Two and a half years ago when we started this project, we had in mind putting together a fragile, fluid, and unrepresentative Assembly International. Some of the participants are here tonight. This is an experiment. It is the continuation of a series of affective encounters that we consider politically significant. It's not about presenting a political program; rather we want to relate existing subcultural and political activities of different performers and theorists.

We have been doing research on experiences in different communities. Communities seem to be both, a threat and a promise. Everyone interviewed strongly feels the limiting side effects of groups and classical identity politics. Everybody feels it is time for radically rethinking politics - but nobody can really imagine right now what form that could take or what specific actions or alliances we want to engage in. The fact that there are people locally and internationally who deal with a similar kind of social reality produces a sort of an accumulated knowledge that already has a political potential. Every single person taking part in the Assembly project already proves the feasibility of a different kind of political or social or aesthetic struggle. Starting from these concrete local practices we see a theoretical and practical exchange, a possible or impossible place for *Assembly International*.


Difference is extremely important, but it has also become the engine of capitalism: the production of new fashions, new ways of inventing new styles, new objects… Gender becomes increasingly negotiable, as new sexualities come onto the market. A body may be 'transsexual', 'bisexual', 'asexual', 'sex addicted', or whatever.
A whole service industry exists for each. A new genre is added to the recognized list, and procedures are established to ensure the integration of the new kind of body into a shared environment that does not upset the general equilibrium.

The majority of people expect their future to be worse than the present; there’s no longer a pretence that we’re on a road to progress, that things will get better. There’s perpetual crisis. All borders have become porous, and capitalism is feeding off that porosity and pushing it further and further. So there is a sense of hopelessness and isolation that ends up rigidifying people's responses.

But it’s extremely important not to fall into over-seriousness or over-sincerity. Sincerity can be one of the most oppressive of political tools. We believe in the power of paradoxes and impossibilities. There are no oppositions, only different levels of humour. And wherever you are there’s probably a point of tension that could become a point of resistance.

Oppositional difference brings nothing new. Identifying minorities is not empowering, it demands taking a fixed position within a representational framework. In order to position myself, I have to subtract the temporal dimension and the movement from the picture. This makes a kind of cultural freeze frame. At best, there are shifting positions, but no qualitative changes. To put it differently: people get immobilized in what they are supposed to be instead of being described by what they can do. A call for an end to binary systems of difference is not a plea for sameness, but an invitation to exercise the capacity for becoming something else.

That's why what we want is to represent no one- in the best case scenario not even ourselves.
Not being or having a determinable constituency helps. We are working on an inclusive, non-judgmental political approach. A tending of coming-together, or belonging together in an affectively engaged way. We want to de-polarize dialectics and relate to people beyond our specific subcultural contexts. This is not only an attempt to rethink the political but also an immediate creation of new social forms as a basis for communication and cooperation. We hope to keep Assembly un-contextualized; not only because there is no existing context available, but because we are suspicious to ready-made contexts anyway.

This non-judgmental practice means to put ourselves at risk, to make mistakes and to sometimes come across as silly. We don't want to place ourselves in a position but right in the middle, in a fairly indeterminate, vague situation, where things meet at the edges and pass into each other. We don’t know what the outcome is going to be. This kind of uncertainty is precisely what is important and exciting about being part of a temporary group. Temporary can mean one night or a few hours or years. These sorts of non-identification groups dissolve as soon as the connective element, which is a shared interest, dissolves. We like that. Communities thought as recognition outside of identity are very fragile and that is the beauty of it. There is no formula: it is very powerful, and sometimes scary.

Given the experience of the Left, we would attempt reformulating resistance really taking to heart the changes that have happened recently in the ways in which capitalism and power operate. We are trying to imagine the struggle for change in something other than a guilt-ridden masochistic way. Namely taking a position yet learning to speak and think in terms of degrees and movements and avoiding the undertone of moralizing.

It must be possible to go beyond judgment and still be critical. Such ethics would not attach positive or negative values to actions based on their classification in a moral system of judgment. We try to go beyond personal feelings or emotions and perceive affects instead. Affects are basically ways of connecting, to others and to other situations. A body’s ability to affect or be affected — its charge of affect — isn’t something fixed. Affects are our angle of participation in processes larger than ourselves. Ethics in this sense is completely situational. Totally pragmatic.
And the high art of not taking the situation personally implies seeking a depersonalized way of thinking rather than operating with hurt feelings.

This is an important starting point for reformulating resistance on an ethical basis. We are not exactly sure what this kind of politics would look like. This is deliberately vague, a micro strategy that needs to remain invisible.  We need to become invisible in order to gain the privilege of experience and channel this into a new opportunity of actually thinking, not representing. We don't want to be invisible towards each other; we just want to dodge the representational level. We need to create much smaller holes in reality. Otherwise they would be immediately swallowed by media representation, normal institutions. It's all about creating spaces that might not be there forever but will nevertheless resist time. They puncture a hole into reality.
These holes are a potential, there are openings in the grey areas, floating in the blur where you’re susceptible to affective contagion, or at least capable of spreading it. This practice would not start from excluded minorities but from a non-voice, a community with shared interests that aren't based on a representable identity.

We are not doing business, we are not creating enterprises or firms.  We have other aims that are kind of undercover, they are secret and sometimes they are even so secret that we don’t know where they are.  As Beatriz Preciado put it, there is a kind of political joy and it is a kind of pleasure that resembles nothing, none of the other pleasures, it has nothing to do with money, it has also its own glamour and perversity but it has a very particular quality, precisely as this micro- quality.


Tara Herbst and Teodora Tabacki