Description: A 28-page one-off zine I self-published containing a number of illustrated life tips and suggestions, mainly to serve as a reminder to myself really. I also included it in my exhibition Slip of the Tongue at the Egyptian Palace of the Arts, acting as sort of a mock holy book in this installation I set up. I’ve also, on occasion distributed the publication for free on metros and bus stops.
[T]his condemnation of being “materialistic” marks both a startling absence of self-reflexivity and an insistence on pathologizing, racializing, and dehistoricizing the poor and angry.
Because let us be very honest. You who work, who have the opportunity to do so, who perhaps had it handed to you or who fought tooth and nail to get that opportunity, you who “earn an honest living”: do you truly work only to cover the bare necessities? Do you work just enough to pull off a base level of caloric intake, a hair shirt, an empty room, an indulgent pint at the end of the week, and bus fare to get you to your job? Do you disdain desire beyond that?
No. You don’t. We don’t. Even if you are among those who can rarely afford them, you want, and you work and scrape and cheat and borrow to get, expensive trainers, big screen TVs, sport utility vehicles, prams that resemble sport utility vehicles, expensive vodka, pants with the name of a certain brand on the ass and that make your ass look good, earrings, cologne, cigarettes that don’t taste like cardboard, video games, diamonds, good quality beef.
(Or worse, you play at being above that. And so you want a brand new hybrid, soap made from hemp, something locally farmed, a flat with bamboo floors, the complete works of Matthew Arnold.)
And so, even before the question of criminality emerges (how those goods get gotten), you are condemning the looters for something else: for wanting the very objects you want.
You are condemning them for your desire.
You are declaring that desire to be abject and unacceptable, as soon as it is untethered from the legitimation of labor. You think, then, that they are supposed to desire and be refused its payoff. That such is the fundamental condition of the poor: to want and to go wanting. That want is supposed to be identical to access.
Evan Calder (An Open Letter to Those Who Condemn Looting)