The live-stream’s split-screen, or, Urgent domestic politics

2 April 2020, 7:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. CST, Teach-In Rising Majority w/ Naomi Klein & Angela Y. Davis, “Movement Building in the Time of the Covid-19 Crisis. A Left feminist perspective on 21st century racial capitalism in this moment,” and further contributions by Thenjiwe McHarris, Maurice Mitchell, Cindy Wiesner and Loan Tran; organizd by The Rising Majority and supported by the Working Families Party, #SquadUp,

Few days ago, on Friday 3 April 2020 at 1am Berlin time, a Teach-In with political activist, philosopher and author Angela Y. Davis as well as social activist, author and filmmaker Naomi Klein was live-streamed from personal computers at each of their homes. Invited by prison-abolitionist activist Thenjiwe McHarris, they spoke about the Covid-19-crisis. They were joined by community organizers/leaders Maurice Mitchell, Loan Tran and Cindy Wiesner of different grassroots organizations in the U.S.. In the coalition of The Rising Majority[i] they fight for “building a powerful, anti-racist left for radical democracy”. Davis’ and Klein’s political imaginaries engaged with the call for “transformative visions of structural change” in this planetary crisis, as Thenjiwe McHarris began the Teach-In that spanned a classroom across thousands of homes by logging into a webinar online, listening and watching the split image, sharing screens and the link on Social Media.

Shouldn’t this crisis demand an urgent politics of the domestic, specifically of those who have the privilege to #stayathome? What kind of visual politics does #stayathome produce as well as demand? How could or should we, who #stayathome, contribute or support the collective labour of “system relevant” workers sustaining the principle needs of society beyond capitalist logics? In other words, instead of waiting for a new left to arise from the ashes of the trauma of 1989 (still), we could make sure that the virus will not leave us alone before its “anti-capitalist instinct,” as David Harvey suggested on while reflecting on his domestic politics of cooking at home. Without a doubt the virus has infected “global capitalism [that] now appears not sustainable” (AD) anymore.


David Harvey, Anti-Captialist Chronicles Compensatory Consumerism, 2 April 2020,


How can we foster an ongoing “global conversation” (NK) and “international solidarity” (AYD) fighting racial capitalism, class divide and social injustice, which crystalize in the health-care crisis and the prison-industrial complex as Davis points out? How could we practice a life and society to come across our screens, yet, still from domestic spaces such as the living room, the kitchen, the balcony, or the veranda?

Binna Choi and Maiko Tanaka (eds.), Grand Domestic Revolution Handbook, a compendium of living research for building a domestic commons and oikopolitics, Casco-Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht, Valiz: Amsterdam, 2014

What would a Grand Domestic Revolution (GDR) look like, now in this very moment, as Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory in Utrecht has already asked a few years ago?


Chapter “Economy to Oikos,” in Grand Domestic Revolution Handbook, 2014, pp.173-225


RehanaZama, Like an Iron Maiden. Trapped between a Rock and a Hard Place, 2010, video, 11min, in Grand Domestic Revolution Handbook, 2014, p. 200


Surely, at this moment, the Grand Domestic Revolution is much tighter bound to an oikopolitics as mapped out in Like an Iron Maiden. Trapped between a Rock and a Hard Place (2010) by Rehana Zaman, yet, in demand to be re-defined by practicing social proximity while body distancing, digital technologies and cyber-spatial practices.

In other words, while searching for an urgent politics of the domestic by sharing screens on a transcontinental scale, the need for “digital commons” (NK) ought to demand a technopolitics of live-streaming, data-transmission and tele-communication on a transcontinental scale as well. Is the split-screen a possible “actionable image” (Harun Farocki in 2914 drawing from Alexander Galloway’s concept of the “actionable object” [in Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Cultures, 2009]) of/for domestic politics, which turns everyone joining a video-conference into a news-reporter from her own domestic action, yet, which is only effective by collective effort taking the visual form of a shared screen or split image?


Angela Y. Davis in her home, Oakland/California, 3 April 2020, 1am, Berlin-time, Teach-In “Movement Building in the Time of the Covid-19 Crisis. A Left feminist perspective on 21st century racial capitalism in this moment,”

In the live-stream, we see Davis in her home in Oakland/California, surrounded by her library of books; a little dog seems to scurry at the edge of the screen at some point (to be verified, yet, Davis meant to have a dog as the poet and essayist Dawn Lundy Martin notes in her Long Road to Angela Davis’s Library) suggesting an interspecies privacy common for a domestic space.


