Monthly Archives: October 2015

GARRY DAVIS – Passport to Freedom

Excerpts from:

Garry Davis with Greg Guma 
Passport to Freedom Seven Locks Press, Washington, 1992

 

Like a body with 175 separate brains, each gives different orders to the various organs. If the Earth was a single human, we’d call him an uncoordinated idiot. As it is, the absence of a ‘world brain’ is a state of being one can quite reasonably label global idiocy.    p. 8

The United Nations is at best a meeting place where representatives of most nation-states attempt to win world public opinion for their particular interests. Often it is even less, a smokescreen behind which the most powerful nations attempt to impose their nationalistic policies. The UN, sadly, is neither united nor inclusive.    p. 8

To become a citizen of the world, I decided, I would have to renounce my exclusive national allegiance.    p. 10

After a pause, she bombarded me with questions: Why did I do it? Who was I really? How could she be sure I was Garry Davis? After all, anyone could walk in and say that. Where was the paper that proved my identity?   p. 15

We are drawing closer to a basic paradox. The world’s association of ‘sovereign’ states – the United Nations – refers frequently to something called international law. Yet law stops at national frontiers, since a nation’s authority cannot extend beyond either its constitutional limits or the spatial limits defined by its borders.    p. 19

In essence, I had been told to live perpetually in international waters, seek asylum on another planet, die or go to jail.    p. 23

The way out of this trap lies on the fourth level of Dynamic Identification. Holistic, or fourth level, values have been defined throughout human history. In the past, this level was the province of sages, prophets, poets, philosophers, artists and pirates.   p. 25

The primary tools that permit the continuous consolidation of this power are documents – forms, permits, letters, applications, cards, passports, and other varieties too numerous and enervating to list.    p. 27

By this time, we had established a World Government of World Citizens. But like any government, we obviously needed our own police – in this case, a world police force. The second, related idea had to do with the mental set of uniformed bureaucrats: one thing they certainly respect is another person in uniform. Putting the two ideas together, I set about making a uniform for our new police force. Emblazoned on it was the name – Sovereign Order of World Guards. Just think about those words!   p. 39

In 1957, for instance, a guard in the Egyptian Embassy in Iran was told to arrest me for attempting to claim asylum there. As he approached, however, he noticed my uniform. It was better pressed than his. When he was about three feet away, I opened my coat and displayed a shiny badge. The idea that I was in uniform – and even had a badge – was just too much for him. The man turned white and fled. He couldn’t bring himself to arrest another man in uniform.     p. 40

It may even be time to camp on the top dog’s doorstep. When he asks what you plan to do, refer him to previous correspondence. You’ve laid the groundwork. You’ve been reasonable and patient. You’ve even warned him you won’t be responsible for the consequences. It’s his move – but it has become your game.    p. 41

For the first time in human history, global institutions can take their rightful place. World citizenship, the main focus of this book, is a dynamic and imperative political identity that relinks the conceptual and moral value of the individual human being with the true social and economic organization of the planetary community. It expresses both the innate and inalienable sovereignty of each human and the overall sovereignty of the entire species. Meeting the criteria for both ethical and ethnical politics, it also suggests a plan of ongoing political action at all levels of society, from local to global.    p. 48

As fellow citizens of this ‘village’, we cannot help but notice what we share: our humanity, our endangered planet, and our status as prisoners of an anachronistic geo-political system.  p. 55

A world of nation-states is essentially a lawless, anarchic world in which conflict is the defining political and social force. For the nation, ‘national security’ is another word for repression. War is a way to protect the ‘common welfare’, often by destroying it. Environmental degradation is defined as merely a ‘trade off’ for progress. And ‘human services’, managed by government and dominated by a repressive ethic, are programs that quite often promote moral and social disintegration. Leaders are commonly liars and criminals: commercial institutions are machines that market violence for profit. In the nation-state, the social contract called ‘national citizenship’ becomes a collective suicide pact. We simply don’t know when we’ll be asked to die – or for what. (…)

Thus, whether you live in a so-called ‘free’ country or in a dictatorship, national citizenship is actually a form of imprisonment. The system itself is the prison and national borders are the bars. The more we know, the less attractive this arrangement becomes.    p. 57

 

Above and Beyond
If you need any further evidence of the national passport swindle, you need only look up. Since the 1960s, astronauts, cosmonauts and shuttle crews have orbited above our heads, giving testimony through their movements to the self-evident oneness of the planet and the myopia demonstrated by efforts to keep it divided. These travellers literally and dramatically represent the sovereignty of the human race. It may seem foolish to ask, but do shuttle crews need national passports when they leave Earth? Are they asked to present ‘valid’ documents upon re-entry? Obviously not. They pass no national frontier upon take-off, and break no law when, without a passport, they return. They travel as humans, not merely as national citizens. They are, in fact, truly world citizens. Through their journeys they become pioneers of our common destiny. Travelling through space they break a barrier more profound than sound; they push past the barrier of nationalism and help make world citizenship a reality. The human venture into space has raised our civic status to the planetary level. Finally, we must face the reality that this planet is our common home.    p. 65

