri sono lontani, stanno dentro i teatri, nei musei, nei locali, nelle stanze, nelle analisi sull’arte, l’attivismo, i vizi dei militanti, la complessità, l’impotenza, le contraddizioni, soprattutto alla fine il proprio scorrere meccanico del tempo incollati spalle al muro dal piccolo universo di se stessi e quei pochi intorno con cui si condividono gusti e linguaggi e gestualità.

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