This book could be yours:


Actually it is already yours, right here, for free :

But if you’d like to have a beautifully realized physical object, I am glad to say the printed copy is now available in the US (it has been so for a while in Europe). It’s a bit like a dream come true, thanks to Dejan Krsic’s brilliant design and the illustrations contributed by so many of the artists and activists with whom I have worked over the last six or seven years. You can order it in North America from Half Letter Press and in Europe from the Van Abbe Museum. Thanks to everyone who contributed!



4 Responses to “This book could be yours:”

  1. John Maclean Says:

    Hi Brian,

    I recently watched a recording of your presentation, A cultural critique for the 21st century, at the Van Abbemuseum from 2010 and I was very interested to hear you discuss the five scales of experience. I do an art project which focuses acutely on what you refer to as the territorial scale (which in my case is the city of Newcastle in England) through the creation of a fictional local authority institution. This project fits with what has recently been termed a ‘mockstitution’ but in actual fact it derives far more from the Copenhagen Free University project and their practice of self-institution. I found your presentation particularly exciting because it provides the language to describe something that I have been attempting to do in the project which, in terms of scales, is to present a version of the territorial through self-institution and then to capture moments when other scales of experience impinge on this environment and then weave it all together on the project website. Unfortunately this has all occurred to late to fit anything into the thesis that I have just submitted about the project…typical!

    Anyway, I thought it was a great presentation.

    P.S I once used an extract from your text Security Aesthetic=Systems Panic in a feature about the outrageous anti-terror posters that appeared in the UK. Here’s the link if you’d like to look – the poster is crazy!

    • Brian Holmes Says:

      Hey John, this is great, I am glad to learn of your project and I think that describing it as both a mockstitution and a self-institution is perfect. The thing about critique (mocking, irony) is that it can only be a real critique if it aims at autonomy, which is. the attempt by a group to give itself (autos) its own law or principles (nomos). So what I hear in the idea of the Open Council is that it mocks the local Council and challenges it precisely to the extent that there is an effort to establish something else, ie self-institution as in self-management, self-organization etc. Territorial is definitely the scale for that because it’s the scale where the intimate or existential can become social; at larger scales you get lost in abstractions (even though a few years ago a few thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then millions tried to self-institute some kind of world council, we called it the counter-globalization movement! but of course, we got lost along the way…).
      I’m curious what you think your self-institution has produced? In the meantime, long live the Copenhagen Free University!

  2. John Maclean Says:

    Hi Brian thanks for the reply. You ask what the self-institution has produced which is a question that I have found rather tricky to answer but I think that one thing that it has produced is a different way of imagining and relating to the city and a method by which daily experience of the city environment can be harnessed and channelled into art practice more directly and on an ongoing basis. This happens in the project through a continual elaboration of a fiction about a bizarre council that operates in the local area (a bit like the invisible court in Kafka’s, The Trial) which produces ‘experimental policies’ aimed at its imagined community of ‘members’. This allows for an acute focus on the territorial but beyond the satire and mockery of local government the idea is that the fictional or abstract institutional identity of the Open Council is simultaneously an interpretative framework into which actual art/creative practice and research can be threaded and eventually exhibited.
    The idea for this came from the Copenhagen Free University project and particularly from the way that they audaciously declared their home to be a university and then proceed to build from that basis. I thought it was fascinating how whatever was presented in that context, when looking at it through the website at least, seemed to me to be imbued with this initial act of reframing of art practice to the activities of a university institution in a flat and I thought it would be interesting to experiment with a reframing of art using a different model of institution.

  3. Escape the Overcode | Creative Writing: Says:

    […] Holmes’s book Escape the Overcode offers a sharp analysis of the importance of art for activists. More precisely, he articulates why […]

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