 

Searching for Higher Authority
‘As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable. There is no salvation for civilization, or even the human race, other than the creation of world government.’                        Albert Einstein      p. 119

But if individuals – the people themselves – are truly the source of each nation’s authority, it follows that humanity as a whole rather than any nation is the highest source of authority.        p. 122

 

A Non-Military Alternative
The baby has been born into the world, as a world citizen, not ‘into’ a particular political fiction called a nation. Yet when the parents accept this first civic document in the name of their child, they are allowing the nation to turn a natural world citizen into a national ‘subject’. The birth certificate becomes a form of theft, the theft of the child’s true identity.   p. 131

This work calls for ‘World Guards’ who combine the qualities of an Old West Sheriff, Indian sage and Robin Hood. World Guards act as direct representatives for World Citizens whose rights are violated, settling disputes between individuals and attacking national ignorance, intolerance and hypocrisy.    p. 132

But through cybernetics, the science of effective organization, World Government will be able to develop and coordinate new designs for peace. The old world, characterized by the need to manage ‘things’ is vanishing. In the new world, the greatest need is to manage ‘complexity’. Through cybernetic processes, world citizens can now take on this management challenge and ultimately achieve the horizontal reorganization of the planet.   p. 159

SAM LEWITT – Stored Value Field Separators

Artist: Sam Lewitt
Venue: Miguel Abreu, New York
Exhibition Title: Casual Encounters
Date: November 9, 2014 – January 11, 2015
link

Installed in the gallery’s original location at 36 Orchard Street are a series of Stored Value Field Separators, works comprised of surplus magnet platters taken from hard drives during the process of their destruction in e-waste processing facilities. For these works, stored value cards, such as loyalty and credit cards, were collected from various people involved in inviting Lewitt to participate in exhibitions (including the artist himself), and inserted into the segments of the stacks. The magnetic-media in the cards used to transmit user data is made inaccessible by the adjacent magnetic forces radiating from the hard drives, creating a feedback loop of energies based on canceling and erasure rather than storage and transmission.

 

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K.R.M. MOONEY – En, Set

Artist: K.r.m. Mooney
Venue: CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art
Exhibition Title: En, Set
Date: June 25 – August 1, 2015
link

The artist asserts sculpture’s capacity as assemblage in the chemical sense: the works push forward the alchemical properties of materials by conceiving of them as migrants, fluid and unordered forms that pass through, inside, around, and near each other, thereby becoming of each other. In that way, they perform acts of attachment, in the physical, chemical, sculptural, architectural, and also affective senses of the term. Mooney’s sculptures are physical incarnations of difference—fractured forms that disrupt and unrest existing systems of legitimacy, authority, autonomy, and use.

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CAMERON ROWLAND – Bait, Inc

Artist: Cameron Rowland
Venue: Essex Street, New York
Exhibition Title: Bait, Inc
Date: April 3 – 27th, 2014
link

At the frontier of capital, where it serves the fewest, risks of exchange are immediate. Security anticipates the violence of trickle-down. The normalization of security devices is predicated on their ability to retain property. Extra-legal acquisition of property is integral to the subsistence of the outside. As such, criminality is weighted against the poor. Quotas drive racist enforcement of law, binding criminality to both class and racial positions of the outside. “In arrangements reminiscent of the convict lease system, federal, state, and county government pay private companies a fee for each inmate, which means that private companies have a stake in retaining prisoners as long as possible and in keeping their facilities filled.”5 Criminalization protects the current distribution of property, by “propertizing”6 those who attempt to evade this distribution.

Bait, Inc is an empty entity. It was filed with the NYS Department of State on 02/13/2014, File Number: 140213010254; DOS ID: 4529454, under section 402 of the Business Corporation Law. Bait, Inc meets the minimum requirements for status as a Community Development Entity under the New Markets Tax Credit program. An application is pending for the approval of Bait, Inc as a CDE.

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LUCY SKAER – Sticks & Stones

Artist: Lucy Skaer
Venue: Murray Guy, New York
Exhibition Title: Sticks & Stones
Date: January 10 – February 21, 2015
link

The original object (made up of materials, prototypes and samples from the artist’s former New York studio) is replicated into a new copy in a different material. Each sculpture is a copy of its predecessor, not of the ‘original.’The nature of the sculpture is translated into a new embodiment, a metamorphosis of form.

The series is a pathway towards abstraction. Copies made of ceramic, marble, aluminum, and veneered wood, are lined up one after another, each replicating its predecessor as closely as possible without denying its individual materiality. No images are used as intermediaries. Each copy is crafted by hand and eye from its precursor. While the discrete sculptures never fully detaches from being a representation of its predecessor, abstraction exists as a tension.

Sticks & Stones embodies paradoxical strategies of transformation and sequence, recalling Gertrude Stein’s logic: “Everything is the same except composition and as the composition is different and always going to be different everything is not the same.”

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