It is often difficult to establish the authorship of the practices Paolo is engaged in because of their collective nature. These practices are collective and collectivising more than collaborative, they avoid group closures and attempt to counter the individualisation we are constantly forced into. They are characterized by the use of art and theory to create tools to collectively re-organise our lives beyond capitalism. Art, theory and philosophy are taken out of their territories to get activated in everyday situations. The work of Marxist feminist theorist and activist Silvia Federici has been particularly inspiring in experimenting with the formation of commons and commoning at the level of reproduction.
The practices Paolo is engaged in are always situated; they start from a context: a neighbourhood, an institution, a place and those inhabiting it. So far Paolo has developed these practices, throughout several years, in two very different places: New Cross, London, and Bolzano, a town in the north of Italy near the border with Austria. The approach of these practices is transversal, in the sense of a confrontation with otherness as something not to be absorbed or neutralised (Guattari). Mutuality gets fostered in the form of a de-professionalisation, a questioning of professions, roles and power relations polarized around the oppositions between experts and non-experts, artists and participants, therapists and patients, teachers and students, those who help and those in need.
- 2013 PhD Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London
- 2003 MA Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London
- 2001 BA Art History, Universita’ di Udine, Italy, and Universidad Complutense, Madrid
Paolo has been teaching the Visual Cultures' Postgraduate Diploma Lab at Goldsmiths since 2006. For the Visual Cultures department he also taught Modernities, a first year BA course on art and culture in the 19th and 20th Century.
In the academic year 2015-16 Paolo taught “Visual Culture” in the Faculty of Design of the Free University of Bolzano, Italy.
Since 2008 he has been tutoring MA students as City and Guilds Art School, London.
Prior to that he taught Art History at the Workers Educational Association in London.
Areas of supervision
Paolo is interested in the open questions of the relationship between micro and macropolitics emerging from the coming together of art and activism. More specifically he is interested in creating social solidarity through the “micro” of collectives, whilst opening up the possibility to organise direct action as a form of intervention into the “macro”. This interest in the relationship between the “micro” of groups and the “macro” of institutions unfolds in different ways: in the therapeutic function of art and theory and their potential to heal from neoliberal pathologies such as competition, individualism, oppression, (self)exploitation; in a challenge of the centrality of work in our lives through the use of anti-work strategies; in experimentations with non-nuclear / queer families, interrogating the meaning of queer and queering in different aspects of life; in the use of popular, minor and non-scientific knowledges around the self and mutual care; in the investigation of non-anthropocentric forms of life, in connection not just with machines and the machinic, but also with the earth, plants, animals, as pursued by permaculture, shamanic and pagan practices like those of Reclaiming and Starhawk.
At the beginning of 2013 Paolo, together with Bianca Elzenbaumer (Brave New Alps), initiated the New Cross Commoners, a collective that explores and experiments with self-organisation in New Cross, using the commons and commoning (Silvia Federici, Massimo de Angelis, Midnight Notes) as a framework and reference for practices that collectivise reproduction. As part of the New Cross Commoners Paolo has recently initiated a“Job de-centre”, which is both a practice of mutual care that encourages a shared use of tools to de-centre our lives from work, and a space to counter those of job centres with their culture of control and alienation.
In 2014, partly from the experience of the New Cross Commoners, emerged The Field, a self-organised, co-operatively run space, which lies somewhere in between a social centre and a community centre. The Field operates both as a common resource for groups and people in New Cross that can not and do not want to make use of private / public institutions, and as a place to encourage a transversal kind of social solidarity, across gender, age, class, race, ability. Paolo is contributing to the running of the space, and more specifically he organises activities to establish a practice of mutual healing and care at The Field.
Some other long term engagements for Paolo have been with Lungomare and nanopolitics. Lungomare is an art centre in Bolzano, Italy, and Paolo has been collaborating with it as a member of the board of directors, organising activities such as meetings and workshops to reflect on the gentrification of Bolzano and the possibilities to counter it. With nanopolitics, after two intense years of regular activities exploring how to think politics through the coming together of bodies, Paolo is now involved in the organisation of workshops inspired by theatre of the oppressed in academic and other contexts.
- What Does it Mean to Win, exhibition and workshops with Brave New Alps at ar/ge kunst, Bolzano, Italy (June 2014 – October 2015).
- “How to Turn a Career into a Commons”, for Precarity Pilot (2014)
- New Cross Commoners publication (2013)
- Nanopolitics Handbook, (edited with Manuela Zechner and Bue Rübner Hansen), Minor Compositions (2013)
- Summer Drafts, a series of workshops and initiatives organised together with migrant associations in Bolzano, Italy (with Valeria Graziano), (2008 - 2011)
Writings on the students' movement (2010 – 2011):
My research interests are strongly characterized by the urgency of activating the (micro)political potentials of art and theory through everyday and situated practices. In this, figures such as Felix Guattari and Michel Foucault have encouraged an increasing connection between art, theory and the practice of collective forms of organization.
My PhD research focused on de-subjectivation as a political and artistic practice, analysing figures including Guy Debord, Georges Bataille and Robert Walser to test out the re-activation of their practices in contemporary contexts and in relation to experiments in activism and radical pedagogy (Summer Drafts, Officine SD). This research fostered an engagement with different collective processes providing the ground for further theoretical and practical investigations, namely, on the production of commons and commoning from a feminist Marxist perspective (Silvia Federici) with the New Cross Commoners, on the politics of care, affects and the body with nanopolitics, on ecology and anarchism with Transition BZ.
The main challenge of this research is to share and collectivize the use of art and theory by questioning their professionalization and other forms of enclosure: the very figure and role of the researcher has to be constantly questioned in the process. This research aims to show how a diffuse and common use of art and theory can multiply the possibilities of forms of life beyond capitalism to be created.
Sensibilidades que esperimentan en la ciudad neoliberal
Plotegher, Paolo; Zechner, Manuela and Hansen, Bue Rubner. 2012. Sensibilidades que esperimentan en la ciudad neoliberal. In: , ed. Félix Guattari. Los ecos del pensar. Entre filosofía, arte y clínica. Barcelona: Hakabooks.
Nanopolitics: A First Outline of Our Experiments in Movement
Plotegher, Paolo; Dowling, Emma; Hansen, Bue Rubner and Zechner, Manuela. 2012. Nanopolitics: A First Outline of Our Experiments in Movement. Lateral(1),
Constructing Situations: Guy Debord's detournement of fiction
Plotegher, Paolo. 2011. Constructing Situations: Guy Debord's detournement of fiction. Through Europe,
Conference or Workshop Item
Notes for a Possible Configurations of New Institutions
Plotegher, Paolo. 2013. 'Notes for a Possible Configurations of New Institutions'. In: Lungomare Gasthaus. Lungomare, Bolzano, Italy.
From Collective Intimacy to Self-Dispersion
Plotegher, Paolo. October 9 to 18, 2009. 'From Collective Intimacy to Self-Dispersion'. In: evento, the artistic and urban rendez-vous of Bordeaux. Bordeaux, France October 9 to 18, 2009.
What can I do with the nothing I have? Forms of non- oppositional struggle against capitalist subjectivation
Plotegher, Paolo. 2012. What can I do with the nothing I have? Forms of non- oppositional struggle against capitalist subjectivation. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London
New Cross Commoners interview for European Alternatives
Plotegher, Paolo. 2013. New Cross Commoners interview for European Alternatives. UNSPECIFIED, London.