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Dust of History, Sands of Time, Fog of War
What happens at the end of time? Dust falls on it. Everything gets covered in a layer of dust. Outlines are seen, but not the substance. There is a silence, a muffling. Dust falls in the archive. Dust is the archive, for the archive too turns to dust. Dust settles. Dust settles on things. It is evidence that scores are settled or unsettled, but certainly irrelevant. Dust fell on the end of history idea. The collapse of states in the Eastern Bloc led for a short time to declarations of the 'end of history' and a 'new world order'. The fall of the wall became synonymous with the end of one epoch and the opening of another. On closer examination, it might be said that this turning was a pseudo-event, or a return, as much as a turn. It is pseudo or a return in the sense that it does not represent any fundamental shift in social and political relations. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc states dislodged only few representatives of the old order, as sham-socialism - or state capitalism - re-fitted itself quite smoothly within the global capitalist order: name changes, shift-arounds, a restructuring within the ruling stratum, and then business as usual, with interests oriented more straightforwardly towards multi-national capital. In the early days, the events were widely conceived as, first and foremost, a media event, a televisual spectacle of triumphant wall-breakers, images of the crumbling authority of dictators, the removal of statues. These images returned again and again, ever re-broadcast to replace - or stand in for - historical process or its cessation. Almost immediately, history reasserted itself, war began, empires clashed and fought and there was much bloodshed and it seemed less like an end than an eternal return of the eversame, an endlessness. Battlefields were dusty, for they were not fields but deserts, deserts of sand, in which storms occurred.
An artist provided an image of this, of this dust, of this ever return of historical catastrophe, of a war on environment and on people: John Gerrard brought trickily into being video composite clouds of dust that represented the inaugurating clouds of an epoch of wars in the oil-rich Middle East. Over the last decade, John Gerrard has produced a series of what he terms 'animated scenes'. Two of the first of such scenes represented clouds. Dust Storm (Dalhart, Texas) and Dust Storm (Manter, Kansas) from 2007 combined an animated archival photograph of a cloud in the American dust bowl of the 1930s with photographs and films of an area of landscape in Texas and Kansas and satellite and topographical data. What appears to be a film or a video is a simulated world developed out of real-time computer graphics, as used by the military and the gaming industry. The cloud of brown dust, static on the photograph, was animated by Gerrard into a whirling storm cloud using digital tools. The storm cloud's patterns of swirl are, reportedly, based on the churns of dust, or desert storms, caught on video by soldiers serving in Iraq, as they used the new technologies for self-representation to convey back home what they saw and experienced in these historyless wars after the end of history, or rather these wars that would bring the last ideology, liberal capitalism, through the barrel of a gun, or a Cruise missile. A link is made by Gerrard between two environmental disasters. The massive oil fields in the Southern states, and the use of oil-fuelled mechanized agriculture, produce an environmental disaster in the 1930s. The presence of oil in late twentieth century military adventures produces another one. The dust clouds eddy amidst their composite Northern Texas and Kansas scenery under the diurnal conditions of real time Dalhart and Manter, emerging into view in a 360 degree pan that takes 8 minutes, before the camera passes back to the blank horizon, again and again, following the day, the night, the months, the years. It is, in part, a simulation of some moments which took place on Sunday, 14 April 1935, when the dust clouds were at their worst, 1500 miles wide and half a mile high. On that bleak day, under the thickest dust cloud from 100 million acres of land, cattle were choked and blinded. People were driven out, suffering dust pneumonia and suffocation. Areas were devastated. These moments are made by the animated scene into a day, that Black Sunday. The world is not as it should be. The cloud is on the ground. The cloud has been brought down to Earth, and is of earth, of topsoil loosened and made airy dry by the ripping out of native grasses for the massive farming of wheat. This dust cloud is a threatening cloud that looms in a sublimely devastating way. In its manufactured nature, though, it resembles a once new cloud, a cloud that comes about historically, as defined in John Ruskin's 'Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century'. The cloud is a cloud of war, a landscape whipped up into weapon in the tussles of war. This dust will also clog up lungs and try to be the antidote too. Brian Dillon notes of an old literary anti-hero: 'For Marcel Proust, too, dust was simultaneously to be feared (in the form of the lime-tree pollen that brought on his asthma, or the choking fumes of the coal fire in his bedroom) and welcomed for the physical and aesthetic veil it cast about him as he wrote; Proust lived his last decade in a cloud of medicinal powders, propped up among material remnants of his past - photographs, books, and furniture -that he refused to allow his servants to dust.'
