The Bare Minimum Manifesto
The bare minimum collective believes in doing nothing or at the very least, as little as is required of us. We work smart, not hard. We’re a bunch last minuters, a “can I copy your answers?”, “let’s share notes” and “did you do the reading?” kind of collective. Some of us did the reading in earnest, but can’t quite put pen to paper. We hate work — the drudgery of wage labour, the grind, the side hustle, the neoliberal requirement for self-improvement. (This manifesto was written when the writer should have been working.)
We get how common this line of thinking is, how edgy it is to reject the given and we’ve decided to come together anyway. Like we said, we’re lazy. We want the world to be organised in a different way. We recognise that ending capitalism would not be a disappearing act (Lewis); work would still exist but not in the way we know it now. We strive for that which has not yet been realised, an Art for Art’s Sake in a world where none of us are subjected to premature death. We want space for pleasure. We want the abolition of everything but care, mutual aid and community.
We believe in wotlessness. To be wotless is to be directionless, wayward (a la Hartman), jobless… to not really want to be anything. We’re not interested in what will come of this. Maybe it will fail, we welcome failure! Call it a reaction to the boomers, a result of the financial crash, precarity, insecure housing but every dream of stability has been shattered and we think that offers us something. We want a space to hold each other accountable creatively, to grow in our respective artistries, to archive as it happens, to share our political and artistic growth with anyone who will listen and to work towards a world of something else.
Amongst us are: black feminists, reluctant writers, artists, queer theorists, film-makers, architects, someone who understands the internet better than lil’ Nas X. We’re working across mediums with no regard for disciplinary boundaries. We want you to know that we are friends, we love and carry each other and that is what has brought us here. Many of us are disabled: in some moments we run on the same ADD frequency, collectively hyperfocusing our imagined futures into being; in others, we are forced to retreat to our beds. Some of us are poor, some of us are not, but we all received an elite education — we hold and reckon with that tension constantly.
We’re trying to reject time, listen to images (Campt), remain attentive to their frequencies, live lives of pleasure, love wildly, take risks, to wander, to organise, to support and sustain grassroots political movements. We’re obsessed with the local. Everything we make is contingent — dependent on our experience of living in this life, at this time, in this place. We won’t run from that.
We reject all ideas of recognition, linear progress, all notions of success inside capitalist rubrics. Marx and Engels made some points but so did Claudia Jones, Olive Morris, Flora Tristan… our loyalties are always against big male theorists, white socialist theory bros, arrogant clowns who take up all the space. We reject the myth of the single genius. You’ll find no intellectual posturing here, merely a recognition that theory serves specific purposes, that it should be easy but it is ok if it is hard. We will always break it down, always tell you what it means to us, always try to work through it together.
We’re okay with not knowing everything. Our collective tastes are basic and obscure — we’re not trying to be culture-makers, we think artistic ego and performative signalling of cultural capital is trite. Whilst art institutions are here, we believe in using them strategically. Put frankly, we want to steal money, funding and resources for our own purposes. Like Moten, we think that this is the only ethical relationship we can have to them. We have no desire to change anything from the inside; our relationship to institutions is purely selfish. This is only a short-term strategy, one we will abandon soon enough.
We want you to know that we are very very gay, but not in that LGBTQ+ way. We stand with and for lazy girls, queens, dykes, fairies, high femmes, trans hunnys, intersex angels, big faggots, butches, non-binary babes, anyone whose existence messes with how the world is supposed to be organised. We reject heterosexuality, heteronormativity and every false promise if offers. Any alien or freak or cyborg (Haraway) is our kin.
From Sisters Uncut, we take the idea that this document is a work in progress, it should change as we learn and grow. From Martine Syms we take the idea that we will destroy this manifesto the second it gets boring.
We know we belong to a legacy and we are settling into our seats.
Here are our principles:
1) We’re not stupid enough to believe that art is limitless or in and of itself transformative. Any art made under capitalism is stunted. But we do believe that liberatory movements that leave no space for creative output do themselves a disservice. There are organisers amongst us who vow that this will never become a navel-gazing vanity project.
2) We hate universals. We understand that language will never be able to adequately capture our complexity or the complexity of our work. Nevertheless, we see signifiers, “woman” “black” “working-class” “disabled” as useful shorthands that make us legible in this life. We are hoping for illegibility in the next.
3) We care deeply about the communities to which we belong. We are explicitly political (think communist) always. We are working, through our forms, toward a liberated future.
4) We want to give ourselves the space to mess up and start again. We will craft processes of accountability rooted in transformative justice for when this happens.
5) We will try to document everything and to make work as regularly as we can.
6) We want to laugh! Is this embarrassing? Who knows, but it provides us the structure and encouragement we need to write, paint, draw, design, to make.
7) We are always day-dreaming, thinking about the future, about what comes next as a way of escaping the misery of our conditions.
8) We reject grandiosity in favour of the quotidian and the mundane but we will never, ever be minimalists. As one Canadian rapper who shall not be named teaches us, MORE LIFE.