Almanac of Contemporary Aesthetics
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TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS ZONE

In the face of recent political turmoil, the threat of climate change, and the global health crisis, it feels more relevant than ever to create liberated spaces for artists and thinkers to question the status quo, formulate alternative versions of reality, and elude formal power structures. Borrowing its title from radical poet Hakim Bey’s seminal essay, this survey critically embraces the notion of counterculture, looking at it from different angles: the phenomenon of protests and the role of pleasure; the disintegration of civilized society and psycho-deflation; Detroit techno as a liberation technology. Through these essays, which consider the historicized countercultural experience alongside its more recent embodiments in the digital era, the magazine becomes a T.A.Z. in its own right—one in which “the only possible truth is change.”

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In the age of neoliberalism, the privatization of everything has consciously or unconsciously atrophied the structures of social civilization—health system, educational system, transportation system—all of these institutions for social survival have been jeopardized, unleashing a psychotic wave of competition, aggressiveness, and suicidal drive. As a consequence, we are witnessing the rapid disintegration of civilized society, and the simultaneously rapid integration of the global cognitive automaton. Cognitive chaos is blocking the very possibility of the rational reconstruction of a environment for survival.

—Franco "Bifo" Berardi

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After four months on the road, my protest trail finally ground to a halt at a fiery protest in Washington DC. I was hanging out with a crew of Gucci bag, latex mask toting art kids and when we pulled up to the autonomous zone that night, we found a full-on protest party, with a DJ parked between two traffic lights, blasting System of a Down to a crowd of several hundred. People were standing in circles chanting “Black Lives Matter” and taking turns delivering impromptu speeches on racial justice when suddenly, battalions of police in riot gear began rushing around the corners and the streets became a warzone.

—Michelle Lhooq

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Techno specifically, was formulated from a conceivably intuitive response to the urban degradation and racial violence plaguing the city of Detroit and other cities around the United States. The style’s initial ingredients were produced through conversations and DIY musical experiments between Juan Atkins and Rik Davis with additions from Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Eddie Fowlkes and James Pennington—a development that represented a collective desire to imagine conditions outside of the framework of colonial and industrial spread. The future as a standalone concept is dubious when genuinely considering Black history.

—DeForrest Brown, Jr.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi is an Italian theorist, essayist and cultural agitator based in Bologna, Italy.

Michelle Lhooq is a journalist and counterculture critic based in Los Angeles. She is the author of WEED: Everything You Want to Know But Are Always Too Stoned to Ask (Penguin Random House).

DeForrest Brown, Jr. is an Ex-American theorist, journalist and curator. In 2021, Primary Information will publish his first book, Assembling a Black Counter Culture.

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