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RentStrike

The aesthetics of the pandemic have come to include views into a precious but controlled world of home decor: clean interiors with an undisturbed view for clear data transmission, designed along the paradigms of a cognitive Zoom labor class’ comfortable minimalism. While this controlled environment is projected during the pandemic, it is a mere disguise to an incoming recession that will be its most immediate and broadest effect. Continually de-monetized through fantastically inflated rents in urban centers, a large coalition gathering around a “Rent Strike“ seeks to build a comprehensive and unmitigated response towards the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and its gross depletion of moments for intervention. This reader aims to help identify places, interiors, and their frameworks as spaces for a new commonality.

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Compiled by Dennis Brzek
8 Essays
From the start of the credit crisis, panic has been caused by what we didn’t know. What happens if a Lehman Brothers is allowed to fail? What happens if toxic mortgage-backed securities are bought through a government bailout? Then, what happens if the U.S. treasury decides not to bail the banks out of these bad debts? So it should have been reassuring that one of the most nerve-racking of the unknowns turned out to be benign. We now know that we should not have feared...
1. Ritualistic Negativity One of the most intriguing tasks of the theme and thesis of this issue of e-flux journal is the imagining and reframing of cultural and aesthetic practice in decidedly post-capitalist terms—that is, as embedded in and engendered by processes of globally networked solidarity, diversity, cooperation, interdependence, and so forth. I would like to begin by supplementing the notion of practice with the notion of design, which may provide the discussion...
What if, rather than speaking or dreaming of an absolute beginning, we speak of a leap? — Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (1846) 1. A couple of months ago I was invited to the historic Polish port city of Gdańsk by the Wyspa Institute of Art, the city’s leading contemporary art center, to participate in a conference on the work of locally-based artist Grzegorz Klaman—the founder, so it happens, of the art institute that was...
1. After the War The writings of Charles Fourier (1772–1837) are a glorious fuck you to all that exists. Yet they are neither punk’s provocation nor the apodictic objectivity of Marxian dialectics, but an enculage of civilization through the filigree work of total world reinvention. Marx complained that Fourier’s utopia was all in his mind, that he was obliged to construct a new society “with elements supplied by his brain” because capitalist production was underdeveloped when he...
In 1990, George Michael released his song “Freedom ’90.” It was a time when everybody was deliriously singing along with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” or the Scorpions’ “Winds of Change,” celebrating what people thought was the final victory of liberty and democracy after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Most abysmal of all these sing-along songs was David Hasselhoff’s live rendition from on top of the Berlin Wall of “Looking for Freedom,” a song describing the trials and tribulations of a rich man’s...
At the end of it all, the Queen defecates—gold bars. The queen in question is Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (and quite a few other places beside), but here she is presented more simply as the “Queen of England,” just like the woman she has been conversing with through the short performance. That woman too is a Queen Elizabeth, or better still, was , since she died in 1603. As befits the dead, perhaps, she doesn’t...

Framelessness is a dream fulfilled as we enter the regime of the minimal within architecture. This is where the aesthetic coding of this place starts to align with the values of car production and kitchen design more than it does with the notion of work or social exchange. The car is the place of individual fulfillment where luxurious materials are deployed towards the crude representation of desire. The advanced kitchen is also a place where cabinetry and appliances start to lose their handles, hinges, and frames. The car and the kitchen are the two legacy aspects of advanced modernism that carry individual desire and have the potential to be replaced. The building under consideration deploys the logic of the car and the kitchen in its aesthetic clues.

Disorientation: We Are Almost There Many of the more prominent artworks produced in the last decade or so are characterized by a recasting of what were once called installations as something closer to interiors, relegating the installation to a supportive role that places meaning in the service of activity. From an artwork spread out everywhere we turn to one that is located very precisely in the features that can be said to make up the space—the walls, the furnishings, the floor...
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