Writing is an act of learning. There are things I want to learn more about, and things I have to learn more about. These essays (literally, efforts) are processes of learning, and in the realm of sex, gender, and social construction there is an infinite evolving array of things I am eagerly taking in, learning from, shaping, and forming into thoughts. And then there is the condition of the world, its politics, its societies, its wretched inhumanity — a field which we must ingest, process, learn from, and work to repair. …


Why is our schedule more important than our lives?

If we keep at it with this reopening nonsense

It’s late June, and there’s still a pandemic.

I’m watching lots of academic institutions unfurl their plans for the Fall semester, with lots of pomp and pride and gravitas in these president’s or provost’s letters, talking about how many committees conferred and how carefully next year’s plans have been thought through. Hybrid, in-person, socially-distanced, remote learning in all combinations… Retrofitting buildings and social behaviors to make school ‘safe,’ insistent that the most important thing is that we all stay open for business- er, learning. …


The Republican position is that this may happen every single day now. Image from Flickr/Michael Horan

Let us never forget 9/11 — and how the terrorist attacks provided the political cover for the largest seizure of civil liberties in the US since Asian-Americans were mass-interred during World War 2, and how the PATRIOT Act still enables intrusions into our digital privacy that were once the stuff of dystopian sci-fi. 9/11 is when the political establishment in America began to use the term ‘Orwellian’ as a compliment. 2,996 Americans died that day. Everyone seemed able to agree on at least this one thing: it was horrific, and the country was traumatized.


Our Irrational Faith in Money is the Only True Barrier to Saving Ourselves

A Stock Photo of $40 lain carefully in a clean, white toilet bowl awaiting either retrieval or disposal by fran hogan on Unsplash. What could it mean

A global pandemic is raging. Medical care is scarce. Unemployment is off the charts. Food and housing are uncertain for millions.

What, again, is the current justification for the existence of money?

The lack of it stands between us and feeding everyone, caring for everyone, keeping everyone housed and secure and safe. And yet money is a construct, a figment of the collective imagination. What if we just woke from the dream, and stopped pretending it mattered?

For years it has become the substance of increasingly calamitous inequality, and a lever of power for a very few humans — accumulating…


Revolution by Unemployment

History books create an image of revolution that involves masses in the streets, banners and barricades. They also tend to proclaim the march of history as punctuated by these upheavals, implying that societies only change in sudden surges.

Disappointed radicals may bemoan the absence of revolutions like this, because they’ve been, apparently, replaced by digital petitions and impotent rage tapped into a social media app. This is an idea of revolution that is conflated with political change, and is then coopted by politicians leveraging constituents’ desire for change and a sense of participation in history. …


And Other Things We Can’t Clearly See Because Our Government is Built to Make Us Afraid

There’s a problem with current calls by Democrats, the left, and seemingly rational people all around the world to label the mass shootings and other acts of violence perpetrated seemingly weekly by white supremacist men as terrorism — and that is the malleability of the idea of terrorism itself.

The very first Terroristes of the French Revolution were themselves only the most zealous of the revolutionaries, those who believed the revolution wasn’t complete until the aristocracy was headless. They weren’t some isolated loners out of touch with any human community — they were the tip of the spear of their…


AND HOW HAS IT BEEN ALLOWED TO EAT ART?

I’ve learned some interesting things during my recent job search.

If you are a filmmaker looking for a job in the nation’s largest city, you’ll find on an average about 5 job listings a month for ‘filmmaker’ at your typical job-posting website. 3 of those will be misspelled searches for people who know how to use ‘Filemaker,’ a piece of databasing software. 1 of those options is to volunteer as a tutor for a range of arts, including filmmaking, and the last 1 of those 5 is to be a ‘manager’ that knows ‘how to talk to filmmakers.’

If you’re a painter, your job options solely involve covering walls or…


Art’s Complicity in Authoritarianism

Notes on Artists’ Literacies, Part 2

In Part 1, I described how a public ‘illiteracy’ in the disjunctive synthesis of collage allowed authoritarian atrocity to occur in plain sight.

While artists might recognize what’s going on, thanks to their training or their cultivated instinct in ‘collage logic,’ there’s a secondary question of equal importance: what are we doing about it?

The author paying his bills as a younger man, and not likely making the world a better place.

A few months ago while absentmindedly listening to some vaguely German classical music that had come on the car radio — (something like Wagner but less so) — I began to think about the service artists have done for oppressive political regimes. German fascism is the easy one, its stars nameable by any high school honors student: Wagner, Riefenstahl, Speer. Artists — in theater, design, fine arts, literature, film…


Limits and Possibilities in Political Art and Art as Politics

courtesy William Powhida (IG: @williampowhida)

1.) DEFINITIONS AND METAPHORS

I’ll start with a definition or two, because as I’ve talked with people in different industries or communities it’s clear that certain terms that are fairly standard in one place are pure jargon in others — even as they may be very useful to us. Skip ahead if you know this part.

An “Impact Producer” is a term emerging from the film world, and more specifically (although not exclusively) the documentary/ nonfiction film world. The Impact Producer produces ‘impact’ — that is, they take the finished film and contextualize it to give it added social meaning…


Notes on Artists’ Literacies Part I:

HOW MODERN CULTURAL DICTATORS EXPLOIT COLLAGE COGNITION

And How Artists and Culture-Producers Are Thus Key to Countering Authoritarianism

Detail from Cut With the Kitchen Knife, Hannah Hoch (1889–1978)

There are countless frustrations to the Trump era, with its nonstop chaos in the news, the fear and tragedy delivered on a daily basis, complete with absurdity and outrage that make satire impossible (or makes satire the only thing possible?). One of the most frustrating aspects for me, however, is how much people keep talking about being surprised, about not being able to understand how it can go on because of how absurd it is…

There are some folks to whom the Trump era makes perfect sense, and I’ve found in general that among…

Andrew Freiband

Filmmaker, Teacher, Researcher, Founder and Director of the Artists Literacies Institute (artistsliteracies.org)

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