Networks as Technologies of Solidarity RUSHES #3

Networks as Technologies of Solidarity   RUSHES #3

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hello and welcome everyone thank you for joining uh russia's three this is the um third iteration of a series of uh rushes conversations um initiated by savvy contemporary the art space in berlin thank you everyone for joining and i would like to say please bear with us before we start with any technical failures or any technical difficulties technology will fail us it does fail us by design this is part of our conversation today so please consider it as part of the total experience i would like to start by thanking the savvy team for putting this together and for inviting us to curate and moderate this session and i would like to thank also the nas team erica and furad my name is joey i also work with nas the network of arab alternative screens a network of more than 20 cinema alternative cinema initiatives and more than 11 arabic speaking countries and i would also like to welcome our speakers thank you so much for joining um i really have the pleasure to be in conversation with you tonight i will start by introducing you one by one and then i will um direct uh questions or certain prompts directly to you please remember to unmute before speaking um i will start by introducing rana yasashi dana as a researcher and a trainer and works in cultural management in general rana was previously the director of uh mauritius cultural resource and is also one of the founders of rena published a number of research projects and studies the last of which is on arts and funding and it's titled arts and funding models of resource management and parallel approaches to cultural and creative sustainability we're very happy to have you with us thank you for making the time uh then we have with uh with us also who is a trans feminist queer researcher and filmmaker lille's work is at the intersection of digital security human rights art and activism and is also a part of several independent media groups such as nusserine in egypt and in the media in lebanon and they've also worked as a project lead for data and activism an applied research project that looked at the digital security and human rights and then we have vyazan khalidi with us who is an artist and cultural producer yazan was previously the director of the sakakini cultural center in ramallah palestine and is the co-founder also of radiohara a recent project that emerged during this moment of of lockdown this year yazan is currently the co-chair of the photography department of the mfa program at part and is also a phd candidate at the university of amsterdam i don't know guys how you do all these things at the same time it brings us last but not least to joey shay uh very pleased to have you with us also joey is a non-resident fellow at the tahir institute for middle east policy um focusing on digital rights information controls and the impact of technology across the arabic speaking region joey's research examines the political legal and economic context of network filtering monitoring technologies and digital media manipulation all of which are extremely um urgent topics to discuss and all of which i understand not much about which is why i think this conversation is quite financial and vital we are positioning our discussion at the intersection of digital security digital rights and the digital ecosystem at large with arts and culture cultural policy and our artistic and culture practice in general i would like to start by saying that this panel will be in english but also if you feel uh called to speak in arabic or whatever other language you're comfortable in there's gonna be a subtitling for this panel later on and we will republish it with subtitles so please don't feel obliged to speak in english or limited to any language choice and also uh last comments before we begin there will be a question section at the end so we are hoping to limit our conversation to an hour maximum and leave half hour half an hour at the end for your questions um since this is a live broadcast this is the first russia session to be live the previous two have been pre-recorded so interaction from everyone watching is highly encouraged please leave your questions on facebook live and we would make sure to answer them at the end also in any language you feel comfortable with so um it's a very large topic i am not sure how to uh access it uh let's say that we are looking at uh this moment where the like fears digitization of our cultural work and artistic practice has become inevitable it has uh be gone to become inevitable through the past years but now it seems that everyone is either rushing to produce online content is struggling a little bit with online channels for disseminating their work but also for reaching audiences so we would like to dissect a little bit the very large topic of cultural policy through the lens of the online move um last month there was um there was a very interesting um panel that i saw online pandora's box talk it was produced by elmore takafi cultural resource and it was also moderated and curated by two of nasa's members sudan film factory and action for hope and jihan taheri was one of the speakers on the panel she is the director of doxbox among many other attributes and many other uh things the hats that she wears and she called for um the needs she felt for us as a sector to map out our digital move a little bit to have more conversations around it so this is kind of in line with all the panels that have been happening around cultural policy and the struggle that is very evident and clear around you know the vocabulary and the the issues that have become really inevitable with the with the digitization and the online i guess my question at first would be um seizing this moment we're going to look at limitations of this technology and we're going to look at opportunities at this moment presents my first question would be is it it's a very large question is it possible to unplug our cultural practice from the capitalist machine that we work under both offline this is this question um applies to both the offline technologies and methodologies and also the online and if this online moment is it possible that it would afford us a window or a margin uh for us to question and re-challenge the way we do things rethink uh the way we do things i mean obviously we are still working on the internet which is an extremely centralized network it's in its design it presents big limitations and big challenges especially for the arts and culture sector but please feel free to address it from the offline perspective and the online perspective so we have a larger uh perspective larger view on the situation and also try to see where is uh where do we find more possibilities and ideas for us to uh to succeed or to speak from you know like personal victories small achievements that we see the small possibilities that we see are feasible can we go to you first i should remember to ask questions in advance uh actually are we able to unplug our cultural practices um when it comes to capitalist machine or system i would hope i mean it's it's not i don't have the answer can or can be able or not i mean i think um it's a it's a whole system economically socially uh that we look culturally that we live and um the question is for me do we do to try to achieve this unplug there we can or not i mean every choice in the institutional structural version for our cultural activities and the [Music] ideology and theory is behind our cultural uh activity in education um choices in everything we do i think each of us has um understanding of what a good system is um