GPFK License | GPFK FAQ
OpinionWare
Frequently Asked Questions (and their Answers)
Written by Gita Hashemi


What is OpinionWare?
What is the history of OpinionWare?
Who does OpinionWare?
Can I participate in OpinionWare collaborations?


What is OpinionWare?

OpinionWare is an animating concept. The domestic management strategies of the rapidly rising 21st-century Western fascist regimes, similar to their 20th century predecessors, rely on the control of the knowledge and culture spheres and the cooperation of corporate and state-owned media on the one hand and complicity, confusion, alienation and/or fear amongst the general population on the other. In this environment, publicly expressed dissenting opinions stand as signposts that help break the hegemonic monotony of socio-political expression. Therefore, OpinionWare's fundamental imperatives are to articulate dissenting opinions and actions and to claim public spaces for such articulations. These concerns are ongoing and can lead to diverse forms of collaboration, target various topics and take shape in a variety of media presented in different physical and virtual spaces. The OpinionWare.net website is one such space.

top


What is the history of OpinionWare?

OpinionWare is an outgrowth of earlier collaborative projects (2001-04) loosely titled OpinionWear, a series of interventions primarily staged in the context of public actions in Toronto against the American (and Canadian) "war on terror," "pre-emptive" attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the domestic right-wing campaigns to undermine existing civil liberties in North America. OpinionWear collaborations resulted in a number of performances (as participatory street actions and staged public dialogues) and a variety of media objects (t-shirts, headbands, buttons; posters, scrolls, banners, e-mails, stencils, graffiti, chalk drawings) carrying primarily critical textual messages. Because of its copious and on-the-fly reactive nature, most of the OpinionWear work was short-lived and poorly documented.

OpinionWare was initially conceptualized as an online archive of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) wearable products that bear explicit political opinions on local and global topics. The change from "Wear" to "Ware" was to signal the opening up of this archive to other ‘opinionated' cultural products such as manifestos, position papers, rants, FAQs, public announcements, electronic banners, etc. The first version of the website was experimentally launched in 2004 with a discussion forum (using open source software PHPBB) intended to facilitate and archive cross-border and cross-disciplinary dialogue on urgent geo-political and cultural issues. The website had its first presentation within institutional walls as a work-in-progress in August 2004 in Digital Poetics and Politics Institute (nicknamed "digipopo") at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, where it registered early contributions by some of the "digipopo" participants. However, as yet another online discussion forum without a fixed, invested and/or captive participating group, this forum never really generated much attention, interest or contribution by the broad and diffused community it aimed to attract. (A similar fate befell the Discordia project - http://discordia.us - a "peer-moderated" weblog presented as a "social experiment" in democracy by a group of American artists and academics). The current version of the website reconfigures the discussion board as only one component of the OpinionWare project among many.

top


Who does OpinionWare?

The early OpinionWear projects were carried out with the involvement of many women artists and activists including Alina Martiros, Haleh Niazmand, Samira Mohyeddin, Sue Goldstein, Elena Basile, Roberta Buiani and Women against the Occupation (WAO, Toronto) among others. The groupings had mostly varying membership, were never formalized as fixed collectives and came together only on ad hoc and topical basis. Continuing in the same manner and with the same contingencies, which allow for easier reinvention and responsiveness and greater diversity of participants and topics, OpinionWare remains an animating concept calling for collaborative development and plural authorship.


Can I participate in OpinionWare collaborations?

Yes. Visit OpinionWare website http://opinionware.net for more information.
top

GPFK License | GPFK FAQ
Last modified: 10/DEC/2005