Schizo-culture and the politics of the downtown scene


The downtown art and music scene of the 1970s and early 1980s rose out of New York City’s shift from an industrial to a post-industrial economy. The scene also flourished as the city headed into bankruptcy and was forced by the national republican government to turn to the banking sector for bailout money, a development that David harvey cites alongside the rise of Pinochet as being foundational to the rise of neoliberalism. At the time artists and musicians flocked to New York because of its cultural importance and also because it was such a cheap place to live, only for critics including harvey and Sharon Zukin to subsequently argue that they ended up colluding in New York’s transition to a post-democratic, post-collective city.

Exploring an alternative framing of cultural practice during this formative historical conjuncture, this seminar will look at the special Semiotext(e) issue dedicated to Schizo-culture, which explored the relationship between participants in the downtown scene and developing strains within post- Marxist theory that sought to map out an anti-authoritarian, fluid, pluralistic politics for the late 20th century. how might this formative debate inform current discussions about art, creativity and politics? With Professor Tim Lawrence.

Listen to the recording here: