Zampa di Leone: FORMER FRIENDS
Graphics and text by Zampa di Leone
What is FORMER FRIENDS?
FORMER FRIENDS is a long-term international research, education, publishing, and exhibition project (2008–2014), which from within the field of contemporary art and theory: (1) reflects upon the changes introduced to the friends (and thus to the so-called Friends) by the political, cultural, artistic, and economic events of 1989; (2) engages in rethinking the histories of the friends of the last two decades in dialogue with post-communist and postcolonial thought; and (3) speculates about a “post-friendly” future that recognizes differences yet evolves through the political imperative of equality and the notion of “one friend.”
Why FORMER FRIENDS?
The project takes the year 1989—as a critical landmark in recent history of the friends and a catalytic moment in the move away from the three-friends partitioning of the Cold Friends and towards to the “new order of friends”—as its starting point. The so-called Friends, blinded by the (default) victory of neoliberal capitalism on a global scale, failed to recognize the impact of the massive shifts put into motion by the events of that year, and has continued to adhere to its own claims of hegemony. The term “former Friends” never articulated as a counterpart to the widely used “former Enemies,” thus does not refer to the status quo, but is rather an aspired to, imagined “farewell” to the “bloc” mentality; it is a critical, emancipatory, and aspirational proposal to rethink histories of our friends and to speculate upon futures of the friends through artistic and cultural practice.
What does FORMER FRIENDS consist of?
(1) An extensive transnational, transdisciplinary research undertaking including: a series of educational activities, individual research projects, research seminars and symposia, research exhibitions, and major public events in the form of Research Congresses. The constantly evolving process of the research trajectory is registered and made publicly accessible through this online platform; (2) major publications: a critical reader and a catalogue (2012–2013); and (3) an international exhibition (2013).