Artist statement (or About)
Delayed beginning of COVID-19 lock-down in the UK brought about an amazing wave of community organising, a sort of self-assembly for the protection of self and others, a beautiful act of solidarity where neighbours reached out to each other for help and support. Mutual aid groups grew like mushrooms, posters were plastered, chat groups and websites were made, phones distributed, cars found, fundraisers organised, food prepared, medicines picked up and delivered. At the time I was wondering how much people know about the history of such organising, whether they are aware of it's political background. Soon enough there were groups like Sisters Uncut and others who have flagged up the need to understand this as 'solidarity not charity' + here.
On the other hand I was wondering how this wave of amazing human action for the benefit of others can, and whether it should, be supported through institutions of mutual aid. What are they? How could we set them up? What is existing knowledge and experience in the field? Is this the way to sustain, support, encourage (dare I say reward!?) this kind of behaviour for the long term? Peter Kropotkin comes to aide to help analyse how these things occur in nature as well as human societies over the ages - building compelling evidence for careful scrutiny of present day organising (facilitated by digital technologies) as well as imagining pathways for long-term encouragement and change.
Charity, he says, 'bears a character of inspiration from above, and, accordingly, implies a certain superiority of the giver upon the receiver.' Opening up for analysis of power in this exchange. Whilst on the other side, he proposes that 'it is not love and not even sympathy upon which Society is based in mankind. It is the conscience - be it only at the stage of an instinct - of human solidarity. It is the unconscious recognition of the force that is borrowed by each man from the practice of mutual aid; of the close dependency of every one's happiness upon the happiness of all; and of the sense of justice, or equity, which brings the individual to consider the rights of every other individual as equal to his [her/their] own.'
Mutual aid, I believe, is perhaps the best way to externalise our commitment to life of dignity and confront the theatre of cruelty* that is contemporary life. Common Bond Society (& Chatrooms) is an art project that is set up to help this conversation. In the fashion of an 'old school' IRC chat rooms, i.e channels, it reuses communication tools of the Internet before web 2.0 to reboot citizens' information agora*; and more broadly, aims to help discussion about the platforms that have been in use for this phenomena, through which issues of privacy, safety and power can find space for reflection.
Common Bond Society by Larisa Blazic was commisioned by
UP Projects for This is Public Space.
Special thanks to
Varia Centre for Everyday Technology for their help with Kiwi IRC webclient
Kropotkin botkin using RealTime Configurable IRC ChatBot by Logan Lee
Mutual Aid, it's political practice IRC chat modified Kiwi IRC by
Dennis de Bel and hosted by Varia
Solidarity not charity page uses an embebed IRC webchat qwebirc
In this pace of safety page uses an embeded IRC webchat CGI:IRC
How To Get Cooperation,video found on Archive.org
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