From Alternative Politics to Ways of Framing Social Justice Issues

Nisa Goksel & Imge Oranli

The recent attacks of ISIS and the conditions of war in the Middle East make us question the interplay between the limits of state power, the politics of war, and the possibilities of alternative ways to conduct political action. An alternative understanding of politics arises in relation to how we respond to these recent issues of war and social justice on the ground. How do we define alternative politics that ranges from transnational solidarities, anti-state democracy models to local political networks? Can rethinking about alternative politics help us frame a new ethical orientation towards social justice issues?

In Frames of War, Judith Butler focuses on the relationship between senses, interpretations, and affects as well as on the production of frames as they operate in the politics of the nation-state. If, following Butler, we admit that ethical judgment and practice is linked to how we frame events, and if, framing depends on our orientation in politics, then, engaging with the question of alternative politics is not only central to framing events differently, but also, indispensable for genuine social critique. We would like to invite those of you who would like to participate in our panel that attempts to rethink the issues of social justice and war at the intersection of theory and practice with a special focus on the question of alternative politics. Please add to your proposal a short biographical note (150 words)

Collective Reading, Affective Reading

Katharina Zimmerhackl

»I’m interested in redoing and producing a new notion of the social where feeling is not opposed to thought, where feeling is not immediately or essentially connected to authenticity, where subjectivity is understood as collectively produced, where emotions are understood as being collectively produced.« Gregg Bordowitz

Reading a text is not only a process of understanding, but includes a moment of re-possessing affectively one’s own subjectivity and its historicity. This means, that any knowledge gained includes an undergoing layer of references and affections, that influence what and how knowledge is actually gained. Theoretical knowledge is never unpersonal, objective or neutral, it is in a constant mode of appropriation. What happens however when we start reading collectively, when knowledge is constructed within talking about a text? When the voice is speaking instead of a letter? What is the bodily aspect of reading?

Following Walter Benjamins concept of a ›magical language of things‹, I understand language as a form of re-animation of the body and am interested in how collective forms of reading can bring alive a new „collective body“ with the potential of a different ›collective knowledge‹. The starting point in this workshop will be ideas of protagonists of the early Russian cosmism-movement (Nikolai Fedorov, Alexander Bogdanov), that theoretized collective bodies and the dissolution of the subject within a collective. Chosen texts will be read together with the purpose of creating material that will be presented in a public reading performance.

Recuperation

Andrea Liu

Recuperation is an inexorable feature of late capitalism. As art movements and modes of cultural expression that were thought to be resistant, oppositional or antagonistic from the 1960’s and 70’s have been gradually absorbed by capitalism and its attendant apparatus, such that the notion of “political dissent” has been eviscerated. Land art which once rejected the commodification/circulation of discrete objects by the gallery system has now dissipated into “art tourism;” minimalism which was once a refutation of the Western infatuation with pictorial representation was de-historicized and caricaturized as a banal design aesthetic; site-specific installation which was once in opposition to the idealist space of sculpture and the monolithic monument was diluted into a benign marketing feature of the globalised art economy eager to manufacture consumable “difference”; institutional critique has been domesticated by the institution to create the appearance of an innocuous self-reflexivity. In light of this, we must ask “Is there no ‘outside’ position?” How can we theorize or historicize this phenomenon where the hollow shell of an oppositional form is preserved but it has been disemboweled of any actual oppositional content?

Seeking proposals for 10-minute presentations on Recuperation: the co-option of emancipatory/ oppositional/antagonistic forms of art, cultural production, theory, or social resistance. Disagreements, complications and refutations of thesis also welcome.

Other possible “recuperation” motifs: recuperation of digital or “smart technology” to capitalist consumerism; recuperation of a postmodernism of resistance, an oppositional epistemology into now a cynical ahistorical “anything goes” postmodernism, complicit with neoliberal capitalism; recuperation of dissent through grassroots democracy into now dissent through consumerism; recuperation of queer activism to queer consumerism.

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Book presentations

As every year, the 2015 event will start with an evening (28th of July) where recent publications can be presented and discussed. If you have a publishing project you wish to present, please let us know!

Talking to the Future – Understanding Radioactivity through Everyday Product Interactions

Henrike Dorothée Feckenstedt

Nuclear waste remains radioactive for thousands of years. Burying it underground 
in an enormous repository, Onkalo, surrounded and secured by solid rock is the long-term solution Finnish authorities implement right now. Once the repository is filled up, it is locked up forever and not to be opened again. At the same time three new nuclear power plants are built. “Out of Sight, out of Mind?” Ultimately, this raises questions: Can this be the solution for final disposal of nuclear waste? How do we understand a problem clearly exceeding our capabilities as human beings? How do we deal with the dilemmas of uncertainty, invisibility, time, demand, possible consequences, and our individual responsibility as human beings?

Understanding through Interaction I designed three everyday products, a lamp, a piggy bank for children, and a pregnancy test, that afford a familiar everyday action on one hand, while exposing a dilemma related to Onkalo on the other. In doing so the artifacts make those dilemma tangible and facilitate understanding and critical thinking.

Personal Discourse Around an Experience Sharing a personal experience, the users can co-engage in a personal discourse around nuclear waste actively, opposing the distant and highly politicalised discourse spread by the media. Join me in the process of interacting, understanding and exchanging thoughts and help making the invisible visible, and/or contribute with your projects and perspectives around human responsibility on earth.

The event will consist of two parts, the first where everyone can try products, and a second one where experiences can be discussed and shared.

Structures of destruction

Bruno Besana

This panel aims to investigate and experiment with the idea that destruction, far from being either a negative term to be rejected or a moment to be passed through in order for the new to appear, can be conceived as a positive means of construction, an activity provided with its own narrative and temporality. Already in twentieth century thought and art practice, destruction appears to be dissociated from negation, and something emerges like a positive or constructive side of it. From Matta-Clark’s and Rachel Whiteread collapsing structures to Ulay’s disappearing photos and Jia Zhang-Ke crumbling cities, from Diether Roth rotting works to Malevich’s pharmacy full of pots containing the ashes of destroyed classical painting, the idea appears that a true novelty is essentially inseparable from destruction. The construction of novelty can arise from within the process of destruction, when destruction is meant as a process or sequence provided with its own structures, its own tempo, its own narrative: such an idea seems to adequately respond to the need — present both in the radical political thought of the ’60s and ’70s and in philosophers such as Althusser, Nancy, Badiou, Rancière, Esposito – to find a novelty free from any dialectical bond with the old, and hence free also from a position of simple negation of the old. In all these cases destruction is not dealt with as a moment that is necessary in order to make room for the new to come; it is no longer conceived as a pars denstruens to which a pars construens will follow; instead, it is activated and manipulated as a sequence of actions disconnected from any relation with the old, and that evolves out of its own resources.

Via theoretical presentations, performative lectures and artworks, this panel will question and elaborate upon the different approaches that artworks, politics and philosophy have offered to this peculiar convergence of the idea of construction and destruction.

Meta(data)morphosis

Søren Rosenbak

A – exhibition call

In essence, metadata presents us with a rich frame around a blank canvas, a space with ample room for interpretation, misinterpretation, miscarriage of justice, etc. An inherently irrational human intervention will always enter the equation, acting on the metadata frame, and thus render a distorted portrait as a convenient proxy for truth. While most people in the post-Snowden age of today might understand that metadata does affect our lives in both trivial and very profound ways, they might not understand how and why this happens. We’re interested in supplementing the continued societal post-Snowden discourse (the Intercept, Anonymous and Wikileaks etc.) by establishing an intimate encounter with the speculative qualities of metadata. In this way Meta(data)morphosis is a project concerned with heightening the public metadata literacy.

We welcome designers, theorists & artists to contribute to an exhibition in their media of preference and encourage all contributors to think about how we can critically and intimately engage as well as empower members of the public.

B – call for workshop participation

All your metadata (data about data) gets collected on a massive scale: your location, who you talk to, chat with, when it happens, when you buy anything and so on. The collected pool of information alters your search results on Google, determines your targeted adds on Facebook, changes the price you pay on Amazon, determines whether intelligence agencies view you as a potential terrorist and much else. In this way we each have an online alias, a digital shadow, a data double. Who is this person? Who ARE you really, digitally speaking? And how is your metadata shaping your everyday life?

Meta(data)morphosis invites you to join a half-day workshop with the aim of exploring the nature of metadata: what it is, how it works and what it can be used for. We will engage these questions together through several exercises. Get ready to meet your digital shadow. No technical knowledge required, +16 years old. Bring curiosity, your smart device of preference (smartphone, tablet, laptop etc.) and your favourite pen.

meta(data)morphosis in Berlin is Søren Rosenbak, Henrike Feckenstedt & Régis Frias

The Body Alphabet

Frances Loeffler

This event considers the link between language and the human body. The increasing importance of language to the visual arts since the 1960s has been closely tied to the shift away from a ‘perceptual’ or sensory understanding of art towards one that gives primacy to concepts, meanings and ideas. And yet, language is inextricably linked to the body. When we read and write, our cricoarytenoid and cricothyroid muscles stretch and contract the vocal chords; our hands turn pages, and eyes move quickly about the page.

Some texts through time have made explicit an experience of language that is visceral, physical and embodied. In Ancient Greece, a ‘boustrophedon’ was a bi-directional text that alternated the direction of sentences, like an ox turning while ploughing a field. Today, we stroke the screen of a smart phone or iPad as we read and write, adjusting our bodies and our employment of language to a new, technological age.

Proposals are warmly invited for a contribution relating to any aspect of this subject. Your contribution may be in any format you choose, including lecture, performance, screening, reading, or discussion point.

Archi-Writing – A Short History of Writing from the Caves to the Webspace

Federico Dal Bo
An open-format workshop

The Derridian notion of archi-écriture (“archi-writing”) manifests some obvious Scriptural resonances and was used by Derrida in order to reorient the relationship between “speech” and “writing,” with the fundamental purposes of “deconstructing” the so called “logo-phallo-centrism.” Despite its obvious theological côté, the notion of “archi-scripture” appears to support a number of different cultural uses. For instance, in psychiatry, “archi-writing” would support the assumption that the unconscious is structured as a language, with some important psychological and epistemological consequences: our inability of “interpret” the unconscious would impliy that this “linguistic structure” is not fully transparent to the analysis, since it is “deeper” that “writing,” indeed is an “archi-writing.”

This psychiatric assumption would then be confirmed also in Human Sciences, specifically in biology. It is particularly “Biology” that would show how “archi-writing” isn’t simply a metaphor rather an actual “empirical” condition, susceptible to biological as well as neurological studies. A further “empirical” support to this notion would also be found in modern physics, since “archi-writing” as a sort of “primordial writing” would offer a philosophical and epistemological support to the assumption of the newest physics of the universe: the strings theory as “fragments” of a “writing” that has never been present. Finally, this notion of “archi-writing” would also be confirmed in modern media theory, as the assumption that a “primordial writing” lays beneath all the transformations of “writing” from its first manifestations in primitive caves up to the new “immaterial” conception of “cyberspace.”

Participants from interdisciplinary background and interest in practical, artistically, and empirical application of the notion of “archi-writing” are most welcomed!