An Activist Neuroaesthetics Reader

In the past ten years, a crisis has begun to emerge that is almost as significant as the one caused by the advent of cybernetics and immaterial labor. Just as the pioneers of the idea of cognitive capitalism (such as Antonio Negri, Silvia Federici, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Maurizio Lazzarato, and Mario Tronti, among others) realized that the then coming digital economy would have serious consequences for labor and the production of subjectivity, so too will the imminent transition from the information economy to full-blown neural capitalism in which the material brain is at the center of capitalist commodification. This transition requires a new epistemological understanding with which to unpack, expose, and resist the consequences of this coming age. Activist neuroaesthetics is one such methodology.

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Glossary for Cognitive Activism

Written by Warren Neidich, Glossary of Cognitive Activism (For a Not so Distant Future) articulates key concepts central to the essays published in the three-volume series The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism. The series attempts to broaden the definition of cognitive capitalism in terms of the scope of its material relations, especially as it relates to the conditions of mind and brain in our new world of advanced telecommunication, data mining and social relations. It is our hope to first improve awareness of its most repressive characteristics and secondly to produce an arsenal of discursive practices with which to combat it.

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Abstracting Parables

In the framework of sonsbeek20→24 On Labour and its Sonic EcologiesAbstracting Parables—an exhibition triptych and a sonic journey through guides, scripts, rituals, and murmurings—brings together the artistic positions of Sedje Hémon (1923-2011), Abdias do Nascimento (1914-2011), and Imran Mir (1950-2014). “All three artists navigated the waters of abstraction, expanded the shutters of modernism, reconfigured as well as liberated minimalism from the claws of the Western invention myth and significations, as well as situated the notion of conceptualism within other and wider geographies, histories and cultures.”

“Love is more than just empathy, a consequence of subjectivity; it is solidarity in active commitment.”

Abdias Nascimento (1914-2011) was a story-teller whose mediums of expression embraced as many forms as they could, borrowing the paths at hand to communicate ideas and reflect on the urgencies of his time and place. Nascimento’s art was sophisticated, politically and socially engaged, while making a point to remain accessible for those willing to be initiated. Repetition for Nascimento was to be found elsewhere, in the recalling of history and the sharing of original myths, in that which was snatched away from a people to whom he dedicated his entire life.


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“‘Take the line for a … walk,’ suggests Paul Klee. Imran Mir has accomplished more than that. He has accompanied it far and further without parking or straitjacketing it.”
— Iqbal Geoffrey

Imran Mir’s (1950-2014) oeuvre can be interpreted as a constant refusal to provide comprehensive elaboration beyond what one experiences. The act of contemplation is a guiding principle to interpreting Imran Mir’s work, an approach that reverberates into a practice that grew out of conversations with a community of artists, activists, poets, relatives, and other thinkers in Karachi.


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“The logical explanation is the relationship between painting and music, both of which live in me and my work as a spiritual intermediary.”

Sedje Hémon (1923-2011) dedicated her life to showing the common origin and intersectionality of all arts and sciences, culminating in the development of a theory for the “integration of the arts.”

Hémon’s multifaceted approach grew out of the urgency of her time and the need for creative expressions that she developed in the face of political ostracization and physical disability.


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Der Vibration der Dinge

Dinge, auch künstlerische Objekte sind in soziale und gesellschaftliche Kontexte eingebunden. Objekte sind lebendig, sie vibrieren und erzeugen Resonanz. Verändert sich ihr Kontext, verschieben sich ihre Bedeutungen und Werte. Sie besitzen eine Aufladung, die sich verändern und gar verschwinden kann.


Der Katalog der 15. Triennale Kleinplastik Fellbach versammelt unter dem Titel Die Vibration der Dinge künstlerische, literarische und theoretische Beiträge, die fundamentale Fragen der Gegenwart aufgreifen – Fragen, die zentral sind für unser Zusammenleben auf diesem Planeten. Ausgehend von einer Lebendigkeit der Materie und somit auch einer Wirkmacht von Objekten, widmet sich dieser Katalog gesellschaftlich hochaktuellen Fragen nach Eigentum, Verflechtung, Restitution und Verantwortung.

