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Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority
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Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  64 ratings  ·  9 reviews

Protestors, rows of riot cops, tear gas lobbed into crowds—these are the images that easily flood into the mind when one thinks about a gathering to protest the IMF, the WTO, a meeting of the G8, or the war on Iraq. The movement against corporate globalization has brought anti-authoritarian politics into the forefront of world consciousness, but what do we know—and what
Paperback, 225 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by AK Press
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Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of my goals for the next (last) decades of my life has been to explore the potential for combining art and radical politics. This book was recommended by my friend Lara (see her excellent reviews in this forum), and it more than lived up to my expectations. Having previously read nothing more than the odd Proudhon or Bakunin quote, and having a less than crystal clear understanding of the range of politics falling under the anarchist/syndicalist banner(s), this book was a wonderful primer. I ...more
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
I edited a terrible review of this book that is soon to appear in Perspectives (on Anarchist Theory) magazine. The book deserved better. At the very least, I enjoyed the process of scraping and hacking at the fat left behind by an anonymous writer's muddled ego, and I polished what remained down to a smoother bone.

This is an important text because it was written as a collective project, to fill a gap in existing literature and inquiry. It asks a simple question, and follows it to others: what is
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you're an artist/creative person and also have radical/anarchist politics, this is the book for you. I have it on my shelf next to the earlier excellent books "But is it Art? Art as Activism" and "From ACT-UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization."

It's fantastic, inspiring, and will make your art better.
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book felt exciting, inspiring, and challenging at times. Gorgeous art from many different sources. The essay format allowed many different perspectives to be expressed about the connections between radical political activism and art.
The first half of the book focused mostly on printmakers. The second half of the book focused on what the editors termed "interventions" which included video media, street theater, and examples of reclaiming and interacting with public space.
Many of the
Dec 26, 2007 rated it liked it
So, this weekend Erik rails on me for giving the book he co-edited (w/ Josh MacPhee, which isn't clear in the description on this site) only 3 stars. For honesty and clarity's sake, I haven't actually finished the book, so there! The lesson here is to watch what you review when your friends are writers who lurk around book-themed social networking sites checking up on their own work! Geez... at any rate I enjoyed everything I've read so far and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in ...more
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shameless self-plugs aside, this sprawling anthology of writings and pictures by and about anti-authoritarian art, artists and art movements thickens the bridge between the arts and activism. Highlights include an awesome interview with the late printmaker Carlos Cortez, an exposé on Indonesian print collective Taring Padi, a mindblowing look at radical playground construction in Denmark,and a hilarious history of monuments to the Haymarket Martyrs—both the cops and the eight anarchists for whom ...more
Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: political artists, activists who need to think creatively
Shelves: activism, art
This book excited me more than any in recent memory. It's nearly impossible to find clear descriptions and analysis of anarchist art, much less many, many images that were previously inaccessible. Inspiring.
Jun 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
tis da sheet
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Mar 19, 2007
Ed Marszewski
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
in the arsenal of art activism history books.
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Josh MacPhee, artist and activist, is the founder of the Justseeds Artists Cooperative, an organization that promotes radical art forms. He is the author of Stencil Pirates: A Global Study of the Street Stencil (2004) and co-edited Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority (2007) and Reproduce and Revolt (2008). MacPhee is also the curator of the printmaking exhibition Paper Politics, which ...more