Tom Holert, Renate Lorenz, Johanna Schaffer
PhD in Practice Communal Tutorial/Research Forum
The PhD in Practice participants will meet with the team to discuss individual projects, as well as topics and texts, related to the year’s theme. Moreover, issues concerning the program, such as upcoming events and activities, will be considered
Art as Knowledge Production 2: Time of the Image in Times of War
Reading Judith Butler’s Frames of War. When Is Life Grievable? (2009/2010)
„Art as Knowledge Production“ is the title of a cycle of courses that tries to map the conceptual landscapes and the discursive and material practices which enable (and challenge) us to re-think the codes and conditions of artistic practice in an environment strongly affected by the forces of an expanding cognitive capitalism, the institutionalisation and commodification of ‘artistic research’ and the ongoing dialectics of de-skilling and re-skilling in the arts.
„What is formed and framed through the technological grasp and circulation of the visual and discursive dimensions of war?“ This is one of the complex, yet crucial questions philosopher Judith Butler raises and elaborates in her recent collection of essays published under the title Frames of War. When Is Life Grievable? This semester’s installment of the „Art as Knowledge Production“ series of seminars will focus on Butler’s slim but densely written book and a couple of related key texts on the visuality of war and violence, such as Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others and Ariella Azoulay’s The Civil Contract of Photography. It will do so by trying to connect Butler’s insistent questioning of the conditions that lead to the contemporary visual and discursive normalization of war with the question of what it actually means or could mean to act aesthetically in the face of crisis and annihilation. Embarking on a collective reflection on the knowledge(s) required for and the knowledge(s) constituted by artists’ engagement with issues of visual politics and practices of framing, we will discuss how the analysis of patterns of perception and image-making is by necessity embedded in considerations of ethical as well as aesthetical issues. If, as Butler says, the „frames“ organizing the „visual field“ work „to differentiate the lives we can apprehend from those we cannot“, this inevitably connects the organization of „visual experience“ with „specific ontologies“ of the subject and of personhood and therefore with the difficult ethical dimensions of responsiveness and responsibility. Everyone participating in this seminar is asked to bring along visual material which she or he considers relevant for a discussion of the nexus between visual cultures, ideology, ethics and war. A guiding question may be whether artists can claim to holding a particularly useful knowledge of the manufacturing of bellicosity and the allocation of „grievability“. Furthermore, the seminar is linked to the „chronopolitics“ theme, the PhD in Practice’s research focus 2010/11, by an enhanced interest in the specific temporalities of the visualities of war, their instantaneousness of shock and awe and/or their longevity as bearers of mythological meaning.
methods against normalcy / artistic research (2)
This seminar starts from the observation that precise readings and subtle analyses of artistic practices are rare. Taking this as a premise, the idea of the seminar is to take a close look at specific artworks, artistic practices and processes in the field of ‘artistic research.’ Particular attention will be paid to artworks, which challenge – in different ways – social norms and normalisations, or which establish altered images, desiring relations, and narrations. Where did the research take place and which methods were used? Which documents, notes, considerations and which modes of presentation are to be found in the public presentations? Which formats of display are chosen? What is explicated? What is hidden or implicit? In which respect does the work make use of opaqueness or ambiguity? How is meaning generated, and particularly, how is meaning undermined, transformed, or deferred? What are the art historical but also political contexts relevant for the work?
Also, the seminar will turn to the recipients, understanding them as co-producers of artistic works and practices. How are they addressed by the work? Which affects and feelings are involved? Does shame play a particular role? Or desire? How do ‘I’ transform while encountering specific artworks?
The close reading of artworks will be combined with the study of interviews, specific theoretical, and sometimes literary texts, which will widen the understanding of the respective political fields, in order to develop the works’ context as well as terms that may be relevant. Apart from that, artists will be invited to the seminar and art exhibitions will be visited conjointly.
For the first two semesters the seminar will focus specifically on the topic of “Chronopolitics.” This concept seeks interventions into linear time concepts and into the temporalities that format our social practices. “Chronopolitics” points toward emerging possibilities of inhabiting historical pasts, disrupting narrative orders of heteronormativity or social progress, and producing transhistorical action-scapes. Nevertheless we will have to ask if art practices that feature asynchrony, multi-temporality, and nonlinearity will automatically be in the service of critical political projects and aspirations. (see also ‘phd in practice,’ year’s theme 2010/11)
Johanna Schaffer, Ruth Sonderegger
Academic writing – the canon, its critiques; and its poetic rewritings, part II
This workshop continues work begun during the last semester: a rough introduction into the canon of academic writing and into the vast traditions of claiming, critiquing and poetically re-working the rules and confines of academic / theoretical text production – traditions ranging from Black, Feminist, Chicana, Lesbian, Queer, Ethnographic writing to Adorno, Brecht and Walter Benjamin. This semester, we want to concentrate on texts written by authors also known as visual artists (Coco Fusco, Hito Steyerl, Chto Delat, Adrian Piper etc etc) – with an emphasis on different modes and modalities of critique. And again, we want to talk about our own writing practices, this time concentrating on questions of structuring and organizing texts.