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A User’s Guide to Demanding the Impossible

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I wrote this text with John Jordan in a real hurry over three days in Dec 2010, between the first and second days of action by UK students against the government cuts. It was intended to be a simple, accessible intro to creative activist histories and strategies, and to prompt some reflection on what different creative forms of action were possible in that moment, especially with so many fine art and design students occupying their art schools. We photocopied it as a handmade zine and left copies with different groups of occupying students, and did some workshops with some of them, and it went up online as a free PDF, first of all on the Arts Against Cuts blog. It was later released by Autonomedia/Minor Compositions as a little book which you can get a free PDF of or buy a real copy of here. You can get it from Amazon, but you know, don’t.

There are some things about the text that I disagree with a little now (that’s always the way, though), but it got a really enthusiastic reception that took me a bit by suprise, but was of course lovely. It seems to have ended up on lots of undergrad courses, and so far it has been translated into French, German, Italian, Greek, Polish, Turkish and Portuguese. I’ve even seen some new English versions pop up in small runs with new covers and art. I’ll try and put PDFs of the different translations up on here as soon as I can.

You can read an interview with John and I about the book that Marc Garrett did at Furtherfield, and it got a really thoughtful review along with some other texts coming out of that moment from Tom Coles for Variant.

A Users Guide to (Demanding) the Impossible