Naomi Klein in her home, 3 April 2020, 1am, Berlin-time, Teach-In “Movement Building in the Time of the Covid-19 Crisis. A Left feminist perspective on 21st century racial capitalism in this moment,”

We see Klein in a front room that operates as her ‘home-office’––with framed family photographs to the right that all seem to look towards the computer-camera; in the back at the wall are two A1-large reprints that look like collages in white and black––one seems to look like a hand holding something–– both on a striking red-coloured background that amazingly reflects a similar red of her jacket.

Naomi Klein points out the “luxury of quarantine” for people like us, who are able to stay at home, have a home at all, shall get paid while tele-working from #stayathome, or furthermore, who have the time to write for Rosa Mercedes 02, and so on. Their conversation leads them into the call for action while staying at home, to mobilize our technologies for creating “digital commons” (NK) as our contribution to the labour of care by those who do not have a “system relevant” profession such as supermarket-worker, nurse, doctor, baker, cleaner, or the postman and postwoman.

The hashtag #stayathome reveals in a crystal-clear manner the degrees of a “collective immune-system” (Naomi Klein) regarding class, race and gender within the capitalist society during this planetary rupture. The service-sector such as care for elderly people, food supply and child-care is still mainly female labour. In this Teach-In-––which is an educational format in itself in the context of political movements––Davis calls, thus, for learning from “feminist organizing” practices now across various societies of the so-called Global South or indigenous communities in the so-called Global North. (N.B. In contrast to Davis and Klein, the Marxist economic geographer David Harvey chose to invisibilize his domestic space while speaking about primitive accumulation, compensatory consumerism and home-cooking. Instead, he appears on screen in one of his famous red jumpers, seated in a grey armchair without a table but a seemingly professional camera in front of him and framed by rendered black background as if this frame marks a sequence in a series of talks. Surely, Harvey must have asked a person, or a team, to film and edit the video-file, yet, they remain unnamed in the video.)

#stayathome has been a widely circulating as well as strongly debated hashtag these days. The visual expression of #stayathome is the split image, the shared screen or split-screen: department meetings, students’ tutorials, conferences and live-streams take place by sharing a document or a link instantly for download, muting the microphone while still being recorded, blurring the background, seeing your colleagues in their domestic spaces as much as oneself reaching for the coffee-mug, etc. Video-conferencing technologies use vocabularies of architectural organisation, for example, “room” for defining an interface online to share a conversation with at least two participants.

The split-image of live-streams, webinars or department meetings on our computer screen operates similarly to a “soft montage” (Harun Farocki), yet, more than only between edited images: This split-screen cuts into real-time as if our desktop is the director’s editing table during the live-transmission. We are living montage at each moment of sharing a video-conference, as Jodi Dean proposed in “Faces as Commons. The Secondary Visuality of Communicative Capitalism” (Open!, 31 December 2016): “Under communicative capitalism, images circulate more easily than words and words take on features of images (as in word clouds). This new visualism is not just a matter of advertising, television, brands, mainstream media and the like. It characterizes one-to-one, one-to-few, one-to-many, few-to-many, many-to-few, and many-to-many communication. Social media and texting rely on images of all sorts – emojis, photos, videos, memes – deploying them in multiple combinations. We live montage.” Yet, the current conditions of live-streaming, video-conferencing, tele-working, cyber-learning, or distance-teaching in real-time, or “synchronous learning” as it says in the language @ KIS: Do This, Not That by Alison Yang, operates through a live “soft montage” of many-to-one-to-few-to-many domestic spaces.


Angela Dimitrakaki, “Globalisation, Phase III: The Global Social Reproduction Crisis,” CCC Public Seminar, 1 April 2020, 6pm Athens-time, zoom-out at the end of the live-stream, CCC RP Master, Head Genève

Could the shared screen and multi-split image in real-time across real-spaces mobilize an infrastructure, both, visually as well as socially, for a collective world-building, or,––as Klein suggests in her talk with Davis for ––a “collective kick” to open the doors for huge possibilities as wide as open for anti-imperialist politics? Could this split-image of our living rooms push an always already existing yet invisible oikopolitics to the front, that means a political economy of the household, that fosters forms of “digital organizing” (Klein) and “feminist organizing” (Davis) which we will need in order to prepare us for the time after the sovereign will have declared the end of the state of exception?