it's it's it's a it's all system it doesn't work i think that the difficult one is sphere in this political sphere when we talk about culture as an existed sector it becomes very hard to imagine a more progressive cultural system it'd be more feasible for for me when we talk about it as part of a bigger movement that includes actors activists um from from other fields if we talk about digitalization i think one of the things that i've i've been thinking of since you invited me joy to this panel was to what extent it allows us to um kind of someone who is skeptical to acknowledging that we have this digital move even though it's like our grandparents when they didn't under tv it's something like that i mean it's something that we use every day but to use it as a replacement for reality it's still something far from if is a good thing for us um when we have two in a situation this is a crisis so when we use it uh during i understand that but to accept and acknowledge the idea that it's a new reality it's kind of kind of hard for me when it's completely replacing the reality that we that we know so um does it um does it allow for uh re-questioning the cultural system include with how we get an alternative system that we are ethically with yes it does it does help us tools but it does the thinking the thinking we still have to bring in thank you thank you you mentioned something extremely important which is opening up to other sectors or other disciplines so this cross-disciplinary cross-sectorial approach is really important especially when we're talking about networks of solidarity and this new economy of solidarity which are really buzz words right now i would like to defer the question now to yazan if you uh if you would like to comment on this a little bit what do these buzzwords mean what is an economy of solidarity what is technology of solidarity uh um okay yeah i think you know to begin with you know with your question about can we unplug from capitalists mode of production or capitalist economies um uh i think we can and i say that um because it's essential that we think that we can um especially in relation to digital and online existence um because it's becoming part of our um existence to be alive it's also to be online in many of our economical and social structures but this existence is conditioned by uh like we are entering the online based on company companies corporations secure um it's already capitalized existence and and therefore i think we have to keep imagining and producing accumulating trials of of you know how this how do you how do you negate the capitalist uncapitalist in capitalist in capitalistic existences um um and and that happens by by i think many trials many imagination many acts of solidarities um which happens uh by by engaging with these kind of acts of imagination and acts of um uh what they call it like affirmative action like you take you you try to do things you try to set examples you try you you know like it's it's based a lot on failures but these failures can accumulate a small knowledges experiments know-hows that eventually become the backbone of the next experiment that we take in as individuals or as collectives or as uh you know institutions so um yeah i think it's becoming it's not a project it's understanding life itself it's not like you know like um it's a project i want to do and withdraw from later it's not i can you can keep living without engaging with it no it's you are engaging with it any anyway and um and it's your um political existence and political being that requires this kind of continuous uh trials um and failures and success successes i'm not sure what yes um so yeah um i don't know if this answers this um or it fails in answering the question but yeah it answers several questions at once here somewhere but i think uh to build on what you're saying um i would like to like recently the conversation a little bit around the digital sphere and ask joey like as a first comment maybe on uh the digital ecosystem if it is a place it is an uh adequate uh ecosystem where possibilities such as the political project and the political accumulation of experiences that live and breathe outside of capitalism are possible um yes definitely i think obviously this uh example is very tired now 10 years later but i do think that 2011 was you know the sort of first example of you know the internet providing opportunities for mobilization across different socio-economic classes and just new forms of discussion that resulted in you know widespread political changes at the same time though i think that we should always be wary and there's you know there's too much techno utopianism that goes around so i think we need to temper our expectations and recognize that tech is both things it does provide the opportunity for alternative voices to be heard for organizing that would not otherwise be possible to happen in contexts that are under extreme forms of authoritarianism and repression but at the same time those same technologies can be used by those authoritarians to prevent that kind of expression and to change the narrative and to manipulate it and so i think if you know when we're looking at technology as a whole and if we're thinking about cultural and artistic production happening exclusively online you know in certain contexts um certain forms of political and artistic expression wouldn't otherwise be possible without the existence of the internet if we're thinking of certain vulnerable communities um in certain states that are not open to different kinds of identities but at the same time you know we need to be very aware that technologies can be used against those vulnerable communities so if we're thinking about censorship surveillance um even access to the internet there's a huge digital divide around the world particularly uh in the mena region and it's only been exacerbated by covid um this digital divide as everything is gone online access to internet is hugely um you know outside along socioeconomic factors and demographic factors so as tech as uh education goes online as work goes online um you know those opportunities again be become so more like less available to those folks who don't have basic internet access um so yes i mean i think we need to recognize um the internet and digital digitization as both things prevents prevent presents opportunities also um you know huge huge drawbacks um and as you know you're having these conversations about social and uh cultural policy you need to approach it with a sense of harmony and a strategy to try to reach those communities that wouldn't otherwise be able to be reached because of their lack of access also be planning for you know things like censorship and surveillance and having good strong digital security policies and plans in place uh censorship uh circumvention techniques from the publisher side and from the user side um so yeah these are the kinds of things that i think we need to keep in mind um as you're having these conversations thank you joey i think i mean it is uh pretty obvious that a hybrid model of online offline in the arts and cultural work is inevitable um i would like to ask uh maybe start with um what do you think is moving online and what is never moving online what do you keep missing from you know the the artistic experience or the cultural experience that you think will does not have a place to be replicated in digital arenas um first i think i wanna quickly say something about what you said about the detachment from the from the big c you know like i was waiting to see who's gonna say the capitalist word first um an important issue with these things of course i agree with what joey said about that these there