The Vibration of Things

Things, including artistic objects, are integrated into social and societal contexts. Objects are alive, they vibrate and generate resonance. When they travel, their meanings and values shift. They possess a charge that can change and even disappear.


Under the title The Vibration of Things, the catalog of the 15th Triennial for Small Sculpture Fellbach brings together artistic, literary, and theoretical contributions addressing fundamental questions of the present—questions that are central to our coexistence on this planet. Starting from the assumption that objects are vital, living, and bearing power, this catalog is dedicated to socially highly topical questions of ownership, restitution, interconnectedness, and responsibility.


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“How, we ask, can one return not just money or objects, but dignity? This remains the question for which we invite Black artists to engage, hoping to fuel a debate in Italy that is long overdue and will one way or another catch up with the other European postcolonial reckonings. We believe that representatives of the communities from which looted objects originate must discuss their issues on an equal footing with museums, state representatives, and publics in order to move the debate on restitution to one on the rehabilitation of societies.”

SAVVY Journal



THE RESTITUTION OF DIGNITY is an international bilingual editorial project and a series of four printed and online issues of the SAVVY Journal investigating focusing on restitution, reparation, and repair. It addresses the specific context of Italy and its colonial histories as they reverberate in the present. As a collaboration between Archive Books and SAVVY Contemporary, we have been gathering and inviting people to curate and produce four special issues of the SAVVY Journal to address the restitution of colonial loot, the (im)possibility of repairing the crimes of Italian and European colonisation, as well as to reflect upon contemporary daily struggles of communities and individuals against structural racism in Italy and beyond.


Read more on the SAVVY Contemporary Website



This project is a cooperation between Archive Books and SAVVY Contemporary – supported by the Italian Council (9th Edition, 2020), a program to promote Italian contemporary art in the world by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture.


SAVVY Journal was founded by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung in 2010.

“We have a very narrow piece of the puzzle that is being sold as the whole puzzle, the whole picture. It is a tiny piece, but for us to see the picture we need all these different voices. They’re not antagonistic. They’re not contradictory. It is not a matter of left and right or female and male […]”

We are delighted to be able to introduce Lerato Shadi’s first monograph. In her work, it is the marginalized that Shadi puts centre stage, negotiating bodies discriminated against in racist, sexist or classist ways, along with the experiences inscribed in them. Employing different media, Shadi addresses issues of institutional violence, patriarchal and colonial strategies of exclusion and erasure but also highlights resistant subjective narratives. Focusing on the predominantly Western historiography, she deploys artistic means to make visible the deliberately overlooked and repressed. Central to Shadi’s work is the question of perspective: recognizing that we all bring with us our own horizons of experience, deriving from our socialization and biography. Shadi elucidates and affirms that her work relates to her own individual perspective, and draws its power from it. Rather than considering it as a weakness, she sees subjectivity as a great strength, provided that one is aware of it. For Shadi, recognizing one’s own limited perspective, one’s own unknowingness, is the key to an appreciative, diverse coexistence based on mutual understanding.


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“Imagine a counter-journey through a multi-media mixing board of Afro-Sonic resistance beginning on the Southwest coast of Africa in 1483 and playing back live the layered improvisations of Angolan musicians and artists from the Congo, Angola, Brazil, and Portugal. With breathtaking scope, Satch Hoyt has scrambled the signals of settlers and colonial theft. He chronicles here his archival research and exuberant artistic collaborations across a map of Afro-sensibility that resoundingly displays that culture is a living activity and a practice of creative hospitality and ultimately, the jam”. —Tsitsi Jaji, author of Africa in Stereo: Music, Modernism, and Pan-African Solidarity (2014)

