Text written in collaboration with Lucas Sargentelli Icó and published anonymously by Agência Transitiva. It reads as a critical self-portrait of a group of young artists from Rio de Janeiro, whose interest in art and political activism, referenced in dissident experiences of European and American groups, is suddenly confronted by the concreteness, uniqueness and complexity of their own reality in the — still currently contended — "Jornadas de junho de 2013" [popular demonstrations that happened in Brazil in July 2013].

Source > Agência Transitiva Year 1, independent publication, 2013 (English/Portuguese)

                It is remarkable to appreciate what may be unusual about this situation: 13 individuals gathered on July 31, 2013, in an apartment at Pereira da Silva street, in the neighborhood of Laranjeiras, to discuss the identity of what until then had been called Agência Transitiva [Transitive Agency]. It was not the first, and supposedly also not the last time.

                After three hours of conversation, they are all spread around the living room on chairs and sofas, tired yet attentive, listening to the recording of their last ‘action’, which had been executed some days before at Matilha Cultural, in São Paulo. On the occasion of a debate on the ‘Aesthetics of demonstration’, the Agência was heard, but not seen, by a tiny audience through a portable turntable. Researchers and artists had been invited to present their views on the recent waves of unrest that had taken over the country. The audience giggled and expressed surprise after hearing those populist jingles by Banco Safra of more than two decades ago. After listening to the record, a young man from the audience casted a single sentence in response: “Dude, if I’d heard that back then, I would’ve set this bank on fire!”

                It was not very different from what actually happened, just a few days later, at the financial hub of that same city, without a single member of the Agência being present: all bank branches at Avenida Paulista were systematically depredated in a specially violent demonstration. That is not to say that this same Agência would support the wave of destruction or, yet, would act that way if it had been there. Some would certainly do it, others wouldn’t. Which means that above all, at this moment, nobody can see farther than anybody else. Neither those researchers, nor the artists, nor the police, nor the bankers, nor the demonstrators from Avenida Paulista. Meteorologists do not predict the day of tomorrow neither astrologists predict the beyond.

                What to say, then, about the 13 of Pereira da Silva except that they are back in Rio, not just trying to understand what or how to do it, but rather why they are there. Such question would not take long to appear – inevitable as it is – after a few months of activities which consisted, in most cases, in the simple sharing of questions, information, and desires among the group itself.

                Agency means, among other things, the ‘ability to intervene in the world’, while transitive, refers to ‘what goes beyond’. This double-barreled name, chosen by vote at previous meetings, seemed at first to be the most suitable for what it appeared to deny rather than to state: namely, a certain resistance to the ideas of stagnation and permanence. As opposed to the organization of an ‘art collective’, the activities of the Agências hould work under another group dynamic. No names, no room for self-promotion.

                The possibility of anonymous work, which seemed to echo the sense of its most significant ‘action’ until now: the independent translation to Portuguese and the publication of “A users guide to demanding the impossible”. It was because of the great diffusion of this booklet, as unexpected as any of the events of those unusual days, that the Agência received its first invitations to attend meetings and debates like the one in São Paulo. And, at the same time, its first internal differences came about. For it seemed necessary to adjust the hands of the clock in the same quadrant so that the alarm could ring at the right time, instead of turning around its own axis in vain. Well, for the 13 of Pereira da Silva nothing could be less guaranteed than the impersonal precision of the Greenwich meridian.

                But this was not the only translational difficulty they would come across. It was also necessary to render to Portuguese the so hated English word ‘artivism’ to which the authors alluded, driven by a genuine desire to think the production of works beyond the simple consumption of goods. And what should be done with the ‘impossible’, a word loaded with postdemocratic European idealism in a context where sometimes not even radically ‘possible’ things come true? And what about yesterday’s demonstrations in the outskirts of London? Were they, by any chance, of the same order of those that mobilized millions around here today?

