Bastions of critically engaged artist-led production in South-East London, Auto Italia, today launch a four-day event exploring self-organisation. With a programme including a temporary bookshop by writer-led project Book Bloc, events by anti-authoritarian assembly The Deterritorial Support Group and a panel discussion with Nina Power and legendary proponent of radical values Franco Berradi Bifo, the line-up is a litany of impressive makers and thinkers guaranteed to get all cerebral synapses firing.
If you can't make it down for the workshops and panels, in usual Auto Italia style the event will have a online presence with daily podcasts available for download from the website. Staged at a timely moment for the discussion of political alternatives and radical collectivism, as an artist-run collective housed in a former car showroom, self-organisation is a subject close to the hearts and minds of the artists behind Auto-Italia, Dazed caught up with them as they prepared for the launch…
DD: Where did the idea for this event come from?
Auto Italia: Auto Italia is entirely a 'self-organised project' and we are conscious that this position is very under-represented in London and that we have seen this 'artist-led' approach contract over the past few years. After being invited to talk about Auto Italia in colleges and universities we were constantly aware that the discourse around self-organisation in art schools and more generally was really basic and didn't confront the economic and political context for independent or alternative approaches to making art work. There is a need to make public the intangible expertise, knowledge and network which we saw ourselves and our peer group as being a part of. The idea for the project is to produce new information which can develop a larger narrative around self-organisation and self-publishing. It will showcase progressive approaches to self-organisation in London today.
DD: How did you come by the title?
Auto Italia: We have been working with Charlie Woolley and Deterritorial Support Group to make a selection of the material in the Mott Collection, which is largely political and grass-roots propaganda. It includes lots of copies of Class War, which will be on display. We wanted to reference the fourth issue, which controversially introduced Autonomist ideas to the London anarchist scene in the mid 1980s.
DD: What other organisations that you respect do you think also promote a DIY tendency, or are organised similarly to Auto Italia?
Auto Italia: We endeavoured to collaborate with other organisations we really respect for this project, like Book Bloc, Deterritorial Support Group, AAAAARG.ORG, the free association, Limazulu, The Alliance of Radical Booksellers. We would really like to see more 'artist-run' activity in London and hopefully this project can rekindle the idea of artists working in groups, collaborating outside of standard artistic practices and contexts and working independently without the need for validation through existing institutions and foundations.
DD: The event is free - is this important?
Auto Italia: We are really excited that this is all free for the public and its really important to the project. Most of our speakers would usually be included in conferences which tend to cost a fair amount. We are really excited that we can bring these presentations to a wider audience which may also be outside of the institutions that normally develop these kind of programmes. All of the participants and collaborators were excited to work with Auto Italia and the groups involved because they recognise in this kind of work that there is some real and genuine engagement and a lively non-institutional grass-routes scene in London in which many of them already are part of.
Auto Italia: Marina Vishmidt is engaged with some fascinating research which compares art work to house work and looking at how this comparison might be productive in understanding the disconnection between labour and value. We think its really important to look at feminist discourses but also to critically engage with how these have been practiced in the past. The project will be challenging pre-conceived ideas of self-organisation by looking at how they fit into neo-liberalism and potentially complicit in the growing precarity of all labour. We are not post-gender in either activistic and anarchistic networks nor in the art industry at the moment, and these debates are always relevant but it's important to understand the nuances of these and what lessons can be learnt from this. If we look at the practices in art work as being a form of reproductive labour then it is essential to understand them through this lens.