Contingency Plans: Art Collectives, Shared Pseudonyms, and Theories of Collectivity

This review considers Jacopo Galimberti’s Individuals Against Individualism: Art Collectives in Western Europe (1956–1969), 2017, and Marco Deseriis’s Improper Names: Collective Pseudonyms from the Luddites to Anonymous, 2017 and the theories of collectivity that inform them (multitude, inoperative community, and transindividuality). While Galimberti looks at how collaborative practices model new strategies for collective action, and Deseriis examines forms that allow multiple actions and ideologies to flow through them, they authors share a desire to move beyond representation to model, enact, and realize real change in the world. Taken together, these two books afford us the opportunity to evaluate the critique of cultural and political representation at the heart of these theories of collectivity and assess the limits of analogies between aesthetic and political forms.

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