has been experiences about this and yazan mentioned some and run as well um the thing is these experiences do need money at the end of the day uh these platforms that are being developed in an open source safe uh user-based uh experiences uh they need money they need sustainability from a financial perspective people are developing them they need income the question that i that i think is important to address when we talk about detachment from the capitalist modes of production is how many of us as users are willing to pay for the services that we are using social media platform created this myth that we are we are using these services for free like facebook is for free twitter is for free uh it's not for free we're paying with our data we're paying with our privacy we're paying with basically our lives and our social dynamics um even experiences that were based on pay what you can allowing users to choose if they can afford paying or not or how much money they can afford uh to pay they also didn't manage to sustain or in their majority they didn't manage to sustain the projects for themselves um now going to what i feel is being lost is first a big question is is it worth it to move to the digital sphere as cultural institutions have cultural projects as artists artistic practice i feel recently there's like this kind of fashion of like we have to be we have to exist on the online we have to go to the online as if there's a as if there's like one solution that fits all i don't believe there is one solution that fits all especially when we're talking about digital philosophy we would survive would do better on the digital world and some people some projects actually would not benefit from it and now during during covid i was very interested in looking at a lot of the streams like whether they're music or film screenings or or talks and panels how many people are actually watching and how much revenue is being generated from these from these events uh i feel sometimes people are more concerned about maintaining their presence in the public eye despite the massive amount of effort and the massive amount of resources and costs that they're putting into being online rather than in the actual revenue that they are getting like a lot of collectives i keep hearing them oh we're moving online because we need to generate revenue and then you look at how many people are watching and how many people are actually donating or buying the tickets it doesn't really compute in my head so i think we should ask these questions before we make these decisions uh wonderful lil i think you were referring if i'm not mistaking mistaken to the to like being mindful of this trap or this illusion of visibility for the sake of visibility and also the illusion of the sense of community that is only limited uh to uh online platforms or online channels um i want to go to uh rena if possible uh lel mentioned a little bit the need for money and uh my question to you is do we really need money i know your your research your research in depth alternative economic models and arts and culture sector and you have looked into models of you know collective models of for example skill sharing time sharing do you think it is possible one and is it possible online is it possible to get money for the arts that's to not need money or to need less money yes you need less money yes but not to need less resources anyways this is what i believe in um it's uh for for for me i mean that the study that you're referring uh to joey was was was up exactly about that and about how we get these resources and it it came i decided to do it because i i've been working for so long in the in the institutional sector of the of the arts and culture and i think we were kind of trapped in our economic system uh in the cultural in the cultural field and here i'm talking about the mena region of course there are differences between countries there are different cultural policies or different opportunities in in each or different challenges and catastrophes in in each of the arab countries but still there is a kind of something that we can talk about in general um the the economic system of the culture for me was very challenging the the independent sector the civil sector in the arts was growing uh since ever but basically i'm talking about since 2011 it's mushrooming everywhere new institutions new collectives new groups new initiatives uh new imagination and the new forms of collective and solidarity work is is growing but in the parallel we still have the very traditional way of thinking when it comes to money so we go to big donors we apply for funding we get funding we we we do projects and then um give reports um the the whole the whole research was about finding alternative solutions for the resources we need money we need resources and we we don't only need it i mean this is a sector this is this is this is not something that we enjoy only in the street because the musician doesn't need to eat i mean we're professional and this sector is one of the not only human sectors but also economic sectors that needs resources i think we can be more creative on in how we collect these resources the online yes provides some tools but also what's important for me about the online is how we use it as a tool for more solidarity and collective kind of funding i'm not only talking about the um the crowdfunding that's the very typical thing that we talk about when we talk about the online thing but there are many many many other online and offline forms of collecting resources um i think this is and this is um something that i can talk about for hours so i don't want to talk to take a lot of time but uh but here i'm not taking a position i don't say that digitalization is a solution for the resources i think we need to find strategies we need to find creative models for our economy as a sector as a whole not as individuals or institutions but as a sector we need to recreate our sector this is what i believe including the economic and use to the maximum the the potentiality that we can create from the online okay amazing i think we might need to talk for hours about the different uh sources of you know finding resources or sourcing income for the sector and also grant making models and allocation of these resources and the models that we follow for the distribution of these resources in more equitable ways amongst ourselves within the sector let me turn to you uh yazan on this point and perhaps refer specifically to radio horror as a project you have called it in our previous chat uh communal uh media if you would like to talk a little bit more about the model and what this means um also like by maybe presenting yeah um so radiohara is a online radio uh like i think many radios have been uh coming out in the recent year this year that we are also you know getting to know about and engaging with um so um it's um it's um how describe it like we just we are learning what is the radio uh what is this platform while we are just running it it's building the plane and flying it at the same time so um even the language to speak about it and to try to explain it it's just developing with every time we have to speak about it or we have to engage with the discussion about it otherwise it speaks for itself and speaks to us and so we are we are learning from it [Music] as it goes um and this is like and we began using the term communal media to describe it um in a way to try to position it against the social media uh to try to find a kind of a language to be able to to to speak about it beyond its just exp beyond itself as just like one experiment but to try to position it with experiments that are or um trials that are going