Assemble: Culture, Like Weimar Is a Hedge, Or Is It A Bet?

Critical Practice Notes

“What’s funny is that the opposite of assembly, a disordered mob or chaos, is in many ways what appears as an assembly itself. NAVEL and its ASSEMBLIES are hard to hold down to a specific image and theme. While an assembly aims to give structure to disparate publics, aside from the invisible platform supporting it, it really does look like a lot of people doing random stuff together. It is the tedious aesthetics of attending and participating in meetings. Currently there are 8 NAVEL ASSEMBLIES going on, they meet at different times and places. Some didn’t want to speak with me, others welcomed my questions. They each have their own language, conditions, and group dynamics. This profusion of styles is in striking contrast to the disciplined singular aesthetics we attribute to fascists; fascism’s stark symbols, its ugly rhetorical phrases, its totalitarian uniforms. Fascism is a logo – the democratic riot of assemblies, they’re an unruly mess.”

In the recently self-published 6th edition of his Critical Practice Notes, the artist Robby Herbst wrote an insightful critical piece on the ASSEMBLIES program at NAVEL, a community-led and collaborative learning platform developed and coordinated by NAVEL’s program director Amanda Vincelli. Herbst’s essay titled Assemble: Culture, Like Weimar Is a Hedge, Or Is It A Bet? investigates assembly, dissassembly, queer visibilty and anti-fascism through his learnings about the NAVEL ASSEMBLIES program and his reading of Judith Butler’s, as well as Hardt & Negri’s writings on cultural politics and assembling.

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Critical Practice Notes is a low-fi print-only newsletter, available through the US Postal Service. The letter contains unique writing, essays, interviews, and ephemera. The letter explores the nature of a critical creative practice in the era of cognative capitalism.

Robby Herbst is an interdisciplinary artist, and critical writer. He develops large and small platforms that engage creatively with forms of dissidence.