From his longstanding engagement to “un-mute” colonial sound collections captured during the European colonial period, Satch Hoyt’s practice has been dedicated to intervene those collections and awake their sonicity, releasing phonogram recordings and instruments of different regions in Africa from the museological silence. For Hoyt, the sonic opens a portal to the acoustic mappings of history – testimonies of enslavement, resistance, empowerment and liberation, and also the amalgamations of today and the future. For the book launch, Satch Hoyt in collaboration with Dirk Leyers will perform live, intertwining historical and present recordings, vintage instruments and electronic music. By combining processed electric flute, electronic percussions, Congolese Sanzas, Brazilian Berimbau, synthesizers and recordings, Hoyt uncoveres layers of diasporic experience, reimagining memories of the African Diaspora from contemporary and future spaces in which, as Hoyt stays in the book, “the recorded past becomes the present”.


The book conveys contributions by Anselm Franke, Satch Hoyt, Paz Guevara, Louis Chude-Sokei, Sofia Lemos, Fred Moten, Greg Tate, Jihan El-Tahri, Kiluanji Kia Henda, MC Sacerdote, Khris, Suzana Sousa, Benjamin Sabby, ÀRÀKÁ collective, Alberto Pitta, Denise Ferreira da Silva and Rui Vieira Nery.













“In the life of every human being, there is a need for magic and enchantment, but not always: at certain moments, we should disenchant the world, moments, situations, negative emotions and paradigms. Selecting a few selected related to the representation of Romani people in a stereotypical and stigmatising way, I try to disenchant and demythologise them by reversing how we are being seen.”

Re-enchanting the World is a publication accompanying Małgorzata Mirga-Tas’s exhibition of the same name, shown in the Polish pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. The exhibit is Mirga-Tas’s manifesto on Roma identity and art, drawing inspiration from the Renaissance frescoes of the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara and thus attempting to expand the European iconosphere and history of art with representations of Roma culture.


This publication presents Mirga-Tas’s re-enchanting of the world as a way of recovering the idea of the Roma community, with consideration to transnationality, cyclicity and the evolution of meanings, proposing a new narrative about the continuous cultural migration of images and mutual influences between Roma, Polish and European cultures.


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Holes Dug, Rocks Thrown is the first comprehensive presentation of the artist Line Skywalker Karlström’s work. It documents a practice, that over a period of more than twenty years have been committed to ‘queer feminist world making’ using a performative and embodied approach.

Correspondingly with Skywalker Karlström’s understanding of art as a chaotic and associative knowledge production, which unfolds as a collaborative and ongoing conversation, their book has become a bastard monograph, which describes an artistic practice through its relationships and its flock.


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Open Access

Trading Zones

Camera Work in Artistic and Ethnographic Research

Trading Zones is one of our open access titles, freely available for you to download, read and share. You can view more of our open access titles here.

This book introduces camera-based practices at the intersections of artistic and ethnographic research that critically examine the means of their own production and social embeddedness. In shared practices such as recording in the field, editing in post-production and modes of presentation, the camera is involved as an agent rather than an innocent device. How does the camera grapple with the invisible and how does it reveal what the camerawoman is unable to see? How do films, videos and photographs provide access to vulnerable knowledges and what presentation formats can extend the linearity of narration?


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On Trials

a manual for the theatre of law

محاكمات قيد الفحص

دليل مسرح القانون

In On Trials: a manual for the theatre of law, Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk explore the performativity of the law within Egypt’s spectral legal reality. The publication dissects material collected for their film On Trials, a work-in-progress that uses modes of documentary and fiction making. In it, they reflect on sites where legal proceedings take place. And listen to all manner of actors from within the realm of the law including, lawyers, a TV camera operator who frequents courtrooms, a former inmate, on whose body the legal specter has left unutterable marks, and tailors who specialize in uniforms.


