Call for Participation

Joan of Art: Towards a Free Education System

Every year Nomas Foundation invite a guest curator to look at the situation in Italy. This year Mike Watson proposed a project with an international scope after looking at the social and artistic situations in Italy and in the UK and comparing them to the global situation.

In 2012-2013 Mike Watson theorist and writer is curating a project as curator in residence at Nomas as the beginning of a wider project in which a global free education system will be run from a network of art institutions.  Initially, a committee will be set up to discuss what education is and to shape the project in its initial phase.

Hypothesis: Freedom in an unfree society can only be feigned. Such a feigning is by definition an artistic act. In a post-political age art bears a social responsibility.

‘Joan of Art: Towards a Conceptual Militancy’ is currently being written by Mike Watson (PhD in Philosophy, Goldsmiths College, MA Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy) for UK publisher ZerO Books (Mark Fisher, Nina Power, et al.). The book proposes that we evade the unfreedom of the societal whole by establishing a network of social initiatives delivered from galleries and art institutions.

The aim of the project ‘Joan of Art: Towards a Free Education System’ is to deliver a free education system, starting from the very basis of what education is: The sharing of information. In the first stages the very notion of education will be explored so that a new system can be delivered which recognises the value of sharing knowledge between peers and across disciplines. Finally a free accredited system will be set up in such a way that it can be delivered from anywhere in the world, growing and changing organically as it disperses via accessible communication platforms.

An initial research period will bring together artists, academics, activists, lawyers and a range of professionals working across diverse disciplines in order to examine the very roots of our education system. By retaining some areas of the system we have all grown with, and changing others, new technologies will be employed in order to deliver a mode of learning which equips the user with the ability to ask relevant questions.

The passing of the political age suggests that politics was not the only way of managing the world. By setting up an education system as ‘art’ we seek new possibilities that are as yet unimagined.

Call for Participation – Committee, Rome Autumn 2012

A committee is being formed to discuss this project in the Autumn of 2013.

A committee meeting will be held in November to discuss what education is and what it ought to be. The committee seeks artists, academics  and activists with experience in the areas of social art, political art, education to put forward one page to be discussed with a view to shaping the above project. Travel to Rome, accommodation and a stipend will be paid for a period of 2-3 nights.

The committee currently comprises:

Alain Ayers (

David Blacker (The Illegitimacy of Student Debt)

Vincenzo Latronico (

Silvia de Fanti (

Valerio Rocco Orlando (

Maria Rosa Sossai (



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AAAAAWillAC  Click for Pdf




Where did my country go, in leaving behind this vapid numbers machine, void of life? Don’t  ask after when I return to my homeland, for I cannot return to what was is gone. And in tracing  a line of history to better understand what went so wrong, seek not to ask when the banker  became the butcher. Ask, rather, when the butcher became the banker. As you go to and fro, a  piston in the machine.

Objects that cycle around the fixed point of my mind. A fixed point of no substance and no  bearing. It stands at a distance from my hanging shirt of 2 metres, and is 40 cm from my  computer, it sees a light bulb, it reads a book of so many words. It is fed on meat and carbs, and  then it feeds the butcher and the Queen Bee.


When the mechanic becomes the hangman, and the civil servant is inking death warrants.  When the architect is building camps. When the butcher has become torturer, will you hold  your nerve? When the baton has cracked your skull. When freed detainees greet you, with a  sodomised demeanour. When life greets you warm, simply because you’re alive, but you greet it
cold, because you envy death.


And ask not when the government became a speculator. Ask instead when the public became its  shareholder. As Che Guevara’s bloodied final grin froths eternal, don’t ask for revolution. Seek  after resolution. Turn fast the screws that fix your mind Let go the grip that holds your party  dear. Back slap that fat grocer as the numbers whir. For you did not seek to stop his meteoric


Don’t look to divide, or ask when, or in who’s name your country, your town, your body,  became franchised, to the economic war machine. Brave comrades, citizens, keen to be the revolutionary. The one who went that extra mile. The top comrade. But, enough, you are an  honourable man.


Do not criticise the colonel and politician, as they visit death upon the hapless. For war does not  only rain as fire, from the sky upon the ground. Is not alone the sabre for maiming. the dicktat  for systematic killing. War’s stricken grimace is with you. Turned smile as you fund it and reap  its rewards. Your war, Peace child.


Let loose the ugly spirit. Turn loose this rabid nature, upon the venal world crowd (crowd  source, crowd sauce, crowding sourcing, source in… saucing). Be damned, consumerist rabble.  Blunt your teeth on third generation phones and on too much internet loving. There’ll be  no ‘Love in’ in the 21st Century . And dine on slim shakes . (You got, he got, I got the shakes.  There’s no shakes, not like the hippy hippy shakes).


Catatonic, individual cells we are. If we stopped to part piss i pissitate… (to participate). Nothing  left to struggle for.. no history left to evoke or live up to… no future dream of utopia over which  we might be held to arms (to account). That utopia hanging heavy on our shoulders, pointed like  a gun: an injunction, to struggle and to maintain struggle (and if you are not struggling, you are  not doing it right. Baby struggle. – Yes, that’s right).


Or liberty held up as a an unstained sheet, a tabula rosa, the virgin’s unbroken hymen, that we  must not trangress or tear… that we must maintain through subervience to government, fellow  men, God, our State. What a State. What state? State what state. State-less. Stateless. These  chains that bind us in perpetual work bondage – working at work, and working hard at home. At
being citizens or subjects of a just Europe, a just world.


A world of positivist values and vaccum sealed ethical aims, delivered surgically, where surgery  heals the wound inflicted by a stray Drone. –Yes, justice is delivered as a kind of obverse surgery, which turns back skins and flesh, which turns men inside out, and women. And  following a Drone attack who would know who was who and which was which?, and perhaps  this is the gender revolution that we mete out – meat out – to the world. And who would dare to  ask? As they speak of flying Drones in peaceful zones. Keep quiet as the news man drones on.


Drone on, these comforts which we make for ourselves, by giving credence to these stories and  histories, recited to keep us civilized, over the camp fire. Keep us dumb in front of a flickering  light. Your laptop illuminates like a stone tablet inscribed with the name of the sun god. If you  leave sight of it the harvest will be poor. As it is, the harvest is gathered by illegal migrants and  slaves in the third world. (The third whirled. the third whirled; the rest starved. Much less, and  much more, even).


But we have good and just ideas. They grow in the dark, in the cracks in the system, in the  defective minds of those who would not be co-opted, who do not follow the stultifying rationale.  Who would give up, put the brakes on the grand project. To break it, setting a world free. To halt  an entropic decay?


The newsreader says the butcher is coming for tea with the Queen Bee. As objects come into  sharp focus, more real than you are, your tootbrush is a zeppelin, your camp stove will feed the  emerging armies of the industrialising world, You do not want for anything, but you are missing  a part. And though even your phone tells you where you are, you cannot feel yourself there.

Another object comes to the foreground of your vision. Like a perverse ghost it is less real than  you, but it controls you. Kettle, I obey the kettle. Toothbrush, I obey you and your twinspeed.  Computer, I obey you and your news channels and your friends feed. Friend feeds I obey you.  My new shirt I obey you.

Who would challenge such an abundance of object-drones, which come in and out of focus like  illuminous spirits, who announce their coming and going with a turn of a cloak and a command?  We must live with them. Their cause and their effect, their ethical imperatives which we have made our own. To honour the numerical count with a minimal pitying glance to the worker bee.  Be. So that they can continue their work. The Queen Bee gives just a little milk and honey to the  worker bee. And the objects continue to whir.



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Their Law

1 I ask you by what right you exercise the law?


2 By the right vested in me by my commanding officer.


1 I ask you by what right your commanding officer exercises the law?


2 By the right vested in him by the chief commanding officer.


1 I ask you by what right the chief commanding officer exercies the law?


2 By the right vested in him by the magistrates.


1 I ask you by what right the magistrates exercises the law?


2 By the right vested in them by the government.


1 I ask you by what right the government exercises the law?


2 By the right vested in them by the State.


1 I ask you by what right the State exercises the law?


2 By the right vsted in it by the constitution.


1 I ask you by what right the constitution embodies the law?  


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Geometries of the Mind

Mind fields.

Mined fields.