                The “Guide” is here, but the answer is not. This is the reason why it would perhaps be plausible to say, at this point, that nothing could guide anyone, anywhere.

                Without direction, they all return to Pereira da Silva, for what would be a crisis meeting. From within the densest smoke screen, it’s once again remarkable to appreciate that the 13 have decided to draw upon the most unusual resource for a group of artists: a strategic planning workshop aimed to address a number of seemingly simple issues: what do they want? Why do they want what they want? And, ultimately, how do they plan to accomplish it? Then it would be necessary to see in this spontaneous gesture of the so called Agência, before any discretion, an ‘operational openness’ rather different than that of a company like Fiat for example. Under the pressure of the demonstrations, Fiat found itself obliged to thoroughly review its communication and marketing strategy, after their ‘theme song’ – come to the street, come – was incorporated by the multitude in a completely unexpected way. After all, not all crises are the same crisis. And not all turntables play the same music.

                The management manuals say:
                Vision + Mission + Values = Value Proposition
                For now, the question that drives this contemplative movement of the Agência consists of juxtaposing its very first ‘why?’ to an eloquent: ‘why not?’

                Vision a one-sentence proposition of what the organization wants to be, in medium and long terms, and also how it expects the world in which it operates to be like. It is a long-term view and it is focused in the future. It can be emotional, as a source of inspiration. For example, a charity institution working with the poor might have a vision statement that reads “a world without poverty”.

For a collectivity of selfcritic individuals * So that the task of living is to be, and not to do * For a possible life in Rio de Janeiro *To be positioned at the cutting blade between politics and aesthetic practices * To make the agents’ doings viable; to emancipate * Desertion

                Mission it defines the fundamental purpose of an organization or enterprise. Concisely, the mission describes why the enterprise exists and what it does to achieve its vision. For example, the above mentioned charity institution may have a mission statement such as “to create jobs for the homeless and unemployed.”

To promote multiple viewpoints through subversive inserts in the city. To share resources and multiply knowledge
* To make other forms of cultural and political circulation viable in the city, through encounters, itineraries, information sharing, and micropolitical interventions * To promote actions that instigate reflexion/clash within a specific context (E.g. World Youth Day, real estate speculation, etc.) * To invent and to practice our ideas. to produce knowledge, experiences, criticism, events, etc. to develop new ways to deal with money in order to finance the projects. to be able to get several spaces of visibility, insertion, and production * To offer unconventional dissident services

                Values shared beliefs among the invested parts of an organization. Values lead the culture of an organization as a guideline or shared ethic that helps to set priorities and make decisions. For example, “knowledge and skills are the keys to success” or “to give a man a loaf is to feed him for a day, but to teach him how to plant is to feed him for life.” These ultimate examples can set the priorities of an organization.

To misinform a society which is saturated with information; to seek critical autonomy; to emphasize constructive processes, pleasure, and the co-living of diferences * The work must be joyful and well-paid; the actions, simple and serious * An always horizontal dialogue among members; strictly voluntary public actions of a non-doctrinal nature, and/or selfpromotional and/or remunerative nature * To use the knowledge that the agents hold to realize services, actions, and provocations that reverberate in different spaces (always beyond the spaces of contemporary art) and that can be compensated * Cooperation, partnerships, un-authorship, enjoyment; to do it simple, well, and with ethics * To confuse, create, distribute, viralize, unact

                From this exercise, which circulated in their email boxes under the unassuming subject of ‘affective economy’, there are only inconclusive fragments left. Here we present them, unchanged, as emblems of a healthy blindness that struck the neighborhood of Laranjeiras, just a few blocks away from Palácio Guanabara(1). Adrift, they seem to indirectly say: we are Agência Transitiva and we don’t know who we are. Great then, no one really knows anyway.

Rio de Janeiro, August, 2013


1    Palácio Guanabara is today the headquarters of the State Government of Rio de Janeiro. In June 2013, it was one of the main destinations of demonstrators, and also the place where the police forces violently reacted against them.