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Amazing! (Josh)

September 17, 2014


The ongoing blog series where I ask Justseeds members for five things that have been inspiring them lately. This one from Josh MacPhee in NYC:

5 things that have been inspiring me lately:


The Noir of Per Wahlöö
Wahlöö is most well known for a series of ten crime novels he wrote with his partner Maj Sjowall, all based in Stockholm and centered around the detective Martin Beck. Both Wahlöö and Sjowall were Marxists, and I love the Beck novels because they illustrate how the police force in modern societies becomes politicized, and ends up with its own political, social, and economic directives which are connected to those of the larger state, but also independent. While they were writing these, Wahlöö also penned five additional novels. All can loosely be considered “crime,” but they are much stranger than the Beck police procedurals. They pull in elements of other genre writing, in particular sci-fi and historical fiction, and they sometimes touch more directly on broader political issues: A Necessary Action is set in post-Civil War Spain; The Assignment in an unnamed South American country facing intense political upheaval. I’ve read three of the five so far, and they were all great.
(image: Peter Wahlöö, The Assignment (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966). Cover design by Guy Fleming.)
Self-Determination Inside/Out
For the past six months I’ve been working on a new exhibition at Interference Archive, Self-Determination Inside/Out: Prison Movements Transforming Society. It’s been an amazing process, and we’ve pulled together over 175 objects coming out of these struggles, and put together a slew of related events. My co-organizers Molly Fair, Anika Paris, Laura Whitehorn, and Ryan Wong have been awesome, and the opening on 9/11 was great, with around 200 people coming out. You can find out more here:; or come by Interference Archive!
(image: For Our Lives For Our Children’s Lives/Por La Vida Por Las Vidas de Los Hijos, 1993, HIV/AIDS Health Fair (artist: Laura Whitehorn), FCI Lexington, KY, Sheet of six offset printed stickers)
Posters for Gaza
While the Israeli bombing of Gaza has been horrific, it has been heartening to see a huge output of political graphics in support of Palestine explode on the scene over the past couple months. A new Tumblr has sprung up,, the French paper L’Humanite has published collections of posters both in their print publication and online:, and Print Magazine online has posted a group of posters as well: (Micah Bazant’s poster is pictured here.)
A Letter from Siberia
This year the Justseeds retreat landed right in the middle of a Chris Marker film retrospective at the BAM Cinema in Brooklyn, so I had to miss most of the films, but I was able to catch A Letter from Siberia before I left for Portland. It is one of Marker’s earlier films (1957), and was amazing to get to watch on a big screen. Nominally a travel/essay film about Siberia, it merges sweeping wide-angle color shots with close-up black and white, animation, fictitious newsreels, proto-music video, and media analysis. It’s a completely packed and entertaining hour-long film. A short 4 minute clip can be seen here:
Brighton Beach
It’s amazing to live a 45-minute bike ride to the ocean. For much of the summer I tried to ride out at least once a week, usually early in the morning, when few people are out of the beach.


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