Right of Refusal

MOBILITY IN POST DEMOCRACY Mon 24 Oct 2016 4.00PM-8.30PM The New School University Center
Starr Foundation Hall, UL102
New York City
Exhibition 4-6, Panels 6:30-8:30
Free Admission.

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Right of Refusal
With many states on the brink of a democratic collapse, the Mobility in Post Democracy series connects to the simultaneous disdain and opportunity revealed in this moment. On the heels of a keynote address by Wendy Brown, which will reveal the neoliberal mechanisms that have undermined democracy while pointing toward modes of resistance in new organizational models, this panel discussion will consider refusal as another possible strategy to thwart the further erosion of liberal democracy. By framing resistance as a human right, the right of refusal invokes coordinated action, solidarity, and the law to magnify the political implications of individual decisions. These discussions are particularly relevant as voters in the United States consider their options in the forthcoming presidential elections.

Discourses on human rights are primarily concerned with protecting and supporting individuals as active members of society. Active participation requires two general categories of rights: rights that protect individuals from discrimination, oppression, and other forms of harm; and rights to social, political, cultural, and economic resources necessary to participate, often in the form of material support from states.

This seminar focuses on another form of rights that are often overlooked in rights-based discourses: the right to refuse and embrace non-participation. The right of refusal can take many different forms. In the face of increased globalization and hyper-mobility, how can the right to remain stave off urban developers and alter the flow of migrants? Is it possible to opt out of a digital presence through the right to be forgotten? How does the right of refusal challenge the role of the state as protector and provider? For the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, many voters are considering opting out instead of choosing between the Republican and Democratic candidates. What does non-participation mean for our ability to question and critique the government? What are the affordances of collective refusal, as in a boycott? Is refusal a form of protest, a sign of privilege, the mark of apathy, or something else entirely?

The event begins with an interactive gaming session and from 4:00-6:30pm, followed by a panel discussion from 6:30-8:30pm exploring the various manifestations the right of refusal may take. The participants in this event argue for the right to refuse action and participation, to remain silent, to reject market principles of efficiency, to refuse to be part of the system. The upcoming U.S. elections provide the context to consider the ramifications of non-participation.
    • Right Of Refusal
4:00-6:30pm Unplay: Action, Affect, Attention
5:30-6:30pm Unplay: Action, Affect, Attention walk through and reception
6:30-7:30pm Panel I
7:30-8:30pm Panel II

Unplay: Action, Affect, Attention, curated by Lucas G. Pinheiro

"Play, radically broken from a confined ludic time and space, must invade the whole of life."- Contribution to a Situationist Definition of Play, 1958.

Today, capital's totalizing tendency to encroach on social time can be felt in virtually all realms of life. The very idea of "free time" has become an illusive figment of the bourgeois imaginary, a euphemism for unpaid labor time. Rather than being free, time is always bound and overdetermined by the imperatives of capitalism. And yet, the notion of play continues to animate our desires, reorganize our attention, and incite our imagination. In the age of multi-million dollar e-game competitions, however, the fateful commoditization of play is all but unmistakable. Unplay: Action, Affect, Attention brings together eight artworks whose interpretation of play effectively calls into question the meaning of play in the face of capitalist appropriation. Each work offers a unique take on the contemporary politics of play as a moment of pause and reflection in a world where our attention, emotions, and pleasures are increasingly quantified as likes, and financialized as ad revenue.

Beautiful Frog (2015), Porpentine
Between (2008), Jason Rohrer
Bomb Iraq (2005), Cory Arcangel
Freedom (2010), Eva and Franco Mattes
Launch a Banker (2016), Grayson Earle
Loneliness (2010), Jordan Magnuson
Queers in Love (2013), Anna Anthropy
Welcome to the Desert of the Real (2009), Molleindustria

Mobility in Post Democracy
Post Democracy has recently arisen as a complex and contradictory term: for some it promises a new participatory platform for the mobilizing forces of social media, while others lament democracy's demise as the result of international intervention in domestic politics. Decried as "democratic melancholy," such skepticism is considered ill placed by yet others for whom "democracy" was never a political system to aspire to.

Under the heading Mobility in Post Democracy, the Vera List Center presents a series of interdisciplinary panels, seminars, and lectures that examine Post Democracy as a condition informed by mobility— across institutions, states, and ideologies. The series brings together an international group of scholars, activists, students, and artists to probe the concept of Democracy.

Colleen Macklin, Associate Professor of Design and Technology, Parsons
Lucas Pinheiro, Lecturer in New Media Art History, Parsons
Joshua Simon, Director and Chief Curator of Bat Yam Museum for Contemporary Art and 2011-2013 VLC Fellow
Pilvi Takala, Artist

In conjunction with Right of Refusal Pilvi Takala will be presenting The Body at Work, part of the What You See is What You Get: A Series on Spectatorship at Uniondocs on Sunday, October 23.

Right of Refusal is seminar I of the series Mobility in Post Democracy. Other programs include:

Wendy Brown: Neoliberalism, Financialization and Democracy: Ten Theses
Keynote Lecture
October 20, 2016 6:30-8:00 PM

Prefigurative Politics on the Eve of the U.S. Presidential Elections
November 7, 2016 4:00-8:30 PM

Post Human, Affect, Proliferation
February 13, 2017 4:30-8:30 PM

Indigeneity, Stack, Sovereignty
March 2, 2017 4:00-8:00 PM

Mobility in Post Democracy is a Vera List Center public seminar series, supported by the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility. Pilvi Takala's participation is made possible, in part, by a generous grant from Frame Contemporary Art Finland.