In an increasingly neoliberalized literary market, “surface” readings constitute today’s most prevalent form of cultural criticism within and beyond the academy. In pop as well as literary culture, amid critical dispositifs of disinterest and “zaniness”—described by Sianne Ngai as an aesthetic of laboring and playing under the new “connexionist” spirit of capitalism—the pressure to trade in nuanced perspectives for shallow punditry or personal diatribes subtends what Avital Ronnell calls our “default of the political.”
For writer Anne Elizabeth Moore, the evasion of national and global crises, in order to maintain the status quo through unexamined obsequies or the revalorization of the private sphere, is a problem for all capitalist subjects, particularly for those seeking to find voice and form for radical critiques: “Nestled within these difficulties is a particular (although not exclusive) challenge to the female of the species, relegated to a gender role rewarded for silence and prized when emotional…. As a culture we value niceness, particularly in women, even at the expense of truth.”
I caught up with Moore to discuss her current multi-media installation for the School of the Art Institute’s “Opening the Black Box: The Charge is Torture” exhibition (70 collected works of witness memorializing more than 100 reported cases of torture by Chicago Police from 1972 to 1991); her current and upcoming projects; and her post-election response to questions concerning U.S. free trade laws, labor politics and censorship in a neoliberal market.
Virginia Konchan: In your election-day speech on the 19th amendment at the Defibrillator Gallery in Chicago, you argued that merely participating in patriarchal institutions isn’t necessarily an actual gain, if those systems don’t represent through a governing body or in the private interests they serve, the needs of women for safety, civil rights and economic development. What are some guerilla tactics for women to change the system (or, ourselves, as you suggested), from within?
Anne Elizabeth Moore: That election-day piece will be published in a book on inauguration day, but if you can’t wait I do have an audio version of it here.