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Despina Zefkili
If freedom of information and speech is a collective challenge, who or where is the collective?

By forming coalitions that combine social justice, economics, equality, cultural, ecological and technological aspects, we can reassert the possibilities of attaining more open and democratic digital societies.

By Despina Zefkili

Coalitions. After networks.

In her work “Hardcore Digital Detox” internet artist and writer Ying Miao gives directions on how to confuse cookies adopting bipolar online behaviour, clicking on things we hate, trading our devices with those of friends or, better, with people we disagree with.

Despina Zefkili © Dimitris Tsitsos But there is more at stake in digital surveillance and capital’s exploitation of data, than bolstering individual privacy settings options. The discussion regarding fundamental rights in the internet ecosystem should be seen in relation to essential conflicts concerning the modus operandi between individuals, states, institutions and other structures. The “shadow constitution” that rules the internet is a new architecture of governance over our culture, principles, economy, a tissue of control systems. Maybe the battle for an internet constitution can activate ideological struggles, deconstruct the ideal of global civil society and expanded democracy. The provocation of assigned failed internet constitution can reveal the relativism, the reductionism and the harsh limitations of generic humanitarianism, global law system, human rights policies etc. The call for an internet constitution may be a call for political fights anew.

Working on the project “Freiraum”, the Temporary Academy of Arts (PAT) poses the question of artistic freedom in the times of cultural policies and points to possible coalitions of commitment which presuppose persistence and dedication to certain causes instead of networks that are based in an economy of friendship occasion and opportunity.

To think of coalitions that combine economic, social justice, equality, cultural, ecological and technological aspects, engaging and focusing with the ways in which data collection and analysis embodies historical institutionalised forms of discrimination and exclusion that limits opportunity and participation for certain subjects, may reassert the possibilities of other ways of organising more open and democratic digital societies.

Further reading:
Gene Ray, “Culture Industry and the Administration of Terror”. In Gerald Raunig, Ray, G. and Wuggenig, U., eds, Critique of Creativity: Precarity, Subjectivity and Resistance in the ‘Creative Industries’, London: MayFlyBooks, 2011.

Elpida Karaba, Glykeria Stathopoulou, Despina Zefkili, Temporary Academy of Arts, The limits of art as an economy of resistance. Was that a pat or a slap? in AB6 Athens Biennale 2018 ANTI exhibition catalogue, Athens, 2018.

Follow-up question:
What kind of new coalitions of commitment can we think to enhance the professional situation and freedom of art laborers?