Collaboration, communization and collectivism today: between menacing precarity and community fetishism



There is a hyped analysis of artistic collectivism and collaborative practices that categorizes artistic strategies in terms of their organization-form. For example, some artistic collectives are hailed by theorists for their specific engagement with endangered communities or social groups while others are praised for their “autonomous form” and promise of alternative life.

I will suggest that such categorizations lose sight of the political oxymora pervading the widespread (artistic) radicalisms of the new century. Often, the reading of artistic collectivism falls prey to a rampant crypto-humanism (albeit, in the guise of anti-humanism) that heroicizes individuals and structures as unrestrained / fluid / emancipatory entities smashing all social/political barriers. Thus, an a-priori appraisal of colflectivization / communization as progressive transformation of art practice, or merge between the aesthetic and the social, is usually premised on an uncritical acceptance of the local revolts and their micro-communities as sacred cows.

In the last decade, we witnessed the popularization of Deleuze-inspired readings that compare artistic collectives to revolutionary “war machines” (e.g Gerard Raunig’s “Art and Revolution”). In fact, the history of artistic collectivism is not some linear strife for social freedom but, to a significant extent, a story of ideological regressions, escapism, overt narcissism, conservative corporatism and radical conservatism.

Today’s metapolitical/precarious milieu calls us to rethink the humanistic writing of art history and pursue a more detailed image of the syncretic/integralist aspects of current radicalist movements (indignados, Occupy We may then pursue a better understanding of the not so obvious overlappings between art practices and social experimentation.


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Dr Kostis Stafylakis is an art theorist and artist. He graduated from the Athens School of Fine Arts. He holds an MA in Modern Art and Theory (Uni. Essex) and an MA in Continental Philosophy (Uni. Essex). He received his doctorate from the Department of Political Science and History, Panteion University (Athens), focusing on the political discourse launched by 21st century global art shows and especially Documenta 11. He was a post-doc researcher at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2011-2012) studying the influence Ranciere’s and Badiou’s political theories on the art field. Along with Yannis Stavrakakis, he edited the greek anthology “The Political in Contemporary Art” (Ekkremes 2008). Some of his recently published essays focus on activist practices of “overidentification” amidst the Greek crisis. He was recently artist in residence at Utopiana, Geneva. Since 2005, along with Vana Kostayola, he runs kavecS (, an initiative on critical art activism. Some recent participations include 1st NSK Biennial of Folk Art (2014), Hell as Pavillion, Palais de Tokyo (2013), Truth is Concrete, Graz (2012), 3d Athens Biennial, Media Impact (4th Moscow Biennial) (2011).

Supported by the DAAD Programme: Partnerships with Greek Institutions of Higher Education 2014 – 2016 / A Cooperation between the Academy of Fine Art Munich (ADBK) and the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA).