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T. J. Clark on Retort

Days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, art historian and activist T. J. Clark spoke with Artforum about Retort, Afflicted Powers, and world politics since 9/11.

Retort is a group of thirty or forty people—writers, artists, activists—who have been meeting for close to two decades in the Bay Area. It’s very informal, not a membership-driven political organization—very deliberately not—but rather a forum in which people discuss a wide range of topics with a certain ground of shared Left politics. At various points we have produced brochures and pamphlets: one for the first Gulf War, for instance, and another we produced for the antiwar marches in 2003. That was the genesis of Afflicted Powers.

The book could not possibly have been written by any one of us; it depended on a pooling of knowledge and intense theoretical discussion. Iain Boal

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