Dust is potent, ambiguous. Walter Benjamin writes of dust in the Arcades Project in the 1930s, as it settled on the nineteenth century. It is a sign of boredom, of the end of history, of stasis. Dust is what settles on panoramas. Dust collects on plush - on padded velvet furniture in the best room, in the bourgeois home. Dust produces stifled perspectives. It blocks. It accumulates like dead time, homogenous dead time. Benjamin writes: 'Under Louis Philippe, dust settled even on the revolutions'. These people of nineteenth century Paris, capital of capitalism, of the new politics, of spectacle, are dust attractors. Benjamin includes a quote in the Arcades Project: 'Return from the Courses de 1a Marche: 'The dust exceeded all expectations. The elegant folk back from the races are virtually encrusted; they remind you of Pompeii They have had to be exhumed with the help of a brush~ if not a pickaxe.' H. de Pene, Paris intime (Paris, 1859)
Dust is non-time, or is only repetition, circularity, a lack of progression, a going round and round. Dust is a nobody. In this dream of the nineteenth century, parsed through the 1930s, dust is a layer that settles on a class that is arrested in time, that may wish to hold up all the forces of change and revolution, to be the last class, the culmination of history.
I am talking about dust, then and now. Dust is turbulent particles in air. Our air is turbulent with other things - with pollutants, with smoke particles, with pollen dust. There is a reference to dust that Eyal Weizmann, of Forensic Architecture, often makes, which turns dust metaphrical: usually in relation to the denials on the part of the state, which in themselves, or around their edges do not fail to betray what is happening, to give clues, to give material to the forensic investigator. Weizmann says: 'the dust falls off it'. Secrecy, betrayal, scheming leaves traces - and these traces, these ground up parts, this disarray of information can be carefully brought together again, reconstructed to provide witness, to tell truths, actualities.
Another quote from Weizmann notes how the dust cloud that an exploded building becomes - in Gaza or New York or wherever, which might look in photographs or even from the ground so aerated, is in fact ground up parts of a building and more, a building melded with human flesh. He calls this horrible devilish dust. There is an essay by one of FA's collaborators, Susan Schuppli titled 'Impure Matter: A Forensics of WTC Dust'.
Much has been said about the ways in which the smoke and dust clouds of 9/11 momentarily obliterated the human dimensions of the tragedy as Lower Manhattan was shrouded in an incendiary fog that defied all technical attempts at peering directly into the scene of the crime. The bodies of the more than 2,780 missing were not in evidence in these first televisual transmissions, instead they were understood as trapped and possibly interred within the architectural remains of the towers which were themselves still hidden from view by the haze of fallout. But this was a false reading of the image, a mirage if you will, for what the micro-spheres of dust carried were not simply the material remains of the destroyed towers but all of the buildings' contents including its human occupants. The body was not missing in the images of swirling dust that we witnessed repeatedly those first few days after the tragedy but was emphatically present within each specimen of dust at 1.3 parts per 100.
This is not a cloud of unknowing. This is not unknowable. It is precisely and quantitively knowable, analysable.
This is our historical ground. The dust, our ground, is an archive of contamination, of violence, of repeated inequities that occur on the surface: chemical seepages, ecological distresses. The ground and its dust communicates this. Located deep within the earth is also that which is older than can be imagined - elements melted and stretched at the beginning of time. Extracted from the earth are these same elements with ever greater rapacity. Their and our future suggests that they may be used up, rare earth elements melded into smartphones, gases such as helium puffed away in a billion MRI scans or floating off-world in a cavalcade of balloons. What made the stars will not outlive them. Ice cores are an archive of atmospheric shift. 'Glacial ice cores also provide a record of the amount of dust in the atmosphere, because dust is trapped in layers of ice after it settles on the surface. Higher quantities of dust, called dust fluxes, are associated with major glacial periods when parts of the world tended to be very dry and windy. Atmospheric dust results from a specific set of climate conditions, so it is not considered a cause of climate change. This is different from the cause-and-effect relationship that appears to exist between the atmospheric CO2 and temperature.' Many ice cores melted when the electricity failed in the Ice Core Lab at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada. Sand is an archive too- that is of stones that have been ground up. Much sand, this ancient ground up stone, is now bound into concrete, distributed across the urban zones of the globe, and irretrievable.
Sand is the stuff of the desert, the dust of rocks, a landscape for war. It has been much more, and, as in the example mentioned, it has found its way into buildings, in the form of concrete, a mixture of sand, gravel, and rocks glued together by cement paste made of water and cement powder, which was made in to dust again. Sand was essential to these postwar buildings that emblematize capitalist modernity. This universal architecture, an international form that imagined it could be the buildings to be found at the end of history, in every space, in an international environment that is nowhere and everywhere at once, is made of sand. There is sand in the glass of its windows. There is sand in its concrete. This concrete architecture accompanied an era of social welfare in the West and Communism in the East. Each side championed its universal rights and liberation in functionalist buildings made of concrete and glass. It was also the material of more banal and more exclusive, private corporatist developments. It still is, and in the post Cold War epoch, technologists are trying to find a way to make concrete on the moon, in conditions of low gravity, in preparation for permanent human settlement. And yet, sand is now scare. It is an emblem - and a victim - of a politics of extractivism and over-exploitation of a natural resource, amidst rampant building for private interests, including the construction of new territories, artificial islands. Sand and gravel are now the most extracted materials in the world and it is a globalised commodity, whose trade value has increased sixfold in last 25 years. Its mining has changed coastlines and rivers, and produced vulnerability to floods, storm surges and erosion and still pools of water vulnerable to the generation of disease, with the attendant affects on habitats. Construction sand, emblematic of progress, is now scarce. Progress is halted. Or can be carried on only at a massive cost to the environment, and so is nothing like progress.
Concretes make themselves too. There are new stones that are a collage or crashing together of sedimentary grains, shells, wood all held in a clump by hardened molten plastic, which is made of fishing debris, broken lids, other plastic flotsam and jetsam. Campfires perhaps melt this plastic confetti into a liquid concoction that seeps around rocks and sand. These have been named plastiglomerates. This is second nature, or a new and other nature that is a result of a montage of natural matter and waste. They are both beautiful and monstrous - or perhaps not so much beautiful as sublime, terrifying and wondrous. Would it count as a montage practice resultant from the recirculation of waste? I doubt it. There is something uncontrolled about it - it happens as a result of our polluting practices, and is an accidental by-product. It is not the same as the conscious practice of recycling of detritus by marginalized figures, outsider-poets, mothers of invention, artists of poor means: they recycle litter as lyric, littoral and leftovers as landscape painting and junk sculpture, which, through its transformation, converts into a critical commentary on value and on what is under- or unvalued economically and socially. Recycling is a re-circulation or things discarded, things that have fallen out of the system of circulation. This is why a wheel has at point been their emblem. The first found object artwork is usually reported to be Marcel Duchamp's 'Bicycle Wheel' from 1913. Kurt Schwitters made the most audacious attempts to recycle rubbish as art. He took his wrapper, tickets, scraps of lace or tissue, children's toys, and cogs and wheels, and set them into patternings that appeared to be motivated by a set of purely aesthetic values: questions of composition and rhythm, surface and line. This is the art of waste. But those composite stones are art, in another way. They exist in the world, on the beaches of Hawaii or elsewhere, chunks of historical nature, but I know of them only through beautiful photographs that enstage them and bring them out of their space into mine. These composites might leave no fossil trace. It may be that the plastics eventually dissolve back into the oil of the seas from whence they once came.