The interior space of the mind is crucial to mental and physical stability. It extends outwards and fills exterior space, so that it might become bigger or smaller, closer or further away, welcoming or forbidding. Yet it is also filled up by exterior space so that the wide open sky makes of the mind an airy vessel, an upturned cupola in which the heavens are reflected, whilst the tense closed space of the waiting room, or of a crowd situation, fraught with tension, makes of the mind a clay fist, tensed ready for collision and implosion. Buildings transmit specific patterns of thought via geometries, which interact with the lives of their inhabitants, workers, audiences, opening up potentialities… and this is less an issue of the colossal, or the magnificient, than of a sense of everything being in its place as if, with an ancient building or part thereof, such as the underground chapel of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome – where it feels as if the accumulation of breaths, of air flowing, of feet on stone floors, and hands touching walls, have slowly yet busily achieved a spatial perfection over time. A small space of silence within which the mind grows equally calm, yet expansive. We can feel the inverse effect if we stand waiting for a tram or bus at Porta Maggiore, created by the hapless Emperor Claudius as a first century interstice between the acqueducts that entered Rome and supplied water to its inhabitants. The gate, which remains firm at the intersection of 4 main roads, several tram lines and two nearby railways, appears as a grand conductor of chaos whilst as many as six lanes of traffic (on its East side) move at times jarringly, as if making threats in accordance with a grey sky… at times elegantly, pirouetting as if choereographed by an abandoned pagan god. God of animal courtship, perhaps… lonely and devoid of function, he plays with these new machines, twinning motorbikes with cars, motorinos with pedestrians, before they speed away, turning and vanishing in different directions. Or at the least this is how one might amuse themselves, by imagining such a rationale to the movement of traffic as one waits for a tram or bus in a space where, due to its collosal yet forbidding nature, waiting feels impossible. The mind grows small, turning inwards. Amidst so much activity thoughts stick like a record, or a skipping cd… such movement amounts to nothing but a resounding ‘Something is about to happen… Something is about to happen… Something is about to happen…’ Nauseating.

There is often need to free the geometry of the mind, to find a space or a room for thought, so that the mind may exit outwards once more with clarity.

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God is Deaf

[TEXT FOR AN EXHIBITON OF SOUND ART IN ROME CENTRE:  COSA SI PROVA AD AVER UN SUONO IN TESTA?  -- 2’ traccia Costruzione di una metafisica dell’assenza a cura di Elena Abbiatici e Valentina G. Levy 24 settembre – 4 novembre Opening 24 settembre – ore 19.30 Piazza De Ricci 127, Roma]


God is Deaf: Five Meditations on Noise


‘Noise’, a perpetual residue of the universe’s origin, yet the universe did not have one origin, but two: its coming into being, and its coming into being for the human subject, such that the continuous coming into being of the Universe could be heard. Philosophy splits itself into two camps: Those who believe that the Universe has always emitted Noise, and those that believe that it cannot have emitted Noise prior to the advent of beings sophisticated enough to hear that Noise.


Letter to an ex-wife: ‘… and if you sleep with anyone else can you please do it in a soundproofed room, because I find the thought of the sound nauseating?’


On a screen in an empty room an automated stock market monitoring programme displays numbers falling rapidly, and silently. Its movement accompanied only by the faint hum of the computer heralds the start of recession, mass unemployment and war.


A GBU-43/B or ‘MOAB’ – ‘Mother of all bomb’s’ – is tested in the desert, just prior to the outbreak of the Iraq war. Containing 9’525 kilos of high explosives, apart from being able to destroy an area up to ‘nine city blocks wide’, the MOAB was aimed at creating panic in the Iraqi population so that they would then remove their own leader. Whilst that plan did not work, leading the US and UK to enter into a costly invasion, civilians subjected to the constant aerial bombardment that took place in the Iraqi Winter of 2003 suffer nervous disorders as a result of the noise to this very day. If there is proof God is deaf, it is because this noise could not be heard by the far away tax paying citizens of the invading countries. The notion that Noise cannot exist if there is no subject present to hear it is subconsciously utilised by the citizens of war-mongering nations to excuse their apathy and protect their comfortable lifestyles. If there were such a thing as divine justice it ought to include as just one aspect a cacophony of aerial bombardment, screams of the dying, and sounds of systemic rape and torture, played on a loop into the ears of those UK and US civilians who wouldn’t acknowledge, let alone speak out against the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.


A child eats crisps and asks his grandmother if she can hear the crunching noise as loudly in the room as he can hear it in his head.

Mike Watson. 2011.

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Dialogue with Paul Sakoilsky

… on Art and the Object, reposted here:

This text was commissioned for:

Object Culture: Art as Viral Commodity

1-3 Rivington Street • London EC2 Opens Thursday 15th April 2010 • 6.30pm onwards

RED GALLERY is a pop up housed in the old E-Learning School buildings on EC2’s Rivington Street. As part of Hackney
Council’s Shoreditch Regeneration Scheme, the space has seen much recent publicity, and will soon be demolished,
making way for an Art’otel, courtesy of architects Squire and Partners.

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images from Macro Roma

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