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FESTIVAL 2014 READER


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Table of contents 0. Foreword

le ailb v 1. Isabel de Naverán –  a un e We don’t have time, so we have to think......................................................................................................p.7 nlin o my real life – Bulegoa – “I was lucky enough to be able to stop in time.” – Chronicle of a Summer – learning (to read) – learning (to write) una 7. Goran Sergej Pristaš –  va o nlin ilble Atomization of artistic labour........................................................................................................................... p.15 e time has disappeared into expanding performance – not to speak in favour of art’s benefit for others – valorization itself is being reproduced and exchanged – CRITIQUE OF A, B, C, D, E, F... = PURCHASE OF A, B, C, D, E, F...

3. Bruno Latour –  Why has critique run out of Steam ?............................................................................................................. p.25 wars and the critical spirit – the lack of scientific certainty – the wrong enemies – adding reality to matters of fact – Ding/Thing – critical gestures – not away but toward gathering – more with multiplication, less with subtraction – beyond iconoclasm 4. Christophe Menke –  Aestethics of Equality........................................................................................................................................... p.49 does equality exist? – in thinking one should follow a method – masters and slaves – practice is the field of inequalities – aesthetically transgressing our social existence 5. Mathijs Van de Sande –  Of actors and authors: some critical notes on the forgotten art of storytelling...................................p.55 the political act is radically open-ended – reality is different from the totality of facts – Prefiguration largely revolves around the question what exactly is its objective – our stories may be in need of a different narrative form altogether– acknowledge that the stories of these movements deserve to be told in their own right, instead of solely by the grace of their outcomes 6. Anoek Nuyens –  Waar is de droom?................................................................................................................................................. p.63 the amount of information is paralyzing us – fiction can be an exercise for developing alternatives in reality –  a mass without direction can become very dangerous for society 7. Elke Van Campenhout –  De curator als eco-logicus1.............................................................................................................................. p.67 The curator doesn’t convince, but listens – from curating artists, to curating art works, to curating space – a curator is in charge of the flow of different audiences – every public is an ecosystem, but not every ecosystem is democratic – the arts are a rehearsal space for society

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8. Michiel Vandevelde –  The art of curating.................................................................................................................................................. p.75 a curator creates a readable dialogue between different works – concerned curatorship makes a common project possible  – artists and (independent. curaters have to set up new, experimental initiatives – there is not only ‘one’ best way – by working together we can break the paralysis towards the ruling regime 9. Mårten Spångberg –  Motivation at the End of Time, Upgrade..................................................................................................... p.85 stop using budget cuts as an argument – only activity and mobility – be foolish and fuck balance – raise your voice and judge 10. Kate McIntosh & Dries Douibi –  Quantification – a conversation....................................................................................................................... p.97 a consequence of quantification is depoliticisation – quantification makes it less likely that you can negotiate knowledge – the value of art shouldn’t be instrumentalised towards an outcome – artists have a responsibility in the conversation with institutions 11. Daniel Blanga-Gubbay, Bojana Cvejić, Dries Douibi, Mette Edvardsen, Lars Kwakkenbos, Jeroen Peeters, Berno Odo Polzer, Jonas Rutgeerts, Sarah Vanhee –  Een pleidooi voor kunst en emancipatie van de publieke sfeer................................................. p.103 emancipation can be a force to develop economy, education, culture, ... – the public sphere is threatened by privatisation and instrumenatlisation - Art emancipates a public sphere – Art emancipates us from fear – Art spaces should become again forums for discussions 12. Charlotte de Somviele –  From ‘what else?’ to ‘what now?’..................................................................................................................p.107 the emphasis is cautiously shifting back from showing to telling – away from detached irony and towards personal engagement – irony is caught in a dual logic: both breaching and affirming the norm – young artists nowadays do not talk about action, but carry it out 13. Marina Garcés –  What Are We Capable Of? From Consciousness to Embodiment in Critical Thought Today p.113 How can we be affected? – Is a call to raise consciousness relevant despite the self-evidence of our reality? – the ambivalence of vulnerability  – to make thinking exciting again – the point is to be there 14. Pamina de Coulon –  Fear makes the wolf bigger – notes on anger........................................................................................ p.119 In order to get angrier, we may first need to accept to be angry – taking responsibility for our feelings – just like love, anger is something that links one person to another person – flirting with irrationality in order to strengthen reasoning – We can all carry the vault of heaven at the same time, or take shifts – the stability and the drive anger can give you – the radicalization of integration 15. Isabelle Stengers –  introductory notes on an ecology of practices.....................................................................................p.131 tools for thinking through what is happening – responsibility is a matter of concern – only what diverges communicates –  Experimental togetherness amongst practices

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Dear readers,

Bâtard Festival 2014

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With this Reader we would like to provide you with several texts that served as a backdrop for the Bâtard festival 2014. The selected texts cover a wide range of interests, but more specifically they revolve around questions of time, labor, the position of the curator and the organisation of practices and critique. Their authors come from various backgrounds: some of them are artists, others are philosophers, curators, political activists, etc. We hope this collection of texts not only reflects the lines of thought that marked the development of the Bâtard festival and more specifically its 2014 edition, but also that it can form a seedbed for more thinking and doing to come. Enjoy the reading, enjoy Bâtard. All yours, Dries, Pamina & Tom

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We would like to warmly thank the authors who gave their permission to republish their texts. Without their support we would have been unable to compose this collection. They all enriched Batard and we are proud to spread their words. This reader is the work of Tom Engels, Pamina de Coulon and Dries Douibi, in the context of the 2014 Bâtard Festival – Stretching the moment. www.batard.be

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Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern Bruno Latour

Wars. So many wars. Wars outside and wars inside. Cultural wars, science wars, and wars against terrorism. Wars against poverty and wars against the poor. Wars against ignorance and wars out of ignorance. My question is simple: Should we be at war, too, we, the scholars, the intellectuals? Is it really our duty to add fresh ruins to fields of ruins? Is it really the task of the humanities to add deconstruction to destruction? More iconoclasm to iconoclasm? What has become of the critical spirit? Has it run out of steam? Quite simply, my worry is that it might not be aiming at the right target. To remain in the metaphorical atmosphere of the time, military experts constantly revise their strategic doctrines, their contingency plans, the size, direction, and technology of their projectiles, their smart bombs, their missiles; I wonder why we, we alone, would be saved from those sorts of revisions. It does not seem to me that we have been as quick, in academia, to prepare ourselves for new threats, new dangers, new tasks, new targets. Are we not like those mechanical toys that endlessly make the same gesture when everything else has changed around them? Would it not be rather terrible if we were still training young kids—yes, young recruits, young cadets—for wars that are no longer possible, fighting enemies long gone, conquering territories that no longer exist, leaving them ill-equipped in the face of threats we had not anticipated, for which we are so thoroughly unprepared? Generals have always been accused of being on the ready one war late— especially French generals, especially these days. Would it be so surprising, For Graham Harman. This text was written for the Stanford presidential lecture held at the humanities center, 7 Apr. 2003. I warmly thank Harvard history of science doctoral students for many ideas exchanged on those topics during this semester. Critical Inquiry 30 (Winter 2004)  2004 by The University of Chicago. 0093–1896/04/3002–0020$10.00. All rights reserved.

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Bruno Latour / Matters of Fact, Matters of Concern

after all, if intellectuals were also one war late, one critique late—especially French intellectuals, especially now? It has been a long time, after all, since intellectuals were in the vanguard. Indeed, it has been a long time since the very notion of the avant-garde—the proletariat, the artistic—passed away, pushed aside by other forces, moved to the rear guard, or maybe lumped with the baggage train.1 We are still able to go through the motions of a critical avant-garde, but is not the spirit gone? In these most depressing of times, these are some of the issues I want to press, not to depress the reader but to press ahead, to redirect our meager capacities as fast as possible. To prove my point, I have, not exactly facts, but rather tiny cues, nagging doubts, disturbing telltale signs. What has become of critique, I wonder, when an editorial in the New York Times contains the following quote? Most scientists believe that [global] warming is caused largely by manmade pollutants that require strict regulation. Mr. Luntz [a Republican strategist] seems to acknowledge as much when he says that “the scientific debate is closing against us.” His advice, however, is to emphasize that the evidence is not complete. “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled,” he writes, “their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue.”2 Fancy that? An artificially maintained scientific controversy to favor a “brownlash,” as Paul and Anne Ehrlich would say.3 1. On what happened to the avant-garde and critique generally, see Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion, and Art, ed. Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (Cambridge, Mass., 2002). This article is very much an exploration of what could happen beyond the image wars. 2. “Environmental Word Games,” New York Times, 15 Mar. 2003, p. A16. Luntz seems to have been very successful; I read later in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal: There is a better way [than passing a law that restricts business], which is to keep fighting on the merits. There is no scientific consensus that greenhouse gases cause the world’s modest global warming trend, much less whether that warming will do more harm than good, or whether we can even do anything about it. Once Republicans concede that greenhouse gases must be controlled, it will only be a matter of time before they end up endorsing more economically damaging regulation. They could always stand on principle and attempt to educate the public instead. [“A Republican Kyoto,” Wall Street Journal, 8 Apr. 2003, p. A14.] And the same publication complains about the “pathological relation” of the “Arab street” with truth! 3. Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich, Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-Environmental Rhetoric Threatens Our Future (Washington, D.C., 1997), p. 1.

B r u n o L a t o u r teaches sociology at the E´cole des Mines in Paris.

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Do you see why I am worried? I myself have spent some time in the past trying to show “‘the lack of scientific certainty’” inherent in the construction of facts. I too made it a “‘primary issue.’” But I did not exactly aim at fooling the public by obscuring the certainty of a closed argument—or did I? After all, I have been accused of just that sin. Still, I’d like to believe that, on the contrary, I intended to emancipate the public from prematurely naturalized objectified facts. Was I foolishly mistaken? Have things changed so fast? In which case the danger would no longer be coming from an excessive confidence in ideological arguments posturing as matters of fact—as we have learned to combat so efficiently in the past—but from an excessive distrust of good matters of fact disguised as bad ideological biases! While we spent years trying to detect the real prejudices hidden behind the appearance of objective statements, do we now have to reveal the real objective and incontrovertible facts hidden behind the illusion of prejudices? And yet entire Ph.D. programs are still running to make sure that good American kids are learning the hard way that facts are made up, that there is no such thing as natural, unmediated, unbiased access to truth, that we are always prisoners of language, that we always speak from a particular standpoint, and so on, while dangerous extremists are using the very same argument of social construction to destroy hard-won evidence that could save our lives. Was I wrong to participate in the invention of this field known as science studies? Is it enough to say that we did not really mean what we said? Why does it burn my tongue to say that global warming is a fact whether you like it or not? Why can’t I simply say that the argument is closed for good? Should I reassure myself by simply saying that bad guys can use any weapon at hand, naturalized facts when it suits them and social construction when it suits them? Should we apologize for having been wrong all along? Or should we rather bring the sword of criticism to criticism itself and do a bit of soul-searching here: what were we really after when we were so intent on showing the social construction of scientific facts? Nothing guarantees, after all, that we should be right all the time. There is no sure ground even for criticism.4 Isn’t this what criticism intended to say: that there is no sure ground anywhere? But what does it mean when this lack of sure ground is taken away from us by the worst possible fellows as an argument against the things we cherish? Artificially maintained controversies are not the only worrying sign. 4. The metaphor of shifting sand was used by neomodernists in their critique of science studies; see A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths about Science, ed. Noretta Koertge (Oxford, 1998). The problem is that the authors of this book looked backward, attempting to reenter the solid rock castle of modernism, and not forward to what I call, for lack of a better term, nonmodernism.

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Bruno Latour / Matters of Fact, Matters of Concern

What has critique become when a French general, no, a marshal of critique, namely, Jean Baudrillard, claims in a published book that the Twin Towers destroyed themselves under their own weight, so to speak, undermined by the utter nihilism inherent in capitalism itself—as if the terrorist planes were pulled to suicide by the powerful attraction of this black hole of nothingness?5 What has become of critique when a book that claims that no plane ever crashed into the Pentagon can be a bestseller? I am ashamed to say that the author was French, too.6 Remember the good old days when revisionism arrived very late, after the facts had been thoroughly established, decades after bodies of evidence had accumulated? Now we have the benefit of what can be called instant revisionism. The smoke of the event has not yet finished settling before dozens of conspiracy theories begin revising the official account, adding even more ruins to the ruins, adding even more smoke to the smoke. What has become of critique when my neighbor in the little Bourbonnais village where I live looks down on me as someone hopelessly naı¨ve because I believe that the United States had been attacked by terrorists? Remember the good old days when university professors could look down on unsophisticated folks because those hillbillies naı¨vely believed in church, motherhood, and apple pie? Things have changed a lot, at least in my village. I am now the one who naı¨vely believes in some facts because I am educated, while the other guys are too unsophisticated to be gullible: “Where have you been? Don’t you know that the Mossad and the CIA did it?” What has become of critique when someone as eminent as Stanley Fish, the “enemy of promises” as Lindsay Waters calls him, believes he defends science studies, my field, by comparing the laws of physics to the rules of baseball?7 What has become of critique when there is a whole industry denying that the Apollo program landed on the moon? What has become of critique when DARPA uses for its Total Information Awareness project the Baconian slogan Scientia est potentia? Didn’t I read that somewhere in Michel Foucault? Has knowledge-slash-power been co-opted of late by the National Security Agency? Has Discipline and Punish become the bedtime reading of Mr. Ridge (fig. 1)? Let me be mean for a second. What’s the real difference between conspiracists and a popularized, that is a teachable version of social critique inspired by a too quick reading of, let’s say, a sociologist as eminent as Pierre 5. See Jean Baudrillard, “The Spirit of Terrorism” and “Requiem for the Twin Towers” (New York, 2002). 6. See Thierry Meyssan, 911: The Big Lie (London, 2002). Conspiracy theories have always existed; what is new in instant revisionism is how much scientific proof they claim to imitate. 7. See Lindsay Waters, Enemy of Promises (forthcoming); see also Nick Paumgarten, “Dept. of Super Slo-Mo: No Flag on the Play,” The New Yorker, 20 Jan. 2003, p. 32.

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f i g u r e 1.

Bourdieu (to be polite I will stick with the French field commanders)? In both cases, you have to learn to become suspicious of everything people say because of course we all know that they live in the thralls of a complete illusio of their real motives. Then, after disbelief has struck and an explanation is requested for what is really going on, in both cases again it is the same appeal to powerful agents hidden in the dark acting always consistently, continuously, relentlessly. Of course, we in the academy like to use more elevated causes—society, discourse, knowledge-slash-power, fields of forces, empires, capitalism—while conspiracists like to portray a miserable bunch of greedy people with dark intents, but I find something troublingly similar in the structure of the explanation, in the first movement of disbelief and, then, in the wheeling of causal explanations coming out of the deep dark below. What if explanations resorting automatically to power, society, discourse had outlived their usefulness and deteriorated to the point of now

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Bruno Latour / Matters of Fact, Matters of Concern

feeding the most gullible sort of critique?8 Maybe I am taking conspiracy theories too seriously, but it worries me to detect, in those mad mixtures of knee-jerk disbelief, punctilious demands for proofs, and free use of powerful explanation from the social neverland many of the weapons of social critique. Of course conspiracy theories are an absurd deformation of our own arguments, but, like weapons smuggled through a fuzzy border to the wrong party, these are our weapons nonetheless. In spite of all the deformations, it is easy to recognize, still burnt in the steel, our trademark: Made in Criticalland. Do you see why I am worried? Threats might have changed so much that we might still be directing all our arsenal east or west while the enemy has now moved to a very different place. After all, masses of atomic missiles are transformed into a huge pile of junk once the question becomes how to defend against militants armed with box cutters or dirty bombs. Why would it not be the same with our critical arsenal, with the neutron bombs of deconstruction, with the missiles of discourse analysis? Or maybe it is that critique has been miniaturized like computers have. I have always fancied that what took great effort, occupied huge rooms, cost a lot of sweat and money, for people like Nietzsche and Benjamin, can be had for nothing, much like the supercomputers of the 1950s, which used to fill large halls and expend a vast amount of electricity and heat, but now are accessible for a dime and no bigger than a fingernail. As the recent advertisement of a Hollywood film proclaimed, “Everything is suspect . . . Everyone is for sale . . . And nothing is what it seems.” What’s happening to me, you may wonder? Is this a case of midlife crisis? No, alas, I passed middle age quite a long time ago. Is this a patrician spite for the popularization of critique? As if critique should be reserved for the elite and remain difficult and strenuous, like mountain climbing or yachting, and is no longer worth the trouble if everyone can do it for a nickel? What would be so bad with critique for the people? We have been complaining so much about the gullible masses, swallowing naturalized facts, it would be really unfair to now discredit the same masses for their, what should I call it, gullible criticism? Or could this be a case of radicalism gone mad, as when a revolution swallows its progeny? Or, rather, have we behaved 8. Their serious as well as their popularized versions have the defect of using society as an already existing cause instead of as a possible consequence. This was the critique that Gabriel Tarde always made against Durkheim. It is probably the whole notion of social and society that is responsible for the weakening of critique. I have tried to show that in Latour, “Gabriel Tarde and the End of the Social,” in The Social in Question: New Bearings in History and the Social Sciences, ed. Patrick Joyce (London, 2002), pp. 117–32.

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like mad scientists who have let the virus of critique out of the confines of their laboratories and cannot do anything now to limit its deleterious effects; it mutates now, gnawing everything up, even the vessels in which it is contained? Or is it an another case of the famed power of capitalism for recycling everything aimed at its destruction? As Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello say, the new spirit of capitalism has put to good use the artistic critique that was supposed to destroy it.9 If the dense and moralist cigarsmoking reactionary bourgeois can transform him- or herself into a freefloating agnostic bohemian, moving opinions, capital, and networks from one end of the planet to the other without attachment, why would he or she not be able to absorb the most sophisticated tools of deconstruction, social construction, discourse analysis, postmodernism, postology? In spite of my tone, I am not trying to reverse course, to become reactionary, to regret what I have done, to swear that I will never be a constructivist any more. I simply want to do what every good military officer, at regular periods, would do: retest the linkages between the new threats he or she has to face and the equipment and training he or she should have in order to meet them—and, if necessary, to revise from scratch the whole paraphernalia. This does not mean for us any more than it does for the officer that we were wrong, but simply that history changes quickly and that there is no greater intellectual crime than to address with the equipment of an older period the challenges of the present one. Whatever the case, our critical equipment deserves as much critical scrutiny as the Pentagon budget. My argument is that a certain form of critical spirit has sent us down the wrong path, encouraging us to fight the wrong enemies and, worst of all, to be considered as friends by the wrong sort of allies because of a little mistake in the definition of its main target. The question was never to get away from facts but closer to them, not fighting empiricism but, on the contrary, renewing empiricism. What I am going to argue is that the critical mind, if it is to renew itself and be relevant again, is to be found in the cultivation of a stubbornly realist attitude—to speak like William James—but a realism dealing with what I will call matters of concern, not matters of fact. The mistake we made, the mistake I made, was to believe that there was no efficient way to criticize matters of fact except by moving away from them and directing one’s attention toward the conditions that made them possible. But this meant accepting much too uncritically what matters of fact were. This was remaining too faithful to the unfortunate solution inherited from the philosophy of 9. See Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, Le Nouvel Esprit du capitalisme (Paris, 1999).

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Bruno Latour / Matters of Fact, Matters of Concern

Immanuel Kant. Critique has not been critical enough in spite of all its sorescratching. Reality is not defined by matters of fact. Matters of fact are not all that is given in experience. Matters of fact are only very partial and, I would argue, very polemical, very political renderings of matters of concern and only a subset of what could also be called states of affairs. It is this second empiricism, this return to the realist attitude, that I’d like to offer as the next task for the critically minded. To indicate the direction of the argument, I want to show that while the Enlightenment profited largely from the disposition of a very powerful descriptive tool, that of matters of fact, which were excellent for debunking quite a lot of beliefs, powers, and illusions, it found itself totally disarmed once matters of fact, in turn, were eaten up by the same debunking impetus. After that, the lights of the Enlightenment were slowly turned off, and some sort of darkness appears to have fallen on campuses. My question is thus: Can we devise another powerful descriptive tool that deals this time with matters of concern and whose import then will no longer be to debunk but to protect and to care, as Donna Haraway would put it? Is it really possible to transform the critical urge in the ethos of someone who adds reality to matters of fact and not subtract reality? To put it another way, what’s the difference between deconstruction and constructivism? “So far,” you could object, “the prospect doesn’t look very good, and you, Monsieur Latour, seem the person the least able to deliver on this promise because you spent your life debunking what the other more polite critics had at least respected until then, namely matters of fact and science itself. You can dust your hands with flour as much as you wish, the black fur of the critical wolf will always betray you; your deconstructing teeth have been sharpened on too many of our innocent labs—I mean lambs!—for us to believe you.” Well, see, that’s just the problem: I have written about a dozen books to inspire respect for, some people have said to uncritically glorify, the objects of science and technology, of art, religion, and, more recently, law, showing every time in great detail the complete implausibility of their being socially explained, and yet the only noise readers hear is the snapping of the wolf ’s teeth. Is it really impossible to solve the question, to write not matter-of-factually but, how should I say it, in a matter-of-concern way?10 Martin Heidegger, as every philosopher knows, has meditated many times on the ancient etymology of the word thing. We are now all aware that in all the European languages, including Russian, there is a strong connec10. This is the achievement of the great novelist Richard Powers, whose stories are a careful and, in my view, masterful enquiry into this new “realism.” Especially relevant for this paper is Richard Powers, Plowing the Dark (New York, 2000).

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tion between the words for thing and a quasi-judiciary assembly. Icelanders boast of having the oldest Parliament, which they call Althing, and you can still visit in many Scandinavian countries assembly places that are designated by the word Ding or Thing. Now, is this not extraordinary that the banal term we use for designating what is out there, unquestionably, a thing, what lies out of any dispute, out of language, is also the oldest word we all have used to designate the oldest of the sites in which our ancestors did their dealing and tried to settle their disputes?11 A thing is, in one sense, an object out there and, in another sense, an issue very much in there, at any rate, a gathering. To use the term I introduced earlier now more precisely, the same word thing designates matters of fact and matters of concern. Needless to say, although he develops this etymology at length, this is not the path that Heidegger has taken. On the contrary, all his writing aims to make as sharp a distinction as possible between, on the one hand, objects, Gegenstand, and, on the other, the celebrated Thing. The handmade jug can be a thing, while the industrially made can of Coke remains an object. While the latter is abandoned to the empty mastery of science and technology, only the former, cradled in the respectful idiom of art, craftsmanship, and poetry, could deploy and gather its rich set of connections.12 This bifurcation is marked many times but in a decisive way in his book on Kant: Up to this hour such questions have been open. Their questionability is concealed by the results and the progress of scientific work. One of these burning questions concerns the justification and limits of mathematical formalism in contrast to the demand for an immediate return to intuitively given nature.13 What has happened to those who, like Heidegger, have tried to find their ways in immediacy, in intuition, in nature would be too sad to retell—and is well known anyway. What is certain is that those pathmarks off the beaten track led indeed nowhere. And, yet, Heidegger, when he takes the jug seriously, offers a powerful vocabulary to talk also about the object he despises so much. What would happen, I wonder, if we tried to talk about the object of science and technology, the Gegenstand, as if it had the rich and complicated qualities of the celebrated Thing? The problem with philosophers is that because their jobs are so hard they 11. See the erudite study by the remarkable French scholar of Roman law, Yan Thomas, “Res, chose et patrimoine (note sur le rapport sujet-objet en droit romain),” Archives de philosophie du droit 25 (1980): 413–26. 12. See Graham Harman, Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects (Chicago, 2002). 13. Martin Heidegger, What Is a Thing? trans. W. B. Barton, Jr., and Vera Deutsch (Chicago, 1967), p. 95.

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drink a lot of coffee and thus use in their arguments an inordinate quantity of pots, mugs, and jugs—to which, sometimes, they might add the occasional rock. But, as Ludwik Fleck remarked long ago, their objects are never complicated enough; more precisely, they are never simultaneously made through a complex history and new, real, and interesting participants in the universe.14 Philosophy never deals with the sort of beings we in science studies have dealt with. And that’s why the debates between realism and relativism never go anywhere. As Ian Hacking has recently shown, the engagement of a rock in philosophical talk is utterly different if you take a banal rock to make your point (usually to lapidate a passing relativist!) or if you take, for instance, dolomite, as he has done so beautifully.15 The first can be turned into a matter of fact but not the second. Dolomite is so beautifully complex and entangled that it resists being treated as a matter of fact. It too can be described as a gathering; it too can be seen as engaging the fourfold. Why not try to portray it with the same enthusiasm, engagement, and complexity as the Heideggerian jug? Heidegger’s mistake is not to have treated the jug too well, but to have traced a dichotomy between Gegenstand and Thing that was justified by nothing except the crassest of prejudices. Several years ago another philosopher, much closer to the history of science, namely Michel Serres, also French, but this time as foreign to critique as one can get, meditated on what it would mean to take objects of science in a serious anthropological and ontological fashion. It is interesting to note that every time a philosopher gets closer to an object of science that is at once historical and interesting, his or her philosophy changes, and the specifications for a realist attitude become, at once, more stringent and completely different from the so-called realist philosophy of science concerned with routine or boring objects. I was reading his passage on the Challenger disaster in his book Statues when another shuttle, Columbia, in early 2003 offered me a tragic instantiation of yet another metamorphosis of an object into a thing.16 What else would you call this sudden transformation of a completely mastered, perfectly understood, quite forgotten by the media, taken-forgranted, matter-of-factual projectile into a sudden shower of debris falling 14. Although Fleck is the founder of science studies, the impact of his work is still very much in the future because he has been so deeply misunderstood by Thomas Kuhn; see Thomas Kuhn, foreword to Ludwik Fleck, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (1935; Chicago, 1979), pp. vii–xi. 15. See Ian Hacking, The Social Construction of What? (Cambridge, Mass., 1999), in particular the last chapter. 16. See Michel Serres, Statues: Le Second Livre des fondations (Paris, 1987). On the reason why Serres was never critical, see Serres with Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1995).

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on the United States, which thousands of people tried to salvage in the mud and rain and collect in a huge hall to serve as so many clues in a judicial scientific investigation? Here, suddenly, in a stroke, an object had become a thing, a matter of fact was considered as a matter of great concern. If a thing is a gathering, as Heidegger says, how striking to see how it can suddenly disband. If the “thinging of the thing” is a gathering that always connects the “united four, earth and sky, divinities and mortals, in the simple onefold of their self-unified fourfold,”17 how could there be a better example of this making and unmaking than this catastrophe unfolding all its thousands of folds? How could we see it as a normal accident of technology when, in his eulogy for the unfortunate victims, your president said: “The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home”?18 As if no shuttle ever moved simply in space, but also always in heaven. This was on C-Span 1, but on C-Span 2, at the very same time, early February 2003, another extraordinary parallel event was occurring. This time a Thing—with a capital T—was assembled to try to coalesce, to gather in one decision, one object, one projection of force: a military strike against Iraq. Again, it was hard to tell whether this gathering was a tribunal, a parliament, a command-and-control war room, a rich man’s club, a scientific congress, or a TV stage. But certainly it was an assembly where matters of great concern were debated and proven—except there was much puzzlement about which type of proofs should be given and how accurate they were. The difference between C-Span 1 and C-Span 2, as I watched them with bewilderment, was that while in the case of Columbia we had a perfectly mastered object that suddenly was transformed into a shower of burning debris that was used as so much evidence in an investigation, there, at the United Nations, we had an investigation that tried to coalesce, in one unifying, unanimous, solid, mastered object, masses of people, opinions, and might. In one case the object was metamorphosed into a thing; in the second, the thing was attempting to turn into an object. We could witness, in one case, the head, in another, the tail of the trajectory through which matters of fact emerge out of matters of concern. In both cases we were offered a unique window into the number of things that have to participate in the gathering of an object. Heidegger was not a very good anthropologist of science and technology; he had only four folds, while the smallest shuttle, the shortest war, has millions. How many gods, passions, controls, insti17. Heidegger, “The Thing,” Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York, 1971), p. 178. 18. “Bush Talking More about Religion: Faith to Solve the Nation’s Problems,” CNN website, 18 Feb. 2003, www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/02/18/bush.faith/

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tutions, techniques, diplomacies, wits have to be folded to connect “earth and sky, divinities and mortals”—oh yes, especially mortals. (Frightening omen, to launch such a complicated war, just when such a beautifully mastered object as the shuttle disintegrated into thousands of pieces of debris raining down from the sky—but the omen was not heeded; gods nowadays are invoked for convenience only.) My point is thus very simple: things have become Things again, objects have reentered the arena, the Thing, in which they have to be gathered first in order to exist later as what stands apart. The parenthesis that we can call the modern parenthesis during which we had, on the one hand, a world of objects, Gegenstand, out there, unconcerned by any sort of parliament, forum, agora, congress, court and, on the other, a whole set of forums, meeting places, town halls where people debated, has come to a close. What the etymology of the word thing—chose, causa, res, aitia—had conserved for us mysteriously as a sort of fabulous and mythical past has now become, for all to see, our most ordinary present. Things are gathered again. Was it not extraordinarily moving to see, for instance, in the lower Manhattan reconstruction project, the long crowds, the angry messages, the passionate emails, the huge agoras, the long editorials that connected so many people to so many variations of the project to replace the Twin Towers? As the architect Daniel Libeskind said a few days before the decision, building will never be the same. I could open the newspaper and unfold the number of former objects that have become things again, from the global warming case I mentioned earlier to the hormonal treatment of menopause, to the work of Tim Lenoir, the primate studies of Linda Fedigan and Shirley Strum, or the hyenas of my friend Steven Glickman.19 Nor are those gatherings limited to the present period as if only recently objects had become so obviously things. Every day historians of science help us realize to what extent we have never been modern because they keep revising every single element of past matters of fact from Mario Biagioli’s Galileo, Steven Shapin’s Boyle, and Simon Schaffer’s Newton, to the incredibly intricate linkages between Einstein and Poincare´ that Peter Galison has narrated in his latest masterpiece.20 Many others of course could be cited, but the crucial point for me now is that what allowed historians, phi19. Serres proposed the word quasi-object to cover this intermediary phase between things and objects—a philosophical question much more interesting than the tired old one of the relation between words and worlds. On the new way animals appear to scientists and the debate it triggers, see Primate Encounters: Models of Science, Gender, and Society, ed. Shirley Strum and Linda Fedigan (Chicago, 2000), and Vinciane Despret, Quand le loup habitera avec l’agneau (Paris, 2002). 20. See Peter Galison, Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare´’s Maps: Empires of Time (New York, 2003).

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losophers, humanists, and critics to trace the difference between modern and premodern, namely, the sudden and somewhat miraculous appearance of matters of fact, is now thrown into doubt with the merging of matters of fact into highly complex, historically situated, richly diverse matters of concern. You can do one sort of thing with mugs, jugs, rocks, swans, cats, mats but not with Einstein’s Patent Bureau electric coordination of clocks in Bern. Things that gather cannot be thrown at you like objects. And, yet, I know full well that this is not enough because, no matter what we do, when we try to reconnect scientific objects with their aura, their crown, their web of associations, when we accompany them back to their gathering, we always appear to weaken them, not to strengthen their claim to reality. I know, I know, we are acting with the best intentions in the world, we want to add reality to scientific objects, but, inevitably, through a sort of tragic bias, we seem always to be subtracting some bit from it. Like a clumsy waiter setting plates on a slanted table, every nice dish slides down and crashes on the ground. Why can we never discover the same stubbornness, the same solid realism by bringing out the obviously webby, “thingy” qualities of matters of concern? Why can’t we ever counteract the claim of realists that only a fare of matters of fact can satisfy their appetite and that matters of concern are much like nouvelle cuisine—nice to look at but not fit for voracious appetites? One reason is of course the position objects have been given in most social sciences, a position that is so ridiculously useless that if it is employed, even in a small way, for dealing with science, technology, religion, law, or literature it will make absolutely impossible any serious consideration of objectivity—I mean of “thinginess.” Why is this so? Let me try to portray the critical landscape in its ordinary and routine state.21 We can summarize, I estimate, 90 percent of the contemporary critical scene by the following series of diagrams that fixate the object at only two positions, what I have called the fact position and the fairy position—fact and fairy are etymologically related but I won’t develop this point here. The fairy position is very well known and is used over and over again by many social scientists who associate criticism with antifetishism. The role of the critic is then to show that what the naı¨ve believers are doing with objects is simply a projection of their wishes onto a material entity that does nothing at all by itself. Here they have diverted to their petty use the prophetic ful21. I summarize here some of the results of my already long anthropological inquiry into the iconoclastic gesture, from Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, Mass., 1993) to Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, Mass., 1999) and of course Iconoclash.

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f i g u r e 2.

mination against idols “they have mouths and speak not, they have ears and hear not,” but they use this prophecy to decry the very objects of belief— gods, fashion, poetry, sport, desire, you name it—to which naı¨ve believers cling with so much intensity.22 And then the courageous critic, who alone remains aware and attentive, who never sleeps, turns those false objects into fetishes that are supposed to be nothing but mere empty white screens on which is projected the power of society, domination, whatever. The naı¨ve believer has received a first salvo (fig. 2). But, wait, a second salvo is in the offing, and this time it comes from the fact pole. This time it is the poor bloke, again taken aback, whose behavior is now “explained” by the powerful effects of indisputable matters of fact: “You, ordinary fetishists, believe you are free but, in reality, you are acted on by forces you are not conscious of. Look at them, look, you blind idiot” (and here you insert whichever pet facts the social scientists fancy to work with, taking them from economic infrastructure, fields of discourse, social domination, race, class, and gender, maybe throwing in some neurobiology, evolutionary psychology, whatever, provided they act as indisputable facts whose origin, fabrication, mode of development are left unexamined) (fig. 3). Do you see now why it feels so good to be a critical mind? Why critique, 22. See William Pietz, “The Problem of the Fetish, I,” Res 9 (Spring 1985): 5–17, “The Problem of the Fetish, II: The Origin of the Fetish” Res 13 (Spring 1987): 23–45, and “The Problem of the Fetish, IIIa: Bosman’s Guinea and the Enlightenment Theory of Fetishism,” Res 16 (Autumn 1988): 105–23.

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f i g u r e 3.

this most ambiguous pharmakon, has become such a potent euphoric drug? You are always right! When naı¨ve believers are clinging forcefully to their objects, claiming that they are made to do things because of their gods, their poetry, their cherished objects, you can turn all of those attachments into so many fetishes and humiliate all the believers by showing that it is nothing but their own projection, that you, yes you alone, can see. But as soon as naı¨ve believers are thus inflated by some belief in their own importance, in their own projective capacity, you strike them by a second uppercut and humiliate them again, this time by showing that, whatever they think, their behavior is entirely determined by the action of powerful causalities coming from objective reality they don’t see, but that you, yes you, the never sleeping critic, alone can see. Isn’t this fabulous? Isn’t it really worth going to graduate school to study critique? “Enter here, you poor folks. After arduous years of reading turgid prose, you will be always right, you will never be taken in any more; no one, no matter how powerful, will be able to accuse you of naı¨vete´, that supreme sin, any longer? Better equipped than Zeus himself you rule alone, striking from above with the salvo of antifetishism in one hand and the solid causality of objectivity in the other.” The only loser is the naı¨ve believer, the great unwashed, always caught off balance (fig. 4). Is it so surprising, after all, that with such positions given to the object, the humanities have lost the hearts of their fellow citizens, that they had to retreat year after year, entrenching themselves always further in the narrow barracks left to them by more and more stingy deans? The Zeus of Critique rules absolutely, to be sure, but over a desert.

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f i g u r e 4.

One thing is clear, not one of us readers would like to see our own most cherished objects treated in this way. We would recoil in horror at the mere suggestion of having them socially explained, whether we deal in poetry or robots, stem cells, blacks holes, or impressionism, whether we are patriots, revolutionaries, or lawyers, whether we pray to God or put our hope in neuroscience. This is why, in my opinion, those of us who tried to portray sciences as matters of concern so often failed to convince; readers have confused the treatment we give of the former matters of fact with the terrible fate of objects processed through the hands of sociology, cultural studies, and so on. And I can’t blame our readers. What social scientists do to our favorite objects is so horrific that certainly we don’t want them to come any nearer. “Please,” we exclaim, “don’t touch them at all! Don’t try to explain them!” Or we might suggest more politely: “Why don’t you go further down the corridor to this other department? They have bad facts to account for; why don’t you explain away those ones instead of ours?” And this is the reason why, when we want respect, solidity, obstinacy, robustness, we all prefer to stick to the language of matters of fact no matter its well-known defects. And yet this is not the only way because the cruel treatment objects undergo in the hands of what I’d like to call critical barbarity is rather easy to undo. If the critical barbarian appears so powerful, it is because the two mechanisms I have just sketched are never put together in one single diagram (fig. 5). Antifetishists debunk objects they don’t believe in by showing the productive and projective forces of people; then, without ever making

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f i g u r e 5.

the connection, they use objects they do believe in to resort to the causalist or mechanist explanation and debunk conscious capacities of people whose behavior they don’t approve of. The whole rather poor trick that allows critique to go on, although we would never confine our own valuables to their sordid pawnshop, is that there is never any crossover between the two lists of objects in the fact position and the fairy position. This is why you can be at once and without even sensing any contradiction (1) an antifetishist for everything you don’t believe in—for the most part religion, popular culture, art, politics, and so on; (2) an unrepentant positivist for all the sciences you believe in—sociology, economics, conspiracy theory, genetics, evolutionary psychology, semiotics, just pick your preferred field of study; and (3) a perfectly healthy sturdy realist for what you really cherish—and of course it might be criticism itself, but also painting, bird-watching, Shakespeare, baboons, proteins, and so on. If you think I am exaggerating in my somewhat dismal portrayal of the critical landscape, it is because we have had in effect almost no occasion so far to detect the total mismatch of the three contradictory repertoires— antifetishism, positivism, realism—because we carefully manage to apply them on different topics. We explain the objects we don’t approve of by treating them as fetishes; we account for behaviors we don’t like by discipline whose makeup we don’t examine; and we concentrate our passionate interest on only those things that are for us worthwhile matters of concern. But of course such a cavalier attitude with such contradictory repertoires is not possible for those of us, in science studies, who have to deal with states

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of affairs that fit neither in the list of plausible fetishes—because everyone, including us, does believe very strongly in them—nor in the list of undisputable facts because we are witnessing their birth, their slow construction, their fascinating emergence as matters of concern. The metaphor of the Copernican revolution, so tied to the destiny of critique, has always been for us, science students, simply moot. This is why, with more than a good dose of field chauvinism, I consider this tiny field so important; it is the little rock in the shoe that might render the routine patrol of the critical barbarians more and more painful. The mistake would be to believe that we too have given a social explanation of scientific facts. No, even though it is true that at first we tried, like good critics trained in the good schools, to use the armaments handed to us by our betters and elders to crack open—one of their favorite expressions, meaning to destroy—religion, power, discourse, hegemony. But, fortunately (yes, fortunately!), one after the other, we witnessed that the black boxes of science remained closed and that it was rather the tools that lay in the dust of our workshop, disjointed and broken. Put simply, critique was useless against objects of some solidity. You can try the projective game on UFOs or exotic divinities, but don’t try it on neurotransmitters, on gravitation, on Monte Carlo calculations. But critique is also useless when it begins to use the results of one science uncritically, be it sociology itself, or economics, or postimperialism, to account for the behavior of people. You can try to play this miserable game of explaining aggression by invoking the genetic makeup of violent people, but try to do that while dragging in, at the same time, the many controversies in genetics, including evolutionary theories in which geneticists find themselves so thoroughly embroiled.23 On both accounts, matters of concern never occupy the two positions left for them by critical barbarity. Objects are much too strong to be treated as fetishes and much too weak to be treated as indisputable causal explanations of some unconscious action. And this is not true of scientific states of affairs only; this is our great discovery, what made science studies commit such a felicitous mistake, such a felix culpa. Once you realize that scientific objects cannot be socially explained, then you realize too that the so-called weak objects, those that appear to be candidates for the accusation of antifetishism, were never mere projections on an empty screen either.24 They 23. For a striking example, see Jean-Jacques Kupiec and Pierre Sonigo, Ni Dieu ni ge`ne: Pour une autre the´orie de l’he´re´dite´ (Paris, 2000); see also Evelyn Fox-Keller, The Century of the Gene (Cambridge, Mass., 2000). 24. I have attempted to use this argument recently on two most difficult types of entities, Christian divinities (Latour, Jubiler ou les tourments de la parole religieuse [Paris, 2002]) and law (Latour, La Fabrique du droit: Une Ethnographie du Conseil d’E´tat [Paris, 2002]).

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too act, they too do things, they too make you do things. It is not only the objects of science that resist, but all the others as well, those that were supposed to have been ground to dust by the powerful teeth of automated reflex-action deconstructors. To accuse something of being a fetish is the ultimate gratuitous, disrespectful, insane, and barbarous gesture.25 Is it not time for some progress? To the fact position, to the fairy position, why not add a third position, a fair position? Is it really asking too much from our collective intellectual life to devise, at least once a century, some new critical tools? Should we not be thoroughly humiliated to see that military personnel are more alert, more vigilant, more innovative than we, the pride of academia, the cre`me de la cre`me, who go on ceaselessly transforming the whole rest of the world into naı¨ve believers, into fetishists, into hapless victims of domination, while at the same time turning them into the mere superficial consequences of powerful hidden causalities coming from infrastructures whose makeup is never interrogated? All the while being intimately certain that the things really close to our hearts would in no way fit any of those roles. Are you not all tired of those “explanations”? I am, I have always been, when I know, for instance, that the God to whom I pray, the works of art I cherish, the colon cancer I have been fighting, the piece of law I am studying, the desire I feel, indeed, the very book I am writing could in no way be accounted for by fetish or fact, nor by any combination of those two absurd positions? To retrieve a realist attitude, it is not enough to dismantle critical weapons so uncritically built up by our predecessors as we would obsolete but still dangerous atomic silos. If we had to dismantle social theory only, it would be a rather simple affair; like the Soviet empire, those big totalities have feet of clay. But the difficulty lies in the fact that they are built on top of a much older philosophy, so that whenever we try to replace matters of fact by matters of concern, we seem to lose something along the way. It is like trying to fill the mythical Danaid’s barrel—no matter what we put in it, the level of realism never increases. As long as we have not sealed the leaks, the realist attitude will always be split; matters of fact take the best part, and matters of concern are limited to a rich but essentially void or irrelevant history. More will always seem less. Although I wish to keep this paper short, I need to take a few more pages to deal with ways to overcome this bifurcation. Alfred North Whitehead famously said, “The recourse to metaphysics is 25. The exhibition in Karlsruhe, Germany, Iconoclash, was a sort of belated ritual in order to atone for so much wanton destruction.

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like throwing a match into a powder magazine. It blows up the whole arena.”26 I cannot avoid getting into it because I have talked so much about weapon systems, explosions, iconoclasm, and arenas. Of all the modern philosophers who tried to overcome matters of fact, Whitehead is the only one who, instead of taking the path of critique and directing his attention away from facts to what makes them possible as Kant did; or adding something to their bare bones as Husserl did; or avoiding the fate of their domination, their Gestell, as much as possible as Heidegger did; tried to get closer to them or, more exactly, to see through them the reality that requested a new respectful realist attitude. No one is less a critic than Whitehead, in all the meanings of the word, and it’s amusing to notice that the only pique he ever directed against someone else was against the other W., the one considered, wrongly in my view, as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century, not W. as in Bush but W. as in Wittgenstein. What set Whitehead completely apart and straight on our path is that he considered matters of fact to be a very poor rendering of what is given in experience and something that muddles entirely the question, What is there? with the question, How do we know it? as Isabelle Stengers has shown recently in a major book about Whitehead’s philosophy.27 Those who now mock his philosophy don’t understand that they have resigned themselves to what he called the “bifurcation of nature.” They have entirely forgotten what it would require if we were to take this incredible sentence seriously: “For natural philosophy everything perceived is in nature. We may not pick up and choose. For us the red glow of the sunset should be as much part of nature as are the molecules and electric waves by which men of science would explain the phenomenon” (CN, pp. 28–29). All subsequent philosophies have done exactly the opposite: they have picked and chosen, and, worse, they have remained content with that limited choice. The solution to this bifurcation is not, as phenomenologists would have it, adding to the boring electric waves the rich lived world of the glowing sun. This would simply make the bifurcation greater. The solution or, rather, the adventure, according to Whitehead, is to dig much further into the realist attitude and to realize that matters of fact are totally implausible, unrealistic, unjustified definitions of what it is to deal with things: 26. Alfred North Whitehead, The Concept of Nature (Cambridge, 1920), p. 29; hereafter abbreviated CN. 27. See Isabelle Stengers, Penser avec Whitehead: Une Libre et sauvage cre´ation de concepts (Paris, 2002), a book which has the great advantage of taking seriously Whitehead’s science as well as his theory of God.

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Thus matter represents the refusal to think away spatial and temporal characteristics and to arrive at the bare concept of an individual entity. It is this refusal which has caused the muddle of importing the mere procedure of thought into the fact of nature. The entity, bared of all characteristics except those of space and time, has acquired a physical status as the ultimate texture of nature; so that the course of nature is conceived as being merely the fortunes of matter in its adventure through space. [CN, p. 20] It is not the case that there would exist solid matters of fact and that the next step would be for us to decide whether they will be used to explain something. It is not the case either that the other solution is to attack, criticize, expose, historicize those matters of fact, to show that they are made up, interpreted, flexible. It is not the case that we should rather flee out of them into the mind or add to them symbolic or cultural dimensions; the question is that matters of fact are a poor proxy of experience and of experimentation and, I would add, a confusing bundle of polemics, of epistemology, of modernist politics that can in no way claim to represent what is requested by a realist attitude.28 Whitehead is not an author known for keeping the reader wide awake, but I want to indicate at least the direction of the new critical attitude with which I wish to replace the tired routines of most social theories. The solution lies, it seems to me, in this promising word gathering that Heidegger had introduced to account for the “thingness of the thing.” Now, I know very well that Heidegger and Whitehead would have nothing to say to one another, and, yet, the word the latter used in Process and Reality to describe “actual occasions,” his word for my matters of concern, is the word societies. It is also, by the way, the word used by Gabriel Tarde, the real founder of French sociology, to describe all sorts of entities. It is close enough to the word association that I have used all along to describe the objects of science and technology. Andrew Pickering would use the words “mangle of practice.”29 Whatever the words, what is presented here is an entirely different attitude than the critical one, not a flight into the conditions of possibility of a given matter of fact, not the addition of something 28. That matters of fact represent now a rather rare and complicated historical rendering of experience has been made powerfully clear by many writers; see, for telling segments of this history, Christian Licoppe, La Formation de la pratique scientifique: Le Discours de l’expe´rience en France et en Angleterre (1630–1820) (Paris, 1996); Mary Poovey, A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society (Chicago, 1999); Lorraine Daston and Katherine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 (New York, 1998); and Picturing Science, Producing Art, ed. Caroline A. Jones, Galison, and Amy Slaton (New York, 1998). 29. See Andrew Pickering, The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science (Chicago, 1995).

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more human that the inhumane matters of fact would have missed, but, rather, a multifarious inquiry launched with the tools of anthropology, philosophy, metaphysics, history, sociology to detect how many participants are gathered in a thing to make it exist and to maintain its existence. Objects are simply a gathering that has failed—a fact that has not been assembled according to due process.30 The stubbornness of matters of fact in the usual scenography of the rock-kicking objector—“It is there whether you like it or not”—is much like the stubbornness of political demonstrators: “the U.S., love it or leave it,” that is, a very poor substitute for any sort of vibrant, articulate, sturdy, decent, long-term existence.31 A gathering, that is, a thing, an issue, inside a Thing, an arena, can be very sturdy, too, on the condition that the number of its participants, its ingredients, nonhumans as well as humans, not be limited in advance.32 It is entirely wrong to divide the collective, as I call it, into the sturdy matters of fact, on the one hand, and the dispensable crowds, on the other. Archimedes spoke for a whole tradition when he exclaimed: “Give me one fixed point and I will move the Earth,” but am I not speaking for another, much less prestigious but maybe as respectable tradition, if I exclaim in turn “Give me one matter of concern and I will show you the whole earth and heavens that have to be gathered to hold it firmly in place”? For me it makes no sense to reserve the realist vocabulary for the first one only. The critic is not the one who debunks, but the one who assembles. The critic is not the one who lifts the rugs from under the feet of the naı¨ve believers, but the one who offers the participants arenas in which to gather. The critic is not the one who alternates haphazardly between antifetishism and positivism like the drunk iconoclast drawn by Goya, but the one for whom, if something is constructed, then it means it is fragile and thus in great need of care and caution. I am aware that to get at the heart of this argument one would have to renew also what it means to be a constructivist, but I have said enough to indicate the direction of critique, not away but toward the gathering, the Thing.33 Not westward, but, so to speak, eastward.34 30. See Latour, Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy, trans. Porter (Cambridge, Mass., 2004). 31. See the marvelously funny rendering of the realist gesture in Malcolm Ashmore, Derek Edwards, and Jonathan Potter, “The Bottom Line: The Rhetoric of Reality Demonstrations,” Configurations 2 (Winter 1994): 1–14. 32. This is the challenge of a new exhibition I am curating with Peter Weibel in Karlsruhe and that is supposed to take place in 2004 under the provisional title “Making Things Public.” This exhibition will explore what Iconoclash had simply pointed at, namely, beyond the image wars. 33. This paper is a companion of another one: Latour, “The Promises of Constructivism,” in Chasing Technoscience: Matrix for Materiality, ed. Don Ihde and Evan Selinger (Bloomington, Ind., 2003), pp. 27–46. 34. This is why, although I share all of the worries of Thomas de Zengotita, “Common Ground: Finding Our Way Back to the Enlightenment,” Harper’s 306 (Jan. 2003): 35–45, I think he is

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The practical problem we face, if we try to go that new route, is to associate the word criticism with a whole set of new positive metaphors, gestures, attitudes, knee-jerk reactions, habits of thoughts. To begin with this new habit forming, I’d like to extract another definition of critique from the most unlikely source, namely, Allan Turing’s original paper on thinking machines.35 I have a good reason for that: here is the typical paper about formalism, here is the origin of one of the icons—to use a cliche´ of antifetishism—of the contemporary age, namely, the computer, and yet, if you read this paper, it is so baroque, so kitsch, it assembles such an astounding number of metaphors, beings, hypotheses, allusions, that there is no chance that it would be accepted nowadays by any journal. Even Social Text would reject it out of hand as another hoax! “Not again,” they would certainly say, “once bitten, twice shy.” Who would take a paper seriously that states somewhere after having spoken of Muslim women, punishment of boys, extrasensory perception: “In attempting to construct such machines we should not be irreverently usurping [God’s] power of creating souls, any more than we are in the procreation of children: rather we are, in either case, instruments of His will providing mansions for the souls that He creates” (“CM,” p. 443). Lots of gods, always in machines. Remember how Bush eulogized the crew of the Columbia for reaching home in heaven, if not home on earth? Here Turing too cannot avoid mentioning God’s creative power when talking of this most mastered machine, the computer that he has invented. That’s precisely his point. The computer is in for many surprises; you get out of it much more than you put into it. In the most dramatic way, Turing’s paper demonstrates, once again, that all objects are born things, all matters of fact require, in order to exist, a bewildering variety of matters of concern.36 The surprising result is that we don’t master what we, ourselves, have fabricated, the object of this definition of critique:37 entirely mistaken in the direction of the move he proposes back to the future; to go back to the “natural” attitude is a sign of nostalgia. 35. See A.M. Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Mind 59 (Oct. 1950): 433–60; hereafter abbreviated “CM.” See also what Powers in Galatea 2.2 (New York, 1995) did with this paper; this is critique in the most generous sense of the word. For the context of this paper, see Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma (New York, 1983). 36. A nonformalist definition of formalism has been proposed by Brian Rotman, Ad Infinitum: The Ghost in Turing’s Machine: Taking God out of Mathematics and Putting the Body Back In (Stanford, Calif., 1993). 37. Since Turing can be taken as the first and best programmer, those who believe in defining machines by inputs and outputs should meditate his confession: Machines take me by surprise with great frequency. This is largely because I do not do sufficient calculation to decide what to expect them to do, or rather because, although I do a calculation, I do it in a hurried, slipshod fashion, taking risks. Perhaps I say to myself, “I suppose the voltage here ought to be the same as there: anyway let’s assume it is.” Naturally I

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Bruno Latour / Matters of Fact, Matters of Concern

Let us return for a moment to Lady Lovelace’s objection, which stated that the machine can only do what we tell it to do. One could say that a man can “inject” an idea into the machine, and that it will respond to a certain extent and then drop into quiescence, like a piano string struck by a hammer. Another simile would be an atomic pile of less than critical size: an injected idea is to correspond to a neutron entering the pile from without. Each such neutron will cause a certain disturbance which eventually dies away. If, however, the size of the pile is sufficiently increased, the disturbance caused by such an incoming neutron will very likely go on and on increasing until the whole pile is destroyed. Is there a corresponding phenomenon for minds, and is there one for machines? There does seem to be one for the human mind. The majority of them seem to be “sub-critical,” i.e. to correspond in this analogy to piles of sub-critical size. An idea presented to such a mind will on average give rise to less than one idea in reply. A smallish proportion are supercritical. An idea presented to such a mind may give rise to a whole “theory” consisting of secondary, tertiary and more remote ideas. Animals’ minds seem to be very definitely sub-critical. Adhering to this analogy we ask, “Can a machine be made to be super-critical?” [“CM,” p. 454] We all know subcritical minds, that’s for sure! What would critique do if it could be associated with more, not with less, with multiplication, not subtraction. Critical theory died away long ago; can we become critical again, in the sense here offered by Turing? That is, generating more ideas than we have received, inheriting from a prestigious critical tradition but not letting it die away, or “dropping into quiescence” like a piano no longer struck. This would require that all entities, including computers, cease to be objects defined simply by their inputs and outputs and become again things, mediating, assembling, gathering many more folds than the “united four.” If this were possible then we could let the critics come ever closer to the matters of concern we cherish, and then at last we could tell them: “Yes, please, touch them, explain them, deploy them.” Then we would have gone for good beyond iconoclasm.

am often wrong, and the result is a surprise for me for by the time the experiment is done these assumptions have been forgotten. These admissions lay me open to lectures on the subject of my vicious ways, but do not throw any doubt on my credibility when I testify to the surprises I experience. [“CM,” pp. 450–51] On this nonformalist definition of computers, see Brian Cantwell Smith, On the Origin of Objects (Cambridge, Mass., 1997).

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Christoph Menke Aesthetics of Equality

| 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts / 100 Notizen – 100 Gedanken

Heiner Müller: ... Hitler: “Ladies, I thank you all for the work you have loyally performed, what would life be without woman’s loyalty, I shall not speak of death, for my service to Germany which ends with me.” Stage direction: Booming of artillery, detonations. “You hear the triumph of the subhuman being. The subhuman being has proved stronger. . . . I return to the dead, who gave birth to me. Jesus Christ was a son of man, I am the son of the dead. I have had my astrologer, Herr Friedrich Nietzsche, shot so he may precede me to the kingdom of death, which is the sole reality, and whose governor on earth I am. My program will live: against communism’s life-lie NONE OR ALL I set the simple and popularly accepted truth THERE’S NOT ENOUGH

Alexander Kluge: Okay, so here’s a text, straight from your desk, I believe. Goebbels enters as Medea, having murdered her children. Then Hitler appears and holds a longish monologue. Can one say that? . . . Would you read it, please?

None or All

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FOR EVERYONE. Against the clergy’s lying claptrap LOVE YOUR ENEMIES I set the honest injunction of my German catechism: DESTROY THEM WHERE YOU FIND THEM. I have chosen Europe for my funeral pyre. Its flame will discharge me of my statesmanly duties. I die a private citizen. . . . Long live the German shepherd.” Shoots his shepherd bitch. (Alexander Kluge and Heiner Müller, Theater der Finsternisse)

Hitler says: There are only two options in politics. Either you are a fascist, then you know there’s not enough for all, there was never enough for all, not enough commodities, space, time, freedom, and there will never be enough for all. There will always be too little to feed all, to house all, to consider all. So you have to distinguish. You have to distinguish between those who partake, because they are like us, and those who do not partake, because—culturally, ethnically, technologically, economically, or whatever—they are not like us; in other words, those who can’t partake because they are not able to. To distinguish between us for whom there is enough, for whom, possibly, there is even equally enough for each, and those for whom there is not enough, is to be a fascist, according to Hitler. But Hitler also says: One must not only know there is not enough for all, and so distinguish between us and those who do not count; one must above all distinguish between oneself and Nº010 | Christoph Menke

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those who fail to distinguish. They are the communists. The communist refuses to distinguish between us and the others. In distinguishing between us and the others, the fascist distinguishes himself from the nondistinguishing communist. The fascist fights for distinguishing against the communists, who fight for not distinguishing. The fascist holds that the communist fails to distinguish because he is too weak. Communism, according to the fascist, refuses distinctions because it is weak at distinguishing. But the communist also distinguishes. The communist says: NONE OR ALL. Either/or. Either there is enough for all, or no one counts at all; there is no third option. For the communist, it is the fascist who is weak at making distinctions. For he only makes a weak distinction, a distinction dictated by finite economic conditions. Fascism is the ultimate upshot of economism. In distinguishing himself from the fascist, on the other hand, the communist makes a strong distinction: the distinction between a state in which all count and all other states. Because all other states are a state of subtraction: we = everyone minus x. The value of x for the communist is immaterial. If x is bigger than zero, then, for the communist, the state “everyone minus x” is not a state where at least a few, possibly even many, count (so that it is better than nothing), but rather, as a 6

state, it is as good (or bad) as if no one counted. There is no more or less for the communist. Either one distinguishes or there is equality. * But where does equality come from? Is it mere wishful thinking born—as its opponents, the paranoiacs of inequality, believe—of resentment and projected onto an unattainable future? Equality has to be fought for, because it does not exist yet. But at the same time, it can only be fought for if and because it already exists. Hitler is right. The fight between THERE’S NOT ENOUGH FOR ALL and NONE OR ALL is not a fight over which is the better morality, but a fight over the truth: a fight about which of the two claims, the equality claim or the inequality claim, is the “life-lie” and which the “simple and popularly accepted truth.” In what does the truth of equality consist? How or where does equality exist?

The Most Equally Distributed Thing in the World

Good sense is of all things in the world the most equally distributed, for everybody thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that even those most difficult to please in all other matters do not commonly desire more of it than they already possess. It is unlikely that this is an error on their part; it seems rather to be evidence in support Nº010 | Christoph Menke

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of the view that the capacity of forming a good judgment and of distinguishing the true from the false, which is properly speaking what is called Good Sense or Reason, is by nature equal in all men. Hence too it will show that the diversity of our opinions does not proceed from some men being more rational than others, but solely from the fact that our thoughts pass through diverse channels and the same objects are not considered by all. For to be possessed of good mental capacities is not sufficient; the principal matter is to apply them well. (René Descartes, Discours de la méthode)

| 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts / 100 Notizen – 100 Gedanken

The sentences with which Descartes begins the “story” of his life—the autobiographical “fable,” in which he tells of the “paths that have conducted me to considerations and maxims from which I have formed a Method”—also mark the start of the modern political era: the start of the revolution. The political content of Descartes’s fable lies in what he does not want to talk about. Taking himself as an example, Descartes wants to show that, in thinking, one should follow a method; one should direct all one’s attention at how best to exercise one’s reason, how best to utilize one’s good sense. To point attention at the new issue of methodically directing the exercise of reason, attention must be deflected from the traditional political question of whether everyone actually possesses reason, the “capacity of forming a good judgment and of distinguishing the true from the false.” The traditional political issue obstructs the new, methodical one; the political question 8

distracts attention, passion, and energy from the incomparably more important issue of method. So Descartes thrusts it aside from the start. An equal capacity for reason must be supposed, so that the real task of disciplining the exercise of reason can be addressed.

Slave by Nature

[A]ll men that differ as widely as the soul does from the body and the human being from the lower animal . . . these are by nature slaves, for whom to be governed by this kind of authority is advantageous. (Aristotle, Politics)

So runs the argument for mastery biddably supplied by philosophy for two thousand long years, and which Descartes, by presupposing equality without ado, ruled out at a stroke. The first political problem—the problem from which politics traditionally took its start—was to justify mastery over those who were “slaves by nature.” Their slavish nature consists in their partaking of reason only deficiently. They do not entirely possess it, or not quite properly.

For he is by nature a slave who is capable of belonging to another (and that is why he does so belong), and who participates in reason so far as to apprehend it but not to possess it. (Aristotle, Politics) Nº010 | Christoph Menke

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To possess reason consists in being able to distinguish between useful and harmful, good and bad, just and unjust. The slave “by nature� is incapable of this. His reason is defective: he can only “apprehend� judgments of reason—by understanding and obeying orders—but not pass them; he cannot govern himself by judging the good and the bad, and so requires external rule by others; he needs a master. The justification of—the right to—mastery lies in the fact that the capacity of reason is unequally distributed. When Descartes presupposes equality— “good sense is of all things in the world the most equally distributed�—the right to mastery, and with it the right to distinguish between masters and slaves, the capable and the incapable, belongs to the past.

| 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts / 100 Notizen – 100 Gedanken

Isonomy guaranteed ! [isótes], equality, but not because all men were born or created equal, but, on the contrary, because men were by nature ( ![fúsei]) not equal, and needed an artificial institution, the polis, which by virtue of its  [nómos] would make them equal. Equality existed only in this specifically political realm, where men met one another as citizens and not as private persons. . . .The equality of the Greek polis, its isonomy, was an attribute of the polis and not of men. . . .

Man Is Neither Free nor Equal by Nature

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Neither equality nor freedom was understood as a quality inherent in human nature. (Hannah Arendt, On Revolution)

Aristotle says that reason, the capacity of judging what is good and bad, and so of governing oneself, is not equally distributed. He wants to justify the rule that has been considered the most oppressive and debasing since the modern era began: the rule of master over slave. But surely Aristotle is right when he says that the capacity of reason is not equally distributed, that it is possessed in unequal measure? All capacities are unequally distributed. And they are so because we possess no capacities by nature. When Arendt says that men are neither free nor equal by nature, she means the prepolitical state of nature, which is nevertheless a social state: the economic, technical, cultural state of “society,â€? the life of “private citizens.â€? It is the state in which, through education, training, and practice, we acquire the capacities, abilities, and competences that make us “human beings.â€? Practice and training of abilities always take place in relation to normative distinctions: the ability to do something well or ill; acquiring an ability to a high, sophisticated, confident degree, or having only an unsophisticated, crude, ineffectual ability. That men are neither free nor equal by nature means that, in respect of their abilities, they are not free or equal, nor can they become so. Capacities and NÂş010 | Christoph Menke

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abilities are acquired and graded; they divide us into those who can and those who can’t do things, into those who are more and those who are less able. Deeper and more far-ranging than differences in our abilities, perhaps, are the differences in our views as to who possesses certain abilities, and as to what constitutes an ability. Capacities come not only in different sizes but in different, even incommensurable and mutually antagonistic, types and constructions. Our capacities socialize but also disunite us. They are fields for and objects of struggle. The same holds for reason, if we are serious that it, too, as a capacity, is neither given by God nor nature, but is socially acquired. Reason is possessed only in society, through education. Hence, as with all capacities, we possess the capacity of reason in and to differing degrees, extents, and constructions. If reason is only acquired in practice, its exercise is not the same, but different. The field of practice is the field of inequalities: of better and worse, success and failure, and of the conflicts that these things entail. Since there is no equality of reason, it cannot serve as foundation for political equality, for the radical challenge to the politics of distinction between rulers and ruled, us and not us, between those who count and those for whom there is not enough. Equality of reason can no more underpin political equality than the equality of any other socially acquired capacity can. 12

No property, including the capacities we have by nature or from society, entails political equality. In all our properties and capacities we differ, from the outset or through education.

Aesthetic Equality

But we can understand Descartes’ premise of equality far more basically and radically, not as an assertion of fact, but as a presuppositional act: equality is a supposition we must make in advance. For it has nothing to do with the socially acquired capacity of reason (in which we are unequal, and about which we disagree). Equality pertains to a presupposition of reason. It does not refer to a capacity of reason that we possess, but to the potential for practical training in reason, for its acquisition. In that and that alone—in this potential—are we equal. Equality is an equality of potential. So the “most important emancipation of all” is not at all “the emancipation of all differences originating in and determined by performance from the differences created and transmitted by subjugation, domination, and privilege” (P. Sloterdijk, Du mußt dein Leben ändern, Suhrkamp: Frankfurt/Main 2009, p. 207). No. The most important political emancipation, the emancipation that gives rise to politics, is emancipation from the differences that constitute our abilities and us as able (or unable, Nº010 | Christoph Menke

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less able, and variously able) beings. The most important emancipation, the genuinely political one, is the emancipation from our social existence, from the existence defined by our factual abilities, and hence by our factual inequalities. It is not capacities that facilitate capacities. A capacity’s potential is a force. Capacities are acquired through practice. A capacity enables us to do something, to successfully carry out an activity in line with social standards. A capacity’s potential is a force because it is the “other” of the capacity. · While capacities are acquired through social practice, human beings have force before they are turned into subjects. Having force is human, but presubjective. · While subjects’ capacities are actively practiced with conscious self-governance, a force acts of itself; its activity is not governed by the subject, hence the subject is not conscious of it. · While capacities realize a universal, socially given form, a force is formative, hence formless. A force gives rise to forms, and it reshapes every form it shapes. · While capacities are directed toward achievement, a force has no goal or norm. Force’s activity is play, the production of something that is always already and continually beyond. Capacities make us subjects who successfully partake in social practices. In the play of force, we are presubjective and metasubjective: agents 14

but not subjects; active without self-consciousness; inventive without goal. Without force, a person cannot become able to do something, can acquire and exercise no capacities. · Force facilitates capacities: only because all human beings have forces that unfold in play; only because all people are equal in this can they acquire capacities, in respect of whose direction, extent, and construction they differ and become disunited. · The force of imagination is the precondition for reason. Because, and only because, all human beings are endowed with imagination, because all human beings are equal in being able to become different from what they are now—to see, imagine, experience differently—they are not determined by natural facts, and they can acquire social capacities, such as that of reason, in which they differ and become disunited. Having force in this sense is no more something social—it is the potential for social existence as able beings or experts—than, as a potential, it is a natural fact. Having force, in which we are equal, cannot be proved by demonstrating its objective existence. Equality, as equality of force, is nothing given. Force, in which we are equal, is a presupposition, because it is there for us, we experience and know of it only by performing acts in which it unfolds. Such acts are aesthetic: acts of play, of imagination. They are acts in which we go beyond our Nº010 | Christoph Menke

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socially acquired abilities and capacities, in which, in other words, we do something we can’t do. · We presuppose force, because without it we could never have acquired any capacities. · We presuppose force by going beyond our capacities and “doing things concerning which we don’t know what they are” (Adorno)— aesthetic things. In aesthetically transgressing our social existence we experience that we are equal. Political equality is an aesthetic effect. We make ourselves aesthetically equal; aesthetically, we make ourselves equal.

Christoph Menke (b. 1958) is Professor of Philosophy at the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

| 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts / 100 Notizen – 100 Gedanken

The author would like to thank Dirk Setton for help with the image selection.

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Christoph Menke Ästhetik der Gleichheit Keiner oder alle

Alexander Kluge: Sag mal, hier hast direkt von deinem Schreibtisch, glaube ich, hast du einen Text, da tritt Goebbels als Medea, die ihre Kinder ermordet hat, auf, und da kommt Hitler vor, mit einem längeren Monolog, kann man das sagen? [...] Lies doch das mal.

Heiner Müller: [...] Hitler: »Meine Damen. Ich danke Ihnen allen für die Arbeit, die Sie geleistet haben in Treue, was wäre das Leben ohne die Treue der Frau, ich schweige vom Tod, für meinen Dienst an Deutschland, das mit mir untergeht.« Regieanweisung: Geschützdonner, Detonationen. »Sie hören den Triumph des Untermenschen, der seine Herrschaft antritt. Der Untermensch hat sich als der Stärkere erwiesen. [...] Ich gehe zurück zu den Toten, die mich geboren haben. Jesus Christus war ein Menschensohn, ich bin der Sohn der Toten. Ich habe meinen Astrologen erschießen lassen, Herrn Friedrich Nietzsche, damit er mir vorangeht in das Reich des Todes, das die einzige Wirklichkeit ist, und dessen Statthalter auf Nº010 | Christoph Menke

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Reader

Of actors and authors: some critical notes on the forgotten art of storytelling. CAPPE conference, University of Brighton (11-13 September 2013) Mathijs van de Sande, KU Leuven1 When two years ago, the Indignados and Occupy movements emerged respectively in Spain and the US, and soon spread globally even to set up camp in the Victoria Gardens in front of this building, they were met both with enthusiasm and scepticism. The Occupy movements, critics argued, were lacking a clear and realisable political agenda, an implementable strategy by which to realise this agenda, or a comprehensible analysis of what exactly this movement was against – let alone what it was for. To some extent, these critics were right. It is unmistakably true that the Indignados or Occupy did not produce a clear-cut agenda or a polished alternative discourse. They were wrong, however, not for criticising these new protest movements, but rather for neglecting the fact that there was a role for them to play as well. It was not the activists occupying Zuccotti Park or Puerta del Sol who missed their chance or avoided to take responsibility. It was academics, journalists and artists, writers – yes, even politicians – who missed their best chance to make a substantial political contribution. They could and should have been these movements’ storytellers, but they failed to recognise themselves as such. My paper is about the art of storytelling. In the representation of activist movements like Occupy or the Indignados – or, one should perhaps say: the representation of political action tout court – an important role is reserved for telling stories about actors and their deeds. “Stories” or “narratives” are not the same as ideologies, discourses, “frames” or “memes,” although these are always partly constructed out of stories. As social movement theorist Franscesca Polletta argues, the difference is that stories have “beginnings, middles and ends […] it is difficult to say where a frame begins and ends, or what is not ideology.”2 Thus, with “storytelling” I neither refer to our daily use of language, nor to political rhetoric in general, but to the specific role that the telling of “a story” fulfils within such practices. Another difference between “stories” and “frames, ideologies, and discourses”, Polletta stresses, is that the latter terms are “defined by analysts rather than the people who produce or act on them.” The difference is that “most people know when they are telling a story”3; it is something we consciously do, for a wide range of reasons and purposes. What I am referring to here, in a way is closer to “bedtime stories” or “sitting around the campfire,” rather than to the construction of a political discourse. The fact that we may not associate this kind of “storytelling” with politics, I will argue, is precisely the problem.

1

Mathijs van de Sande, PhD student Research in Political Philosophy Leuven (RIPPLE), Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven (Belgium) email: mathijs.vandesande@hiw.kuleuven.be address: Andreas Vesaliusstraat 2, box 3225, BE-3000 Leuven (room 02.57) tel: 003216328895 2 F. Poletta, It Was Like a Fever; storytelling in protest and politics, 2006, Chicago (University of Chicago Press), p. 8 3 idem

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Reader

In the following, I will be making three points: first, with the help of Hannah Arendt, I will argue that there is a difference between acting politically and telling a story, and that to make any political change possible, both are immensely important. We (that is: “Occupiers” and their sympathisers as much as leftist sceptics) have been mixing up these two roles, even though there may be good reasons not to do so. After this, I will briefly discuss the reliance of the hegemonic right on the art of storytelling, and hence what could be learned from them. Even though the right should serve as an example in this regard, I will finally argue that if we want to tell the story of movements like Occupy, we may be in need of a different narrative form altogether. The actor and the storyteller In one scene from Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider” the three main characters are camping around a fire, discussing the mistrust and prejudice with which Billy (Hopper) and Wyatt (Fonda) are met by the local population. Billy assumes everyone is simply scared of the young roamers, but their pickup George Hanson (Nicholson) has a different view: “Oh, they’re not scared of you; they’re scared of what you represent to ‘em.” Billy, not the smartest character in the film, then replies: “Hey man, all we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.”4 Billy’s reaction is exemplary for how many activists of the recent protest movement must have seen themselves. Of course, they fully understood that they represented more than somebody who needs a haircut. But what they did not see, perhaps, is that how an actor and her acts are perceived and appreciated, is far beyond the control of the actor herself. What political actors do (or intend to do), and what they and their acts come to stand for are two entirely different things. For the actor, however, that is not always acceptable. Both in movements like Occupy and its anarchist and alterglobalist predecessors, the idea that “I only represent myself” indeed is widespread. It is the principle of “propaganda by the deed”; the political act is not in need of translation, it does not need to be mediated, as its implicit message will be recognised and understood – if not by everyone, then at least by its intended audience. If to the rest, all I represent is somebody who needs a haircut – well, too bad for them. My problem is not that many of today’s most prominent political actors think of themselves this way, but rather that the critics mentioned earlier tend to agree with them. Occupy and the Indignados are blamed for not having a good story to tell. “What were these movements origins and objectives,” critics ask, “what did they actually do and why,” and, most importantly: “what did they eventually accomplish?” My question however is: who should be telling this story in the first place? Should it really be – only and exclusively – the actors themselves? According to Hannah Arendt it is not the actor’s task to tell the story of her deeds. Au contraire: Arendt draws a rather rigid distinction between those who act, and those who tell their stories. In her account, actors cannot be expected to understand the depth and meaning of their own deeds. Action, Arendt argues, “reveals itself fully only to the storyteller, that is, to the backward glance of the historian, who indeed

4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc11mJGre10

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Reader

always knows better what it was all about than the participants.”5 Why would this be the case? Other than this quoted fragment may suggest at first, Arendt frowns upon neither of these roles. The incompatibility of these two perspectives rather follows from Arendt’s conceptualization of the political act. In Arendt’s understanding political action always takes place without a pre-set plan. Political acts, Arendt argues, are qualitatively different from processes of “making”. “Making” or “work” is “determined in categories of means and ends”: it is a goaldirected process that has an end, both in the sense that it leads to a finalized product, and in the sense that the process ends, so to speak, in this product.6 To “make” something is pointless if one does not already have in mind what is to be made. And, moreover, the main criterion to evaluate the process of making is the extent to which its product resembles the initial design. The act, however, can have neither a “design” nor a “product”, it does not leave behind something tangible or durable. The political act is radically open-ended: “The reason why we are never able to foretell with certainty the outcome and end of any action is simply that action has no end. The process of a single deed can quite literally endure throughout time until mankind itself has come to an end.”7 In this sense, Arendt’s conceptualisation of the act comes remarkably close to an anarchist understanding of political action that characterised the Occupy movement. Occupy-activist and anarchist academic David Graeber, for instance, refers to the movement’s practice as the “prefiguration” of a radical alternative. An idea central to Occupy’s experimental politics, Graeber argues, is that “the form of [their] action should itself offer a model, or at the very least a glimpse of how free people might organize themselves, and therefore what a free society could be like.”8 The word “prefiguration” may falsely suggest that one strives to implement a certain “blueprint” prior to its realisation on a bigger scale, but that is precisely not what contemporary anarchists mean by it.9 It is rather an experimental process, in which one aims to “mirror” means and ends within the political practice itself. Prefiguration largely revolves around the question what exactly is its objective, and hypothetical answers to this question remain to be challenged and reformulated throughout the process. Prefigurative action thus is open-ended in the Arendtian sense; it neither follows a pre-set design, nor does any finalised “product” result from it, nor can one imagine it to “end” somewhere, so to speak. 5

H. Arendt, The Human Condition, 1998 (2nd edition), Chicago (University of Chicago Press), p. 192. Arendt goes on as follows: “All accounts told by the actors themselves, though they may in rare cases give an entirely trustworthy statement of intentions, aims, and motives, become mere useful source material in the historian’s hands and can never match his story in significance and truthfulness. What the storyteller narrates must necessarily be hidden for the actor himself, at least as long as he is in the act or caught in its consequences, because to him the meaningfulness of his act is not in the story that follows. Even though stories are the inevitable results of action, it is not the actor but the storyteller who “makes” the story.” Note that “makes” here is put between quotation marks, which suggests that Arendt means something different from the process of “making” that she describes as “work.” 6 idem, p. 143 7 idem, p.233 8 D. Graeber, The Democracy Project; a history, a crisis, a movement, 2013, London (Allen Lane), p. 233 9 “When has social change ever happened according to someone’s blueprint?” Graeber, p. 282

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This prefigurative perspective on political action may shed some light on Arendt’s reason to rigidly separate the role of the storyteller from that of the actor. Narratives simply need to follow a certain structural pattern, and although they do not need to be told in chronologic order, stories always have a plot, a beginning, and an end. Compared to that, political action in itself is a rather unordered, complex mash of different relations, facts, events, experiences, motivations and consequences. For a story to be told and retold, however, it needs to be more than a mere summing up of facts or data, Arendt stresses: “Reality is different from, and more than, the totality of facts and events, which, anyhow, is unascertainable. Who says what is […] always tells a story, and in this story the particular facts lose their contingency and acquire some humanly comprehensible meaning.”10 So whereas in prefigurative action the end or how it is envisioned remains to be questioned, problematized and reformulated, narrative structures demand for a certain end or outcome. It is only retrospectively that one can ascribe a certain unity or structure to the political act. By relating different events or acts with each other, by amplifying and emphasizing certain aspects and by articulating a language that grants a meaning to these different elements, the storyteller creates a unity, lays out a pattern which was implicitly present, but not always perceptible in the “naked” facts themselves. As the Italian feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero argues, “[t]he significance of the story lies precisely in the figural unity of the design, and in this simple ‘resulting,’ which does not follow from any projected plan.” 11 Cavarero therefore stresses that “[t]he figure, the unity of the design […] – if it comes – only comes afterwards.”12 Prefigurative action, I conclude, thus is not only prefigurative in the sense that it may foreshadow alternative forms of political organisation, but also in the sense that it precedes the “figurative” process in which a “unity” or “design” is retrospectively given to the initial act. This - the retrospective creation of such a “unity” or “design” is the role of the storyteller. Let us get back to the recent protest movements and their critics. One could object, of course, that I am putting the world on its head. Am I seriously suggesting that the strategy and demands of a political movement or an account of their accomplishments can and should be formulated afterwards? Not quite. Movements like Occupy or the Indignados obviously did try to formulate a certain agenda, they did make political demands. But as the on-going debate on these demands and how to articulate them was an important and inherent aspect of their 10

H. Arendt, Between Past and Future ; Eight exercises in political thought, 2006, London and New York (Penguin), p. 257 11 A. Cavarero, Relating Narratives; Storytelling and selfhood, 2000, London and New York (Routledge), p.1 12 Cavarero, p. 144 Note that Cavarero only critically uses the word “prefiguration”: “The uniqueness of the existent has no need of a form that plans or contains it. Rooted in the unmasterable flux if a constitutive exposition, she is saved from the bad habit of prefiguring herself, and from the vice of prefiguring the lives of others.” In her account, the concept of prefiguration seems to have different connotations than in the way it is used by most contemporary anarchist authors.

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political practice itself, and given the pluriformity, heterogeneousness and horizontalism that characterised these movements, it is unlikely that they could have presented a univocal and comprehensive agenda. As its origins lay in prefigurative action, no-one “writes” a political story; “nobody is its author.”13 The storyteller only articulates a certain unity that has remained implicit in the act. But then the next question of course would be: how to do that? How to tell the story of these and other social movements or moments of upheaval, in a time when such stories will inevitably be at odds with the hegemonic (reactionary) discourse? On the one hand, I think we should look more closely to how the right has been increasingly successful at telling its story. For not only are they strikingly effective in presenting their own agenda as “the only game in town,” but storytelling in particular plays a significant role in their discursive strategies. First and foremost, it should be stressed that the right prefers storytelling over the fetishization of critique that has been the Left’s core business in the past decades. For example, whereas from the start, many left-wing academics and journalists met Occupy with great scepticism, it would be unthinkable for its rightwing counterpart in the US – the Tea Party – to have a comparable reception among its intellectual supporters. The success of this Tea Party, moreover, is largely based on its ability to present itself as the heir of a typically American political tradition. In the same fashion, the new right in the Netherlands eagerly depicts the Dutch as a “trading nation”, invoking images of a “Golden Age” or of successful entrepreneurial “sea-heroes.”14 Unlike many progressives, right-wing writers, academics and artists are perfectly aware that politics is about more than exchanging arguments or producing a convincing and implementable political agenda. It is also a matter of telling inspiring and engaging stories, and of showing how these stories relate to oneself as a political agent. But of course, even though we may take them as an example, we are not the same as the hegemonic right, and hence our stories may be in need of a different narrative form altogether. The prefigurative account of political action given above might not be compatible with the strong appeal to tradition or “origins” that characterises the stories of the right. If we want to tell the story of movements like Occupy or the Indignados, we may need a more open-ended and less mythologizing narrative. Ironically, it is a renowned conservative thinker who offers us an interesting alternative. In On Human Conduct Michael Oakeshott draws a distinction between two narrative forms. To understand a substantive performance in which an agent discloses and enacts himself is to put it into a story in which it is recognized to be an occurrence contingently related to other occurrences. Such a story does not open with the unconditional, ‘In the beginning…’ but with a conditional, ‘Once upon a time…’. And it has no unconditional conclusion; its end is the beginning of another story.15

13

Arendt, The Human Condition, p. 184 It goes without saying that the significant role that these “sea heroes” (such as Michiel de Ruyter or the VOC) played in slave trade or corporal warfare is carefully left out of the picture. 15 M. Oakeshott, On Human Conduct, 1975, Oxford (Clarendon Press), p. 105 14

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Oakeshott explains that such “Once upon a time –stories” have “no over-all meaning.” Of course, Oakeshott admits, these stories could be used “to point a moral, to serve as an authority for future conduct, to teach its hearers how to perform actions likely to have wished-for outcomes, to assure them of a golden destiny, or to reconcile them to an unhappy fate.” In that case, however, the storyteller is constructing a myth, rather than telling a story.16 In Oakeshott’s reading, to bestow such a meaning or potency on the “Once upon a time- story” is to take away its most essential characteristic: that it approaches the act as an occurrence rather than an outcomeoriented process. Bonnie Honig argues convincingly that “we need not accept [Oakeshott’s] implication that the choice is between good stories and bad myths. […] Most narratives have elements of myth and story”. 17 But the point of making this distinction for us here, is that the story of movements like Occupy or the Indignados may indeed be at odds with the narrative form of “In the beginning…” – stories that the dominant right-wing discourse has accustomed us to. As long as we hold on to a narrative structure that forces the political act and our understanding of it into the straitjacket of “outcomes”, “traditions” or “origins,” it may indeed be hard to convincingly tell a story about these recent protest movements. But if we instead acknowledge that the stories of these movements deserve to be told in their own right, instead of solely by the grace of their outcomes, the “Once upon a time”- narrative may indeed offer a sound alternative. Moreover, as much as Occupy could not be expected to bring about immediate change in a world dominated by the right, left-wing attempts to mythologise these movement’s “achievements” are not likely to be very successful either. So in spite of all the strategic objections that could be raised against Occupy or the Indignados, we should also acknowledge the political necessity to tell their stories. Those who spend all their time and energy criticising these movements for lacking a good story to tell, should have known better.

16

idem B. Honig, Emergency Politics; Paradox, Law, Politics, 2009, Princeton (Princeton University Press), p. 37

17

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veranderingen"teweeg"brengen."Wij"(de"kinderen"van"de"jaren"tachtig"en" negentig,"de"‘nullen’)"hebben"niets.’"Judt"beschrijft"hoe"hij"en"zijn" generatiegenoten"in"een"tijdperk"leefden"van"de"‘zelfverzekerde"en"radicale" dogma’s’."Een"toon"die"hij"nu"als"‘op"niets"gebaseerde"arrogantie’"beschrijft." Volgens"Judt"zijn"de"jongeren"van"nu"onzekerder."Ze"weten"dat"er"iets"mis"is,"zijn" bezorgd"over"de"wereld"die"ze"erven,"maar"tegelijkertijd"weten"ze"niet"wat"ze" moeten"doen"of"waar"ze"in"moeten"geloven."" " Het"gevoel"dat"er"iets"mis"is,"maar"niet"weten"wat"je"eraan"kan"doen,"herken"ik."" Ik"voel"me"regelmatig"machteloos"als"ik"de"krant"lees"of"als"ik"zelf"een"stuk" schrijf."Is"het"wel"genoeg?"Verandert"het"überhaupt"iets?"Het"is"vreemd"dat"we," nu"we"door"de"digitalisering"beschikking"hebben"tot"zeeën"aan"informatie,"we" niet"in"actie"komen."Sterker"nog;"de"hoeveelheid"aan"informatie"lijkt"ons"te" verlammen."Niets"is"meer"eenduidig,"alles"is"meerledig"en"complex."Met"een"druk" op"de"knop"kom"je"erachter"dat"de"wereld"niet"in"goed"en"kwaad,"zwart"of"wit"en" rechts"of"links"in"te"delen"is."Dat"maakt"verzet"haast"onmogelijk."Want"voor" verzet"moet"je"ergens"volledig"in"geloven."Bereid"zijn"om"door"vuur"te"gaan"of,"in" het"meest"extreme"geval,"je"leven"ervoor"te"geven."Het"type"mens"dat"dat"soort" dingen"tegenwoordig"doet"en"beweert,"wordt"gezien"als"terrorist."Als"een"kwaal" waar"de"samenleving"niet"mee"gediend"is,"maar"vanaf"moet."" " Verzet$begint$met$een$droom" Toch"voelt"verzet"meer"dan"ooit"als"nodig."Verzet"om"ruimte"te"scheppen"in"ons" huidige"systeem"en"na"te"denken"over"de"toekomst."Volgens"schrijver"Mark" Fisher"is"het"echter"makkelijker"voor"mensen"om"zich"het"einde"van"de"wereld" voor"te"stellen"dan"een"alternatief"op"het"kapitalisme."We"zullen"onszelf"dus" moeten"trainen"in"het"verbeelden"en"ruimtes"durven"creëren"waar"je"kan" nadenken"over"alternatieven."" " Een"van"die"potentiële"plekken"is"het"theater"en"de"kunsten"in"het"algemeen."In" de"21ste"eeuw"wordt"kunst"vaak"als"‘ontsnapping’"aan"ons"drukke"leven"en" dagelijkse"sleur"gepresenteerd,"maar"je"zou"ook"kunnen"pleiten"voor"het" tegenovergestelde."De"verbeelding"van"een"fictieve"wereld"als"oefening"in"het" nadenken"over"reële"alternatieven"naast"de"werkelijkheid."Kunst"als" mogelijkheid"om"‘dingen"te"scheppen"tegen"alle"destructieve"krachten"in’,"zo" beschrijft"politicoloog"Achille"Mbembe"het." " Misschien"denk"je"nu:"leuk"bedacht,"maar"te"romantisch"en"bovendien"veels"te" naïef."Toch"komt"het"meeste"verzet"voort"uit"een"geloof"in"een"idee"of"een"droom." Een"idee"ergens"onderdeel"van"te"zijn"–"vaak"een"denkbeeldige"gemeenschap"of" ideologie."Kijk"naar"verzetshelden"zoals"Ulrike"Meinhof."Zij"zei:"‘Protest"ist,"wenn" ich"sage,"das"und"das"passt"mir"nicht."Widerstand"ist,"wenn"ich"dafür"sorge,"dass" das,"was"mir"nicht"passt,"nicht"länger"geschieht.’"Meinhof"verbeeldde"een"fictieve" wereld"naast"de"bestaande"en"als"die"niet"overeenkwam,"dan"greep"ze"in."" " Na"haar"dood"was"de"wereld"in"dubio:"was"dit"een"terrorist"of"een"idealist?"Zoals" zo"vaak"is"het"antwoord"op"deze"vraag"niet"eenduidig."Belangrijker"is"dat"we"ons" beseffen"dat"op"het"moment"dat"we"stoppen"met"verbeelden,"we"ook"stoppen" met"dromen."En"een"mens"zonder"droom,"hoe"groot"of"klein"ook,"is"richtingloos." "

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En"een"richtingloze"massa"is"destructiever"voor"een"samenleving"dan"wat"dan" ook.""

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De curator als eco-logicus1 '...het vinden van een kader, een timing of een situatie waarbinnen suggesties van anderen kunnen worden gerealiseerd.' tom plischke 2 De curator in de podiumkunsten is vaak in hetzelfde bedje ziek als de dramaturg in de dans: niemand weet eigenlijk precies wat hij/zij doet, hoe zijn praktijk zich onderscheidt van die van een programmator, wat nu precies de link is met de curator in de beeldende kunsten, of waarom er nu eigenlijk precies een curator nodig is in de podiumkunsten tout court. In deze tekst wil ik graag dieper ingaan op de figuur van de artiest-curator: de kunstenaar die zijn eigen praktijk ontwikkelt als creator van omgevingen voor andere kunstenaars, als de facilitator van een werkplek voor een samenwerkingsproject dat de grenzen van de eigen productie ver overschrijdt. 1 De artiest-curator was (en is in vele gevallen nog steeds) een Fremdkörper in het podiumlandschap. In plaats van een individuele praktijk die zijn naam op de programmator-agenda plaatst, ontwikkelt hij (tijdelijk) een collaboratieve praxis, die ver buiten de lijntjes van het eigen productieproces kleurt. De artiest-curator ontstond waarschijnlijk in reactie op het landschap zoals het zich in de jaren 1980 had ontwikkeld: de instituten die waren gecreëerd om tegemoet te komen aan de productienoden van een generatie autonome artiesten met een duidelijke voorstellingsagenda. In samenspraak met die artiesten ontstond toen een particuliere manier van programmeren, waarin productie en spreiding centraal stond. Op het eind van de jaren 1990 en aan het begin van het millenium begint dit systeem barstjes te vertonen. Veel artiesten voelen zich niet langer thuis in het model van deze instituten, en denken ook anders over de positie van de kunstenaar. Tegelijkertijd staat er ook een nieuwe generatie programmatoren op, die zijn eigen logica en de autonomie van hun discipline in vraag stellen, en op zoek gaan naar een andere programmatielogica binnen hun huizen. In die periode beginnen een aantal rollen te vervagen: programmator en artiest gaan een andere verhouding aan, maar ook de relatie tussen verschillende kunstenaars onderling verlegt zich langzaam van een autonome praktijk naar meer complexe samenwerkingsverbanden waarin de rollen onderling transfunctioneel worden: regisseur, performer, productieverantwoordelijke, ..., al deze rollen kunnen beurtelings worden opgenomen binnen één en dezelfde (tijdelijke) groepsconstellatie. Er dient zich een nieuwe programmeringsfilosofie aan die noties introduceert als kwetsbaarheid, risico en onvolkomenheid. Tegelijkertijd zijn ook de 'relational esthetics' van Bourriaud uit de beeldende kunsten naar de podiumkunsten overgewaaid, die zich in de podiumpraktijk zullen vertalen als een meer ecologische omgang met de tijd en plaats die gedeeld wordt door performers,'spectactors', toeschouwers en de weerbarstige (kunst)objecten waarmee ze worden geconfronteerd. Een goed voorbeeld van een dergelijk initiatief was het performance event van BDC/Tom Plischke and Friends, georganiseerd in de BSBbis in 2001: 10 dagen lang was de BSB 24/24u open voor initatieven van een groep van zo'n 60 artiesten. De agenda lag grotendeels open, en toeschouwers konden ervoor kiezen om de nacht door te brengen in situ, deel te nemen aan discussies, voorstellingen te zien, enz... Dit project introduceerde heel wat van de elementen die in de volgende 10 jaar een belangrijke rol zullen spelen in het herdenken van de notie van curatorschap in de podiumkunsten, en de rol van de artiest-curator. Maar het gaf ook een aanzet voor het re-creëren van de kunstencentra en de andere instituten, door het binnenbrengen van afwijkende praktijken binnen hun

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programmatieterritorium, een anders denken over samen-zijn en het gedeelde sociale gebeuren dat zowel performers en toeschouwers als het hele institutionele kader omvatte, en zich niet beperkte tot de geprogrammeerde events of voorstellingen. Het belangrijkste in dit project was precies het samenkomen van verschillende sociale lichamen: de uitgenodigde kunstenaars die 24/24 aanwezig waren in de BSB, de grotere groep van mensen die meededen aan de workshops en discussies, en de 'normale' toeschouwersgroep die rond voorstellingstijd opdaagde. De 'curator' zelf was naar curator-normen bijzonder weinig zichtbaar. In tegenstelling tot de cliché-voorstelling van de curator, zoals we die kennen uit de beeldende kunsten, waarbij het curateren een artistiek gebaar op zich is, dat in diezelfde logica dus ook wordt (h)erkend en ondertekend, stond hier een heel ander type curator op. Eén die zijn centrale functie links liet liggen, en enkel het kader ontwikkelde waarin verschillende initiatieven zich een plek konden veroveren. Enkel de tijd en de situatie waren bepaald, de invulling lag geheel open. Met andere woorden: het curateren ging niet zozeer over het creëren van een agenda (zoals de programmator zou doen) maar over de negotiatie van het format van de agenda in het gebeuren zelf. Wat zich in deze 10 dagen (van 24/24u toegankelijkheid) toonde waren de voortdurende verschuivende grenzen tussen 'performance' en 'alledaagsheid', tussen sociale rituelen en performatief werk, tussen productietijd en voorstellingstijd, tussen 'gevulde' en 'lege' tijd. De taak van de curator is in dit geval niet langer het samenbrengen van kunstwerken, waardoor vanuit dit samenzijn verschillende resonanties en echo's zouden ontstaan, het herdenken van het ene werk doorheen het andere, het nadenken over verschillen en herhalingen, maar ook het creëren van openingen en zwakke momenten in het curateren, het toelaten van kwetsbaarheid en 'lege momenten' als volwaardig deel van de ervaring. Het belang van deze curator-positie (en het is niet toevallig een curator-positie ingenomen door de artiest zelf) is dat ze een duidelijke afstand inbouwt tegenover de machts- en controlestrategieën van het reguliere veld. Zo'n vorm van werken brengt heel wat risico mee, en stelt op deze manier niet alleen het auteurschap van de artiest-curator in vraag, maar ook de marktwaarde van het artistiek product. Tom Plischke: De utopie bestaat er wellicht niet in om een tijdelijke gemeenschap of communitas te creëren. Veeleer gaat het erom dat als we samenkomen voor een voorstelling, ieder momentaan gecreëerd element een onderdeel is van het sociaal of communicatief systeem dat wij tezamen maken. Als je dat vanuit Luhmanns systeemtheorie bekijkt, weet je dat er alleen die momentane elementen zijn en er niet ook nog zoiets als een achterliggend systeem is. De mogelijkheid van mislukking, dus zwakheid, is er dan wanneer je niet langer weet wanneer je de grond onder je voeten zal verliezen. Daar is het mij om te doen - om het introduceren van de overtuiging dat het systeem waarvoor het publiek betaalt en dat performers en publiek feitelijk tezamen creëren, er tegelijkertijd ook niet is. 2 Curateren als institutionele prothese en kritiek Om dit soort curateren en zelfs de latere 'institutionalisering' van deze vormen van curatorschap te begrijpen, is het misschien interessant om nog even terug te keren naar de jaren 1980 en de scene zoals ze toen was. In deze jaren waren de kunstencentra ontstaan, en later ook gesubsidiëerde werkplaatsen voor artistieke productie en onderzoek. Maar met de nieuwe generaties kunstenaars groeide ook de noodzaak om de disciplinaire grenzen te verleggen op een radicalere manier dan tot dan toe gangbaar was. De vraag naar een meer 'holistisch' denken over kunstpraktijk en discoursontwikkeling stak de kop op, en de bestaande instituties waren niet altijd de meest ideale plekken om productieparamters en

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disciplinegrenzen in vraag te stellen. Veel van deze plekken hadden aan het begin van het millenium hun specifieke versie van cyclische programmatie uitgebouwd, gekoppeld aan een jaarprogramma en abonnenmentsservice. Voor de nieuwe generaties artiesten die zich niet langer wilden inpassen in de institutionele agena's was het belangrijk om nieuwe werkvormen te exploreren. En tegelijkertijd was er, zoals gezegd, ook een nieuwe generatie programmatoren die hun eigen huizen van binnen uit wilden openbreken om opnieuw plaats te maken voor de kunstenaars van dat moment. In dit middenveld vinden programmator en kunstenaar mekaar: in het verlangen van de programmator om opnieuw een uitdaging in te bouwen in het systeem, en in de nood van de kunstenaar om de programmatielogica van het subsidiesysteem (eerste een werkplaats-residentie, dan wachten tot je (niet) opgepikt wordt door de kunstencentra, ...) te doorbreken. Deze gedeelde vraag ontwikkelde zich tot een solidariteitsbeweging binnen de kunstenaarsgemeenschap die uitmondde in verschillende initiatieven die, elk op hun manier, de logica van de kunstmarkt probeerden te omzeilen. Een voorbeeld is 'Praticable', een initiatief uit 2005 van Alice Chauchat, Frédéric de Carlo, Frédéric Gies, Isabelle Schad and Odile Seitz, als antwoord op de programmatorlogica. Het 'open collectief' deelt enkel maar een fysieke praktijk (BMC) van waaruit elk van de leden zijn/haar eigen werk kan ontwikkelen, wel of niet in samenwerking met (één van) de anderen. Interessant is dat telkens wanneer één van het geprogrammeerd wordt, zij automatisch zelf een voorprogramma van 20 minuten van één van hun collega's programmeren. Het curatoriële aspect hier heeft opnieuw niets te maken met inhoud, of een bepaalde esthetiek, maar alles met het reclameren van de fundamentele productiemechanismen van de podiumsector. In België zijn veel van deze initiatieven vaak verbonden aan institutionele initiatieven. In deze context gaat het vaker om een her-verdeling van het institutionele kader: de artiest-curator neemt zijn positie in binnen één of meer kunstenhuizen, en herverdeelt dan de middelen die tot zijn beschikking staan over een grotere groep genetwerkte kunstenaars en denkers. Het is een manier van werken die bijvoorbeeld expliciet ondersteund wordt door een werkplaats als nadine (www.nadine.be) in Brussel, die hun huis en (deel van het)budget voor zes maanden ter beschikking stellen van artiest-curator die in deze tijd een zelfstandige werking kan ontwikkelen, en andere artiesten kan uitnodigen, met occasionele publieke momenten voor gevariëerde groepen geïnteresserden: deelnemers of toeschouwers, wel of niet betrokken. In mijn werk met kunstenaars deze laatste jaren is er één opmerking die steeds blijft terug komen: ze willen 'ontsnappen' aan de institutionele logica die hen passief maakt, die hen veroordeelt tot afwachten, hopen te worden 'opgepikt', te worden gekozen, die hen vraagt om door alle voorgeschreven stappen te gaan om een 'erkend' artiest te worden. Velen van hen hebben geen ambitie om 'dat soort' artiest te worden, omdat ze zich nu precies bezig houden met het herschrijven van de regels van artistiek auteurschap in complexe vormen van gedeelde en/of collaboratieve praktijk die sowieso buiten de lijntjes van het programmatiestysteem vallen. Maar ze willen zich ook niet opsluiten binnen de logica van een subsidiesysteem, vooral niet omdat dat systeem met de jaren steeds meer lijkt op losse schroeven te staan. In het laatste jaar vielen er mij twee initiatieven op, waar ik vanop de zijlijn bij betrokken was. Een eerste project werd ontwikkeld door radical_hope3 in het kader van een residentie bij werkplaats Les Bains onder het thema DIY (Do it Yourself). DIY werd georganiseerd in de lokalen van Micromarché, een marktplaats voor alternatieve handel in het centrum van Brussel. radical_hope ontwikkelde in deze context het project 'Changing Room - rehearsals for a changing world': een open ruimte met

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minimaal basic materiaal dat naar keuze kon worden omgebouwd tot een discussietuimte, party-plek, bibliotheek, keuken, ... De Changing Room stond open voor gebruik door om het even welke groep of individu voor maximum één dag. Het is een project dat de ruimte cureert, opnieuw zonder vooropgestelde eisen aan het gebruik ervan. De logica is langs de ene kant eenvoudig, maar drukt ook duidelijk de veranderde positie van de kunstenaar uit in de huidige context:'We often spend an exaggerated time debating and lamenting on how the subsidiary system develops. We argue with ministers who can't understand entirely what we are busy with, however skilled we have become meanwhile in expressing our positions and intentions. I'm not able to support this drive any longer. We need time to work and Do It Ourselves. Not having but taking the time to work.... Achievements are by-products and they don't need our attention. Our achievements should enable a continuation,... should be changeable. They should be in motion like vehicles. Today's monuments do not need to impress a tszar that is no longer there - and is no longer needed'4. 'Changing Room' is geen artistiek project tout court, maar stelt de context van artistieke productie in vraag, op de snijlijn tussen sociale praxis en de creatie van verandering. radical_hope is niet zozeer een autonoom artiest, als wel een attitude, een positie in een samenleving, een katalysator voor verandering, die uitnodigt tot initiatief, die een ander perspectief opent, andere mogelijkheden schept. In de Changing Room, zoals die gebruikt werd in Micromarché, kwamen ook verschillende sociale groepen samen: de artistieke genetwerkte gemeenschap, de alternatieve handelaars, voorbijgangers die naar de markt kwamen, buurtbewoners die werden uitgenodigd voor de diners. De Changing Room zelf functioneerde in dit samenkomen als een soort 'middle ground', als een neutrale zone voor ontmoeting, die tegelijkertijd karakter heeft maar niet domineert, die open staat voor alle gebruik (in dit geval was het meubilair ontwikkeld uit houten paletten zoals je die overal in het huis maar ook in de omliggende straten vindt). In die zin is Changing Room bij uitstek een contextueel initiatief, een ecologisch project dat door de subtiele verschuiving van één of meer parameters (de introductie van een ander ruimte-gebruik binnen MicroMarché, van een ander principe van waarde en ruil in de markt, van een niet-exclusieve uitnodigingspraktijk tussen verschillende sociale groepen,...) een alternatief in denken en handelen zichtbaar en ervaarbaar maakt. Changing Room is dan ook uitgenodigd op het volgende Burning Ice-festival van het Kaaitheater, waaruit opnieuw het verlangen spreekt van programmator en artiest om de uitnodiging los te wrikken uit zijn exclusieve één-op-één kader tussen het instituut en de sector. Een ander initatief is één van de 6 maand-residentieprojecten ontwikkeld in nadine: Dominokingdom van Adva Zakai5 en Miriam Rohde. In dit project worden mensen (artiesten en niet-artiesten) uitgenodigd om te reageren op het werk van andere makers volgens het dominoprincipe: het ene werk produceert het andere, elk werk moet voortbouwen op één dat het vooraf gaat. In verschillende 'channels' worden nieuwe lijnen van 'repetition et différence' uitgezet, die telkens weer publiek worden gepresenteerd. De artiest-curatoren proberen zich strikt aan de regels te houden: zij voorzien de structuur en het huis, maar maken geen 'artistieke' of esthetische keuzes uit het aanbod. Dominokingdom stelt uiteraard veel vragen bij de rol van de curator: op het moment dat die zijn stabiele positie van 'specialist' opgeeft, en zich transformeert tot 'host', begeeft hij zich op wankel terrein. Meer dan een curator van kunstwerken wordt hij de curator van 'temporary communities': van tijdelijke bijeenkomsten van verschillende sociale groepen, maar ook van de ruimte voor generositeit en aandacht, van de objecten die dit mogelijk maken (zoals de 'soep' die van channel naar channel wordt

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meegenomen), van sociale strategieën en uitnodigingen. De curator komt niet langer met een discours, maar laat het discours ontstaan vanuit de praktijk van de voorstellen. Er is geen vooropgestelde ideologie, thema of agenda. De curator probeert niet langer te overtuigen, maar te luisteren naar de collectiviteit die zich telkens opnieuw aandient. In die zin krijgt het curateren opnieuw zijn oude betekenis terug van gastvrijheid, van het 'zorgen voor' de genetwerkte gemeenschap. Maar de curator creëert ook een nieuw paradigma voor de her-verdeling van aandacht, van waarde, van uitwisseling. De artiest-curator claimt zijn kwetsbaarheid door het aanbieden van een leeg kader waarin mensen kunnen werken, en stuurt een (lege) uitnodiging de wereld in, met de onduidelijke premisse of wat binnen dit project gebeurt dan ook als zijn/haar werk kan gelden of niet. Een andere interessante vraag die zich stelt in Dominokingdom is de vraag naar archivering: wat hier ontstaat is een soort voortdurend, levend archief. Geen documenten als naslagwerk, maar artistiek werk als enig mogelijk referentiepunt voor de ontwikkeling van nieuw werk. Ook in deze context verschuift onze perceptie van de waarde van het kunstwerk: het werk is op zich niet waardevol omwille van zijn artistieke kwaliteiten (alleen) maar omwille van zijn positie binnen de context waarin het is gemaakt. Hoe verhoudt dit werk zich tot zijn voorganger waarop het is geïnspireerd (verleden) en hoe sterk werkt het als uitnodiging voor een volgende 'generatie' makers (toekomst). In Dominokingdom ontiwikkelt zich met andere woorden in het moment zelf een archief dat altijd op weg is naar de toekomst, dat steeds vooruit wijst naar een mogelijk nieuwe constellatie van interesses en betrokkenheden. 3. Wat we zien gebeuren in de performance scene is een transitie van het curateren van de kunstenaars, over het curateren van kunstwerken (zoals het ook gebeurde in de Klapstukfestivals 2003 en 2005 onder curatorschap van Jerôme Bel, die in een kranteninterveiw het hele festival claimde als zijn persoonlijk kunstwerk), naar het curateren van de ruimte, van een sociaal lichaam, gedeeld door artiesten, toeschouwers en kunstobjecten. Een ruimte in voortdurende staat van overleg en transformatie, onder de voortdurende dreiging om te imploderen aan de ene kant, of op te lossen in de spectaculaire, makkelijk te verteren festivalitis van de kunsten aan de andere. Het een ruimte die tijd en aandacht vraagt voor het bepalen van een eigen positie: als deel van het geheel, als buitenstaander, als geëngeerde (actieve of passieve) deelnemer. Een ruimte die de al te gemakkelijke rolverdeling tussen kunstenaar, programmator, toeschouwer of criticus overbrugt. Een bijzonder voorbeeld van deze manier van curateren waren de twee In Transit-festivals van André Lepecki in het Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlijn. Hoewel er in dit geval wel duidelijk sprake was van een discours-stempel - gekleurd door (neo)postkoloniale performance thema's, en dus in geen geval de lege doos voor tijdelijke gemeenschap en uitwisseling zoals in vorige gevallen - was de creatie van een open huis voor discussie binnen het zwaar institutionele kader van de architectuur van het Haus, een bevestiging van de rol van de curator als katalysator van sociale dynamiek. Het was een voorbeeld van de manier waarop zelf binnen de muren van het instituut de regels zover kunnen worden gebogen dat er een subtiele grond ontstaat voor inter-actief denken en werken. Kunstenaars en theoretici, labstudenten en critici deelden dezelfde ruimte voor langere tijd, voor discussies, concerten, party's, barbecue in de tuin, werken en performances, en doorbraken op die manier het festivalkader als consumentistisch hoogtepunt van het culturele jaar. In de plaats ontstond een andere, kwetsbare werkruimte die zich niet liet vangen onder de noemer van makkelijk gecreëerde kritische opposities. Een

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genereuze atmosfeer waarin een geëngageerd denken en werken werd ontwikkeld, dat bij elke draai stootte tegen het weerbarstige thema van het festival: de weerstand van het object. Als je dit thema interpreteert vanuit de postkoloniale context van het festival en de uitgesproken aanwezigheid in het debat van niet-Westerse kunstenaars en denkers, bleek het thema op zich al uitdagend genoeg zonder te hoeven vervallen in de al-te-bekende strategieën voor een 'interessante' discussie, die vaak niet verder gaan dan quoten en de artificiële creatie van oppositie. In-Transit was een voorbeeld van een 'eco-logische' benadering van curateren, een zorgvuldige evenwichtsoefening tussen de verschillende festivalelementen, de creatie van een kader voor de her-formulering van het sociale lichaam in voortdurende transformatie, en de instrumenten om de inspiratie en de stroom van kennis die werd ontwikkeld te kanaliseren naar de verschillende sub-interessegroepen van het festival. Wat dit festival anders maakte, was zijn 'attitude', de openheid die gecreëerd werd door de curator-keuzes in de verdeling van tijd en ruimte, van de nabijheid en aanspreekbaarheid van de verschillende groepen in de ruimte, van de aandacht voor het voedsel, de bibliotheek, de verschillende focuspunten van attentie. Op die manier werd het verschil tussen werken en kijken, theorie en performance, deelnemers en toeschouwers geminimaliseerd, zonder de uitdaging uit de weg te gaan. 4. Eco-logica van de curator In die zin zouden we een eco-logische vorm van curatorschap kunnen omschrijven als een 'interconnected series of parts, but not a fixed order of parts, for the order is always reworked in accordance with a certain 'freedom of choice' exercised by its actants'6. Het is een curatorschap dat zich toespitst op de ecologie van actanten binnen een bepaalde ruimte: niet alleen de mensen, maar ook de tijdelijke gemeenschap die er ontstaat op dat precieze momenten, tussen de mensen, de performances, de discussies, de objecten, de ervaringen die er zich in afspelen. In een dergelijke omgeving wordt van iedere partcipant een affectieve betrokken gevraagd, een bereidheid tot transformatie die in de situatie zelf wordt gegenereerd. Elke reactie op wat er gebeurt is in de constellatie van deze tijdelijke gemeenschap immers een mogelijke aanzet tot een andere, tot de vorming van een positie binnen de groep, tot het ontstaan van nieuwe posities en vragen. Of zoals John Dewey het verwoordt: any act is really only but an initiative that gives birth to a cascade of legitimate and bastard progeny: every action is a transaction. Dewey stelt dat het veld van politieke actie sowieso een soort ecologie inhoudt. Geen enkel lichaam is de eigenaar van zijn eigen initiatief, omdat het in voortdurende communicatie staat, in voortdurende affectieve betrokkenheid reageert om zijn omgeving. In de tijdelijke gemeenschap zien we voortdurende nieuwe 'publieken' ontstaan, kristalliseren, en weer oplossen in andere 'publieken'. Het is de kunst van de artiest-curator om hiervoor de plaats en de tijd te bieden. Nog volgens Dewey ontstaat elk publiek enkel in reactie tot een gezamelijk gepercipieerd probleem, en maar voor zo lang als dit probleem zijn aandacht vasthoudt. Het curateren van het publieke discours is in die zin dan ook geen doorgeven van waarheden, maar het scheppen van een publiek waar de 'problemen' zich, afhankelijk van de omgeving, omvormen tot (een fysiek of intellectueel) discours en opnieuw oplossen in tijdelijke perspectieven op het samenzijn. Opnieuw, niet alleen met de mondige aanwezigen, maar ook in dialoog met het instituut, met de wereld buiten het instituut, met de context, de materialen, de politieke onderstroom van het gebeuren, als een ecologie van belangen en betrachtingen. Zoals Bruno Latour het ziet, gaat het in politieke actie nooit om intentionele keuzes maar om de voortdurende actie en reactie tussen

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verschillende voorstellen en ervaringen, het gaat niet om het nemen van beslissingen maar om de 'fermentatie' van voorstellen en neigingen: acties die ontstaan uit het moment, niet uit een gepreformatterde keuze. Dus: als elk publiek ontstaat vanuit de acties en reacties van publieken die hen vooraf gaan, als elk publiek geaffecteerd wordt door de gelijktijdige ontwikkeling van andere publieken binnen dezelfde ruimte, dan moet er iemand zijn die zich specifiek met deze doorstroming van ideeën en consequenties bezig houdt. Iemand die deze doorstroming mogelijk maakt en inspireert, en dat is mogelijk de rol van de curator zoals die in bovenstaande voorbeelden tot leven komt. Maar, zoals Dewey ook terecht opmerkt: elk publiek is een eco-systeem, maar niet elk eco-systeem is democratisch. Het is een voortdurende opgave om niet te vergeten dat elke ontmoeting niet gaat om het bevestigen van de status quo maar om de mogelijkheid van een (tijdelijke) glitch in het systeem, een moment van potentiële verandering. In die zin zijn de kunsten nog steeds een effectieve affectieve repetitieruimte voor de samenleving. De plek waar wat gezetd en gezien, ervaren en verwoord kan worden, nog elke keer kan worden getransformeerd, herbeleefd en opnieuw geïnterpreteerd. Dus: als ik spreek over een anders begrijpen van de rol van curator, spreek ik over een zeer specifiek begrip van curateren. Een gedeeld curatorschap, dat vragen stelt van de rol van de auteur, en dat een onvoorzien en onvoorspelbaar potentieel voor het delen en uitwisselen van (artistieke) ervaringen mogelijk maakt. Een curatorschap dat de uitnodiging om de ecologie van het kunstensysteem van binnenuit te herdenken doorspeelt aan zijn participanten, zonder definitieve ideologische standpunten te introduceren of koppige kritische zekerheden. Een curatorschap niet zozeer als statement maar als de herverdeling van macht. Als een uitnodiging om de textuur van de sociale lichamen waartoe we behoren te herdenken. Een curateren van het nu, van het moment waarin het zich ontplooit.!

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The art of curating Michiel Vandevelde

Plea for a concerned curatorship About curatorship and artistry within the contemporary performing arts Within the domain of the visual arts many books and articles concerned with ‘curatorship’ have been published. Curators and theorists like Hans Ulrich Obristi, Carolee Theaii, Jens Hoffmanniii, Elena Filipoviciv contribute actively to the creation of a canon of curatingv. In the performing arts, however, the discourse around this topic is rather limited. Frackija, a magazine for performance art, raised awareness of this subject a couple of years ago in an edition titled Curating Performance Artvi . Every now and then, individual texts appear, but a thorough reflection on the subject seems to be lacking. Nonetheless, it remains important to question this position of the curator, certainly in the performing arts where the notion is slowly erasing other terms. The programmer, the artistic director, the manager, the producer all these terms are united and replaced by one that reflects our time: the curator. Harald Szeemann, a Swiss curator and acclaimed pioneer of the profession, organised an important edition of Documenta (a large exhibition organized every 5 years in Kassel, Germany) in 1972. This edition exemplified the growing tension between curators and artists. French conceptual artist Daniel Buren, who was invited to present a work, was very critical of the way Szeemann directed the exhibition. Buren wrote a now classic plea against the incorporation of artists’ work into the curator's grand concept, titled Exhibition of an exhibition?vii In 2004, almost 30 years later, he re-adressed this argument in a text with the prominent title Where are the artists?viii Boris Groys, art theorist, philosopher and curator, wrote a short text in 2006 titled Multiple Authorshipix. In this text, Groys describes how curatorship and artistry begin to merge around the rise of ‘installation art’. Installation art emerged in the 1960s, and usually consists of large, spatial artworks using various media (video, sound, internet) and different disciplines (performance, architecture, video work). In creating an installation, the artist will often select objects made by other artists or specialists (scientists, journalists, citizens) to be presented alongside works produced by the artist him or herself. Groys writes that“[t]he artist is

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primarily the curator of himself, because he selects himself. And he also selects others: other objects, other artists.”

The relation between artists and curators has been a terrain of constant tension ever since the sixties - a tension between the long history of the arts, and curatorship, whose history is yet to be written. Artists find themselves increasingly confronted with curators who use (and sometimes intervene in) the artistic work to put forward their own ideas. This tension arises out of a shift in power positions between the figures of the artist and the curator and a loss of ‘autonomy’ on the part of the artists. The curator is not solely an innocent mediator between artists and the public, but can also instrumentalise the artists’ work in demonstrating her or his own curatorial concept. In this text, I will investigate the meaning and function of the curator; first in general and then more specifically in relation to the performing arts. My aim is not to abolish the distinction between curators and artists, as Groys' is, but rather to propose a narrower definition of the term 'curator'. This revised definition will aim to allow both the artist and curator to strengthen one another's position, rather than to consider one another as simply a means to an end. Curatorship Establishing a definition of contemporary curatorship is not a simple exercise. Many curators seem to consciously keep their interpretation vague in order to allow for a wide range of professional possibilities. Florian Malzecher, a freelance dramaturge and curator, wrote a text on curatorship titled “About a job with an unclear profile, aim and future.”x Many curators would say their job is flexible and indefinable. From the sixties onwards, the term ‘curator’ has shifted in meaning and become increasingly fashionable. There was a turning-point wherein the museum was no longer solely regarded as a place to conserve important objects, but increasingly though of as a place where one could actively, and on project-to-project basis, present works of art. Walter Hopps, Pontus Hultén and Harald Szeemann were pioneers of a canon of curating within the visual arts. However, the reinterpretation of the term curator was already changing before the emergence of these

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figures. It did not appear from nothing, but rather has its roots in the avant-garde movements of the beginning of the 20th century, who introduced a radical new approach to presenting and creating art. The practice of the independent curator became more prevalent in the 1980s. Independent curators did not necessarily hold fixed positions within institutions, but started to be hired on the basis of individual projects. The curator became an increasingly more flexible and nomadic labour force, mirroring a trend that is also recognisable amongst artists. This evolution came in the wake of increasing globalisation, with new markets being opened and mobility becoming easier and cheaper. The curator thus becomes a multidisciplinary subject. According to Harald Szeemann, the modern curator is at once “an administrator, an amateur, an author of introductions, a librarian, a manager and book-keeper, a conservator, a financer and a diplomat”xi. Whereas in the past, a curator had a clear job profile (conserving works of art), he or she now needs to be multi-talented. By acting in this way, the curator becomes characteristic of our current post-Fordist economy, where a broad gamut of qualities is a requirement of the profession. Defined in this way, the curator differs little from the artist. The artist too is expected to master different functions at the same time (manager, writer, philosopher, craftsman). However, defining the curator and artist solely on the basis of the functions they are asked to fulfil (and thus erasing the differences between these two fields) entails a rather formal approach. It might be more interesting to seek for a more philosophical interpretation of the curators’ role. In order to further define the notion of the curator, it might be interesting to look at this position in relation to performing arts. It was only in the eighties and nineties that the figure of the curator entered the field of performing arts. In fact, one might claim that the curator's presence wasn’t a radical new addition to the scene. Some pioneering curators who were active in the visual arts claim to have been inspired by practices within the performing arts. The multidisciplinary approach and the way festivals were showing a diverse body of work provoked much enthusiasm within the visual arts scene. This multidisciplinary aspect is something that characterizes curating to a large extend.

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A curated project always brings together different domains of knowledge, different disciplines and different artistic works. These works contrast, elevate, and are in dialogue with one another. It is the specific relationship between different works of art, or between works of art and other domains (e.g. scientific research, activist practice etc.) that sets up a framework in which dialogue may arise. It is ultimately within this dialogue that the activity of curating is grasped. It is here that critical thinking emerges, which should always be the goal of curating. To bring different works in relation to one another and to create a readable dialogue is what distinguishes a curator from a programmer, a conservator, a producer and even from an artist. The programmer is often not bound to an artistic concept or a clear substantive line, but rather to political demands and directions that influence the selection of a (seasonal) program. The conservator has to make sure objects are preserved in the best possible condition. The producer is primarily busy with the economy of the project. The artist involved in installation art first and foremost selects work to fit his or her own artistic purposes. The curator assembles a program, a festival or an exhibition, on the basis of works of art made by specific artists which he or she wants to bring into a dialogue to generate a broader, public discussion. Too often, curating is reduced to the composition of a program or a festival on the basis of a certain theme. Frie Leysen, a festival organizer, recently formulated it in an interview as follows: “Curators develop a concept and subsequently seek artists to fill that concept or illustrate it.”xii

This vision of curatorship is a common but unequivocal approach to curating. The thematic curating of a festival or program appears too often and only strengthens the tension between artists and curators. My goal is to develop a different approach to curatorship; an approach in which these two positions are not in constant tension, but rather complement one another as much as is possible. Let’s call it a ‘concerned curatorship’. A concerned curatorship Curating comes from the Latin word curare, meaning 'to take care of'. A curator is therefore someone who takes care of something or someone.

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Some artists immediately reject the figure of the curator on the basis of the word's etymology because it entails a hierarchy. ‘Artists can take care of themselves. They don’t need anyone else to do it for them’ is one habitual critique. The artist, however, always finds him or herself tangled in a web with other actors (curators, critics, distributers, etc.) The claim of emancipation is a false one, and often merely rhetoric. One should understand that curating is not solely motivated by a care for the artists, but comes primarily from a care for the potential conversation. Isn’t it precisely here that a good curator distinguishes him or herself from a lesser one? Isn’t it in the care for a dialogue that engagement and concern comes into being towards the artist(s)? Isn’t it through this dialogue that both the curator and the artists develop their ideas? Good curating comes down to developing the optimal conditions for an artist to show his or her work . Such ideal conditions are both practical (technical, logistic, financial, promotional) and contextual (a collaboration arising out of artistic dialogue). The concerned curator creates the concept in collaboration with the artists. The final presentation thus becomes the result of the sympathetic (or opposed) visions of both actors. Where such an approach is absent, the curator can only use artists and their artworks for his or her own end. Indeed the curator becomes a ‘dictator’, as Boris Groys would put it.xiii Concerned curatorship begins with a long dialogue between curator and artist. This dialogue can eventually lead to a common project in which these two different positions are temporarily dissolved. The affinities and the common goals take over from the differences. The project is not only the result of the genius of the artists, nor that of the curator. Instead, it is a collective work. When the work is finally made public, each actor involved resumes their official role in order to defend the work with his or her different means and within different networks. It is in intense collaborations that the future of the performing arts lays. In the eighties, new institutions were initiated (e.g. in Belgium - Kaaitheater, Nieuwpoorttheater, de Monty, Buda ) or old institutions were given a new breath (Vooruit, KVS, Beursschouwburg). These initiatives were further professionalised with the unintended (and unfortunate) consequence that the focus on the artistic work and the support for artists increasingly suffered from decreased attention. The institutions have become businesses to run, with workers to pay and continuously lowering subsidiary support. As a result, artistic work is given less importance

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as the institution's focus shifts to other fronts. On a practical level, there is an increased attention given to the maintenance, restoration and conservation of buildings. On a financial level, the biggest part of the budget is spent on costs to run an organization and not on the artistic work itself. On the architectural level, there is an increased focus on the bar as the centre for meetings and exchanges, and not to the theatre or the art space itself. On the level of content, there are many side activities with spaces being rented out to commercial events that are often disconnected from artistic concerns. Today, we are increasingly in need for new possibilities to present artistic work. It feels as if there is a lack of spaces to present and circulate art, particularly as the list of emerging artists gets longer every year. In reality, however, there is plenty of space. Belgium (and Europe) is full of stages for performing arts! Therefore, it might be more precise to say that there is a shortage of diversity in the way work is presented. The established institutes are ‘full’ and often have diplomatic or political obligations to reprogram certain companies every year (even those that have lost relevancy). On the other hand, there is an increasing group of artists who operate the margins. They are often united under one common (container) term ‘young makers’.Their age varies from 14 to 99. They are the precarious artists, those who do not belong to, or have, a structure. Freek Vielen, a 29 year old theatre maker, articulates it strikingly in his ‘State of the youth’ (Theatrefestival 2014, Antwerp): “(…) for example: Oscar van Woensel was 31 when he did the State of the Union, not of the Youth, but the one of the Union, Wayn Traub was 32, just like Sidi Larbi, therefore, for a few seconds I considered whether I was supposed to be happy with this ‘young makers’ label considering I’m 29 years old. Whether the State of the Youth isn’t just a shabby paper boat, because for years now the pool has simply been too full and it will flood with my presence.” Whether the swimming pool is ‘too full’ now is questionable. Maybe that applies to the structures that were built in the eighties. What we need now are new forms of institutions, or ways of supporting and presenting artists. Therefore, an alliance with the growing group of independent curators might hold an answer… Within the visual arts there is a strong tradition of freelance curators and artists who, on a small scale and with their own hands, set up new initiatives and claim new spaces. Maybe the

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time has come for performing artists, who operate in the margins, to no longer wait until they are picked up by established institutions or festivals (the “dinosaurs”, as Frie Leysen eloquently puts itxiv). Maybe it’s time to make bonds with curators in the margins and set up new, experimental initiatives.

Ann Olaerts asked the following, relevant questions in her State of the Union (Theaterfestival 2014, Antwerp): “Can we, relying on the artistic wealth of the past 20 years, give a place to the process of death and birth in our own history? And profoundly adjust the current system that has its roots in the eighties? More thinking and starting from the artistic projects themselves, and less from the structures.”xv The political curatorship and artistry A plea for a more concerned curatorship and thus a more intense collaboration with the artists is at the same time a plea for the politicisation of both functions. This process of politicisation already takes place when closer alliances are made between curators and artists, and when they claim new spaces and different forms of attention. Anneleen Kenis, a researcher connected to the university of Leuven, wrote a text in 2010 with the remarkable title Beyond individual behavioural change: a plea for repoliticizing environmental action. xvi With few changes, this could easily be the title for a part of this text as well. Instead of abiding the position of the individual artist networking for their own visibility, the way out could be to reach hands to those who have skills and are eager to challenge existing modes of presenting, producing, communicating, etc. In the magazine ‘Oikos’, Dirk Holemans writes that our society is in need of the political, not politics. “We are in need of projects that are directed towards the future and that strive for more ecological durability and social justice, hereby they shouldn’t block themselves by what today is considered as advantageous.” xvii A similar need imposes itself on the arts sector. In the theory of ‘transition’, the innovation is a result of small-scale experimental projects (= niche) that slowly transform the existing, established structures/institutions (= the regime).

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We don’t necessarily have to buy new buildings (like in the eighties). We are not in need of any more new buildings that get stuck in the rigidity of an official institution. What we need is a multiplication of the temporal, or returning collaborations between artists and curators, in order to develop a wide variety of presentation practices. This variety will not be reached by fixing new physical spaces, but by starting from scratch, every time again, and acting from the idea that there is not only one ‘best’ way. It is here that curatorship and artistry come together and contribute to the creation of the political. The political differentiates itself from politics in the sense that politics has to do with the everyday - the managing of society on the basis of previously decided policy plans and taking care of the balance between all societal actors; and the political is the space where citizens can participate on an egalitarian basis in a deeper and broader ideological debate. In politics one searches for consensus, where in the political there is also place for unsolvable conflicts and visions that could never come together. It is a space for contestation, an indispensable place for democracy. 'The political' takes shape when a problem or conflict occurs. Specific to this text, it takes shape when artists and independent curators make alliances and contest the existing regime by setting up new initiatives outside of this regime. A transition towards a more diverse and fairer arts sector will never happen while we continue to work individually in the margins. Only by working together (in different constellations) and by departing from the necessity to make and present an artistic work (because one feels the pressure to be visible all the time) can a regime be designed differently. As a consequence, “More thinking for the artistic projects and less from the institutions” would become not merely a hollow slogan, but a statement built on solid ground. Performing artist Jan Ritsema wrote in an edition of Frackija about curating in the performing arts: conclusion art is lost and so are the curators but

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le roi est mort vive le roi so let’s go, both, hand in hand artists and programmers for a fresh beginning a renaissance of art that does not look like anything anymorexviii A transformation of the arts sector can potentially happen if ‘independent’ curators and artists mutually start to operate in the margins and develop an alternative approach to presentation, production, communication, etc. Only by working together are we able to break our paralysis towards the ruling regime. Maybe the art of curating is revealed only then, when the curators and the artists start to take care of one another. 1

OBRIST, U.H. (2014). Ways of curating. London: Allan Lane. OBRIST, U.H. (2014). Ways of curating. London: Allan Lane. 1 HOFFMANN, J. (red.) (2013). Ten fundamental questions of curating. Milan: Mousse Publishing. 1 FILIPOVIC, E. (red.) (2013/2014). The artist as curator. Milan: Mousse Publishing. 1 MISIANO, V. (red.) (2010/2011). The canon of curating. Manifesta Journal: journal of contemporary curatorschip. No. 11. 1 MALZACHAR, F., TUPAJIC, T., ZANKI, P. (red.) (2011). Curating performance arts. Frackija, No. 55. 1 BUREN, D. (1972). Exhibition of an exhibition, http://www.eflux.com/projects/next_doc/d_buren_printable.html 1 HOFFMANN, J. (ed.) (2004). The Next Documenta Should Be Curated by an Artist: Where are the artists? Frankfurt: Revolver. 1 GROYS, B. (2008). Art Power: Multiple Authorship. Cambridge: The MIT Press. 1 MALZACHAR, F. (2011). Cause and result: About a job with an unclear profile. Frackija. No. 55. (p. 10-19). 1 OBRIST, U.H. (2013). A brief history of curating. Zurich: JRP/Ringier. 1 BELLINCK, T. (2014). Dat kleine streepje tussen woorden. E-tcetera, 32 (138). (p. 11). 1 GROYS, B. (2014). Art beyond spectatorschip. http://www.bozar.be/dbfiles/webfile/201405/webfile121342.pdf 1 BELLINCK, T. (2014). Dat kleine streepje tussen woorden. E-tcetera, 32 (138). (p. 6). 1 OLAERTS, A. (2014). State of the union: Passie, vakmanschap, bezield leiderschap en een open blik. http://vti.be/sites/default/files/state_of_the_union_TF_14.pdf 1 KENIS, A. (2010). Voorbij individuele gedragsverandering: een pleidooi voor een herpolitisering van milieuactie. http://www.dewereldmorgen.be/artikels/2010/04/07/voorbijindividuele-gedragsverandering-een-pleidooi-voor-een-herpolitisering-van 1 HOLEMANS, D. (2014). Over depolitisering en herpolitisering. Oikos, 69. 1 RITSEMA, J. (2011). About programmers and curators. Frackija. No. 55. (p. 7). 1

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Motivation(At(The(End(of(Times,(Upgrade Mårten'Spångberg' I.

A'programmer'of'dance'comes'up'to'me'and'says:'“:What'do'you'think'of'the'program,'it’s' nice'don’t'you'think?”'What'can'I'say?'As'we'know,'within'the'neoliberal'predicament'that' we'now'live,'to'object'is'unthinkable,'to'have'an'opinion,'to'show'attitude'is'a'no'no'of' severe'magnitude.'Metaphorically'speaking'my'answer'could'only'be:'“:I’m'available.”'If'I' am'in'the'program,'I'can'obviously'not'not'comply'and'support'it,'and'if'I'am'not,'any' objection'would'propose'that'I’m'jealous'of'those'that'are'in'and'thus'I'can'only'comply.'Yet,' I'try'to'formulate'an'answer'that'uses'a'double'rhetoric,'proposing'that'the'program'is' congenial'and'at'the'same'time'saying'it’s'not.'My'argument'could'be'based'on'an' asymmetry'between'established'and'not'so'established'acts,'the'lack'of'representation'of' non:western'artists,'weak'consistency'in'the'program'or'gender.'Gender'is'always'good,'no' matter'what,'one'can'always'bring'up'gender'and'in'whatever'direction.'It’s'always'good.' Yet,'it'doesn’t'matter,'independent'of'my'response'the'answer'I'receive'in'return'is'always' the'same:'“:Yes,'you'are'right,'but'you'know'our'budget'has'been'very'pressured'this'year.' We'had'enormous'cuts'for'this'season'and,'you'know'seriously,'I’m'really'happy'that'we'got' it'together'at'all.”'I,'obviously'(I’m'not'completely'stupid),'accept'the'argument'and'nod' understandingly.'

A'few'months'later,'the'same'programmer'shows'up'after'seeing,'let’s'say'the'premiere'of'a' new'show'of'mine.'Insinuating'that'it'didn’t'entirely'fulfill'expectations'or'was'simply'not'a' masterpiece'I'respond:'“:Yes,'you'are'right'but'you'know'our'budget'was'very'pressured.' We'really'had'enormous'cuts'for'this'season,'and'I’m'really'happy'that'we'got'it'together'at' all.”'I'don’t'think'so!'Such'a'line'of'argumentation'is'not'acceptable'emanating'from'the' mouth'of'an'artist.'The'artistic'act,'it'is'assumed,'is'independent'of'budgets,'and'if'there'are' cuts,'subsidies'missing'or'similar,'the'artist'is'supposed'to'change'the'format,'come'up'with' creative'solutions,'sack'the'producer'(don’t'ever'do'that),'make'a'duet'or'solo,'use'less' rehearsal'hours,'get'another'co:producer,'hire'faster'dancers.'But'who'would'expect'a' programmer'to'sack'some'people'in'the'organization,'do'the'cleaning'or'accounting,'double' as'a'technician'or'wardrobe'assistant?'Programmers'are'victims'of'external'circumstances,' whereas'artists'only'have'themselves'to'blame.'

For'programmers'to'gain'my'respect,'stop'using'budget'cuts'as'an'argument.

So'my'response'is'always'implicitly'“:I’m'available”.'Whatever'the'price,'whatever'the' circumstances,'whatever'the'proposition'is,'in'the'era'of'projects'we'are'all'always' available.'In'our'current'economic'flow,'as'Boris'Groys'recently'argued,'it'doesn’t'really' matter'if'one'is'in'the'program'or'not,'what'matters'is'to'have'a'project,'in'particular'to'have' a'project'that'can'attach'to'enough'many'surfaces'and'connect'to'enough'many'other' projects.'In'fact'it'doesn’t'matter'what'the'project'is,'as'long'as'it'promotes'a'specific' identity.'What'the'artist'today'is'busy'with,'is'not'primarily'to'make'pieces'or'to'articulate' concepts'but'to'produce'identities'that'are'at'the'same'time'specific'enough'to'make'a' difference'and'conventional'enough'to'maintain'a'rather'romantic'image'of'what'the'artist' should'be'occupied'with.'The'really'clever'artist'has'stopped'making'pieces'at'all,'but'jumps' from'residency'to'residency,'from'lab'to'lab,'project'to'project.'What'matters'today'is'not'

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products,'pieces'or'premieres'but'activity'and mobility.'As'Kroot'Juurak'has'proposed,'the' artist'has'become'a'pet,'a'domesticated'creature'that'bides'his/her'time,'sits'in'cafés' scribbling,'doodling'in'a'notebook'or'being'busy'e:mailing,'ready'to'whatever'and' enthusiastic'the'moment'the'programmer'whistles.''

Recently'I'hear'more'and'more'artists'proposing'the'importance'of'taking'ones'time.'“:I’m' slow,'I'need'time'to'think'and'develop'projects.”'No,'it'doesn’t'matter'if'a'project'ever'gets' to'be'realized,'what'is'important'is'to'just'have'a'project,'preferably'a'long'term'project,'that' offers'the'artist,'through'a'sort'of'reversed'process,'to'implicitly'use'the'same'argument'as' the'programmer.''

In'a'moment'when'artistic'research,'for'the'second'time'gains'popularity'–'but'this'time' rather'in'relation'to'PhD'programs'than'short:term'research'programs'connected'to'venues' and'festivals'–'to'slow'down'and'taking'ones'time'has'become'a'virtue,'a'sign'of' thoroughness,'and'perhaps'even'worse:'is'understood'as'a'kind'of'critique'of'capitalism.'But' isn’t'this'image'of'the'artist'precisely'what'capitalism'desire:'the'artist'being'a'promise'of'a' life'beyond'nine:to:five'working'days'and'pressured'schedules?'I'don’t'propose'a're:' industrialization'of'labor,'where'life'and'labor'would'again'be'divided'and'manufacturing' ability'the'one'capacity'to'be'measured,'but'we'should'know'that'there'is'absolutely'nothing' radical'with'the'artist’s'existence,'and'to'be'self:employed'is'rather'the'perfect'image'of'the' contemporary'laborer'whose'only'product'is'him'or'her'self.'Slow'is'the'new'fast,'as'much' as'left'is'the'new'right,'occupy'is'the'new'letting'go,'queer'is'the'new'mainstream':' contemporary'capitalism'knows'how'to'co:opt'and'has'financialised'any'creative'strategy.' Work'in'whatever'way'you'want'but'don’t'be'proud'of'it.''

When'Paolo'Virno'argues'in'“A'Grammar'Of'The'Multitude”'that'the'contemporary'worker' has'become'a'virtuoso,'using'the'dancer'as'an'example'of'the'immaterial'laborer'he'doesn’t' presuppose'anything'positive'but'rather'raises'a'warning:'what'do'we'do'now'when'we'are$ labor'and'there'is'absolutely'no'way'out.'When'control'has'become'omnipresent,'in'and' through'ourselves,'there'can'be'no'exit'door'to'sneak'out'of.'“:I’m'available”'is'in'our' contemporary'times'substituting'any'claim'of'avant:garde'or'subversive'attempt.'And'for' those'who'still'insist,'that'keep'on'trying'to'break'rules'or'conventions,'that'work'too'hard,' or'forget'about'balancing'their'presence,'not'keeping'their'cool,'the'culture'of'availability' has'only'one'answer:'You’re'a'fool. For'artists'to'gain'my'respect,'be'foolish'and'fuck'balance.'

A'programmer'of'dance'announces'to'me'how'important'it'is'for'him'to'compose'a'program' for'his'local'audience.'I'support'the'argument,'but'wonder'what'it'is'that'makes'certain' dance'and'performance'acts,'works'by'certain'artists'or'groups'perfect'for'every'local' audience'in'every'corner'of'Europe?'It'cannot'be'because'those'acts'are'so'generic'that'they' fit'everything'hence'that'would'dismiss'the'argument'of'being'susceptible'to'the'needs'of' local'audience.'It'can'neither'be'because'the'acts'are'so'specific,'then'they'would'not'be' presented'in'every'festival'and'season'program.'The'argument'must'be'found'somewhere' else?'It'is'my'belief'that,'what'local$audience$imply'is'not'the'spectator'but'local'politicians.' It'means:'“:I'have'to'present'a'program'that'is'agreeable'to'local'subsidy'agencies”,'and'they' expect,'more'or'less'without'exception,'a'well:meaning'mixture'of'local'acts'and' international'reputation. For'programmers'to'gain'my'respect,'stop'using'local'audience'as'arguments'when'what'it'

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means'is'serving'local'politicians.'

Lately'local'politics'has'been'jointed'by'European'politics'to'pressure'programming'into'a' mainstream'sauce.'Today'it'is'no'longer'the'director'that'programs'the'festival'it'is'the'EU: network'that'decide,'because'without'EU'money'there’s'no'program'at'all.'When'you'open' the'next'festival'program'identity'how'many'acts'are'supported'by'EU:networks,'yep'all'of' them…'This'is'a'small'disaster'because'as'much'as'the'programmer'has'to'program'what' the'network'provides,'after'all'the'network'sponsor'with'50%'of'the'economy.'The' programmer'also'need'to'push'his'own'local'acts'into'the'network,'and'push'something'that' he'knows'will'work'with'the'partners.'In'other'words'it'is'not'what’s'good'that'is'pushed'by' EU:networks'but'what'works,'what'is'easy'to'travel'with,'what'deals'with'a,'for'the'moment' “urgent”'topic'and'is'equally'politically'correct,'what'works'for'any'kind'of'audience,'what'is' easy'digested'and'a'quick'fix.'How'does'it'feel'Mr.'Programmer'that'it’s'a'bunch'of'EU' executives'that'makes'your'program?'And'you'want'to'be'called'curator'when'you'at'best'is' a'butler.''

An'alternative'chain'or'arguments'on'the'same'issue'emphasize'identity'production.' Working'for'a'specific'local'audience'implies'that'the'programmer'feels'responsibility'to'the' progression'of'a'local'scene'and'its'audience,'but'then'again'how'come'this'responsibility' without'exception'includes'three'to'five'internationally'celebrated'artists'or'groups.'Is'it' possibly'so'that'the'programmer'rather'easily'forgets'his'assumed'responsibility'and' instead'seeks'confirmation'in'other'programmers?'It'feels'good,'and'need'no'further' explanation,'to'say:'“:'Yes,'I’m'also'showing'their'new'work.”'or'“:I’ve'been'keeping'my'eye' on'them'for'several'years'and'I'think'my'audience'is'ready'for'them'now.”'

The'same'argument'is'evidently'valid'for'the'artist'too.'It'feels'good'to'belong'to'a'context' and'it'is'obviously'uncomfortable'to'issue'one'or'other'conflict.'Over'the'twenty'years'that'I' have'been'engaged'in'dance'and'performance'I'have'never'experienced'such'a'lack'of' conflict'as'today.'The'first'dictum'of'contemporary'cultural'entrepreneurship:'Don’t'ever' get'angry!'

Don’t'be'critical'neither!'Since'years'critique'has'been'replaced'by'criticality,'the'ethical' version'of'the'ideologically'saturated'notion'of'critique.'Criticality'is'like'a'touch'pad,'the' theatrical'version'of'pure'navigation,'the'entrepreneur’s'variation'of'risk'performing'the' endless'shifts'of'neoliberal'governance.'It’s'the'slippery'escape'from'any'form'of' responsibility,'a'snug'smile'standing'in'for'the'lack'of'guts'to'stake'out'a'territory.'Criticality' is'good'for'you,'it’s'kind'of'participatory,'it'implements'the'individual'instead'of'producing' public'spectacle.'In'the'land'of'criticality'everything'is'fine.'It’s'Prozac'for'cultural' producers,'personal'without'passion,'skepticism'without'fundament,'the'epitome'of' opportunism.

For'an'artist'to'gain'my'respect,'raise'your'voice'and'judge.'Be,'or'pretend'to'be'rich' enough,'to'afford'being'categorical.

It'appears'paradoxical'that'at'the'same'time'as'dance'and'performance'is'offered'more' opportunities'than'ever,'both'concerning'performances,'residencies'and'other'projects,'we' simultaneously'experience'an'equalization'of'what'is'tolerated.'The'difference'between' dance'performances'were'probably'smaller'twenty'years'ago,'but'I'don’t'think'it'is'only' memory'that'plays'around'with'my'perception.'Danced'looked'similar,'what'differed'was' production'value.'Not'only'in'economical'terms'but'also'in'respect'of'global'circumstances.'

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Dance'has'become'professional'to'the'extent'that'it'has'lost'its'passion.'Dance'has'become' enthusiastic,'which'is'another'words'for'shrinking'in'front'of'circumstances.

It'is'my'guess'that,'among'other'reasons,'contemporary'educations'has'become'so'good'in' preparing'students'for'established'markets'that'they'simply'don’t'know'what'else'to'do' than'to'comply,'be'enthusiastic'and'perform'criticality.'It'mustn’t'be'the'responsibility'of' education'to'teach'students'to'fit'in,'rather'the'contrary:'the'task'should'be'the'opposite,'to' encourage'the'student'to'pursue'other'paths,'different'formats'to'stop'confirming'existing' markets.'This'cannot'be'done'by'preaching'counter'ideology'or'by'blaming'the'market,'but' rather'through'allowing'the'student'not'to'identify'with'what'a'dancer,'choreographer'or' performance'maker'is,'i.e.'to'appropriate'identity.'It'feels'good'and'is'comfortable'to'be$a' choreographer'and'it’s'a'shaky'path'to'create'ones'own'territory.

A'few'years'ago'the'French'thinker'Jacques'Rancière'contributed'to'our'context'with'a'text' entitled'“The'Emancipated'Spectator”,'where'he'argued'that'theatre'per'definition'is' stultifying'and'as'a'way'out'proposed'an'activated'spectator,'that'without'becoming'a' participant'can'activate'him:'or'herself'not'on'the'basis'of'identity'but'rather'in'respect'of' individuation,'i.e.'expanding'the'possibility'for'what'the'individual'can'be.'We'should' however'remember'that'the'emancipated'individual'is'congenial'to'our'present'political' climate.'Emancipation'for'Rancière'does'not'mean'to'be,'or'become'more'oneself,'but'on'the' contrary'to'contest'ones'identity'and'what'constitutes'identity'in'our'specific'contexts'and' environments.'Emancipation,'in'particular'in'relation'to'art,'should'not'be'misunderstood' as'improvement'or'betterment.'On'the'contrary'emancipation'implies'to'give'up'values'that' has'been'consolidated,'to'give'up'both'ones'chains'and'ones'privileges,'ones'identity' without'conditions,'engaging'in'production'without'determination.''

For'artists'to'gain'my'respect,'stop'pretending'to'emancipate'yourself'when'what'you'want' most'of'all'is'to'belong.

A'programmer'of'dance'tells'me'how'important'it'is'to'engage'in'the'development'of'the' local'scene.'I'wonder,'but'how'does'it'happen'that'you'pay'them,'the'locals,'fees'that'are' peanuts'in'comparison'to'what'you'pay'international'celebrities?'Is'that'some' contemporary'form'of'care?'By'the'way,'how'does'it'happen'that'the'local'and'non: established'artists'always'are'presented'on'the'small'stage'and'always'in'the'middle'of'the' week?'If'you'are'keen'on'promoting'the'local'scene'why'not'offer'them'the'central'venue'in' the'weekend.'If'the'international'celebrity'anyway'brings'in'an'audience':'which'is'always' why'they'are'there'“:We'have'to'have'a'few'big'shows,'you'know'–'we'need'to'secure'a' general'audience.”':'why'not'program'them'on'Monday'and'Tuesday?'

We'can'also'turn'this'around.'How'can'the'big'shot'artist'except'star'status'and'support' programming'strategies'knowing'very'well'that'homogenization'of'a'landscape'is'lethal,' that'it'is'deeply'important'to'support'younger'generations'of'artist'not'least'to'make'sure' that'ones'own'position'is'contested,'in'order'not'to'fall'asleep'and'stagnate.'Oh,'yes'I'forgot,' the'established'choreographer'is'since'a'few'years'issuing'parallel'to'his/her'own'work'a' small'research'platform'with'possibilities'for'residencies.'Yes'I'forgot,'but'do'you'seriously' think'that'these'platforms'have'nything'to'do'with'young'artists?'No'way,'it’s'a'means'to' make'more'money'and'to'consolidate'ones'position,'especially,'locally.'By'the'way,'have'you' realized'that'those'initiatives'always'occur'when'the'big'shot'choreographer'is'fading,'when' the'touring'is'not'so'intensive?''I'forgot,'maybe'the'platform'is'there'because'there’s' nothing'new'coming'out.'Because'the'big'shot'wants'to'relax'with'his'life'partner,'her'family'

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or'“we'are'moving'to'a'house'outside'the'city,'with'a'garden”'–'so'cute.''

A'programmer'of'dance'tells'me'that'the'development'of'the'local'scene'is'so'important'that' they'have'created'a'lab'for'its'artists'to'engage'in.'A'forum'for'discussion'and'confrontation,' research'and'development,'when'what'it'tends'to'boil'down'to'is'that'the'lab'is'an'excuse'to' not'have'to'present'those'artists'properly,'and'yet'swear'your:self'free'from'any'kind'of' accusation'of'excluding'the'local.'And'by'the'way,'everybody'knows'that'the'participants'in' the'lab'never'get'paid'in'accord'with'a'performance'fee.'Labs'are'cheap'solutions,'end'of' discussion.

In'commercial'industries'it'is'common'that'5:7%'of'the'revenue'is'reinvested'in'research' and'development.'R&D'does'not'mean'to'develop'a'new'product'or'design'a'new'model,'i.e.' applied'research,'but'blue'sky'research.'Innovation'intensive'business'such'as' pharmaceuticals'use'up'to'15%'of'their'revenue'on'R&D.'It'is'common'to'understand'our' field'of'action'as'innovation'intensive,'and'it'is'a'business'–'it’s'just'that'our'client'(like' weapon'industry)'primarily'is'the'state,'but'I'have'never,'I'underline'never,'heard'about'a' dance'festival'or'season'that'invest'more'than'0%'on'R&D'of'the'revenue.'Commerce' knows,'if'we'don’t'upgrade,'if'we'don’t'invest'in'blue'sky'research'our'clients'will'beat'us'to' the'finishing'line,'and'it'is'not'just'about'beating'somebody'else'but'to'stay'on'top'of'oneself.' R&D'is'not'an'evil'necessity,'it’s'what'makes'the'difference,'what'makes'it'fun'to'work'it.' And'look'at'this'R&D'is'not'only'for'the'artist'but'can'also'be'invested'in'management,'but' in'our'business'I’ve'never'ever'heard'about'the'possibility'that'the'organization'could' develop.'Never,'the'director'of'a'festival'is'like'a'king'before'1789'sovereign'and'related'to' God'not'to'R&D.''

Don’t'even'try.'No,'R&D'isn’t'in'any'respect'identical'with'artistic'research.'When'R&D'is'all' about'open'door'practice'and'proper'experimentation'–'btw'it’s'imperative'to'keep'apart' scientific'and'artistic'experimentation'–'artistic'research'is'about'keeping'the'door'closed'so' that'nobody'realizes'how'utterly'mediocre'those'grant'supported'projects'conducted'really' are.'When'R&D'is'a'matter'of'all'or'nothing'and'operating'in'the'dark,'artistic'research'as'it' is'conducted'–'especially'in'Stockholm'–'is'a'matter'of'securing'funding,'keeping'ones'job,' never'sticking'out,'abolish'risk'and'go'home'at'3.30'p.m.'And'now'I’m'talking'about'the' researchers,'PhD'candidates'and'so'on,'mind'you,'those'are'superstars'in'comparison'to'the' coward'creatures'that'try'to'manage'them.'It’s'a'deep'shame'for'dance'to'have'to'admit'that' the'artistic'research'conducted'is'totally'stone:age'in'comparison'to'the'knowledge' produced'and'engaged'with'by'choreographers'out'there,'but'of'course'we'all'know'that' nine'out'of'ten'individuals'engaged'in'artistic'research'does'it'because'that’s'the'only'place' where'they'can'survive'economically.'If'artistic'research'was'a'pocket'of'economical' freedom'it'could'sound'quite'promising'but'the'fact'is'that'it'is'an'even'more'controlled' territory'and'a'territory'where'the'distance'between'the'artist'and'management'is'zero' centimeter'or'seconds.'As'for'today'the'promise'of'artistic'research'has'turned'into'a' nightmare'for'contemporary'dance'and'art,'and'the'worst'part'is'that'we'have'no'choice' than'to'deal'with'it'because'it'will'not'disappear.'' Oh'and'the'lab'format'gets'even'more'patronizing'when'it'is'topped'with'an'international' authority'giving'a'two'hours'introduction'to'his'or'her'artistic'mission,'of'course'after' having'been'presented'on'the'big'stage.'But'why'should'a'younger'artist'unconditionally' wish'to'hear'the'truth'about'art'presented'by'some'middle'age'choreographer'who'fell' more'or'less'always'have'fallen'asleep'a'decade'ago'and'has'nothing'to'say'more'than'“:This' work'I'did'in'1994,'when'my'second'wife'had'our'first'child...”'The'established'artist'doesn’t'

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want'change,'he'or'she'wants'to'stay'on'top,'so'don’t'expect'anything'else'than'a' patronizing'tone'and'remember'it’s'very'very'difficult'to'make'art.'Are'you'ready'to'suffer' as'much'as'I'have'and'for'so'many'years,'in'other'words'“–You'will'never'become'anything' and'don’t'think'that'your'efforts'can'in'any'way'jeopardize'my'position.”'But'then'again' when'you'hear'these'type'artists'open'their'mouths'you'know'they'are'over,'seriously'over' –'and'that’s'good.'

During'the'lab'the'artistic'director,'preferably'with'some'international'colleagues,'shows'up' –'of'course'unannounced':'appearing'to'be'interested'in'the'artists’'creative'process.'What' happens?'Obviously,'the'artist'will'present'an'absolutely'safe'argumentation'that'ensures'–' hopefully'–'the'opportunity'to'be'part'of'the'“real”'program'next'year.'I’m'available!'The'so: called'labs,'luckily'not'so'popular'anymore,'have'nothing'to'do'with'creativity,'sharing'ideas' or'motivating'each'other.'No,'it’s'a'perfect'ground'for'defensive'warfare'to'maintain'ones' positions.'What'the'artist'today'sells'is'ideas'and'originality'so'why'would'anybody'think' that'a'lab'would'function'as'an'opportunity'to'share.'No,'labs'consolidate'the'dynamics'of' the'market'and'function'as'an'eminent'opportunity'for'programmers'to'surveil'any'kind'of' revolutionary'tendencies.'Only'the'extremely'naïve'would'consider'the'idea'of'sharing,'that' would'be'similar'to'Coca:Cola'putting'their'secret'recipe'on'their'web'page.

The'central'problem'with'dance'programming'today,'in'which'programmer'and'artists'are' equal'part,'is'that'ideology'and'conviction'almost'without'exception'has'become' subordinate'to'financial'and'political'circumstances.

So'what'do'we'do'when'the'opportunity'to'object'is'void'and'nothing?'What'do'we'do'when' everybody'is'guilty'for'nothing'and'nobody'dares'to'make'a'move'as'it'always'will'harm' your'opportunity'to...'whatever'it'is'that'you'do?'Nobody'is'to'blame'and'all'of'us'are'gladly' participating'in'a'market'based'on'identity'and'belonging.'Programmers'as'well'as'artists' happily'bend'over'and'offer'themselves'to'the'whims'of'the'market.'Is'there'anything'left' except'disillusion?'The'first'answer'must'be'no,'but'perhaps'there'are'measures'to'take.' And'look'who'is'talking,'the'first'thing'to'do'is'to'stop'complaining,'but'complaining'is'easy' as'it'also'consolidates'identity.' '

II.

Over'the'last'twenty'years'the'visual'art'sector'has'developed'strong'curatorial'discourses.' Perhaps'not'the'entire'field'but'any'curator,'as'well'as'artist,'with'ambitions'in' contemporary'art'pride'himself'with'an'articulation'due'curatorial'practices,'never'mind'if' you'are'on'the'facilitating'or,'so'to'say,'producing'side.'An'important'consequence'of'such' discourses'is'a'disconnection'between'director'and'curator.'It'is'today'rare'that'a'director' and'the'curator'of'a'museum'or'kunsthalle'is'one'and'the'same'person.'The'director'of'a' museum'is'often'curating'part'of'a'program'and'are'obviously'the'final'voice'when'it'comes' to'fundamental'decisions'but'a'director'that'puts'his'nose'into'an'assigned'curators'choices' are'rare,'not'to'mention'incorrect'or'disrespectful.'In'the'field'of'dance,'choreography'and' performance'the'situation'is'the'opposite,'it'is'almost'always'the'director,'with'financial'and' institutional'responsibility,'that'articulates'the'entire'program.'The'emergence'of'the' “independent”'curator'implies'a'whole'set'of'new'strategies.'The'independent'curator,'to' the'same'extent'as'the'artist,'offers'or'sells'a'concept'(a'completely'misused'and' misunderstood'term'in'the'first'place)'or'proposal'and'is'chosen'in'respect'of'a'competitive'

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landscape.'The'independent'curator'of'course'has'to'obey'economical'circumstances'but'the' objective'is'not'to'simply'stay'a'live'but'to'produce'specificity.'This'is'not'entirely'true,' there'are'certainly'hierarchies,'lobby'and'business'as'usual,'but'the'very'possibility'of'an' independent'curator'offers'a'completely'different'mode'of'operation.'A'problem'in'dance'is' that'directors,'doubling'as'programmers,'especially'of'festivals,'occupy'their'position' forever.'A'director'of'a'festival'can'easily'run'a'festival'for'decades.'The'result'is often'that' the'maintenance'has'higher'priority'than'the'quality'of'the'program.'First,'if'you'are''a' director'of'festival'for'twenty'years'of'course'you'are'not'about'to'take'a'risk'in' programming'if'it'might'jeopardize'your'position,'and'second,'after'twenty'years'in'one' position'you'have'also'closed'off'any'other'working'opportunities,'you’re'not'exactly'about' to'fire'yourself.'If'contracts'generally'are'long:term'it'is'obvious'that'flux'and'dynamics'will' decrease.'Thirdly,'after'twenty'years'in'a'position'it'is'very'easy'to'forget'that'you'are'the' director'of'a'festival'and'that'the'festival'is'not'yourself.'There'is'another'great'opportunity' with'independent'curators,'they'can’t'complain'about'budget'cuts,'they'might'not'have'any' money'but'there’s'not'cuts,'institutions'on'the'other'hand'can'always'use'budget'cuts'to' solve'any'problem.'Cuts'can'tweak'the'program'to'become'fully'local'but'equally'often'to' emphasize'international'work.'It'can'be'reason'to'push'for'the'smaller'format'–'very'good'–' but'also'to'go'mainstream'and'large'scale'but'most'of'all'it’s'the'best'ever'argument'to' allocate'a'higher'percentage'of'the'budget'to'management'and'less'to'the'people'who'make' the'art,'the'artists.''

There'is'however'a'new'entity'to'blame:'the'board.'The'board'is'better'than'budget'cuts.' Today'every'programmer'suffers'from'the'pressure'of'the'board,'a'board'that'they' themselves'nominated'or'if'not'the'board'that'gave'them'the'job'in'the'first'place.'It’s' apparently'not'directors'that'make'decisions'any'more,'it’s'the'board.'Great'news,'today'it’s' a'bunch'of'people'that'knows'about'institutional'practices'but'have'no'idea'about'dance' that'make'the'program'and'what'they'do'is'to'make'sure'nothing'unexpected'will'occur,' especially'not'a'hole'in'the'budget.''

For'a'programmer'to'gain'my'respect:'fire'the'board.'If'nothing'else,'make'yourself' sovereign,'at'least'then'we'know'who’s'to'blame.'Because'that'my'friends,'is'not'easy'in'our' current'times'when'networks'to'a'large'degree'run'the'business.''

I'believe'there'was'a'time'when'boards'took'the'positions'of'pushing'risk.'The'board'was' the'lifeline'when'radical'proposals'went'to'hell'or'the'entity'that'took'the'blame'if'the' budget'went'dry.'Today'instead'it'appears'that'the'board'is'more'like'a'dramaturge'(making' sure'nothing'unconventional'or'crazy'ends'up'in'your'piece),'or'perhaps'better'like'a' preemptive'insurance'company'that'like'an'uber'overprotective'mother'that'forces'the' eleven'year'old'to'wear'a'bicycle'helmet'when'brushing'her'teeth.''

We'should'not'fool'ourselves'that'it'is'favorable'to'have'an'artist'as'director.'It’s'certainly' no'direct'problem'to'have'an'artist'program'a'season,'except'that'the'artist'will'without' exception'program'his'or'her'friends,'but'then'again'who'doesn’t.'It'is'when'the'artist'is' elected'director'that'things'go'sideways.'Why?'Because,'he'or'she'competes'on'the'same' field'as'the'ones'programmed.'Because'he'or'she'is'not'up'to'losing'his'or'her'artistic' position'whilst'being'the'director.'Because'he'or'she'might'be'understood'as'traditional,' boring'or'simply'better'of'a'director'than'somebody'making'art,'and'hence'will'only' program'friends'that'owe'him'or'her'something'or'is'an'obvious'loser.'The'most'disastrous' of'all'is'when'the'artist'director'is'in'charge'of'programming'parallel'to'managing'an'in' house'company'or'ensemble'for'which'he'or'she'is'creating'work,'and'invites'other'

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choreographers'to'work'with'them'too.''

The'most'comical'and'paradoxical'gesture'is'the'one'when'the'artist'director'opens'a' residency'program'open'to'independent'choreographers'of'all'kinds.'What'is'this'if'not' another'word'for'control'freak?'Or,'when'the'artist'director'invites'his'own'performers'to' create'work'of'their'own'and'for'each'other.'This'is'the'best'ever'guarantee'that'nothing' weird'or'suspicious'will'happen.'Obviously'the'dancer'knows'that,'whatever'he'does'inside' such'a'situation'will,'if'it'is'good,'be'credited'to'the'generous'artist'director'who'saw'the' talent'in'the'dancer.'Or'if'something'goes'wrong,'if'the'work'is'autonomous'or'does'not' represent'the'style'thread'of'the'artist'director'then'it'will'never'be'shown'or'just'for'the' locals'endlessly'devoted'to'the'artist'director.'Obviously'a'work'created'under'the'forgiving' eye'of'the'artist'director'will'never'be'allowed'to'become'successful.'The'artist'director'will' remorselessly'crush'anything'amazing.'Maybe'he'or'she'should'retire'and'the'successful'kid' can'take'over.'Not'a'good'idea.'' For'an'artist'director'to'gain'my'respect'don’t'for'anything'open'a'residency'platform.'We' all'know'it’s'just'economy,'surveillance'and'smug'goodwill.''

So'how'does'the'independent'curator'market'his'specificity'next'to'producing'exhibitions?' By'engaging'in'a'position,'by'articulating'specific'motivations'in'regard'to'aesthetics,'modes' of'production,'historical'accuracy,'specific'knowledge'and,'not'rarely,'through'a'political' strategy,'statement'or'strong'hold.'Any'curator'with'ambitions'in'the'field'of'contemporary' art'negotiates'aesthetics'and'politics'through'writing;'in'magazines,'publications,'catalogues' or'orally'in'conferences,'seminars'or'educational'frames.'In'the'field'of'dance'similar' articulations'are'extremely'rare.'Programmers'hardly'ever'gives'evidence'to'aesthetic'or' political'positions.'Objection,'there'are'often'texts'in'programs'etc.'by'directors'and' programmers.'Correct,'but'these'statements'can'rarely'be'read'as'political'statements'and' are'more'often'similar'to'magazine'editorials'trying'to'justify'the'content'of'the'current' issue.'In'dance'and'performance'it'is'rather'understood'as'a'big'mistake'to'articulate'a' position,'also'concerning'the'artist.'Better'not'say'anything,'and'you'will'not'be'kept' responsible.

The'amount'of'literature'and'magazine'press'within'the'field'of'visual'art'is'immense,' whereas'in'dance'we'hardly'see'nothing'of'the'sort.'Art'magazines,'of'different'quality,' flourish'all'over'the'world,'in'dance'hmmm'two'bad'ones.'With'the'risk'of'sounding' patronizing,'publishing'(not'to'mention'translations)'and'magazine'production'is'most' active'in'the'Balkan.'In'the'rest'of'Europe'there'is'hardly'a'magazine'worth'remembering,' not'a'single'independent'publishing'house'that'I'need'to'keep'an'eye'on.'Publishing'and' book'making'is'not'only'about'identity'boost'or'serving'ballet'kids'with'glossy'images.' Publishing'is'a'means'of'empowerment,'of'conflict'and'not'least'to'produce'visibility.' Dancers,'choreographers,'makers'and'doers,'programmers,'are'you'fine'with'the'fact'that' those'who'write'about'your'work'tendentially'consider'dance'to'be'at'its'peak'sometime' during'the'early'80’s'or'chicken'out'on'their'ideologies'because'of'financial'difficulties'or' demands'on'sold'copies.'No'worries,'let'them'be,'but'remember'it'is'those'who'write' history'that'decides'what’s'important.'Publish'yourself,'your'friends'and'enemies,'and'don’t' put'up'some'petty'argument'that'you'are'busy'with'the'body'not'text,'publishing'is'a'means,' and'a'good'one'to'claim'territory.' Moreover,'the'emergence'of'the'independent'curator'has'intensified'the'development'of' new'formats.'Conventional'formats'are'still'up'and'running'but'over'the'last'three'decades'

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we'have'seen'a'number'of'new'formats'taking'form.'Among'them'thematic'exhibitions,' biennales,'shows'exclusively'formed'around'commissions'or'proposals'utilizing'entirely' new'media'such'as'books,'magazines,'the'internet'or'urban'contexts,'there'are'billions'of' others'not'least'concerned'with'activity,'socially'engaged'stuff'and'obviously'immaterial' production.'Compare'that'to'the'situation'in'dance'and'performance'where'especially'the' festival'format'has'consolidated'itself'excessively.'I'can'personally'not'recall'a'single'festival' that'has'elaborated'a'strong'proposal,'or'even'more'rarely'a'proposal'that'is'controversial' or'excluding.'The'dance'festival'of'today'is'void'of'position'and'is'almost'always'a'bric:a: brac'of'creations'of'the'last'18'months.'Lately'we'have'seen'a'few'brave'attempts,'these' should'be'celebrated'even'if'they'are'just'attempts'and'might'not'work'for'the'next'fifty' years.'' Lately'instrumentalisation'has'appeared'to'be'a'severe'issue'in'the'art'in'general'and'dance' certainly'follow'up'with'an'obedient'smile.'When'inspecting'new'formats'they'are'to'a'large' degree'engineered'in'respect'of'policy'documents'issues'by'art'councils'or'EU.'Isn’t'it' painful'to'experience'how'every'festival'or'similar'with'a'social'or'political'profile'without' exception'practice'exactly'what'the'funding'body'desire;'activation'of'minorities,' engagement'in'dark'parts'of'the'city,'ecology,'support'of'a'group'in'society'that'is'already' decided'not'to'have'a'voice.'Personally'I'find'it'shameful'to'experience'how'each'and'every' festival'and'venue'bow'for'policies'that'transform'art'to'something'quantifiable,'something' measurable.'And'the'programmer'goes'on'about'how'they'have'to'devise'programs'of'a' certain'kind'in'order'to'obtain'support'(you'know'it’s'so'tough'nowadays).'Well,'what'is' happening'is'that'the'artist'has'been'transformed'into'a'pawn'in'a'play'called' entrepreneurship.'And'the'trap'is'double,'because'the'programmer'or'artist'who'doesn’t' obey'is'immediately'accused'for'being'anti:democratic.'But,'wouldn’t'it'be'a'disaster'if' artistic'practice'become'democracy'enhancing'becomes'a'marketing'agency'for'a'system'of' thought'that'has'expired'long'ago.'What'we'today'call'democracy'is'most'of'all'simple' management.''

Consider'that'there'are'approximately'250'conventional'black'box'theaters'spread'over' Europe.'How'does'it'come'that'they'all'utilize'the'same'marketing'strategy'and'stick'to'it' year'after'year'when'the'lack'of'audience'always'is'a'central'problem.'Is'there'some'central' agency'that'has'decided'that'a'black'box'theatre'must'have'a'season'program'presented'in' the'form'of'an'accordion'like'folder?'How'is'it'possible'that'the'imagination'of' programmers,'festival'and'season'directors'are'so'limited'that'the'accordion'has'become' mandatory?

Or'turn'the'argument'around,'how'is'it'possible'that'the'dance'artist'spend'three'months'on' rehearsing'a'new'piece'and'twenty'minutes'on'producing'the'press'image'when'the' performance'often'is'seen'by'less'than'300'people,'and'the'program'is'printed'in'25.000' copies?'Shouldn’t'we'change'the'procedure'and'spend'three'months'on'the'picture'and' rehearse'20'minutes?'How'is'it'possible'that'we'allow'five'lines'of'generic'text'to'present'a' piece'of'art'that'we'have'spent'months'or'even'years'in'preparing?'Every'festival'and' season'program'presents'every'artist'with'the'same'amount'of'text,'five'lines'written'to'fit' everybody.'Such'procedure'obviously'favors'the'already'established'and'offers'hardly'no' opportunity'for'a'different'conception'of'what'a'performance'can'be'to'flourish.

A'direct'comparison'with'visual'art'and'museum'culture'is'obviously'useless'as' circumstances'are'very'different,'and'at'the'same'time'the'pressure'to'attract'visitors'is' overwhelming'also'there,'but'never'the'less'visual'art'has'developed'into'a'much'more'

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heterogeneous'field'over'the'last'20'years'than'dance'and'performance.'It'is'my'firm'belief' that'this'has'to'do'with'the'establishment'of'curatorial'discourse,'and'it'is'because'of'the' lack'of'the'same'that'dance'has'ended'up'maintaining'aging'structures'and'strategies.'There' exists'an'endless'stream'of'publications'concerned'with'curating'in'visual'art'and'there'is' hardly'nothing'of'the'sort'concerning'dance.'If'dance'is'to'have'a'future'it'is'imperative'that' we'develop'our'own'discourses'around'programming'or'curating.'We'must'certainly'not' invite'curators'etc.'from'visual'art'to'inform'us'about'how'it'is'to'be'done.'No,'we'must'do' this'on'our'own'terms;'take'up'the'tough'task'of'producing'our'own'discursive'terrain'no' matter'if'it'will'cause'turbulence'and'havoc.'There'will'be'collateral'damage,'but'I'can' ensure'you'nobody'will'die.'The'policy'that'govern'contemporary'dance'is'one'of'inclusion' and'everybody:should:be:given:'the:opportunity,'still'we'all'call'for'transformation.'This'is' a'paradox,'if'we'want'change'it'will'happen'on'behalf'of'some'one.'Some'things'have'to'go,'if' we'want'something'new'to'emerge.

The'last'time'we'experienced'a'strong'shift'of'policy'concerning'dance'and'performance'in' Western'Europe'was'in'the'late'70s'and'early'80s.'Young'makers'and'doers,'supported'by' equally'young'managers,'directors'and'programmers'refused'to'be'included'and'comply'to' the,'at'the'time,'stale'machinery'of'state'theaters'and'similar.'During'a'few'years'a'line'of' venues'appeared,'willing'to'take'risk,'often'without'financial'opportunities,'and'to'host' young'artists'and'groups.

In'Holland,'Belgium,'Germany,'not'to'mention'what'later'became'Croatia,'Serbia'and' Slovenia'venues'and'festivals'flourished'although'the'scale'was'small.'With'the'emergence' of'new'theaters,'often'considering'rather'new'program'policies,'a'new'generation'of'artists' and'groups'established'themselves.'Three'decades'later'the'situation'has'changed'a'lot,'but' has'it'changed'enough?'These'venues,'festivals,'artists'and'groups'are'obviously'not'willing' to'give'up'their'positions,'so'to'try'to'force'ones'way'in'is'not'the'smartest'solution.'Why' would'such'entities'offer'more'than'just'enough'space'for'young'and'upcoming'artists,' when'they'are'good'as'it'is?'They'don’t'wont'to'be'overtaken'or'lose'their'positions.'Festival' and'season'programs'are'children'of'a'certain'time'and'context,'we'can'work'to'make'them' a'little'bit'better,'a'little'bit'more'open,'a'little'bit'this'or'that,'but'there'will'be'no'major' changes'as'long'as'the'economy'doesn’t'simply'collapse.'So'if'we'want'something'to'change' on'a'more'radical'level'we'must'simply'abandon'ship'and'start'from'scratch.'We'must'force' ourselves'to'not'set'up'another,'perhaps'alternative,'festival.'We'must'force'ourselves'not'to' start'a'new'space.'If'we'do'we'will'just'end'up'in'the'same'position'one'more'time,'and'the' second'time'we'will'just'look'stupid.'The'curatorial'discourses'we'have'to'engage'must'not' be'concerned'with'“what'can'be'done”,'or'better'with'strategic'matters.'What'have'to'be' approached'are'structural'or'fundamental'changes.'Our'future'is'not'easy,'because'what' stands'in'front'of'us'is'the'necessity'to'invent'new'formats'and'radically'new'opportunities.

However,'the'future'is'bright.'Over'the'last'15'to'25'years'our'society,'our'world,'has'seen'a' veritable'transformation'concerning'production,'communication'and'economy.'25'years' ago'manufacturing'to'a'large'degree'governed'the'world,'but'since'then'we'have' experienced'a'strong'move'towards'capacities'of'distribution,'communication'and'the' mobility'of'value.'One'could'say'that'the'world'has'experienced'a'shift'of'focus'from' manufacturing,'to'production'of'goods,'to'performance'and'movement.'Concerning'art'it'is' obvious'that'a'regime'driven'by'manufacturing'finds'its'accomplice'in'an'art'form'that'focus' on'objects,'namely'visual'art.'If'we'today'live'under'a'paradigm'governed'by'performance,' such'paradigm'needs'to'find'its'related'expression'in'the'arts.'The'future'doesn’t'look'bright' for'visual'art,'at'least'not'art'that'is'concerned'with'the'reproduction'of'objects,'but'for'

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dance,'choreography'and'performance'it'certainly'appears'that'we'can'look'forward'to'a' bright'and'flourishing'future,'but'only'if'we'let'go'of'the'established'models'for'what'those' expressions'can'be.'The'theatre,'festival'and'season'program,'does'not'as'e.g.'Peggy'Phelan' has'argued'promote'performance'in'the'sense'of'its'ephemeral'status,'on'the'contrary'they' handle'dance'and'performance'as'objects.'It'is'with'this'is'mind,'that'we'live'in'a'time'of' performance,'that'we'have'to'take'on'the'possible'production'of'new'formats,'new'modes'of' production'and'representation.'If'we'do,'we'can'only'succeed,'but'it'will'imply'a' fundamental'shift'in'our'understanding'of'what'performance,'dance'and'choreography'can' be.'This,'however,'does'not'mean'that'we'have'to'evacuate'the'theatre'and'desperately'seek' new'sites'for'representation.'No,'what'we'have'to'evacuate'is'the'strategic'levels'of'our' expressions.

A'director'of'a'reasonably'big'festival'recently'stated,'that'he'was'proud'to'welcome'a' certain'artist'to'the'festival'for'the'seventeenth'year'in'a'row.'I'wasn’t'surprised,'as'this'is' what'happens'in'more'or'less'every'festival'(perhaps'not'seventeen),'but'what'would' surprise'me'is'when'Tate'Modern’s'director'proudly announces'the'seventeenth'exhibition' in'equally'many'years'by'one'and'the'same'artist.'That'is'unthinkable,'even'considering'that' it'might'be'a'small'piece'in'some'overlookable'group'exhibition'that'happens'every'year.' Every'time'we'present'for:the:n’th:year'something'else'is'not'presented.'Every'time'we' install'the'big'company'in'the'big'space,'that'space'will'not'be'available'for'something'else' to'develop.'Every'time'ballet:this:or:that:big:name'is'installed'in'the'program,'we'know' that'something'not'ballet:this:or:that:big:name'will'not'be'written'about'in'the'local'or' national'press.'Every'time'we'don’t'write'a'kick'ass'political'statement'about'this'year’s' festival,'we'know'that'the'audience'will'not'upgrade'their'modes'of'experience'but'will' maintain'their'taste'and'identity'and'make'circumstances'to'change'something'next'year' even'smaller.'Every'time'we'argue'that'a'festival'or'season'program'should'have'something' for'everybody,'should'be'available'for'everyman'we'have'also'lowered'our'ambitions' regarding'our'art'form'and'its'future.'Why'are'you'making'art,'why'are'you'programming'a' festival'or'season?'To'please'everyman;'the'general'population'or'audience?'I'hope'not,' because'if'that'is'our'ambition'there'are'certainly'businesses'that'offer'much'better'salaries' and'fancier'parties.'Have'you'forgotten'why'you'are'making'art'or'why'you'set'out'to'realize' that'first'festival?'Those'pieces,'festivals'and'seasons'that'we'created'even'though'we'knew' it'would'costs'and'would'interfere'with'our'personal'economies?'We'did'it'because'we' couldn’t'find'strong'arguments'enough'not'to,'because'we'had'no'smaller'ambitions'than'to' change'the'world,'because'dance,'choreography'and'performance'were'synonymous'with' life'and'death.'Pathetic,'oh'yes,'but'pathetic'enough'to'forget?'Have'we'forgotten'our' mission'statements,'did'we'change'them'from'“until'death”'to'“until'budget'cuts”?

Fifteen'or'so'year'ago'networks'showed'up'as'the'new'fad.'The'motivation'was'to'share' expenses,'to'discover'new'artist'(often'from'exotic'places'like'the'Balkan)'and'support' upcoming'artist.'What'has'happened'today?'Networks'is'today'a'means'to'consolidate' power,'and'hence'by'definition'homogenizing.'Oh'yes,'we'loved'to'support'those'artists' from'Balkan'but'only'one'year,'not'17'in'a'row.'Today'a'production'that'is'not'promoted'by' an'international'network'is'an'impossibility.'There'are'exceptions'but'that'is'not'the'issue' here,'but'what'is'is'to'what'extent'we,'programmers'and'artist,'are'willing'to'sell'out' specificity'in'favor'of'fitting'in.'Networks'are'for'dance'what'ecology'is'for'animals,'a' restrictive'baby'sitter'that'place'the'poor'animal'in'a'restricted'area.'“:Here'you'go,'play' here'but'not'too'loud.”'Stop'being'so'fucking'civilized'and'take'the'risk'of'being'considered'a' fool.

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Recently'I'looked'into'a'well:known'theater’s'statistics'and'found'out'that'one'and'the'same' company'had'been'presented'in'average'ten'nights'per'season.'Considering'that'all' performances'were'sold'out'the'total'amount'of'sold'tickets'would'be'approximately' 10.000.'That’s'a'third'of'the'audience'that'the'local'out'doors'concert'arena'could'host'in' one'night.'So'why'not'present'the'big'company'one'night'in'the'Olympia'stadium'instead'of' the'ten'nights'in'the'theatre.'The'counter'argument'is'obvious.'“:'Dance'has'to'be' experienced'direct,'it'is'about'presence...”'and'so'on'but'what'is'the'difference'between' dance'and'a'concert'with'Metallica'that'nobody'has'a'problem'to'share'with'50.000'other' people'looking'at'video'screens.'As'far'as'I'can'remember'nobody'had'a'problem'with' authenticity'when'Rolling'Stones'in'2005'performed'in'front'of'1.2'million people'at' Copacabana.'So'why'isn’t'the'big'dance'company'presented'on'the'same'beach?'It’s'not' because'of'the'above'arguments,'it’s'because'if'the'size'of'the'economy'gets'big'enough'big' money'is'also'moving'in.'Better'continue'to'present'the'big'company'in'the'theatre'so'that' nothing'will'change.'Tate'Modern'is'a'good'or'possibly'bad'example'that'things'can'change' and'scale'is'relative.'Ten'years'ago'it'was'unimaginable'that'an'artist'would'move'into'the' Turbine'Hall'and'today'it’s'rather'obligatory'for'an'artist'to'reach'star'capacity.'Olafur' Eliason'and'Rolling'Stones'had'more'or'less'the'same'amount'of'visitors,'Stones'just'did'it'a' bit'quicker,'but'then'why'can’t'Rosas,'Jerome'Bel'or'Jiri'Kilian'have'1.2'million'people' looking'at'their'work? The'problem'with'dance'is'a'performed'little'brother'concept,'which'in'fact'is'just'hiding'in' the'corner'not'to'have'to'compete'with'the'big'guys.

Only'if'our'expression'develops'a'decent'curatorial'discourse'can'we'produce'proper' arguments'against'the'ridiculous'argumentation'above,'but'as'long'as'we'don’t'we'will' always'be'subject'to'whims'of'local'politicians,'the'well:meaning'hand'of'state'cultural' policy,'and'will'never'be'able'to'defend'ourselves'against'budget'cuts'and'identity'hungry' misery.

' ' ' ' '

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Quantifiction - a conversation 1. Quantifocus Dries: QUANTIFICATION? It’s a huge topic and we don’t have much space to discuss it here. Let’s accept that we’re going to do some brutal oversimplification and see how far we get... First, what is quantification? Kate: The most basic definition of quantification: it’s a scientific method for gathering and simplifying large amounts of data. It relies on the rationalist belief that we can construct mathematical models of reality that make sense and expose truths. This is fine in ‘hard’ sciences that are largely based on mathematic theory, but when applied widely in the messy social field quantification methods become problematic. The gap between the model and reality is very difficult to understand. Nevertheless in a neoliberal political climate quantification is the dominant tool to generate data for evidence-based policy making and is therefore a powerful motor in the political process and language. Consequently ‘quantitative thinking’ is becoming naturalised as a [management] mechanism and a [social] psychology to evaluate ourselves, our experiences and all kinds of worth – and I think it has a subtly violent and profound effect on the ways we interact with each other and legitimise value. D: We could say that the most positive aspect of ‘social’ quantification is that it seems to make large historical trends apparent – the kinds that are difficult to see close-up in the day-to-day, such as population growth or housing prices. But the great weakness is that quantification processes must exclude aspects that are difficult or impossible to measure, and data that doesn’t quite fit the research model – as well as any values that the researchers are simply unaware of since only pre-defined territories can be measured. And yet in many cases this ‘irrelevant’ information is also the core knowledge of the social field in question. K: Because of these limitations, I think social quantification is both a weak and persuasive tool - which is a dangerous combination. It has a comforting but deluding appearance of clarity. D: Quantification methods feel intimately linked to economic thinking and the evolution from ‘citizen’ to ‘consumer’. Everything becomes an investment, including public goods and funds, and every (social) penny invested must be monitored for its return in order to legitimise further investments. In this way policy decisions grow from economic ideology rather than any deeply considered social ideology. 2. Quantifriction D: Let’s say we recognise quantification mechanisms in our daily lives - from viewing ratings that influence the content of television and news websites, statistics on racial difference, defence of austerity measures, efficiency reports on hospital performance, the balance between academic research and the pressure to publish... But can you give me a clear example where you find quantification in your own arts practice? Why you are interested in this subject? K: A year ago at a festival in the UK I was asked to give every audience member a paper to fill out with a list of beurocratically worded questions evaluating themselves and their experience, immediately after their encounter with my artwork. I refused, and was surprised to be in a difficult conversation with the organisers who couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t put people through this mechanism. They considered it a positive offer and a way to get to know the audience. If this is the desire I think there are so many better ways to stimulate exchange, particularly in a festival context. But of course this form was actually deeply attached to statistical evidence demanded by their funding organisation. D: What is the main difference between your own performance practice where sometimes you ask questions of the audience, and here how the festival asks questions of its audience? K: Questions and exchange are not the problem for me! Quite the opposite. But it’s the social expectations and motivations behind knowledge-exchange that matter, and in this case the questions (and therefore the information) that were asked smelled strongly of an efficiency, a target to be reached, an

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instrumentalisation of people’s experience. The language was bland and unplayful, deliberately unprovocative and bureaucratically ‘fair’. Most strikingly the request was antisocial because it gave no opportunity for live negotiation, discussion, relation. No way to challenge or extend yourself and others, no questioning of the questions. Real negotiation between people is far messier and more meaningful than this, and proposing this kind of ‘instant feedback’ to a government body is deadening to our experience of an artwork. But more importantly it’s isolating and deadening to our skills of complex social exchange, and this is the problem on a wider scale. Of course the UK has a different social climate to Belgium, but I think there are signs to observe there. D: I had a similar experience recently after a hospital visit when I was given a feedback questionnaire with fixed questions that the hospital management could digest. It completely removed any normal social negotiation and meaningful exchange that you might have with a doctor for instance. It was basically dehumanising, and therefore I didn’t give feedback even though they did a wonderful job. 3. Quantimplications K: As you said, quantification is the main political tool for evidence-based policy. It brings heavy management and external regulation on all social sectors, as well as the demand on those sectors to provide proof-data of their success according to very restricted value criteria, often economic. We spoke a great deal about the political mechanism of this, but since we don’t have room here to detail the whole argument, can we summarise the consequences you and I think it brings? D: Yes! To be short and blunt, we concluded several things: One major consequence of quantitative thinking is a depoliticised social climate. This happens in several ways. Quantified data enables policy and decision makers to have a very simplified view of any particular field without a deep knowledge of it. Political decisions can be based persuasively on the numbers, without the requirement to defend action with a developed ideological argument – instead percentages, success rates, efficiency and cost effectiveness figures are offered. Under the pressure to provide these kinds of proof data, each social sector starts to transform into a goaland outcome-orientated mechanism that deals only in measurable values. Any intangible or immeasurable values tend to fall out of this evaluation system regardless of their real necessity, which can create big disturbances of internal function and exchange within the sphere. There’s also much less opportunity for people to negotiate knowledge and values between themselves through work and social interactions, because goal-achievements are externally imposed and regulated. As these negotiation skills start to disappear, so too do people’s trust in the possibility of ideological argument and in their own capability to make judgements about values. This has a circular effect leading a public back to dependency on the apparent logical truth of quantified, trustworthy ‘proof’. In short, in this depoliticised climate there is little room for a diversity of ideological argument, and less experience or trust in such arguments. There is also an extinction of immeasurable values, and an inability to articulate or defend these values forcefully. 4. Quantifingerpainting K: OK let’ s talk about values then. It seems to me that the arts field is particularly imbued with all kinds of immeasurable values, effects and affects, so its ‘efficiency’ will always resist quantification attempts and real commodification. Who can say for how long and in which exact ways a profound artistic experience stays with an audience? How could one measure the productivity of imaginatively destabilising one’s own identity? - or of intense aesthetic pleasure? - or the playful rearrangement of meaning? Why would it be interesting to measure these? Instead it seems more important to argue the value and need for such exploration, for this kind of exchange – and not exclusively in the arts either, but in society as a whole. The

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articulation of this necessity will not be based on quantifiable ‘proof’, but on ideological arguments for a vitality of life in a diversity of meanings. D: In our meetings we asked ourselves ‘what is it that we are exchanging in arts contexts?’ and we began a complicated and incomplete list of values that we feel are manifesting in the territory of art. These included (in no particular order): shifts in consciousness, instinctive connections, the absurd and obscene, alternative routes of sense, space for the bored disinterested dispossessed disenfranchised and those who choose to refuse, play with chaos, experimenting with norms, humility, sensorial experience, affect, non-language based communication, joy, narrative and the deconstruction of it, space for the unarticulated and unreadable, rewiring reference co-ordinates, conflict, pleasure, anger, embracing failure difficulty absurdity and humour, abstract meditation, redefining time, experimentation with identity, and encounter with the ‘other’… Basically our discussions pointed to (among other things) a society that would value and encourage contexts that play with transformation, reflection, provocation, and experimentation. K: There was also a strong indication that all this play is not instrumental towards an outcome. In fact its value lies exactly in its openness to unforeseen consequences for everyone involved. So far, so good. The next step is to articulate meaningful public contexts and spaces for these exchanges to occur… 5. Quantistrategics D: We proposed earlier that quantification actually prohibits many of the values we’re interested in, simply because these values are immeasurable (or rather they escape the measurement tools of quantification), causing them to remain unrecognised and to disappear from public debate. So how can we interact with this drive to quantify? K: During our discussions we considered three different strategies towards this political mechanism of quantification. One option is to embrace and use quantification in a positive sense - to make new definitions of what we want to have quantified and be very careful about interpreting the figures produced. A second strategy is to resist quantification strongly by pointing out the poverty and violence of it as a methodology, to dismantle it as a social mechanism. The third option, and perhaps the hardest to grasp, is to remove ourselves entirely from the territory of quantification as a discussion - refusing to engage with it, and instead looking for new territories with other languages to redefine values in ways that don’t need or engage with quantification at all. Personally I find the first option too problematic. It’s dangerous to get imbedded in a conversation with quantification because it’s too often founded on values that are incongruous with reality as we perceive it. Meanwhile the logic of interpreting figures can swing in many directions far too easily. There’s a study from the Netherlands showing that the quantity of art production has risen while the number of art ‘consumers’ has dropped. This graph can be interpreted in at least two different ways. One is: there’s too much art for the low demand, therefore we should drop production. The other is: art is being made and we want to engage with it, therefore we need to raise the numbers of participants attending. These interpretations show two divergent senses of value that can be argued from the same data. It’s easy to think it’s the arguments that are the problem here, but in fact the real problem is the demand to interpret that particular arrangement of numbers at all, and therefore being forced into the reduced corner of reality that they so persuasively represent. Before dealing with data, an ideological position needs to be articulated - not the other way around. A thorough criticism of quantification’s weaknesses and limitations would be helpful too. D: Recently a coalition of cultural support organisations (VTi, BAM, FARO, Locus,...) commissioned Pascal Gielen and his team to summarise a large amount of international research that’s been done to quantify the effects of culture on society. Apparently they focus on this statistical evidence because this is the information the government actually demands. In addition to these figures Gielen articulates an (unasked for but important) ideological argument for valuing culture and the arts. But to me there is a danger in trying to relate these two kinds of information or argument to each other, since in fact they have little correlation. We may be better off insisting on the dissonance between these

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approaches instead. When you defend the arts by using a research that proves people who go to see dance performances are 10% more healthy then people who don’t… I hope that the people advocating for the arts realise that not every defence is a good defence. Once we get involved in a certain language and a certain debate it’s difficult to get out - and in the poor debate of the poor language of numbers we will definitely get lost. K: I remember you once questioning who commissions this kind research and asking ‘what if’ the art community itself commissioned it as opposed to the government… 6. Quantinfection D: If we say that quantification is particularly poor at expressing immeasurable and ephemeral values then we obviously need to find other ways to express those values. Who is responsible in the art field to develop and advocate these arguments? K: I think public discourse is meant to articulate the values we care about, and this is everybody’s responsibility. But institutions represent the public interest in their social sphere, so it’s important that they make a clear political articulation of the values of their field. My personal feeling is this institutional discourse is currently weak – and it is made weaker by the demand to produce evidence-based policy data. I think that strengthening real discourse goes hand in hand with resistance to certain (if not most) quantification demands from policy makers, and instead insisting on the development of alternative valuearguments. Concretely, in the performing arts for example I think this is the task of institutions such as VTi and oKo, as well as individual venues, festivals, curators, media... D: What is the responsibility of artists in this model? K: One responsibility of artists is in the conversations they already have with institutions. Belgium is lucky enough to still have relatively strong institutions, which should have the potential to be accessible public pathways of communication towards the government. At the moment artists can have an overly dependent relationship with art institutions, if they have any relation at all. But rather than pursuing only independence from this, I think it’s interesting to re-evaluate this dependency and replace it with a more engaged and demanding exchange with institutions. We can experiment with what institutions are there for. This means artists being articulate and insistent when we vocalise our thoughts in the conversations we cultivate with institutions - including the development and defence of important values, and requesting that institutions embody and communicate these clearly to the public and government. It also requires that institutions and artists be receptive to this exchange. D: The performing arts field in Flanders used to be organised around theatre companies. Perhaps there was a clearer link then between the artists, institutional theaters and policy makers. This direct link got lost when artists no longer organised themselves in companies. It should be the responsibility of the artists now to think about other ways to organise themselves individually or in group, so they can together enrich the value-discourse and (re)find a stronger link between institutions and themselves. When we do, we should keep in mind that institutions have their own agenda, and one of the points on their agenda is to survive. This can be good because it creates stability in our field. But we don’t have an artist organisation which functions on the same macro level. Artists can individually ask institutions to better articulate values towards society, the media, and the government. But if many artists are in favour of this, why don’t we voice these concerns in group, and make the institutions responsible in group. K: We’ve focused on the arts field in our discussion here but of course these are urgent concerns for all social spheres. The strongest forms of quantification have not yet arrived in Belgium, but they are not far away. The demand to quantify will become stronger, and it will be bound up with a distribution of resources according to values that you may or may not agree with. This puts citizens in a weak position to negotiate what values are important to them and what they want to do with resources. So reclaiming and rearticulating these negotiations on a social and political level is very important. Kate McIntosh & Dries Douibi

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Brussels 15/04/2014 These personal reflections are part of a much longer conversation over several months, which was also influenced by four group-discussions among artists organised by SPIN. This research will be continued in a laboratory setting during KFDA 2014. If you want to contribute or share your thoughts, please mail to info@spinspin.be www.spinspin.be

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Een pleidooi voor kunst en emancipatie van de publieke sfeer De voorbije weken is er veel over de kunstensector geschreven. Voor- en tegenstanders bestookten elkaar met argumenten die moesten aantonen dat kunst wel, of juist niet, waardevol is en bijgevolg, ja dan nee, subsidie moet krijgen. In dit debat werden de clichés en veralgemeningen langs beide kanten niet geschuwd. Dé kunstenaar werd enerzijds ten tonele gevoerd als een verzetsstrijder, de laatste baken van hoop in deze barbaarse maatschappij, en als een elitaire, wereldvreemde zakkenvuller anderzijds. Wie echter goed naar het kunstenveld kijkt, merkt dat het helemaal geen massief en eensgezind blok vormt. Dé kunstenaar bestaat niet. Hij of zij komt in vele gedaanten en vormen: een zelfstandige ondernemer die zijn werk via een galerie verkoopt, een sociaal-artistieke buurtwerker, of een internationaal vermaarde choreograaf die subsidies ontvangt, etc. Daarom willen we meteen het volgende duidelijk maken: wij representeren niemand. Wij zijn niet dé kunstenaar, en ook niet dé sector. Wij zijn negen burgers, werkzaam in het kunstenveld. In wat volgt willen we proberen om op een constructieve en zelfkritische manier na te denken over de plaats van kunst in onze hedendaagse maatschappij. De belangrijkste vraag is, zoals altijd, niet wat kunst is, maar wat ze doet en kan doen. Nog niet zo lang geleden groeiden onze ouders en grootouders op met de volgende gedachte: een samenleving die zich modern wilde noemen, moest zichzelf emanciperen. Idealiter gebeurde dat in al haar geledingen, gaande van de persoonlijke levenssfeer tot het lot van een hele gemeenschap. Die idee joeg de ontwikkeling aan van nieuwe ideeën over economie, sociale zaken, onderwijs en cultuur, alsook de vorming van een collectieve identiteit – de Vlaamse, bijvoorbeeld. Wie vandaag terugblikt op de twintigste eeuw, herkent een eeuw waarin in Vlaanderen achtereenvolgens burger, vrouw, migrant, persoon met een handicap, kind en Vlaming… streden voor emancipatie. De term emancipatie is in onbruik geraakt. Vandaag spreken we over preventie en zekerheid. Voortdurend liggen er crisissen, ziektes en allerhande bedreigingen voor de burger op de loer en het beleid beperkt zich tot het ‘managen’ van deze – al dan niet reële – crisissen. Voortdurend is er te horen dat dit een periode is ‘waar we door moeten’, een inspanning die we moeten doen ‘voor de toekomst’. Maar hoe die toekomst er moet uitzien? Joost mag het weten. Onze politici zijn te druk bezig met de crisis te managen om daarnaast ook nog eens een antwoord formuleren op de vraag waar het allemaal heen moet. Het Vlaamse regeerakkoord zet volop in op de burger als ‘overheidsklant’, en dat wijst wat ons betreft op een fundamenteel probleem: het bestaan van een publieke sfeer dreigt te worden ontkend. Naast een depolitisering van het beleid, zetten ook een verregaande privatisering en instrumentalisering de publieke sfeer onder druk. Is er vandaag nog wel ruimte voor veelstemmigheid, voor het uiten en beslechten van allerhande bezorgdheden, (politieke) meningsverschillen en conflicten? Het is ontstellend te zien hoe de idee van emancipatie en het publieke vandaag vervliegen in alle geledingen van de samenleving: politiek, onderwijs, economie, maar

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evenzogoed de kunsten zelf. Wat zou emancipatie vandaag nog kunnen betekenen? Daar is geen eenduidig antwoord op, maar we houden hier een pleidooi om die idee nieuw leven in te blazen. Daarin zien we ook een rol voor de kunsten weggelegd, in het bijzonder in hun bijdrage aan de publieke sfeer. Het krachtigste wapen van kunst is de verbeelding. Kunst analyseert de beelden, verhalen en betekenissen die onze levenssfeer mee vormgeven. Kunst vraag aandacht voor het onbestemde, roept vragen op en omarmt twijfel en experiment. Kunst ‘veronzekert’ en creëert zo openingen voor andere zienswijzen en mogelijkheden – en dit in schril contrast met een politiek discours dat stoelt op angst. Kunst nodigt dus uit om alternatieve manieren van zijn, samenleven en werken te ervaren, interpreteren, verkennen en uitproberen. In dat alles schuilt het emancipatoire potentieel van kunst. Kunst emancipeert een publieke sfeer. Ze maakt die publieke sfeer herkenbaar, laat die mee ontstaan. Voorbij de bloedarmoede van zogezegd ‘eenvoudige’ oplossingen, draagt kunst ertoe bij de publieke sfeer uit haar benarde situatie te halen. Kunst emancipeert, weg van een consensus over wat wel of niet een crisis wordt genoemd, weg ook van misplaatste zekerheden. Kunst emancipeert ons van angst. Echter, kunst kan die rol maar spelen als ze zich ook actief in de publieke sfeer begeeft. Zodat de spelers in die publieke sfeer in contact komen met deze kunst en een open gesprek kan ontstaan. De toenemende professionalisering en specialisatie van de kunsten heeft weliswaar vele goede dingen teweeggebracht, maar ook ook gezorgd voor een toenemende mate van geslotenheid. We zouden hier dan ook willen pleiten om van het kunstencircuit, dat al te vaak gesloten is, terug een open kunstscene te maken. Dat wil zeggen een open ruimte, waarin toeschouwers niet worden herleidt tot cultuurconsumenten, maar actief bijdragen aan het kunstenveld. Onze musea, theaters en andere kunsttempels moeten terug kunstfora worden, waar mensen niet alleen bewonderen, maar ook discussiëren en elkaar ter verantwoording roepen. We hopen dat kunst terug een meer centrale rol kan spelen in het openen en herdenken, kortom in het emanciperen van de publieke sfeer. We verwijzen daarbij graag naar het motto van Vlaanderen: ‘State of the Art’ (in het Nederlands wordt dat: ‘Verbeelding werkt’). Hoewel Vlaanderen vooralsnog geen state of staat is – de woordspeling in het Engels is natuurlijk niet onschuldig, maar passons – lijkt hieruit wel een besef te spreken dat een staat (en een gemeenschap) gebaat is bij kunst en bijgevolg bij een groot respect voor de publieke sfeer. In die sfeer dient ze zichzelf immers voortdurend te legitimeren én heruit te vinden. Als ze liever op haar lauweren rust en terugplooit op culturele wapenfeiten uit het verleden, leert de geschiedenis ons dat het met zo’n staat snel gedaan kan zijn. In 2002 schreef filosoof Bart Verschaffel al: “In deze open cultuur, die geen tradities bouwt maar ze opgebruikt, en waarin zoveel betekenissen tegelijk schuiven, dient er flink wat ‘symbolische arbeid’ te worden geleverd.” Laten we die symbolische arbeid van de kunsten meer dan ooit ondersteunen in onze publieke sfeer.

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Het is tijd voor een nieuwe invulling van de emancipatiegedachte. Eerder dan de bevrijding van het individu is er vandaag – misschien wel meer dan ooit – ruimte nodig voor verhalen, ideeën, ervaringen en andere vormen van verbeelding, de ene al lastiger dan de andere, die oude en nieuwe gemeenschappen kunnen bespelen. Daarom zijn er kunstenaars aan zet. Niet om clichés de wereld in te sturen, wel om bestaande en onbestaande werelden in scène te zetten, zodat mensen ze (van elkaar) herkennen. Veel kunstenaars zijn daar vandaag mee bezig. Wie ze kent, weet dat ze de pejoratieve bijklank van de term kunstelite niet verdienen. De manier waarop ze denken en werken, staat veraf van elitisme. Hun rol mogen we vandaag emancipatoir noemen, en ze wachten nu op een beleid dat hen daarin volgt. Daniel Blanga-Gubbay, Bojana Cveji!, Dries Douibi, Mette Edvardsen, Lars Kwakkenbos, Jeroen Peeters, Berno Odo Polzer, Jonas Rutgeerts, Sarah Vanhee

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From ‘what else?’ to ‘what now?’ Charlotte De Somviele, Podium, no. 62, June-July 2014 Is perpetual relativism already past its best? There is certainly something shifting in Flemish theatre: away from detached irony and towards personal engagement. Young theatre-makers in particular are looking out into the world with an open view, in search of a spark of meaning. How do they differ from the two generations that preceded them? It is now at least a year since Dood Paard arrived at Monty to perform In die nag, an adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s classic Long Day’s Journey into Night (1912). This Amsterdam collective is best known in Flemish theatre circles for its many years of collaboration with tgSTAN, de Koe and Maatschappij Discordia: all collectives whose roots go back to the 1980s and early 1990s. As kindred artistic spirits they share a love of repertoire, a mise-en-scène that has the nature of a collage, and a ‘reflective’ acting style that separates the actor from the character. In die nag is no exception to this. It portrays a dysfunctional family which, tired of prime quality pizza, failed ambitions and middle-class short-sightedness, decides to leave the Netherlands and to seek a new freedom in South Africa. However, once they have made the crossing to the promised land, the emptiness of the white trash trailer park hits them just as hard as at home. The exoticism turns out to be no more than a fig leaf for an inner weakness that cannot be cured. Dood Paard performs Rob De Graef’s play in its familiar house style: with ironic exaggeration. This permeates the staging from beginning to end: an acting style that tacks between hysteria and apathy, the garish costumes with which the actors make themselves into stereotypical ‘little people’, the fragmentary ‘cut & paste’ composition and the direct speaking to the audience. This alienating acting style is clearly indebted to Maatschappij Discordia, which in its turn took its lead from Bertolt Brecht. No emotional identification, traditional dialogue and unity of time, place and action: Dood Paard punctures the mechanisms of theatrical representation and has a great sense of anarchy. Worn-out relativism You can clearly sense that the company was formed at least twenty years ago, at the time when postmodern ideas were seeping into the collective consciousness. Against the background of the advancing mass media, philosophers such as Baudrillard and Derrida had unmasked reality as a construction. ‘Deconstruction’ became the preferred way to emancipate oneself from the great ideological illusions that had held man in their grasp for too long. Artists took apart the structure and cohesion of stories so as to expose their internal contradictions. In the theatre, illusionism was renounced together with the linear dramatic text. Instead we had a proliferation of possible perspectives that backed up the ‘absence’ of any ultimate meaning. Since the 1980s, the new theatre has edited, fragmented and mixed reality and fiction, high culture and low… Irony may be a rewarding critical strategy, but it is tied up in a dual logic: both breaching and affirming the norm.

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It is no coincidence that such companies as Dood Paard and Discordia are all collectives with no director or dramaturge. The theory of deconstruction admits no authority, neither in the working process nor on the stage. The themes are subjected to critical discussion from the inside out: like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, deconstruction assumes the form of what it wishes to criticize, so as to play it off against itself. Caricature, irony and stereotyping are rewarding ways of doing this: aiming for a magnification of or a clash between form and content, they try to expose the blind spots and power structures of a system or an ideology. The danger of any method is of course that after a time it degenerates into a ‘style’ whose critical element has been eroded. In die nag is a typical example of this. That evening in the Monty it was striking to see how Dood Paard’s attempt to bring everything down was still just as deep-rooted. As if theatre had stood still all those years, while the world outside had long ago changed. The performance felt like a pastiche, in drag, of a poetics (and spirit of the age) that one can hardly any longer call contemporary. It is precisely because of postmodernism that a down-to-earth scepticism towards meaning, morality and identity have become rooted in our DNA – this is an achievement for which one no longer has to man the barricades. So it seemed that In die nag was mainly kicking at open doors in the name of a worn-out relativism which in fact avoids artistic and social self-questioning. It looked as if Dood Paard had reached the end of its story, and its form was stretched until it became a collection of clichés. The older generation does not have a monopoly on this withdrawal into a ‘dead’ formal idiom. It seems that such young artists as Florentina Holzinger and Vincent Riebeek, or the Antwerp performance collective Eisbär, are also stuck in that paradigm of the empty symbol. Their productions quote from the image database of popular culture with a nonchalant anything goes attitude, but they do not manage to pit this material against themselves and thereby expose the inner logic of the consumer society. This is of course the only way that deconstruction can be critical – otherwise you might just as well switch on the television. The effect of this sort of oeuvre is paradoxical: like ‘empty mirrors’ they force the viewer to show their colours regarding how today’s theatre should position itself in public debate, while themselves not succeeding in formulating anything meaningful on this matter. This may lead to heated discussion in the bar afterwards, but on the part of the artist it reveals something that smells like indifference. As if in the deft imitation of the outside world they have lost their own voice. Can non-involvement ever be the breeding ground, or the effect, of art? Self-criticism when cornered Every beginning theatre-maker nowadays should look for a way of dealing with the legacy of this postmodern ‘concept of absence’, because it is quite simply a part of the tradition of the West (artistic and otherwise). An interesting case in point is the Dutch collective De Warme Winkel. It was established in 2003, as regards form is very much in the Dood Paard mould, but at the same time tries to take an engaged approach to political debate, which sometimes leads to a shaky straddling. At the end of 2013, for instance, they created We are your friends, a play on the issue of solidarity and the legitimacy of the arts during the European crisis. In order to ‘practise’ this solidarity rather than simply making a subject of it, its makers decided not to go on tour themselves, but to invest the money in local talent. At all the places in Europe where De Warme Winkel were due to perform, they put the stage at the disposal of

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local theatre-makers. This turned out to be an ironic arrangement, because one extravagant artistic figure after another paid a call, exposed to the public by De Warme Winkel themselves: the art snob talking big out of vanity, the narcissistic choreographer who was more concerned with the movements of his inner state of mind than with his ‘message’, the performance artist who paraded up and down to Wagner’s Walküre with straws in his arse, and so on. After years of often noncommittal iconoclasm, the emphasis is cautiously shifting back from showing to telling. The major difference with Dood Paard is that De Warme Winkel does not spare itself in this round of laughing, shrieking and roaring. The four makers direct and comment on the performances by way of a projection on the back wall, whereby they become part of the perverse artistic apparatus which is happy to take off its clothes for money and attention. Whereas Dood Paard’s actors play shallow little parts with great detachment as if they were drawn from far beyond their own world, De Warme Winkel’s members search their own conscience. This self-criticism is only effective up to a point: it raises questions about an existing cultural-political discourse, but makes no attempt to introduce another. In essence, the company does nothing more or less than magnify (and reconfirm) a number of stock clichés from the narcissistic art world with a show of bravura. Irony may well be a rewarding critical strategy when picking holes in social wrongs and turning common power relationships on their head, but it is caught in a dual logic: both breaching and affirming the norm. This limits the ironist’s right of speech to a thumbs up or a thumbs down, and in the first place yields a status quo. We are your friends is based on the four makers’ desire to throw over the production relationships in the theatre, but in the end their only theme is the impossibility of doing so. Doesn’t the opposite way of thinking yield more? After all, lacking any nuanced intermediate stance, the company seems all too easily to admit defeat to a populist climate that sees little benefit in the arts. For that matter, you see this increasingly in the theatre: artists onstage who doubt their right to existence, but who stay there anyway. This is a pretty good confirmation of the existing image of a narcissistic art that too often looks inward. We are your friends presents a confusing clash between ambition and effect: it is intended to make a statement in the (post-) relevance debate on the arts, but its irony undermines any form of genuine expression. Does the ironist not thereby abandon the potential that may actually make art so valuable at the present time? Portraying something that does not yet exist, but which may well arise? Or portraying something existing as if we were seeing it for the first time? In short: the creation of possible perspectives whereby art relies on its own language to enter into the public debate? In any case, the moments when the unforeseen elements of the theatrical situation break through the copy & paste passages make We are your friends better than the pure pastiche of the Dood Paard sort. When two Roma gypsies come to blows with the audience because no one wants to buy their plastic flowers, it introduces a reality value that is much more confrontational than the series of stereotypes that we often equally well see embodied in many a theatre bar. In die nag is also intended to make room for things that can only occur in

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the theatre. Dood Paard, for instance, performs its prologue amongst the viewers as they drink their aperitifs in the bar and hands out the props so as to involve us more closely in their acting. But this is done with so much irony that the audience does not permit any vulnerability: after all, you feel like part of a construction that has been determined in advance. And this is precisely what Dood Paard has made us more sensitive to. Hope, with barbs It is this ‘reality value’ that the latest generation of theatre-makers dares to make use of even more uncompromisingly. Instead of losing themselves in complex social issues that allow of no solution, they look for solid ground in a sincere personal perspective. In Zwarte Woud Forever (2012), for instance, the Dutch theatre-maker Suzanne Grotenhuis gives a Christmas message concerning the end of the world. In the depths of winter she receives the audience in an abandoned church in the city centre. Dozens of misshapen Christmas trees are ranged around her, which she later sells to compensate for the grant her project unfortunately did not receive. While the audience sits packed tightly together, Grotenhuis lets them look into her mind, face to face. She talks about her indignation about global warming, overconsumption and modern fearfulness, the increase in loneliness in our society, the difficulty young artists have in finding a circuit to operate in, and the feelings of guilt when one receives a grant from the government. Grotenhuis does not treat us to the greatest or most innovative insights. Nor does the ghastly (art) world she outlines differ so much from that of Dood Paard or De Warme Winkel. For example, the premiere was planned precisely for 21.12.2012, the day the Mayan calendar predicted the world would end. However, as an antidote she opts for a playful and naïve narrative tone, which reveals a deliberate choice not to keep on throwing in the towel. Artists such as Grotenhuis – and also Tom Struyf, Rebekka De Wit, Hof van Eede and BOG – inject a constructive impulse into the ethic and aesthetic of deconstruction. With no sign of detached apathy, they re-baptise the theatre as a platform where one may speak, portray and share, all in one’s own name. They seek a position of their own – not in the setting of the ideological dogmas or grand theories – but close to themselves, among the many contrasting perspectives offered by the information society and an artistic tradition ‘in which everything has already been done before’. Once again, this relativism is not so very different from that of Dood Paard and De Warme Winkel. One does not get ready-made answers from these younger theatre-makers either – after all, they share the same DNA – but they do aim for a perspective that presents itself as an outlook that goes beyond navel-gazing. Grotenhuis has seen The Inconvenient Truth, she knows the Global Warming World Map and the debate on subsidy regulations inside out, but instead of drawing up an objective outline of the state of affairs, she examines how these social trends affect her own life and – more importantly – how her imagination can provide a counterbalance. In this way, Zwarte Woud Forever becomes a document of the experience of the ego of someone who, against their better judgement, once again seeks meaning and existence in a world that renounced these things decades ago. This attempt presupposes a certain naivety, but the considerable ‘power of elevation’ which many people think the arts have lost may actually lie in this common quest. Such theatre-makers as Grotenhuis and Struyf no longer hide behind the detached credo of relativism: ‘everyone has their own truth’.

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So after years of often noncommittal iconoclasm, the emphasis is cautiously shifting back from showing to telling. Authors like Rebekka De Wit and Grotenhuis are dusting off the play, which had been ‘imagined dead’, and often adapting it into an autobiographical monologue that aims to address the audience directly. That does not mean that the aesthetics of deconstruction have been completely thrown overboard. In Vergeetstuk (2012), for example, a documentary parable on how the memory works, Tom Struyf performs a manylayered game with fiction and reality and with various media and perspectives. He cunningly superimposes his own story and that of his family. What is real and what is invented? Struyf makes ambiguous use of his charming persona in a sincere story which the audience takes up effortlessly. At the same time he points out the extent to which this sort of story – perfect illustrations of human life – is always a manipulative construction, because we simply so much like to believe that things are not pointless. Vergeetstuk takes the remnants of personal memories as a starting point from which literally to knock together a new story. It is perhaps this ability to dare to look ahead that is the major difference between theatremakers in the Grotenhuis and Struyf mould and the school centred on De Warme Winkel and their forerunners Dood Paard: they do not talk about action (about solidarity, for example), but carry it out – despite their inner doubts about what effect the artist can actually have in a society. They make a theme of the crisis in the legitimacy of art, not in performances that continue revolving around themselves, but while carrying on the debate by allowing art to speak for itself as an act of positive significance – even though it does not in the least have to lead to clearly-defined answers or a hopeful image of man. Nor do they any longer hide behind the detached credo of relativism as expressed in ‘everyone has their own truth’, but once again they make a cautious attempt to tell something and to address the audience as a community – even though they know that it contains a collection of critical individuals who do not easily allow themselves to be convinced. The future will reveal whether these theatre-makers will also be able to incorporate keen social analyses into their stories as Dood Paard and De Warme Winkel did when at their best. In any case, their strength lies in the brave choice of daring to reflect on this future. Every era requires its own art: perhaps subversion these days no longer lies only in aiming one’s weapons at grand structures, but also in the attempt to build a small house with the debris on the battlefield of emptiness. Charlotte De Somviele is a freelance reviewer for De Standaard

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What Are We Capable Of?

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8/06/13 15:46 Reader

04 2008

What Are We Capable Of?

From Consciousness to Embodiment in Critical Thought Today Marina Garcés

Revised by Erika Doucette

Two centuries of modern critical thought have brought forth many definitions of critique, which differ based on the object and context of the critique. I would like to start by proposing a definition that summarizes the main aspects of a critical tradition in quite a transversal manner: “Critique is a kind of discourse that has practical and liberatory effects on what we can see, what we can be, and what we can do.” I am sure you may appreciate this classical definition. After years of crisis of critical thinking, I believe this definition and its demands are still valid today. Its validity certainly depends on our capability to endow critique with new meaning, that is, situate it within the real conditions of our present world and to manifest it in the way we determine our actual mode of existence, which I will show in my intervention here. This will be composed of three moments. Following the abovementioned definition of critique, I will begin by referring to: 1) What we can see – I will elaborate on a new form of dogma that critique is faced with, a dogma without any pretence: the self-evidence of globalized capitalism. 2) What we can be – I will point to the question of embodying critique and consider what it means to be affected. 3) What we can do – I will question the conditions for creating critical thought today based on my experience in the project Espai en Blanc (“blank space” in Catalan)[1].

What We Can See In nearly all its different meanings and traditions, critique has something to do with the idea of showing or bringing light to that which we do not see: a hidden truth, the conditions of possibility, a contradiction, an irrationality, the intolerable, the limits of our existence, and so on. Therefore, critique is like an effect of vision; it is not reflective but is supposed to possess the power of transformation: to transform conscience, the subject, history, forms of existence, etc. However, one of the main characteristics of globalized capitalism—which presents itself as the only possible concept of the world—is that it no longer wears any masks, for it has nothing to hide. The secret of production no longer exists. After having shed all its masks, its self-evidence is its legitimation. This world conveys to us “everything there is already exists.” Since the fall of communism and its disappearance as a vision of social transformation, much has been said about the triumph of capitalism. If we observe the state of the world today, even in its superficial appearance, it is clear that capitalism’s triumph has not been a real success. Its promises, virtues, and achievements are no longer the basis for its legitimacy. It rests on the self-evident truth that capitalism is the only possible reality in this world. Because capitalism is not forced to defend or justify itself its self-evidence has become a new form of dogmatism. This dogmatism without masks cannot be demystified or combated by any form of exposure. The world today cannot be freed from this illusion by bringing capitalism’s self-evidence to light, although it is a sort of enchantment. This enchantment neutralizes critique. The self-evidence of this world neutralizes critique and reduces it in three ways to:

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1)

a moral judgment: we approve / condemn the state of things

2)

an aesthetic judgment: we like /dislike this reality and choose different styles of living in this world

3)

a psychological judgment: we feel good / bad about this reality, which only becomes worse in view of the number

of new mental diseases in Europe and “developed” societies. Regarding these three forms of reduction, critique finds itself trapped between impotence and indifference. I analyzed precisely this oscillation between impotence and indifference from an ontological approach in my book En las prisiones de lo posible, Ed. Bellaterra (2002) (In the prisons of the possible). My analysis addresses the paradox of living in a world where everything is possible but cannot be changed, which led me to develop the concept of “irrevocable contingence.” From a political point of view, prisons of the possible more specifically signify the kidnapping or expropriation of the world as something we are capable of transforming collectively and as a reality that we develop together at the intersections of collective action. Globalization can be considered as the configuration of a unique world without a common dimension. We enable and experience the proliferation of countless lived worlds that remain separate from yet confirm one another and conform to a unique reality. Some have studied this as a consequence of the privatization of existence. From the point of view of these lived and privatized micro-worlds we can see the world in its self-evidence and we are able to assess it (using the three ways of judgment mentioned above) although this vision does not directly haven an effect of transformation. What is necessary for these effects of transformation to happen? How can we be affected by our own experience of the world?

What We Can Be Something has to tear us away from our powerless and indifferent existence. Something has to tear us away from our role as victims and spectators. In Spain, we have experienced something that can contribute to illustrating this issue. A process of critical resignification took place following the 11-M bomb attack in Madrid.[2] Survivors or those who lost someone in the trains created an association rejecting the category of the victim, which was the term that was officially used up until that point. They began to call themselves “the affected.” The transformation that took place thorough the use of this the term is very interesting transformation, particularly in terms of their political situation. This transformation can be summarized by three main aspects, raising three sets of questions: 1)

They reject the passivity and receptivity of pain to open up the possibility for a wider transformation of oneself.

Victimization is a unidirectional process that has a very specific effect. However, what does it mean to be someone who has been affected? Where do the effects of being affected begin and end? 2)

Reparation (punishment for the guilty and indemnification for the victim) is no longer the only desire after

suffering acts of aggression. What does someone who has been affected expect? What is his/her hope? What kind of horizon does his/her condition open up? 3)

The perfectly individualized victim identity fades into a common field of experience. Who are the affected

persons? What kind of institutions recognize or do not recognize them? The spectator can only condemn the bomb attack and feel the horror of that vision. The victim can only suffer pain and expect reparation. But what is an affected person capable of? What can the affected do? That’s the question Foro http://eipcp.net/transversal/0808/garces/en/print

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opens up. It’s also the question they pose to us. This allows the creation of a new framework for questioning the possibilities of critique today. Critical thought has always claimed to “raise consciousness.” Can we maintain that? Is a call to raise consciousness relevant despite the self-evidence of our reality? If we are able to see and know just about everything (i.e. the world is already illuminated) and still nothing happens, the problem we are concerned with is the embodiment of critical discourse: how can critical thought acquire a body? If consciousness only leads to individual judgment as to the evidence of the word [world], affectation opens up a common field of experience and, as shown above, another horizon of expectations where we do not know exactly what we are capable of. The shift from consciousness to affectation moves us from focusing on the mind to focusing on the body. In other words, it brings about a shift from the duality of light/darkness to the ambivalence of vulnerability. In what sense is vulnerability ambivalent? On the one hand, vulnerability refers to our emotional incapacity and incompetence. I refer to an expression taken from the interesting book Therapy Culture. Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age (London 2004) written by Frank Furedi. That is what a new form of power called “therapeutic power” cultivates: a need for institutional intervention in almost every aspect of our existence and in the management of our precarious and privatized lives.[3] That is also the dimension that is more exploited in the everyday, widespread experiences of precariety today. In this sense, vulnerability also represents the base on which the entire exploitation of our lives is constructed. On the other hand, vulnerability also enables us to fundamentally bond with others, tying our existence to others’ existences. In Judith Butler’s recent book Precarious Life she analyzes this sense of vulnerability. The starting point for her analysis is the experiences of violence and grief, both of which are relevant to the experience of a terrorist attack, such as 11 S. She views violence and grief as capable of bringing out from within us the dimension of our existence that makes us something more than an individual and creates a bond that not only connects us but also constitutes our existence and poses the question of a “WE,” of a commonality. 11 S and 11 M have brought about a new vocabulary, which could perhaps provide us with a new political starting point. However, it would be a missed opportunity if these new semantics were to remain only within the context of catastrophe, disaster, and life-threatening situations. It is important to emphasize that vulnerability is not only a determination of a passive human existence that is only related to pain and suffering. Vulnerability is not simply receptive. It also signifies our real capability of exposing ourselves. To be vulnerable is to be capable of exposing oneself. Or, in other words, vulnerability entails our capacity to be affected. In this sense, vulnerability is not a form of being incapability but a potential, which is necessarily a collective power. This second sense of vulnerability, following Butler’s work and going beyond the field of suffering and pain opens up an approach to vulnerability that is not defined by powerlessness but rather by the revelation of the impossibility of being an individual. It is a means of discovering interdependence. Experiencing interdependence, experiencing “WE” as a dimension of our own existence, is a way of taking back our world today. In a world held hostage by globalized capitalism, interdependence can only emerge in the shadow of a threat: the threat of the destruction of the planet through human action. This is a heteronomous sense of interdependence that lets everyone know our existence is in the hands of others. But as we have seen, there is another autonomous sense of interdependence, through which we realize the world is the common dimension of our particular existence. If we are able to acknowledge that dimension interdependence is the real meaning of autonomy, not in the sense of individual property that must be protected from the world and others, but in the sense of a common virtue. This relationship between interdependence and autonomy is not self-evident, in fact, it is not obvious at all: it shatters http://eipcp.net/transversal/0808/garces/en/print

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the self-evidence of our world. Interdependence does not mean that my life is jeopardized through connecting it to the actions of others, but that my existence always contains a “WE” dimension even if it is repeatedly proven otherwise. How can we get to that dimension? How can we experience it? Through the work of critique, through a transformation that radically changes what we can see, what we can be, and what we can do. Foucault defines critique as the creation and critique of ourselves in our autonomy. For me, this autonomy means what I have been saying here. Being a mature subject capable of judgment is no longer most important, it is much more significant to have the courage to engage in a mode of existence that dares to be affected and exposed. It is no longer about the conquest of freedom as subjects move toward becoming independent from the world and others; it is now more about the conquest of freedom in our interlacements. To explore these in all their autonomy as a collective virtue is, from my point of view, the scope of critical thought today.

What We Can Do What I have mentioned here profoundly affects how we should construct critical discourse today. If we pretend critical discourse has the practical liberatory effects I mentioned in the beginning our goal must be to provoke, awaken, and arouse this “WE” dimension of our existence. In this sense, critique remains a practical form of discourse that pretends to show us something we do not see. This is no longer a vision of our consciousness and cannot simply be announced or declared. It must be done. It must be manifested, but how? We could always say that words are actions still comfortably rest within the role of critical thinkers, and just listen to ourselves. But that is not enough, in fact, I think we have all experienced how the field of critique often reproduces a ghetto, just another one so many other ghettos, making it impossible to break the chains of impotence and indifference. It is obvious that it is not up to us to decide on or program a revolution. It is, however, urgent that we question and alter the conditions for creating critical discourse today. This means enabling a shift of at least two things: 1)

From the centrality of the object of critique, which is always in front of us, always cut off, and isolated by its

distance to the question of WHO is affected by the problems we pose and analyze. That is what embracing critique means. The discourse commonly constructed around “THEM” (taking its cue from the analyst or expert rhetorician) shifts to become a question of “WE,” for which there is no longer an object of analysis, but a common field of experimentation. 2)

From the legitimacy of qualified voices (intellectuals, proletarians, students, precarious, immigrants, and so on) to

the proliferation of an anonymous voice whose limits are difficult to define--so difficult, in fact, that the question of who the affected are remains open. These anonymous voices remove the legitimated voice from its chair, not to silence it, but to point to its incompleteness and to force it to encounter its “WE” dimension. Then, critique is a discourse no longer presented to others, but a discourse that is crafted together with others. If we desire liberatory effects on what we can see, what we can be, and what we can do in a world of privatized modes of existence and if we seek to aim for the possibility of an autonomous experience of interdependence, then these two ways of shifting critical discourse and the conditions for creating critical discourse are still imperative today. In the beginning, I mentioned the Espai en Blanc project. It is based on collective and practical thought and developed five years ago at the intersection of philosophy and activism. In the beginning, we said we had wanted to make thinking exciting again. To us, exciting meant giving it its own life, that is, to be exposed and affected by our own thought. To some extent, everything I have mentioned here has been a result of this collective experience. Over the

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past five years we have done several different interventions, publications, etc. The critical intervention in Barcelona that has shaken so many people was not based on what we said void of any context, but how we said it. Over the last two years, we have been organizing monthly gatherings in a bar in the center of Barcelona where everyone is invited to come and discuss a problem that we announce using on posters, by using blog, and via a mailing list. No lecturers are invited; no names mentioned... and therefore there is no public or spectators. Those who take part come to think together with others. It is so simple, but it has really revolutionized the way we are affected by what we think and the way we embrace new questions and problems. This year, more than a hundred people came each time. We tried to open it to a forum on Internet to include even more voices and expand the temporal dimension of the discussions. But it did not work. Why not? The point of this gathering is to be there. To be affected by the silence and by the words we search for together and sometimes manage to find. There is no idea or knowledge of individual consumption at these encounters, instead they invite the public to strengthen their views and voices together. I will close with this very modest example, because in our world, we hear big words every day that have no effect. They are too often used as a shelter to protect us and to maintain a distance between the world and us. Critique must destroy that distance and help us not to find a shelter but the courage to engage in our interdependent autonomy. Canetti says this wonderfully: “only together can men free themselves of the ballast of their distances.”[4]

[1] For more information about Espai en Blanc see at: http://www.espaienblanc.net. [2] Margarita Padilla and Amador Fernández-Savater have done invaluable work on this issue. See their contributions“Las luchas del vacío” in Espai en Blanc nº3-4, “La sociedad terapéutica” Bellaterra (ed.) (Barcelona 2007) and in the Red Ciudadana tras el 11-M. Cuando el sufrimiento no impide pensar ni actuar by colectivo Desdedentro (Acuarela Libros & A. Machado, