Roderick StanleyComment

Adam Broomberg: Hands off our Revolution

Roderick StanleyComment
Adam Broomberg: Hands off our Revolution

Hands off our Revolution! Adam Broomberg IS CALLING ON ARTISTS to resist the rise of the far right

“My students are anything but apathetic and their rage is visceral,” says artist and photographer Adam Broomberg, also Professor of Photography at HFBK university in Hamburg, Germany. Highly regarded artistic duo Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have held numerous solo exhibitions, and won major art awards including the ICP Infinity Award (2014), and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2013). 

“I think the art market is something else,” he continues. “The fact Miami Basel could go ahead just days after Trump’s election made me very uncomfortable. I don’t think this can be a time of ‘business as usual’.

To that end, Broomberg has created HANDS OFF OUR REVOLUTION, a collaborative web-based art project calling on artists, thinkers and researchers to “counter the voices of modern fascism”.

The language of revolution has been usurped by the right again,” opens the manifesto. “This time, the threat, in the form of Donald Trump’s ‘whitelash’ fascism, is not just apparent in the United States. Trump’s election has emboldened the right wing throughout the world.

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Hands off our Revolution calls for submissions of “images, films, banners, posters, t-shirts and slogans”, which will be disseminated through “social and traditional media”, while also establishing an archive of critical thinking about the far right, and its “use of language, aesthetic strategies and the media”.

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“The day after Trump was elected, I was sitting in a room at HFBK and we were all in a state of shock,” explains Broomberg. “We decided collectively to fight our shared feeling of defeat and gloom, and started writing a manifesto together – a place to put our outrage.”

As the far right have attempted to position themselves as a modern, anti-establishment ‘counterculture’, Broomberg sees this as an attempt to “usurp the language of revolution” that must be vigorously resisted by artists, along with all those who perceive themselves to be left-wing or progressive.

“There is one thing we all have in common,” he says. “That is an understanding of the complexity of the world… I think the only way to defeat the rise of this ‘whitewash’ right and populism is to keep things as complex as they are. We must never compromise on this."

"The right has co-opted the language of the left, but only by stealing soundbites – by putting our vocabulary in quote marks. This ridicules and demonises our language. But the worst thing we could do is develop a populism of the left. Complexity of thought and language is our strength.”

Hands off our Revolution emphasizes peer-to-peer and grassroots organization over what they see as the “messianism” of, in particular, American politics – “the futile belief that an outsider will come to redeem them, whether from the left or the right of the political spectrum.”

Broomberg concedes that a political system is of course necessary, “but I don’t think it’s just the white working class that feels alienated from the political system – I think most of us do,” he adds. “Grassroots democracy is a way of keeping connected, and by organising we can then impact on a political system that has isolated itself from us.”

The art and images submitted are important, he notes, and when they are disseminated via the campaign will of course be the way that people come to the project. “Though I think that the links to information, planned demonstrations and critical texts about the rise of the right and how to counter it are the most important elements of the project,” says Broomberg. “We hope for this to become a large and very useful resource to people who want to understand those people who call us their enemy.”

ACTIONS

You can read the manifesto, view submissions and submit your own at www.handsoffourrevolution.com

Hands off our Revolution tees, sweats and hoodies are on sale at handsoffourrevolution.teemill.co.uk – Adam says funds raised will be used to pay for a site editor

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Writer and editor based in New York.