Recovering and Recreating Spaces of Production | Writing

A Virtual Roundtable with Protagonists of Argentina’s Worker-Recovered Enterprises Movement

by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry

This article is made up of excerpts from a series of exchanges, during the summer of 2005, between protagonists in Argentina’s worker-recovered enterprises movement (movimiento de empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores, or ERT) and Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry. These voices are assembled here, in a virtual roundtable, as a narrative about struggles over spaces of production. This act of assemblage is a contribution to the circulation of critical analysis, joyful affects, affirmative statements, and creative actions.

We hear from: Pablo Pozzi, an Argentine labour and guerrilla-movement historian and Chair of US History at the University of Buenos Aires who works as a radical pedagogue in numerous villas de emergencias (shantytowns) and unions across Argentina; Eduardo Murúa, an organizer of the autonomist ERT collective Movimiento Nacional de Empresas Recuperadas (National Movement of Recovered Enterprises, or MNER), who is currently in the midst of various workspace recoveries while forging links with the ERT movement across Latin America; Edith Oviedo, former journalist, educational book publisher, and member of the Editorial Cefomar workers’ co-operative; Plácido Peñarrieta, the current president of the Artes Gráficas Chilavert workers’ cooperative and a housing-rights activist; Cándido González, a Chilavert worker, spokesperson for MNER, and an activist who assists recovered enterprises in their crucial moments of struggle; Manuel Basualdo, an experienced book-binding specialist at Chilavert; Walter Basualdo, Manuel’s son, an apprentice machinist who has worked at Chilavert for three years; and Martín Cossarini, an apprentice machinist at Chilavert who has been active in setting up cultural spaces in workers’ cooperatives.

With these protagonists our collective shares common questions: How do bodies insulate themselves from reactive forces? What new forms of constituent sociability, subjectivity, in short, composition, are emerging today? “What alliances might be forged while under siege?” What are bodies, in practices of intentional cooperation, capable of? What does it mean to make subjectivity a locus of struggle? What tensions exist between a strategy oriented towards the reclamation of work and one based on the refusal of work? How might creative assemblages keep lines of affinity moving without freezing their fluid material?

We write from Toronto. These voices speak from Buenos Aires. We visit. They stay. We find ourselves recalling a closing line in an email we received from one of the protagonists who speaks in these pages: “The greatest support you compañeros from the North can offer us here in Argentina is for you to continue to struggle against the system in your own localities, where you live.”

The voices gathered here speak across the theme, “occupy, resist, and produce.” The last term is, perhaps, the key term, the catalytic force coursing throughout: production not just of goods, but of desires, of affinities, of communities—all circumscribed by struggle, ‘lucha,’ undertaken in response to an urgent need, to produce autonomous spaces.


Entangled Territories | Writing

by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry

Entangled Territories is an event organized by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (in this case, Adrian Blackwell, Greig de Peuter, Christine Shaw, and Marcelo Vieta) as Act 16 of the Public Acts project, was held within Adrian Blackwell’s installation “carpool” on Sunday, August 6th, 2006. In an effort to shift the place of dialogue outside Toronto’s downtown, the event unfolded in North Toronto near Downsview Park, in the parking lot of Idomo Furniture. At the end of a subway line, yet in the middle of the city; amidst the inner suburbs; lodged between an army base, big box stores, and warehouses; and at the confluence of a highway, a subway line, and an airport strip—this site is entangled. It became a temporary commons, animated by bodies in conversation, disagreement, and creative acts in and against the neo-liberal urban agenda….

As we talked, issues, urgencies, tactics, and tensions emerged. We documented them on the paper tablecloths that we gathered around. For us, these conversations confirmed the need to map Toronto’s existing commons, an initiative that would help us to both continue the discussion and further the practice of commoning.

We ate, talked, and listened to the sounds of the political punk project Republic of Safety, who rocked carpool with portable amps. We then left our appropriated site, and dispersed, moving again….

Manifestations of Soft Revolution | Writing, Listening

by Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry

  • “Manifestations of Soft Revolution,” C Magazine, Issue 90, Summer 2006

vacant-lot-record-789034The energy of the manifesto is drawn from expressions in the here and now of alternate possibilities for life. Music is just one territory of cultural production in which such expressions of the possible manifest, in all their messy contradictions: “Our music foretells our future. Let us lend it an ear.”

This text flows from our listening to – or (shall we admit it?), our fictionalizing of – a strain of contemporary Canadian indie music. We, like many others, have been moved first by the sounds and, soon after, by the concept of a “Soft Revolution” as annunciated by Stars. No single group could, however, stake a proprietary claim on any soft revolution worthy of the name.

Read and listen to the entire manifesto.