311 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002
Lecture: “The Worker, the Militant, and the Monster”
Monday, March 26, 7pm
Over the past 20 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.
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.” This lecture will focus on the visualization of the novel political subjectivities that emerged in 1960s and 1970s Italy. 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 Continua in 1977. Delineated at the end of 15 years of struggle, his political teratology shows how new ideas of subjectivity and agency were refracted through the prism of militant art.