A bunch of people walk into a bar…

6.4 / Free Speech in the Art World

A bunch of people walk into a bar…

By Martha Rosler May 27, 2015

Dushko wrote me the following in a Facebook message in March, referring to a late-evening conversation in a bar in December:

You said, “I don’t come from the era of theory journals; I come from the era of activist journals.”

The conversation then moved on and bounced around, so you didn’t really expand on that, but the implication was that this fact impacted your outlook.

The issue of Art Practical is about Freedom of the Art Press, as they wanted to do something related to the 50th anniversary of the free speech movement.

I’m of course focusing on the art world, and my specific concern is how publishing is and is not free in various ways. Your casual periodization of activist and theory journals struck me as a very efficient way to get at some basic questions about the publishing environment at any given point in history.

I responded:

We could have a snarky conversation which YOU could then write up!

Then after some back-and-forth he wrote:

Yes, the mischievous thing to do would be to ask you about this on FB, and then print the unreal conversation that ensues.

When he wrote to me months later, in the exchange reproduced here, I used my talking-on FB-to-people-I-know-IRL voice, which is, as advertised, snarky. When I realized what the conversation was about, I used my New York Jewish, old-school opening gambit of putting the questioner on the defensive, just to gain the advantage. And then we were off.

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