Peter Weibel – Global Activism: Art and Conflict in the 21st Century


The MIT Press, ISBN-13: 978-0262526890, English, 600 pages, 2015, USA

Global Activism was another gargantuan exhibition effort in the notorious ZKM tradition, which took place at the end of 2013, attempting to survey “art and conflict” on a global scale. Although inevitably a partial effort, it nevertheless tracks a plethora of subjects and entities active on the political scene in the 21st Century. This should be the “catalogue” of the exhibition, but this seven-hundred page book looks more like an attempt to create a form of subjective encyclopaedia, a difficult task for these kinds of topics especially when considered from a historical perspective. The heterogeneity of the subjects (from renown theorists to ONGs, political movements and artists) reinforces this problem but there are few other printed encyclopaedias that have engaged with such themes. Essays include texts from some of the stars of leftist philosophy (including the usual suspects Žižek, Latour and Negri, just to name a few). There’s a considerable non-western bent to many of the articles and there is genuine global feel, with reflections on what kinds of “systems” are unfolding in different countries, culminating with Weibel’s definition of “performative democracy.” This a vast effort and a valuable archive, preserved in print.


global aCtIVISm