research and exhibition at MIT 2011
November 5th, 2011

Protesting Capitalist Globalization

This section is about the new social movements against capitalist globalization, from the demonstrations of Seattle in 1999 to the G8 protest in Heiligendamm in 2007. What we might call the ‘Anti-Summit’ has emerged as the most visible expression of the global Multitude. It has given rise to new mobile, temporary and heterogeneous international communities. Some of the videos in this section seek to counter the supposedly objective portrayal of these protest movements by the mainstream media, re-instating radical left-wing perspectives through various techniques of self-representation.

Works by: Oliver Ressler (born 1970, lives and works in Vienna) and Zanny Begg (born 1972, lives and works in Sidney), Marcelo Expósito (born 1966, lives and works in Barcelona), Beth Bird (lives and works in Los Angeles, USA), The Department of Space and Land Reclamation with StreetRec.,  The Institute for Applied Autonomy, Las Agencias and AffectTech/BikeWriters (active in 2002, Chicago).


1) Marcelo Exposito

First of May (the City-Factory)/Primero de Mayo (la ciudad-fábrica), 2004

B/W and color, Mini DV transferred to DVD, 61 min

In the video Primero de mayo (la ciudad-fábrica) – Mayday  (The city-factory) – 2004 the Spanish artist speaks with the Italian philosopher Paolo Virno about the metaphor of “virtuosity” as a precondition of current forms of labour and new political movements. The film traces the development from Fordism to post-Fordism as exemplified in the restructuring of the Lingotto/Fiat plant in Turin and then focuses closely on the work of the Italian chainworkers group and its activities during the Mayday festivities in Milan. Its hostile intervention in the “institution of the first of May”, i.e in the historical, political and symbolic space occupied by the conflicts associated with the concept of labour, is an indication of the existence of a new form of “precarious potential” in metropolitan social culture.


2) Bernardette Corporation

Get Rid of Yourself, 2003

DV, 61 min, featuring Chloe Sevigny and Werner von Delmont



3) Oliver Ressler with Zanny Begg

What Would It Mean to Win?, 2008

Colour, 40 minutes

What Would It Mean To Win? was filmed on the blockades at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany in June 2007. It discusses the current state of the anti-globalisation movement. The film, which combines documentary footage, interviews, and animation sequences, is structured around three questions: ‘Who are we?’ ‘What is our power?’ ‘What would it mean to win?’

Almost ten years after Seattle, the film explores its impact on contemporary politics. Seattle has been described as the birthplace of the “movement of movements” and is regarded as the moment when a new social subject – the multitude – entered the political landscape.


4) Beth Bird

Everyone Their Grain of Sand, 2004

Color, 87 minutes

“Everyone Their Grain of Sand”  examines the impact of global industrialization on land ownership in Tijuana. The film follows the struggle of the community of Maclovio Rojas, a highly-organized, low-income community on the outskirts of Tijuana which has been in a land struggle for over 15 years. The community is in conflict with the state government, which wants to evict them and use the land for corporate development. In December 2002 the state arrested one community leader and attempt to arrest two others who managed to escape and go into hiding, where they remain to this day. The film locates this struggle within the context of globalization, NAFTA, the maquiladora industry and socio-political landscape of the U.S./Mexican border.


5) The Department of Space and Land Reclamation (with StreetRec.,  The Institute for Applied Autonomy, Las Agencias and AffectTech/BikeWriters)

Retooling Dissent, 2004

Color, 20’ 12’’

The Department of Space and Land Reclamation developed from a weekend of cultural activity in public space that brought together a diverse group of artists, activists, and community organizers to learn from each other.

The video Retooling Dissent documents dissent and experimentation around the February 2nd, 2002, meeting of the World Economic Forum in Manhattan (NYC) at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. The annual conference of global executives and the corporate élite turned the streets of New York into a police state. Meanwhile artists and activists, tactical media practitioners, from around the world, sent out a clear message: The 9/11 attacks will not gag the critiques of globalization. This video explores the ideas of four collectives at the WEF protests.


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