There is a film from 1957 by Alain Resnais and Raymond Queneau, an advertising film for the chemical firm Pechiney, titled The Song of Styrene, which depicts in reverse polystyrene manufacture and processing through the production of colourful plastic items, including a red bowl. The red plastic bowl is there at the start of the film glistening, as are the plastic ladles and rainbow plastic tags. All are newly born. It comes to be un-constructed through the course of the film's 13 minutes, taken back to an original moment, an original matter, out of which the magic of science and technology will conjure a bowl or a plug or a spoon: oil. Resnais and Queneau are Romantic on this point: We are taken back to this oil of the seas, itself a product of life and death, sharing some sort of common origin with something that became human life. We begin with the red styrene or plastic bowl and we are taken back in the course of the film to the origins of its parts - unknown and obscure origins we are told - somewhere in the sea - the oil of fish from millions of years ago, wasted dead organic matter….perhaps. As we see masses of coal undergo firing, the film text muses 'Does the oil come from masses of fish? We do not know too much or where the coal comes from. 'Is oil coming from plankton in labour?' What are the new contours of waste, and the waste inherent in new materials such as those that will come to be e-waste. Nothing is wasted now. Waste is the new treasure. Waste is not the end of a process but its beginning. Waste is the hysteron proton. Dust is the start not the end of history. Is the emblem of a recirculation. Extensive cleaning and recycling processes as well as recent developments like 'urban mining' regain reusable raw materials out of waste. Waste is a new resource', dynamic and transformable. Waste is not to be wasted, not least for capital, which outs its resources towards a nature beyond nature. New technology produces a new seemingly magical world that exists only as a result of infrastructures that are highly capitalised. At its more fantastical ends, it provides extraordinary images of the world remade from the atom up according to the digital command.
Dust is an important evidentiary thing, a stuff of meaning - connected to death, to things being over, to endings. But not just that. Dust is a sign of life, of action, even if destructive, action in order to destroy. Dust is weighty, not a by-product, but the product of a mixing, of life, or activity, a trace of violence. Dust is what is left behind after life, and after death.
And sand is at our fingertips all the time, in form of silicon, in the form of glass, or touchscreens. We know the feel of those screens better than we know the contours of our lovers, I would bet. We spend so long not only looking at them, but feeling them. We keep the dust off them, and the grease. We care for them. And they, like everything else, envelop us in a turbulent atmosphere, in which there is a kind of dust, but it is invisible to us, and we call it fog. It is a fog of data streams, the results of communications between everything that is unwired into our internet of Things. These streams are not streams, but atmospheres, foggy environments which convey data, and some call this digital dust, these fallings off, these traces, these little bits and pixels of past work, thought, actions. Our ether, the one we exist within, is the airy metaphorics of The Cloud, where all information - data sets - arrives and all intelligence is exerted not just in analyses, but in learning, deep learning, so that futures may be predicted, and, in being predicted, become actual. This cloud is a public cloud, or better a resource for private corporations, governments and the surveillance industry, a wad ever expanding of unstructured data, of pixels of apprehensible content. Think about the cloud and it encompasses you and then you are in fog. Not just the fog of the London or any other urban particular, or particulate, the fog of pollution, bad air, of our atmospheric gases suffused with particles of dusts. Not the fog of too much moisture on the land. The fog that surrounds us now is a blurry all-encompassing atmosphere in which nothing can be seen, nothing mapped, nothing communicated, at least not for us. Not just the fog of tear gas, which is a dusty air, a