online right now so communal media i think um it's a it's a platform that uh engages with the producers uh to um and gives space to to the community to to share to um play to broadcast their productions without any kind of algorithmic [Music] data mining it's it has um acts of collectivity through its um linear time so it's not um it's not an individual engagement it's not tailored according to the individual who is listening or producing or engaging in this platform but it's um it takes a very maybe traditional form of media which is you know you open the radio and whatever on it you listen to it and so it's not tailored tailored to your own time and what you expect and you can forward or return to the same media all the time and it's um and it's based on people putting time effort and knowledge uh so there's without actually barely no money uh involved in it so um it costs till now i think around a thousand dollars a year um well we haven't been a year yet so maybe till now it cost us six hundred dollars so maybe when it becomes a year we'll calculate and but it will not exceed a thousand dollars so it's nothing compared to the size that and the the impact that it had already uh but that that said it is there is so much effort and uh time put in it by the community either the producers that are sharing their [Music] time either the community that is there to communicate and to speak um or the the people us the people running it to program to do the all the technical stuff that are related to it [Music] all the time so there's so much put in it but as rana said so there's so much resources being put but not money only so it's it doesn't live on financial support it lives on communal support and this you know i i i i was just like until you know three months before i we began uh radulhara i was working at the second cultural center and and there i you know was part of this trial to try to find a kind of a a new kind of cultural economy and uh to try to subvert certain economic structures that are related to art practices but then engaging with radulhara i think opened up the possibility um to be able to create a cultural platform a structure that can be um engaging on many levels but also independent uh and um financially emancipated if i if i would you know like dare to say um on another level which is um totally for me uh like it's really a new experience to to to have and especially that we had so much impact till now like nothing we had no plans at all um as we say in arabic like we just just like yeah sorry yeah i don't know if it can be translated like you just fall yeah it's just like you fall you fall in the in the project and that's it and you don't do and you don't um you don't plan much you plan as you go you change you it's so much discussions happening all the time between the team between the community and the community grows in an organic way really there's so much space for for mistakes um that it's allowing it to be successful and this is the um for me this is the beauty of the experiment there's no donor no report no one to to tell us uh do this do that you did wrong you did you didn't you didn't do it as planned what happens with the donor economy that you have to write a proposal you have to already have a plan and to follow the plan no and this is so much pressure because then you cannot learn from your experience with such a project we had no plan and we are just learning from from the experience itself and it's so uh and in in my life in the cultural sector i haven't had such a pleasure of working and producing because no no no restrictions except that we are having with the community and the discussions we have i really like about what you're talking about the models you're presenting and also with rana's work and research is this uh like constant challenging of the concept of sustainability um it's not that we do not want cultural projects or institutions or initiatives to be sustainable but we are re-questioning what it means to be sustainable away from a neoliberal definition of you know reproducing necessarily a business model or sustainable you know as you said like donor economy dependent dependent models or borrowing from the entrepreneurial uh you know sphere constant iran you wanted to add something yeah i just wanted to make sure that at least to make sure that it's clear at least for me i'm not also talking about facing totally this economy i mean we we should we should also rethink the the relation to the to this economy and diversify it it's not either or it doesn't work also without without the system because uh it's something i'm talking about the the funding coming from donors um i'm not saying we don't need donors on them no one should take it this way on the contrary uh it's about diversifying our approaches rather than replacing them on the opposite i think we need to partner with uh with the usual suspects uh if we were talking about the mina region the the donors who are supporting the cultural sector for years who've done also great job but i think we need to to to engage in a discussion with them about their role and in the sustainability we always have it as a part of the application um it's it's not a checkbox that we need to work on it's a sustainability of a system of a field not of an institution or a project and here the the discussion is something that is really urgent i think at this point with all the multiple crisis that we're going through absolutely thank you liv okay i'm uh here comes the pessimist first i want to say that i'm a big fan of radial i'm not criticizing anything i'm i'm a huge enthusiast of the project and of the people working on it and i'm a frequent listener um but i want to say something that i think sometimes we drop from the conversation which is which is a capitalist definition but we do live in a capitalist world and we do have bills to pay at the end of the month uh the fact that time is money time is equivalent to money and even if we are not using money in the project we are still putting time and it raises questions of who are the people who can afford putting this time away from generating the money they need to pay their bills um and i'm not talking about again i'm talking about these experiences in general uh for example in europe in in a period of time uh the squadron movement had played an important role in providing a space for such collective initiatives whether their culture or political because they took away the rent money they took away the bills they took away like part of the bills uh which is not possible in a lot of in a lot of countries especially in arab majority countries um so this is why this is a point that i wanted to raise that when we're talking about sustainability of projects we need to keep in mind that certain people like for example i'm i'm privileged enough now to to be able to afford to do projects that i like or participate and community projects that are beautiful and inspiring and whatever because i can afford taking time off work because i've had my bills sorted month by month but so far it's it's going well so that's one point that i think we should keep in mind when we're talking about these things uh another thing um when yeah that's it i'm not gonna talk so much thanks i think i mean it's very important what you're saying because uh on the individual level i wanted to add on the structural level also that the same what you call privilege on the individual level it plays as power dynamics on the structural level and in the absence of clear cultural policies from our governments in our countries basically whoever has this uh has a grant making power has been through their practice kind of dictating what the cultural policies are you know just by doing something just by establishing a grant making model by establishing some kind of meritocracy based grant-making models i would i wanted to talk a bit more about nasa's specific experience but i see as i'm anxious to say something please yes because um maybe i'm going to say something a bit long because um what leil is saying is so accurate and so essential um first of all the question of um of cultural production and its relation to money i think the culture becoming a paid practice is something that um we don't need to take as granted you know like it's not something that we should consider as it all um it has always been like that uh this has been shifted in time culture i'm not saying talking about you know i'm taking culture as a as a as a public practice people singing in weddings and sharing you know like having their cultural life um performed and practiced in the society has not been always connected to being in itself related to um you know income generating uh or to live out from it on one side i'm not saying that there is no people who used to be paid to come to sing in weddings for instance or who lived out of of that practice so there is um many ways to engage culturally in the society that's just one point but what had happened in the in the in the last 30 years especially after in palestine after oslo and lebanon maybe after the end of the civil war this whole neoliberalization of the of the economy and civil society and the establishment of these cultural institutions that the cultural sector has um has dominated the cultural life it became the only channel that represents a culture in the society and that you can only practice your culture through these kind of institutions um and um it produced the cultural um working class no like the the people who work and live out from culture and that monetization the monetization but like it is you work as a cultural producer you know like this is your work in life this is what you make money make money out from and it at the same time kind of separated the intellectual from life so you cannot think of a cultural producer to be the mechanic of your uh car you know like a mechanic uh on one side and uh um the one who established the the dancing group uh finish in ramallah for instance who lived out from one source but practiced like a culture collectively and produced these kind of collective actions of dance and music on the other side so but then and this is what you see a lot you as if you cannot volunteer anymore in a structure that is based on volunteering so why i think for instance at sakakini i could never ask people to volunteer because there is an economical structure in it there is money coming in and there is budgets therefore people need to be paid through it but in in radial hara where there's no money um it's a structure that has zero money being uh generated through it um it makes the idea of volunteering possible like not only volunteering but to participate um with time and effort without expecting to be paid back because there's no money here being uh added to the cycle of the cultural production what i'm saying in in this experiment of radhika and other experiments i'm only one experiment that there is a need for cultural spaces that have a different economical structure than cultural institutions and the economical structure of the cultural institutions that we can engage publicly with cultural uh initiatives and and within these cultural platforms knowing that this is already outside of that economy but we as individuals we have to live from other resources we have to teach we have to work we have to do to engage with that with the community but not to be cultural producers as a job we do we produce culture through being in the community um yeah i don't know if this answers something here but um i i'm beginning to find this as a as a way to rethink how culture moves and can move in a community when the crisis is not a cultural crisis but it's an institutional crisis um so to to to to to go beyond the crisis of the institution by creating um or or engaging with um a communal structure um that goes beyond the institution itself you for mentioning the christ institutions i really wanted to discuss networks specifically uh as a model and you know without going deep into the institutionalizing of networks this is a very large topic for another conversation but i really like the idea of a crisis of institutions that you mentioned now i would also like to link it back to this moment of crisis or like public health crisis that we are living through and my personal hope is that we see it as a crisis of systems as a failure of systems beyond just the public health crisis and networks if we want to position networks as as the title of this panel suggests networks as technologies of solidarity both online and offline and think a little bit of the possibilities of alternative economies of the decentralizing networks in the online sphere a little bit joey i'm going to go back to you to ask this question maybe from a like broader perspective please feel free to answer it the way you want when yazan was speaking i was thinking of time banks for example i was thinking of the online platforms that allow for you know time sharing skill sharing resource resource sharing that goes beyond transact like monetary currency transactions but i was also thinking of networks um or the possibility of more equitable fairer practices online and if is that even possible on an internet that is quite central quite monitored quite censored um yeah i i have a few thoughts and sorry sorry finish your question then i'll go ahead um so yeah i guess i i want to respond maybe to begin with with a few things that yazlin was bringing up um you know for talking about these different modes of of cultural and artistic production that are outside of um you know traditional economies um and particularly in this moment with covid where there are these intense pressures to you know produce online because we can't uh congregate um together in in real life um you know i think it's important to be aware like even if you know the structure of organizing may be outside of these traditional economies you're going to need a platform you're going to need some you're going to need to you know commune together through some sort of platform and inevitably those platforms are are part of these traditional economies whether it's on facebook or twitter or even a platform that's like lesser used i think that you know even though you're not bringing in traditional economies into that scenario someone else which is you know these large social media companies basically valleys valley are you know they're making money off of your data you're basically the product so i think that's important to keep in mind um i mean there are in terms of just more directly to your question joey about um sort of all alternative you know more like non-hierarchical um social networks um obvious there have been some experiments with peer-to-peer networks mastodon was was probably one of the most popular ones um but these you know experiments do have problems and one of the big ones is just not enough people end up going on them for there to be a critical mass of popularity um and you know unfortunately like facebook has become what it is because it has x number of billion users on there now still and with facebook and instagram as well so you know there have been these experiments um but they just haven't picked up in the way that i think um a lot of the the early sort of cyberpunks would have wanted um them to be and you know there hasn't yet been this truly um non-hierarchical network of networks internet um that people were hoping for you know 30 years ago unfortunately um at the same time though um you know if if we're thinking um just like in terms of opportunities um and particularly in mena in a country like egypt where cultural and political and economic production are so hard for alternative narratives um you know these spaces do uh are really really important despite the censorship despite the surveillance despite the um campaigns that to shift these narratives at the end of the day you know certain uh kinds of political expression just would not be possible in these um circumstances in these uh kinds of political contexts so you know i i think it's important to look for alternative networks and to constantly you know be striving for alternative forms um but at the same time if we can have a sort of harm reduction strategy to platforms that are already popular and that are pre-existing i i think that's a that's a good strategy so for example madame which is one of the last remaining independent media organizations in in egypt they are blocked um they have an excellent publisher side censorship circumvention strategy which is to launch a series of mirrors and the state will block a mirror and then they'll launch another one circumvent it and i think they're on their 25th or 26th mirror at this point um so you know that that's one strategy to get around state surveillance but they do rely quite heavily on traditional platforms like facebook and twitter to reach an audience that has been taken from them because of you know the amount of times they've been blocked by the state because their url keeps for people in egypt in order to access the website their url keeps changing and so in order to sustain you know their their readership and their base they rely on social media which is too expensive for the state to to be blocked so you know i think when we're you know looking at alternative um platforms and networks and forms of organization i think you know that's important but also um to not uh you know completely throw out um large larger scale platforms and instead approach them with like a harm reduction strategy i love this concept of harm reduction i kept thinking um we want more information on the strategies that you research and that you are looking into we want to learn more about it because it seems gatekeeping is inevitable somehow it's be used you know we know gatekeeping as a as a practice offline in our cultural practice but also uh online you were talking about you know the hegemonic platforms that function as a hi-cat that functions as the function as gatekeepers basically and i kept going back to this idea of peer-to-peer that you also mentioned and this networks that are more horizontal or non-hierarchical something that we practice in depth at uh at nas um i wanted to pick your brains maybe all of you whoever feels called to uh to answer this question please by show of hand i think if we want to dissect a little bit the model of networks um within us we we are kind of obsessed with the small with the governance models and the decision making models maybe you're very familiar with with this and the way we try to do it at nas i i personally think that this practice in itself is um cultural policy in the making is by practicing such uh tools and you're using these tools and methodologies you are by definition challenging you know like more hegemonic neoliberal models that are that are existing so i hear from joey that peer-to-peer digital technologies are possible i personally don't know their name i don't know what they are uh maybe you you can comment a little bit on this and maybe from rana and yazan we can um hear a little bit more about the potentiality that exists in network thinking and in solidarities amongst institutions but also amongst individuals and cultural practitioners i don't know if my question is clear if it's a little bit too broad so i would i i wanted to speak about the nasa experience specifically as i said we are a network of more than 20 um cinemas so the way we uh we think about allocating resources amongst ourselves you know because we like nas is a grant making institution also at the end of the day we do issue grants and we distribute them amongst the cinemas so we have looked into this model that is that takes a long time it's basically a year long and it's slow it takes a lot of in-depth knowledge of one another of the cinemas know getting to know each other in depth and then it culminates at the end of the year with a meeting where all of the beneficiaries i'm going to use this term even though i really don't like it sit around the table and decide amongst themselves how they were going to allocate the songs based on their needs based on the urgency based on their in-depth knowledge of one another that's an example that offline example that i have to to offer anyone yeah i mean basically with the larger united screens project uh you know that this session is part of we are trying to [Music] draw a blueprint of possibilities of the you know maybe uh small success stories relative victories models that are more equitable that work in solidarity that we can be inspired from both offline and online because the word technology is not necessarily relegated to digital technology you know so i was trying to maybe um seek a small more concrete uh examples maybe dive a little bit deeper into uh you know more anecdotal illustration of you know the values that we have been mentioning and talking about um so if anyone has anything right we have one hour mark but please doesn't go ahead yeah and maybe i can just yeah and i remember when rana did an interview with me for her research on khalil sakakini i think um that was a you know there was a trial also to to engage with an existing structure and try to um to shift it and to do shifts within the existing structures of cultural institutions um and i think uh in in that moment there was this very urgent and urgent question is like um you know like we are equipped critique of power uh we are so much equipped with this kind of understanding of that critique and you know like of and the power of the institutions and the structures etc but um it rarely happens that that critique is put in action and actually it's actually the challenge is when you are in power how do you practice that critique of power itself so i think um i would say in the in that period of the four or five years of um um what we tried was to use these this structure to um on one side to practice this critique but at the same time to to to produce something out of this critique uh for instance we worked on providing health insurance kind of um to [Music] cultural practitioners but also to expand the idea of the beneficiaries of and who are the cultural who work in the cultural institutions so how do you engage with not only the artists or the directors or the coordinators but also on the whole structure of freelancers and the people who work within and through the cultural institution but at the same time the non-cultural producers who also work in the cultural institutions that me the the technicians the uh that take care of the caretakers i don't know which one to the cleaners the the whole community that lives out from the cultural economy so we tried to to expand the understanding of the cultural economy and to try to engage with all its factors and its um agents that that work in it and through it um so one of the examples was the trying to to provide health insurance as a way to engage with a big problem of uh of health for sure but also of securities within this field of uh of cultural uh sector yeah that's an example maybe i think we're talking basically about reconsidering that governance