As part of my scholarly work, I am also interested in aesthetic practice and organizational politics in collaborative settings. My two major collaborative projects – Research Service and the Dictionary of the Possible – are explained a bit below. The hyperlinks will take you to our other sites. At the bottom you will also find some links to my creative works and art criticism.
Research Service is the collaborative endeavor of Mashinka Firunts, Avi Alpert, and Danny Snelson. We create events that blend scholarly investigation, performance making, and creative writing. Our work goes against the unspoken assumption that intellectual labor has reached its formal perfection in the standard lecture, wherein the only progress occurs in contentual innovations. Our projects seek innovation in the movement between form and content, and propose that research is as much a question of aesthetic inquiry as abstract thought. To these ends, Research Service crafts unique lecture-performances for each concept with which we’re confronted.
Our practice also stresses the communal nature of knowledge production. As such, we seek to position the audiences as nodes within the event-structure, creating a heightened affective situation for the sharing of conceptual labor.
The Dictionary grew out of three semesters of public conversations co-hosted by myself and Sreshta Rit Premnath at the New School in New York. For each session, two presenters (an invited speaker or frequent participant in the conversations) would offer some readings, and then give a short, 10 minute set of thoughts about a keyword. These mini-presentations functioned as platforms to build on an open discussion about what words might mean. The project went against what William James reportedly spoke of as “the tyranny of the dictionary.” We wanted to show how words could mean many different things to different people across time and space, without falling into incoherency. We published a version of the dictionary that combined questions generated from these discussions with solicited entries from artists and writers. The final product, published as Volume 22 of Shifter and launched at the 2016 New York Arts Book Fair, can be seen here. We continue to add addenda to the Dictionary, including the word “Launch” for the book launch, and an upcoming second launch event at Regards Gallery in Chicago will feature new presentations by Research Service, Matt Metzger, Brendan Fernandes, and Anthea Behm.
Learning and Unlearning
This is a new project being convened by Premnath and myself. Our first three events took place at Art in General in fall 2017 around Danilo Correale’s show At Work’s End. We led discussion on “unlearning work” with Abou Farman (on pleasure), Marina van Zuylen (on boredom) and Sandro Mezzadra (on refusal). More information is available here. The series will continue either later this year or in the spring. More details soon.
Creative Works and Criticism
I have also done creative writing for Shifter. My work appears in issue 15, and I co-edited a volume with Sreshta Rit Premnath dedicated to the hugely influential, though seemingly non-existent, philosopher Indira Sylvia Belissop. Premnath and I are also working on a series of short stories about Belissop’s namesake, a down-and-out laborer in the mythic industrial development, The Castle. The first one was published here.
I also have drafts of a novel and a screenplay somewhat perpetually in the works.
I wrote monthly for Machete magazine for several years. Those pieces can be found in the issues here.
I also write occasional art criticism and short essays. Links to these can be found on my homepage.