micro pulverized irritant powder, whose profits are surely soaring currently. It is the fog of computing. It makes itself visible sometimes, as an aura, a fog of data that shrouds the land, but only as data. Some sort of fog or haze surfaces digitally in measurements, reports, figures, data. In this particular circumstance, the fog is literalised as pollutant, a mingling in atmosphere of dust, a powdery or pulverized state that drifts and flows. It is tracked and mapped. The turbid dust of a polluted region, under a dense smog, or clouds of sand on the move - all this is mapped and tracked digitally, future moves predicted, as particulate marries with pixels and digital visualisation pairs with analysis. Digital image-making is drawn to the dust, the particulate. It finds ways to make detectable evanescence, such as the stress factors on a curve, the agitation of the air, clouds, the wind, and turn it into outputs, into measurement, as in the von Karman vortex streets made by NASA's Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer. Dust's movements can be tracked in digital mapping programmes, visualised and analysed. The dispersion of the virtually imperceptible, its behaviours over time, its pixelated parades can be brought to light. Our air, rich with dust, is rich in dust because those dusty whirls of tiny movements are tracked, are useful to science and measurement. The auratic that was at photography's birth, as Walter Benjamin identified it, returns otherwise, not as the mist of an Imperialism happy to be named such and through which subjects peer, but rather in the clouded air of industrial farming's dirt tracks, the loss of top soil from irresponsible changes in land use, the increase in pollution.
But dust has always been one of the plagues of photography: dust on negatives, lenses, inside cameras. It is even more irritating in the digital world: the electrical charges within cameras draw dust particles in like a magnet and these will appear in every image thereafter. And digital photography is especially susceptible to backscatter or retro-reflection of light off dust or other particles in air or water, which appears as orbs of transparent, white or rainbow circles floating in the image. Dust becomes data - Facebook builds knowledge of social relationships and has been known to make its lucrative 'People You May Know' suggestions, by correlating the dust on photographs, which indicates that various images were taken by the same camera. But Facebook has the dust it wants and uses, and the dust that is the particles and pixels that have fallen away, no longer animatable for commerce or connection. 'If you take the deep learning out of Facebook today, Facebook's dust', LeCun, Facebook's chief AI scientist, recently told CNN Business. 'It's entirely built around it now.'
Benjamin quotes Nietzsche in his Arcades Project, as an exemplar of a fatalistic bourgeois mindset of eternal recurrence of the ever-same - 'The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again - and you with it, speck of dust!' Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine!' The human is a speck of dust. It never stops being that. For capital, there are only specks. This is evident in the quantified workplaces of today. 'Quantified workplaces' collect data concerning employee performance, productivity, number of keystrokes, turnover rates, employee retention, employee engagement and overall job satisfaction and more, which is monitored and analysed automatically, while workers are requested to log their rates of stress, wellbeing, subjective sense of productivity, sometimes on a Likert scale of 1-5, conveyed through little pictograms of button faces which range from large smile to a downturned mouth. A scale of 1-5: there may only be room, at least in the administered world, for five emotions. Each bit of data is a clue to future moves on the part of the floating 'specks of human capital'. The military knows about dust, smartdust, about how this swirl of tiny matter could be tiny electronic spies, pixellish electronic wads of power, sensors, computing and communications electronics, low-cost and plentiful enough to scatter like dust, sense the environment, communicate with each other, gather and process data, be an intelligence. Some dust is not smart. Some dust is just old dust. Dead dust.
