e-flux lectures: Jacopo Galimberti, "The Worker, the Militant, and the Monster: Visualizing Revolutionary Subjectivities in 1960s and 1970s Italy"

Over the past twenty years, and particularly after the publication of Michael Hardt’s and Antonio Negri’s Empire (2000), the radicalism of Italian militants in the 1960s and 1970s has been reappraised by artists, activists, and scholars. However, little has been written about the production of artists who viewed operaismo and autonomia as an inspiring conceptual toolbox and a repository of images and motifs.

In this lecture, Jacopo Galimberti will present some aspects of his research for his forthcoming book – provisionally titled The Workers’ Point of View: Operaismo, Autonomia and the Arts (1961-1988) – revolving around the artists, architects, and graphic designers who appropriated ideas of operaismo and autonomia. In particular, Galimberti will focus on the visualization of the novel political subjectivities that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.

A shared concern of operaismo-minded artists was to devise images that mirrored the material culture of the struggles and the “the workers’ point of view.”  The analysis will unfold in three parts. First, we will examine the drawings that appeared in classe operaia, which is possibly the first operaista magazine. Its iconography of the worker stood in stark contrast with what the main parties of the left had crafted up until that point. The second part will focus on Archizoom’s installation Center for Eclectic Conspiracy, which was, in reality, a cenotaph for Malcolm X. The work engaged with the figure of the political leader and the issue of working-class counterculture in the USA. The third and final part will be devoted to the drawings of Pablo Echaurren that were published in Lotta Continuain 1977. Delineated at the end of fifteen years of struggle, his political teratology shows how new ideas of subjectivity and agency were refracted through the prism of militant art. 

Jacopo Galimberti is a Post-doctoral Fellow of the British Academy at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on postwar art in Western Europe, and he is currently writing a book about operaismoautonomia, and the visual arts. His articles have appeared in several journals such as Art HistoryThe Oxford Art Journal, and Grey Room. He is the author of Individuals Against Individualism: Western European Art Collectives (1956–1969) (Liverpool University Press, 2017).

For more information, contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

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