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It’s all in relations, connections…
the possible infrastructures
and the paths of agency
the energy transmitted or bounced off
waves diffracted
particles on the bottom of all elements


conversations as currents on
the planetary and the nano level

Pandora’s Box explores the form of conversation as a method of aesthetic solidarity and empowerment. As an online platform it collects and archives talks, stories, discourses and struggles to re-value and constantly reboot practices of solidarity. The conversations and texts published in this first Volume are starting and connecting points creating a web of support, exchange and dispersion being a catalyser for planetary solidarity and imaginary and real material nanocommunities.

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An Archaeology of Listening Series



Umashankar Manthravadi is an Indian self-taught acoustic archaeologist who, in the early 1980s, helped set up and maintain one of the world’s largest ethnomusicology archives, Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology (ARCE) in Gurgaon. His work investigates how sound can influence our understanding of ancient and contemporary sites. Building off of Manthravadi’s sonic explorations and archives, An Archaeology of Listening is a series that connects listening with history, space, knowledge and community.

A Slightly Curving Place asks what it means to listen to the past and its absence which remains. It responds to the practice of Manthravadi, who has been building ambisonic microphones since the 1990s to measure the acoustic properties of premodern performance spaces. Comprising a range of perspectives in which his propositions reverberate, the publication attends to what he does, and to the political and performative potential of the past that he opens up.


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Coming to Know asks how listening to the past together might transform our sense of the knowledge held in common. It sets aside the visual techniques of the archaeological site, the museum, and the larger project of colonial modernity, and instead constitutes itself as a resonant structure—a future-oriented monument to historically situated listening bodies as well as a dwelling place for community now.


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Arab Image Foundation series



Becoming Van Leo is a study of the life and times of the late Armenian-Egyptian photographer. Born in 1921, Leon Boyadjian would come to be known as Van Leo, one of the most singular twentieth-century studio photographers in the Arab world.

Van Leo left behind him a 60-year body of portraiture and self-portraiture work, as well as professional and personal documents. Drawing on this abundant archive from the collections of the AIF—its most iconic one—and the American University in Cairo, in addition to accounts of people who knew him, the publication intricately narrates the story of the photographer and the man, contemplates the complex practice of commemoration, and reflects on the task of the archivist, the curator, the designer, and the author at large.

The eclectic nature of the publication’s content will engage diverse audiences not only interested in photographic practices, but also in design and visual arts at large; Egyptian cinema and popular culture; contemporary history of Cairo, Egypt, the Arab world, and the Levantine Armenian community; the Second World War in the Middle East… and the numerous—related or independent—narrow-focus subjects that backdrop the narrative.

In 1941, Leon Boyadjian (1921–2002) and his brother Angelo (1917–2003) opened a studio in the living room of the family home. Angelo Studio commenced by catering to stage artists—theater actors, cabaret performers, dancers…—entertaining the Allied troops stationed in Egypt during the Second World War.

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From 1937 to 1995, Leon Boyadjian took hundreds of self-portraits. A fascinating body of work unveiled here in its near entirety: 410 shots and 82variations – reframing, hand-coloring, special effects, photomontage…

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Leon Boyadjian was a hoarder. Besides a vast body of work, he purposely left behind him professional and personal documents: books, periodicals, press clippings, certificates, letters, notes, lists, and assorted ephemera. With such a plethora of material, something had to be done. 

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The Otolith Group

Presenting all bodies of work contained in the Xenogenesis  exhibition, this publication includes many materials and graphics from The Otolith Group’s (Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun) broader practice, including performance, lecture and research material. The outcome of over four years of collaboration, research and conversation, the publication is not a chronological exhibition catalogue or retrospective but a cross-section of their work which includes substantial contributions from the artists themselves, in the form of writing and direct engagement with its production.

