Reading Anarchism: Maria Barnas reads Mustapha Khayat & Jonas Staal reads Murray Bookchin and Abdullah Öcalan
In February 2016, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst hosts three Reading Anarchism events, as part of the exhibition Unstated (Or, Living Without Approval). The installation at BAK contains all anarchist writings currently archived online at theanarchistlibrary.org, printed as uniform volumes. For the duration of the exhibition, visitors may browse this library and print and bind copies of books they would like to read.
Nicoline van Harskamp has invited a total six guests to pick a single book or article from the library, and to present it to and discuss it with a live audience. The guests each have an affinity with the anarchist tradition, but the works they have picked represent very different eras, locations and interpretations.
Maria Barnas reads Captive Words: Preface to a Situationist Dictionary (1966) by Mustapha Khayati
Maria Barnas is a writer, poet, and visual artist. Her latest body of work, Rhubarb Rhubarb, presented at Museum De Hallen in Haarlem, questions to what extent language consists of images. What is the shape of a sound? Can you pronounce a shape? In 2014 Barnas won the Anna Bijns Prize for Jaja de oerknal(Yes Right the Big Bang), 2013. Barnas also writes about art and literature for De Groene Amsterdammerand De Volkskrant, among others.
Historian and self-proclaimed militant Mustapha Khayati was a member of the Situationist International, an organization of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, prominent in Europe between 1957 and 1972. He is best known for his reflection on the college-age youth of the 1960’s, titled “On the Poverty of Student Life.”
Jonas Staal is an artist and PhD researcher in art and contemporary propaganda at the University of Leiden. His work focuses on the relationship between art, politics, and ideology and has been exhibited and published on many international platforms. Staal is the founder of New World Summit, an artistic and political organization that is currently collaborating with the autonomous Kurdish government in Rojava to construct a new public parliament. Staal will read this text by Bookchin alongside a text by Öcalan.
Murray Bookchin was an American political theoretician, historian and activist, perhaps best known for introducing the concept of social ecology to anarchist theory. His work on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, assembly democracy, has influenced activist groups around the globe. Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), adapted aspects of Bookchin’s concepts to his paradigm of “Democratic Confederalism”, a political system which after decades of struggle waged by the PKK is now being put to practice by local communes in Rojava (West-Kurdistan).