SourcesIf we take macro-politics to mean politics in the sense of public constitutional institutions (government, parliament, parties, elections, etc), micropolitics refers to a whole series of contexts which, until the 1960s, were traditionally seen as part of private or civic life, and therefore fundamentally a-political: sex, the family, the workplace, the school, the clinic. Movements that believed the level of macro-politics to be closed to any possibility of real social transformation, devised strategies for micropolitical interventions in prisons, madhouses, hospitals, schools and families. In retrospect, the aims of these micropolitical projects seem clear, given the concept’s trajectory. French philosopher, psychoanalyst and activist Felix Guattari had seen micropolitics as one of the emblematic elements of the 1968 revolt. In Discipline and Punish (1975), and The Will to Power (1976), Foucault gave the term theoretical credentials. And then Guattari himself, along with Gilles Deleuze, theorised it at length in the monumental work Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972, 1980), where the concept of a future “molecular revolution” was introduced. The story would not be complete, however, if we did not mention how, in the meantime, under the slogan “the personal is political”, feminist movements everywhere were launching a subversive micropolitics that dismantled the supposedly “private” logic of domination in gender relationships.
Genealogies of practice
- Black Audio Film Collective (UK / Reino Unido)
Inaugurated in 1982 and dissolved in 1998, the Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC) was formed by John Akomfrah, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Reece Auguiste, Trevor Mathison, David Lawson and Edward George. They produced award winning film, photography, slide tape, video, installations, posters and interventions. Their works combined a montage aesthetic with personal reflection to invent a new genre of moving image that challenged traditions of British documentary and drama, and profoundly influenced contemporary avant-garde film-makers and theorists. The emergence of the group coincided with the racial repositioning of the black presence in British public life in the early 1980s. Handsworth Songs (1986), Twilight City (1987), Testament (1988), The Mysteries of July (1991) and Who Needs a Heart (1991) won them a series of international awards. The BAFC body of work constitutes a powerful example of new ways of engaging with the past, present and possible future of black political culture in Britain.
- Der Subjektive Faktor ("El Factor Subjetivo" / "The Subjective Factor") (Alemania/Germany) Helke Sander , 1981
Combining staged scenes, archive and documentary footage and fragments from drama films, Sander gives us her account of the early stages of the feminist struggle, exploring a series of semi-autobiographical themes along the way and deconstructing everyday life in the turbulent days at the end of the 1960s. The protagonist’s reminiscences of West Berlin from 1967 to 1970 mesh with her son’s involvement in new protest movements at the end of the 1970s. The film questions the aesthetics of cinematic representation and- faithful to the spirit of the times- is built on the premises that all images must contain a critical reflection upon themselves, and all personal issues are fundamentally political. “I wanted to show”, Sander explained “how decisions were made within a political movement; how random or subjective such decisions may be depending on the multiple interests and people making up a movement. And I wanted to show how young we were”.