and governing structures we're talking about shifting powers and um questioning that what we consider transparent um we are we have tendency to stronger dynamics and stronger system of solidarity we are looking at participatory approaches to grant making or participatory ground thinking as we call it i mean all these it's um it's been tested in many many different ways techniques uh in in the world and i can give a very quick example of uh from croatia um clutter which is a network of groups and institutions started with a with the vision of decentralized uh cultural sector in florida and it has a history of 15 years and they have experimented growing from really from bottom up they were they they didn't start at aiming at changing cultural policy in quite here but they achieved that they were behind the establishment of the first um public funding funding institution in croatia that is uh solely responsible of supporting civil society organizations i mean it became kind of a movement or this is how i see it i see it as a movement more than an institution or a network but it's it started um by um i think five organizations institutions and groups from from different cities in croatia and grown to more than a hundred they all for example they have two grand scheme annually um every time the 100 members of the network have to decide together who will get the the the funding and every candidate every applicant for the fund must as a condition to be able to get the funding must vote must be part of the decision making process so contrary to all what we grew up with talking about um conflict of interest for example the whole the whole idea of conflict of interest governance and transparency i think is something that we need to to dive in let's not also forget that we to some extent uh had the concept of the european institution um in the in the in the arab region more than we have created something from the society and from the culture so we need i think it's it's not about the solidarity um as um as as is not an objective by itself i mean it's um it's a form of not only survival but being being means being effective uh living and not only surviving so we're at the stage where i think every practitioner in this region it believes to some extent that we need to be more working together we need to be more autonomous in our decision making and we need to re think and have this critical distance to what we know is right and wrong in the intercultural system so there are many examples also from india i think we can share this later the art institution in india that is always built on this um participatory kind of funding models and governance models there are many many new models in there in the world we have relevant in palestine it's new it's in its uh second grad scheme only so it's it's a new experience we see schools but it's also trying to work from the palestinian society as a main decision maker in the process [Music] yes there is a question maybe i mean it's along the same lines maybe you'll be answering it with your what you have to share the question is can peer-to-peer infrastructure be imagined which is hybrid in nature i'm assuming hybrid is online offline and what are the immediate pitfalls that we should avoid as we imagine this but please say what you wanted to say okay so what i wanted to say is not related to this i want to build on what tiazan and rana mentioned with about governance and and the decision-making process or the control buttons within the culture production if we look within the context of arab majority countries i think it's it's good if we're going to discuss governance to start with self-criticism uh and i would start with myself um in the sense that the majority of the voices that or the majority of the positions that are being held in the culture production process are held by people who are predominantly white passing cis heterosexual to a great sense and on another level the representation across the arab majority countries we have the countries that are predominantly also heading towards the white passing communities rather than like seeing voices that are for example from mauritania or from yemen or from sudan or from from other countries that are not usually represented so if you're going to talk about governance especially in the funding process i like that i i'm i like the examples that rana gave i think we need to make the effort also to include people in the decision-making process uh and this is where i think the digital could be very helpful uh taking into consideration like it is helpful but also it's a bit critical because also who has access to the digital the bandwidth to participate and all of this and also the safety within their own countries to be able to participate in these conversations this is what i wanted to add he actually answered the question because it is uh i mean not reproducing inequities is one of the pitfalls when we try to imagine this peer-to-peer infrastructure um joey did you want [Music] to add something okay um i wanted to actually oh yeah no please go sorry i think i'm i'm quite delayed um i mean if you look at what just definitionally a peer-to-peer network is is that you have a network of different that are equally um you know privileged equipotents um so you know it's not just obviously this is for use online it's like a a platform that people you know have tried to make digitally but i think it's it's perhaps even easier to to take offline and just reproduce you know socially um in in groups sorry sorry joey just to add to what joey was saying uh in the sense that also there's a lot of criminalization especially in the past 10 years to peer-to-peer networks whether in the digital space or in the offline space and i think this should be taken into consideration uh and this is of course as being like every year it's being like the the space is being tightened even more uh whether it's copying stuff or sharing stuff even when the artists themselves for example want to share their stuff it's the production companies or the the copyright laws in each country that is deciding whether they can share their own work or not so i think this also we should keep this in mind when we're talking about peer-to-peer networks i wanted to add the exact same thing i wanted to basically just uh contribute with a buzzword with another buzzword which is civic space and the possibility of civic space online and you were talking about criminalization for example and joey mentioned a little bit talked about censorship and surveillance that takes place online um my question is twofold uh with the with the cinema members of the nas network for example it became immediate uh the the need to address the question of are we moving our cinema or film programming online or not it was not an obvious choice to simply replicate the programming the film programming that takes place within communities within physical spaces of cinema into uh online platforms specifically because um the mission and the vision of the nas members is this uh collective gathering uh you know as a political action like the presence of bodies together in one space as a as a as kind of a in this moment it's almost perverse to imagine a really subversive uh move but also what can be harvested in terms of critical thinking in terms of dialogue around culture and arts uh and with this move with some of it move being moved online uh one of the pitfalls i see is we do this is what we would lose this the impossibility of what is uh commonly referred to as you know civic space of action uh perhaps cannot be reproduced online how do you feel about this um before you go joey yazan was mentioned about uh little place not digital space