Notes on Mugtivism and Precarious Merchandising

Revolution Mug ($30,00), Liat Berdugo and Emily Martinez.

Recently, I began to notice what could be called a trend, a series of coincidences, or simply the product of my carefully, yet unintentionally crafted filter bubble. I’m talking of a typology of merchandising (or merch-like products) created or tweaked to express precarious concerns in an antagonistic, ironic or illustrative way. In fact, I myself have produced some sort of precarious merchandising, in the form of ‘Shouldn’t you be working?’ stickers, à la StayFocusd.

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Seizing the Means of Innovation – Notes from Oslo

Last week I was in Oslo for a visit to the latest residency organized by PRAKSIS, a not-for-profit organization focused on developing creative practices. Conceived by "Famous New Media Artist" Jeremy Bailey and entitled The Artist Entrepreneur, the residency was an opportunity to critically tackle the adoption of the means of startup culture and venture capital to reconfigure artistic production, the main question being:

Should artists embrace, subvert or actively resist this new identity?

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The Aesthetics Of Productive Anxiety by Nicola Bozzi

The Digimag Journal #75 on "Digital Identities and Self Narratives" is finally out. Curated by Silvia Bertolotti and Marco Mancuso, it includes an essay by Nicola Bozzi arising from an intense conversation I had with him on several entreprecariat-related issues. Nicola Bozzi, who is a writer and PhD researcher in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Salford (Manchester), enriched my understanding of the entreprecarious dimension by linking it to his research focused on the circulation of stereotypical identities in the age of social media and big data. Specifically, we talked about digital nomads, throbblers, normcore, counterculture, bureaucracy and also of a series artworks realized together with Sebastian Schmieg.

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Short Interview on the Junge Welt [DE]

After my talk at Re:publica I had a brief conversation with Anselm Lenz, journalist and founder of Haus Bartleby. Here’s the interview, published on the German newspaper junge Welt on the 10th of May.

»Der Startup-Kult ist eine religiöse Geschichte«

Forscher redet auf dem Kongress »re:publica« über Schattenseiten der Digitalwirtschaft. Ein Gespräch mit Silvio Lorusso

Silvio Lorusso lebt als Gestalter und Wissenschaftler in Rotterdam, forscht zum »Entreprecariat« unter anderem für das Institut für ­Netzwerkkulturen der Universität Amsterdam. Er ­veröffentlicht online unter kickended.com und networkcultures.org/­entreprecariat

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Collage Craft – Recombining Professional Aspirations

Collage by Benedetta Ettorre, an invasion of design motivation which reminds me of a Typographische Monatsblätter cover by Dan Friedman.

Recently, Michele Galluzzo and I were invited to run a five days workshop on Design Research and Criticism at CFP Bauer in Milan. We decided to employ the techniques and traditions of collage and décollage as a lens to understand –and ideally rethink– the way graphic designers look at their own practice. Our proposal was to consider the making of a (dé)collage as a ritual performed to "manifest" the work of the designer in order to potentially manipulate it. In this sense, our idea of (dé)collage resonates with what Mark Fisher described speaking of Savage Messiah, a book/zine by Laura Oldfield Ford:

She deploys collage in much the same way William Borroughs used it: as a weapon in time-war. The cut-up can dislocate established narratives, break habits, allow new associations to coalesce.

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We, the Doers – Fiverr’s Entrepreneurial Populism and a 3-Days Workweek

Fiverr, the online marketplace that connects freelancers to the "lean entrepreneur", recently launched a new campaign under the hashtag #InDoersWeTrust. The accompanying commercial features the lives of some of these doers. They make Skype calls with the other side of the world ("Ni Hao Ma") from a restroom, they unremittingly pitch their business to family, friends and strangers, they "get shit done" and are constantly available, even while they’re having sex. The portrayed doers are white and mostly female, even though the one ending up on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine is a young man.

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Not Usually a Design Guy but Geez

We, Western people clinging to the middle class, live in a time of depoliticization. The prevailing form of political engagement is well illustrated by the "Not usually a sign guy but geez" sign. It’s a reactive (and sometimes reactionary), "this is too much" politics. Unfortunately, knowing what one doesn’t want is not enough. Throughout the whole presidency of Donald Trump, people were supposed to congregate at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York to deliver the words "he will not divide us", while being live-streamed. This live-stream was ingeniously shut down several times by far-right trolls.

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Diversifying My Business

No need to say that I consider myself an instance of the entreprecariat. At the bottom of this post, in my bio, I identify as “artist, designer and researcher”. While I actually had love stories –or flirts– with these realms, I don’t feel I fully belong. It turns out that my skills are softer than I expected. And I have the impression that many people feel the same. Maybe this is why impostor syndrome is so common among my peers. So why do I use those labels? To “diversify my business”, of course. To appear palatable to potential galleries, cultural institutions or clients. Yes, I have a relatively stable job (who knows for how long), but what you see here is the result of reading and writing in my spare time, during the weekends, after dinner, or while I commute. I guess this affects my tone of writing, making it hopefully more colloquial, friendly. I’m not ashamed nor I’m complaining of my situation. As everyone, I have these moments when I question the purpose of what I do, I ask myself whether I honestly care or I’m just pumping up my ego. One thing is certain, saying things as they are is somehow soothing, therapeutic. It feels good.