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SAVVY Books series
A Launch Quartet

The publications in this series reflect, expand, and document the activities of the research, discursive, performative, and curatorial projects of S A V V Y Contemporary | The Laboratory of Form-Ideas. Savvy Books aims at promoting epistemological diversity, resonating with Boaventura de Sousa Santos’s claim that “Another Knowledge is Possible.” By acknowledging the limits and faults of academic disciplines and advocating for processes of unlearning, our effort is thus to create a platform which encourages extra-disciplinary knowledges and promotes the thinking and writing of authors, artists, philosophers, scientists, and activists whose practices challenge Western epistemologies: looking towards epistemic systems from Africa and the African diaspora, Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East and Latin America.

This publication unfolds as a collection of words, works, and images that informed, incited, and embodied SAVVY Contemporary’s project Ultrasanity. On Madness, Sanitation, Antipsychiatry, and Resistance, an exhibition and research project on the elasticity of sanity.


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Pianificazione fuggitiva
e studio nero

Stefano Harney
e Fred Moten

Una voce perentoria ci richiama in ogni momento a essere responsabili, efficienti, professionali. Anche i beni comuni sono stati colonizzati, l’università è una catena di montaggio e siamo costantemente in debito verso chi ci richiama all’ordine. Alla proliferazione della logistica capitalista e alle mutazioni odierne del controllo sociale, Stefano Harney e Fred Moten rispondono con questa raccolta di saggi che ci invita a sperimentare nuove forme di socialità nell’antagonismo generale. Attraversando le teorie e le pratiche della tradizione radicale nera e del post-operaismo, gli autori propongono un ampliamento dello spettro del pensiero socio-politico contemporaneo e della critica estetica, negli Stati Uniti e non solo. Il loro è «un intervento necessario e potente che ci invita a immaginare e a comprendere diversamente la vita sociale» (Denise Ferreira da Silva), dove «il grido di lotta non è mai distante» (Sandro Mezzadra). Undercommons è un manifesto d’amore, sospeso tra teoria e poesia, musica e sovversione, per la fondazione di una nuova società.

A series with and around
Med Hondo

A pioneer of African cinema and author of an uncompromising oeuvre, we have come to know Med Hondo over the decades as one who simultaneously gazes, belligerently and attentively, sharply, passionately and ironically, deep into the past, precisely at the present, but also far into the future. This three-part publication dedicated to his cinema and legacy. 1970—2018 Interviews with Med Hondo, On the Run, Perspective on the Cinema of Med Hondo and Das Kino von Med Hondo / Le cinéma de Med Hondo was published in the frame of the film research, festival and exhibition project Cours, cours, camarade, le vieux monde est derrière toi—Run, comrade, run, the old world is behind you—The Cinema of Med Hondo. To read Med Hondo opens us up to many perspectives: to his work and its time-historical contexts, to his interests and obsessions, to his standpoint with regard to the intertwining of politics, economics, and culture.


We are running into a great danger, my brothers, if we are not careful, this precious and cultural instrument of information, enjoyment, struggle represented by the cinema is slipping through our fingers forever.

—Abid Med Hondo, Les bicots nègres vos voisins, Prologue, 1978

Hospitality, care, safety and security are matters intrinsically entangled, not simply through their definitions and overlapping meanings but as acts, practices, institutions, industries, infrastructures and systems of power. But for whom and what is security offered in arts and culture? As cultural workers could we/should we become more hospitable and caring towards matters of security and safety? Rehearsing Hospitalities Companion 3 is a site for meeting around matters of security, safety and care.


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Now more than ever we need to be consciously (re)considering diverse forms of hospitalities and ways of being together. In these disconnected times marked by global crises, this edition of the Rehearsing Hospitalities Companion series turns towards questions of hospitality and access. Looking beyond normative and institutionalised understandings of access, this publication considers access from a manifold of approaches, perceptions and relations.


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Rehearsing Hospitalities connects artists, curators and practitioners in the field of contemporary art and beyond, to build up and mediate new practices, understandings, and engagements with hospitalities. It fosters critical discourse, pluralistic sharing and collaboration between divergent (artistic) practitioners in contemporary societies and supports the emergence of new paradigms and methods of political and cultural hospitality.


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