There are new materials, new clays, soils, dusts that are at least a by-product of contemporary production. Across the globe there can be found vast lakes consisting of a slow flow of sludge, a radioactive clay that comes there as waste from the rare earth mineral refining factories. These lakes contain tailings, substances left behind once ore has had its economically valuable parts stripped out. The leftover settles in in mud, which prevents the toxic tailings from dispersing on the wind into populated areas. Some photographs of these lakes have used the quality of particular lights to tease a glistening glow from the murky quagmire which mirrors its relation, the sheeny plastic of a smart phone's casing. This sludgy pond hosts the remainder from the chemicals that provide the underside of the liquid crystal touchscreen, the coating that monitors changes in electric state on the screen and is composed of rare earth minerals and metals, highly conductive ones, ones that can be easily deposited on the glass as a film and are optically transparent. A podcast from the Smithsonian notes the following: 'Oil is the blood; steel is the body; but rare earth elements are the vitamins of a modern society.' Somehow this stuff that makes our digital society flow and glow is an enhanced, the very stuff of life, essential to our metabolism, but needing to be continually deployed, ever augmented, optimised, bought and supplemented, and for those who do not take their vitamins, who have not bought into them, there will be reduced capacity, self-inflicted ailments, a general inability to function in modern society.
Dust, sand, small particles - that we can investigate and find within them - as the old line from Blake puts it - entire worlds - commodity chains, concentrations of pulverised forces, worlds whirled up into a mess. Does the immersion in technologies that alter and remake the senses - which has been theorised since the modernist avant gardists embraced radio and photography and film - have also a Fascist direction. Radio, promising such progressive potentials, was an arm of the state, entering deep into the self inside the home. Radio ether is ideology, is fascism. It is a toxic dust accumulating everywhere. It produces permanent contact between a body and the state and then between a body and various mega-sized private tech comms companies.
Many Unhappy Returns
There has been talk of being stuck in a loop, of a bourgeois inability to move history on. It does not end. It repeats, at least the same inequities, if in other forms, upgrades, updates, new versions, tweaks. It is not just capitalism that attracts such metaphorical language. It dogs Marxism and Communism too. Reflection on Eastern Europe and reflection on Marx alike frequently raise the spectre of ghosts, revenants, phantoms that haunt. Communism was, of course, in Marx's poetics, the spectre that haunted Europe, in a fateful struggle of the dead undone, who are the proletariat, condemned to work against the vampiric undead, capitalists and their machineries, which sucked the life from them as fast as they replenished it. Marx's spectre found a spectral form, it would seem, in the later twentieth century in the states of the Eastern bloc and it was known as actually existing socialism. That unachieved version of communism is now long dead, a ghosting in history, something once embodied that died. Even if it appeared once as alive, as rosy as the tint on Lenin's mummified cheek, it was only illusion. Lenin was dust long ago.
Lenin drafted a decree in April 1918, titled 'On Removing Monuments Erected in Honour of Tsars and Their Servants and Developing a Project for Monuments Dedicated to the Russian Socialist Revolution (On Monuments of the Republic)'. It is also known as Lenin's decree on Monumental Propaganda. It provided for the removal of monuments that had apparently no historical or artistic value, as well as for the creation of works of revolutionary monumental art, which took one of two forms: - (1) decorating buildings and other surfaces 'traditionally used for banners and posters' with revolutionary slogans and memorial relief plaques; (2) - vast erection of 'temporary, plaster-cast' monuments in honour of great revolutionary leaders. These monuments were created mainly as temporary works - Lunarcharchsiki recalled Lenin stating that the monument should be not of marble, granite and gold lettering, but instead of inexpensive materials (plaster of Paris, concrete, wood). Concrete makes its appearance - not as grandscale buildings for state and corporate uses, but as small, cheap, impermanent markers of a revolutionary process. Based on the didactic frescoes in Campanella's City of the Sun, these monuments and the punctuations they necessitated upon making, unveiling, marking, were to provide opportunities to be educational, to be hinges for discussion in the city, occasions for learning. Lenin delivered a speech at the unveiling of a temporary monument to Yakov Sverdlov who died in March 1919 - the speech was then circulated further by gramophone record. The temporary monuments could engender violent responses. One of Bakunin in cubo-futurist style by Korolev was said to be so hideous horses shied at it and the anarchists, incensed at their hero's portrayal, soon smashed it up.