like something extremely punctual in time that also counters the infinity that the internet presents and this overwhelming you know what looks like a breadth of access is actually just uh just an ocean of uh of unknown so if you can yeah both uh joey first and maybe isn't if you want to comment on this um in terms of cinema and you know cultural production this move online and whether you know you can recreate um the sort of political action of bodies in space i mean i think that's something that your you know collective will have to decide for itself but um in in terms of just like the the reality of what that might mean in terms of access um depending on the kind of content that you will be showcasing producing uh on certain platforms um like i've mentioned i think you know particularly in this region which is you know one of the most censored regions uh in the world say for china it's it's you know if you're investing so much time and energy into building a platform and you're trying to reach an audience in a state that has a very robust censorship regime all that time and energy could just immediately be for naught if you don't have a correlated uh circumvention strategy um because you know you can take a long time to build a platform and the egyptian government can just uh instantly censor at the moment that it's launched and they're really creative strategies a few years ago around the egyptian constitutional referendum there was a political group that launched a very creative series of mirrors to to get around the block and obviously this was a very hyper-politicized event um the constitutional referendum was intended to extend term limits for the president and these people were encouraging people to vote no um and the timeline was very very short but they basically had about 20 mirrors all lined up and in the spend days um the the state and the activists um you know censored and then relaunched the same website about 25 times um so they're native solutions that are based off of the publisher sides to get around these censorship possibilities in addition to that i think um you know sort of other forms of digital security hygiene are really important as well um to make sure that you know those who may be tuning in if again if it's uh more sensitive alternative content that these folks are won't be experienced any retribution depending on where they're watching it from and the space place thing i'm um to be honest um i sometimes think um well that there is something about the internet that's so overwhelming that you feel like it's so huge so big that you know like whatever you do you're just throwing one dot in the you know one drop of water in the ocean um and there's this kind of need to to make it more um something that you can actually imagine that you can that you can scale it you know like you can um you can imagine it in scale but anyway so so this i think one of the things about yeah i was talking about this i think in relation to radial heart that this idea of like it's um it's happening now and here and together and this is um again like this this sounds so old-fashioned like watching like listening to a radio together but uh but it's really something that we have uh lost in in in in the media uh in the media production but also in the uh especially and online like the online as it deletes this possibility of collectively listening of uh of being together of this linear time that you know like you tune in if you missed the show you missed the show like it might repeat a few days later but it's if you have to um uh you can miss it it's it's not tailored for your own time and and existence no like that's on one side and the other one which i think it's becoming um like you produce all these you know podcasts music but then it's on left to you uh to create all this huge network of um connections to tell the people about to be to have people listen to it you have to all the time you have to um promote it you have to show it you have to share it you have you know like you you want to create a a network of people to listen to your production and i began feeling that there's something happening on radiohara because it's creating all this [Music] base of of listeners and people that are engaging and following the program that you know like um you are not alone facing the world and with your production like you produce it there's already a community that's there engaging with with the platform and you are you just need to put your production uh in the program you don't need to promote it you don't need to to to you know like there is a new podcast and you show the whole platform helps you or already in in doing this um by design no like it's not like we are doing it specifically for this person or that person it's just a very simple act in the morning um and i think this is um making radiohara to really become first of all a hara a neighborhood and neighborhood not in its unscalable feeling but in in this very place and this this kind of place the intimacy of the place itself online which is something that i somehow you know like i'm beginning you know again like we are beginning to notice these things we don't we have no plan to do that it's just like maybe we are putting language on something that we are feeling now um maybe it's right maybe some people would say you know it's still in that world of um it's still an ocean but i i feel i feel it's the scale of the radio is very it's only 24 hours and that's it and that's already for the internet um it's something that's manageable for the individual scale and joey to to add to what you were saying about nas and the move to the digital uh and to stop being pessimistic myself i mean we already had this conversation you and i uh for me i would say like with with nas or with other collectives who are thinking about moving to the digital i think three factors are quite important to consider or at least these are the factors that i find important uh first of all the job security and when i when i'm talking job security i'm not talking because when we talk about cultural workers most of the time we tend to drop people who work in the physical space that are not the artists or the producers i mean you joey and yazan might know better about running a cultural center which is people who are cleaning people who work at the bar or at the cafeteria all these type of workers that contribute to the functioning of a cultural space that i think it's very important to keep them in mind when we're moving to the digital and to understand that this move is momentarily now during the pandemic but once we go back once we go back to normal whatever normal is uh we are not going to uh kind of like marginalize them from the process the second thing is uh building on what uh joey mentioned about being and being in a heavily censored zone there's also the issue of data collection and the way governments use uh data collected about users in these countries especially when we're talking in the in the in the uh sphere of culture production or or even watching movies like if we say we're gonna we're gonna show a gay film for example or lesbian trans film whatever governments can access the data uh if we don't take it into consideration to protect user data in certain countries and can profile people and it could be used to crack down on them so i think we should also be very careful when we're doing these type of things and the third thing that i've been seeing quite a lot with when it comes to for example film festivals is the issue of pricing of tickets uh you see festivals or the most of them they say for example it's five euros or wh

2021-08-25 22:05

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