Culture, Globe, United Kingdom, Visual Arts

Anti-system art: organising outside the State

Impact strategies (visual, auditory…) as a form of struggle for some social movements today are not always effective against the system that they are critical of. The danger of these methods is that the epidermal impacts are merely substitutes for profound changes. It is what the popular wisdom would describe with the vitriol that characterizes it as “big dog, little bite” or “empty vessels make the most noise”.


Macu Gavilán


Little more than one year ago, I heard for the first time of Porn-terrorism. When I visited some online sites, the first impression I had on the subject was that it was a movement with a political purpose associated with a handful of pictures of genitalia of woman in the foreground, with a notable absence of male organs that were not plastic and an equally remarkable presence of leather and chains as lingerie.

As I had not heard anything before about the subject, I asked the friend who gave it to me if he knew if the activists were considered ‘anti-system’ to which he replied yes, they were anti-system, patriarchal anti-society and many other antis that I cannot now remember.

I decided to close my mouth until I had very clear reasons why the connection between ‘anti-system’ and ‘terrorist pornography’ did not tally up, and behold, I can already answer.

As Lipovetsky analysed in the 1980s, economic systems transversally affect the culture.

Consequences of the consumer economy in which we live are, for example, some slogans such as ‘live the moment’ and the choice of a religion a la carte: a Hindu God, with some Catholic guilt, a pinch of animistic nature and a Taoist ritual.

Today, everyone looks for a ‘personal and unique style of life’, productive working days and commitment free relationships, in the same way that it is fashionable to be a collector of sexual relationships; it is nothing more than a manifestation of the need of the consumer. Are we to believe that extending this capitalist spiral to the body means that we are released?

Pornography in its different variants, including the queer style, is also structurally designed to fit with the capitalist economic system that has emerged, and it fits in the context of the release of cultural taboos, the public use of intimacy or hedonism as a lifestyle.

This is not the place to judge the validity of these ‘imposed elections’, but to point out that all of them are the result of a certain economic structure.

And when a movement reproduces the structures against which it claims to fight, you can smell a rat. In fact, it seems, too much like that speech about defending the peace with weapons that governments so often speak of.

In a society of frenetic pace such as our, where profundity is boring and no one has time to read more than a dozen tweets, the impact on the epidermal sensitivity of the public has become the substitute of the complexity. An image (and we add «shocking») is worth more than a thousand words.

But, will we not be placating the profound change by force of epidermal impacts? Is it that the terrorist culture has been absorbed by the system that produced it and now serves as a sleeping pill to silence other possible forces? Does it not remind us of the way the ‘rebellion of drug consumption’ dissipated true rebellion against the Vietnam War?

To take pictures of your vagina or to display the way you use a harness on a blog is definitely not anti-system. There are millions of users that consume videos with these images daily. Porn is one of the most lucrative enterprises in the United States. Anti-system is to create a co-operative, being able to help others without being enrolled in an NGO, planting tomatoes on your terrace and not putting your parents in a nursing home as soon as they cease to be productive. Anti-system is organised at the margin of the State: it is to make community and not only society. But if there is something truly anti-system today, it is to trust in others and in that, our grandparents of ninety years are more Anti-system than we are. So I suspect that it must begin to sweep from the inside out. (The Prisma’ memoirs.)

(Translated by David Coldwell – Email: – Photos: Pixabay

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