It is well known how Stalinism came to bear down on memory and memorialization in the Soviet Union, how Lenin became embalmed, put on show, held their like a religious icon, his death and decay a glaring analogue of the death of revolution. Lenin was cast as statues and lorded it over every city, town and village in the Soviet Union, and then beyond into the satellite states. Shiny metallic or sleek granite forms of Lenin stood in for memory of the revolution, and certainly, even if the pose was dynamic, future-pointing, did nothing to ensure the revolution had a future. These were not temporary monuments designed to engender debate, interruption to thoughts and thinking, moments of connection, reflection, dialogue. Trotsky, forced to leave the Soviet Union in 1929, wrote books and pamphlets for his international network: The History of the Russian Revolution and what he called A Revolution Betrayed - and these were better, realer memorialisations of what had been, rather than what was and was said to have been - and what was yet to come. The statues were solid lumps of immobility, silent, or mute, obstacles to city life, giant efforts to squash personal memory, to force smallness onto city inhabitants, in terms of scale as well as significance.
In 2014, the world's biggest steelmaker ArcelorMittal dismantled a monument to Vladimir Lenin outside one of its steel plants at Kryvyi Rih in Ukraine, in response to the destruction of monuments by protesters who had just forced the country's president to flee. The reason given by ArcelorMittal: 'in order to ensure the safety of our employees and protect the company's buildings'. The statue of Lenin outside the steelworks in Ukraine was not a realisation of the 1918 plan for monumental propaganda, but rather its negation - the negation that Stalin saw though. There is much that can be said about the erection and dismantling of statues - and about how the memorial substitutes for memory, becomes a kind of blindspot of history, freezes history as power, especially as it freezes into history, standing there through the ages as the dominating presence of domination. I point to the Arcelor Mittal removal of the monument because, unlike the dismantling as part of street upheaval, this is an act of power stepping in to interrupt the discursivity, including violent discursivity, of the streets, in the name of protecting property relations as they exist. What wild turns is history subject to? The putting up of this particular statue is just the same as taking it down. This is a reversible history. That is to say running forwards or backwards it amounts to the same: power building up, power taking down. Neither direction touches on what it would mean to make history, to make history forcefully, to make a revolution, something that spins, feeds back into itself and changes itself and everything in it whirl, something breathing, its centrifugal forces productive of life and thought. There were a hundred or so Lenin statues in Kryvyi Rih - many were pulled down by demonstrators in a period known as Leninopad, or 'Leninfall'. In February 2014, a total of 376 statues were torn down in Ukraine, a country that had by far the highest density of Lenin statues on earth. This one was pulled down by ArcelorMittal. ArcelorMittal is among the largest foreign investors in Ukraine, having bought assets from Ukraine's government in 2005. A massive employer, it has, however, in the past years been shedding thousands of workers to maintain global competitiveness. 'By 2011 staffing levels had been reduced from 55,000 (at acquisition) to 37,000, high by global standards - the management hoped to reduce the number of workers to approximately 15,000 over a decade to increase competitiveness.'
Steel makes dust ArcelorMital makes so much dust. In Italy
Huge stockpiles, some 20 metres (yards) high, cover an area the size of 56 football pitches, the company says. Red and black dust from parks of iron-ore and coal have long covered balconies and playgrounds in the nearby Tamburi and Paulo VI neighbourhoods, and locals shut themselves in and schools close when the wind blows their way.
We can track this dust - but capital still produces it.We can release time from it, from dust. We can analyse its constituent parts. Our digital worlds are premised on that. This dust will reveal all we have been, and all that surrounds us. I want dust to be the pixel of the digital, the smallest parts that will make up our visions - will constitute what we have to see, and we allow us to see into it - as do Forensic Architecture, at the threshold of perceptibility, - but I also want dust to be a critic, a destroyer of coherence, of the homogenous, untimely, a break up - which is the meaning of the word analysis - a breaking down. Dust is particulate, a dangerous set of chemicals lurking in our ether, but it is also particular. We can determine what this dust is. We can change the dusts that shake off of us. Can we?
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