Probably, the tele-working imperative of the present that comes under names such as Cyberlearn, Moodle, Zoom, Teams, Whereby, BigBlueButton, Skype, Jitsi––you name it––will push the neoliberalization of education into a further chapter. Probably, the corona-enforced global hold of work comes across like an unwanted strike for artists who will need any possibility soon after #stayathome finishes to exhibit again. Yet, as much as Davis and Klein observe for a left “a better position in this crisis” than 2008/09, as much as we should search for a visual imaginary by demanding an urgent domestic politics of organizing ourselves beyond #stayathome. While “system relevant” workers make sure that those who #stayathome have food, electricity, water … the many workers of visual cultures ought to look for possible articulations that speak specifically from/to an oikopolitics towards a transformative vision of a structural change in order “to be prepared for hitting the ground when we are finally able to be in contact again with each other” (NK) in the classroom, the exhibition space or the street. DM


Attempts to begin my Curatorial/Politics seminar on 1 April 2020 on Skype via the program’s CCC-CARE group


[i] Thenjiwe McHarris is currently in leadership within the Movement for Black Lives and is the co-founder of Blackbird, an organization that focuses on international movement building. Maurice Mitchell is the National Director at Working Families Party, which is a progressive grassroots political party building a multiracial movement of working people to transform America. Loan Tran is Co-Executive Director of Southern Visions Collective. Cindy Wiesner is Executive Director of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance.


April 5th, 2020 — Rosa Mercedes / 02

A  word on “post-truth” by postcolonial and photography scholar Zahid R. Chauhary (from his 2020 essay “The Politics of Exposure: Truth after Post-Facts”):So perhaps it is not simply that truth acts (such as whistleblowing) expose what we already know, but that the place of knowledge in an atmosphere of fetishistic disavowal lends such disavowal a libidinal frisson. In cynical reasoning, truth actually matters a great deal because acting in spite of it is what endows the action with its distinctive fetishistic pleasure.”

October 26th, 2021

Lauren Berlant, the brilliant theorist of “cruel optimism” and related issues, died of a rare form of cancer on June 28. The following, devastatingly optimistic quote is from a 2016 essay on the commons as “infrastructures for troubling times,” part of a book that they worked on with the typically double-edged title On the Inconvenience of Other People: “What remains for our pedagogy of unlearning is to build affective infrastructures that admit the work of desire as the work of an aspirational ambivalence. What remains is the potential we have to common infrastructures that absorb the blows of our aggressive need for the world to accommodate us and our resistance to adaptation and that, at the same time, hold out the prospect of a world worth attaching to that’s something other than an old hope’s bitter echo. A failed episode is not evidence that the project was in error. By definition, the common forms of life are always going through a phase, as infrastructures will.”


Some basics from the Strike MoMA site: “Campaigns, actions, and letters chip away at the regime’s facade from the outside. Inside, every time workers organize, defy the boss, care for a coworker, disrespect secrecy, or enact other forms of subversion, cracks are created in the core. Cracking and chipping, chipping and cracking. As the walls that artificially separate the museum from the world collapse, we reorient away from the institution and come together to make plans. Let us strike in all the ways possible to exit from the terms of the museum so we can set our own.”


via Hyperallergic on the environmental impact of blockchain referring to recent NFT (non-fungible token) art sales: “This is not the first time the art world has come under scrutiny for being on the wrong side of the climate conversation. Artists and activists have protested everything from the carbon footprint of physical art fairs to the fossil fuel money funding major museums. But some say the energy consumption of cryptocurrencies is particularly egregious, and research shows it’s relatively easily quantifiable. A study by Cambridge University, for instance, estimates that bitcoin uses more electricity per year than the entire nation of Argentina. (Ethereum mining consumes a quarter to half of what Bitcoin mining does, but one transaction uses more power than an average US household in a day, according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.)”


Nicholas Mirzoeff on “Artificial vision, white space and racial surveillance capitalism”: “Based as it is on ‘epidermalization’ (the assertion of absolute difference based on relative differences in skin color), AI’s racial surveillance deploys an all-too-familiar racialized way of seeing operating at plan-etary scale. It is the plantation future we are now living in. All such operations take place in and via the new imagined white space of technology known as the cloud. In reality, a very material arrangement of servers and cables, the cloud is both an engine of high-return low-employment capitalism and one of the prime drivers of carbon emissions.”


Sara Ahmed on the performativity of disgust (from The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2004): “To name something as disgusting is to transfer the stickiness of the word ‘disgust’ to an object, which henceforth becomes generated as the very thing that is spoken. The relationship between the stickiness of the sign and the stickiness of the object is crucial to the performativity of disgust as well as the apparent resistance of disgust reactions to ‘newness’ in terms of the generation of different kinds of objects. The object that is generated as a disgusting (bad) object through the speech act comes to stick. It becomes sticky and acquires a fetish quality, which then engenders its own effects.”

November 7th, 2020
moreless news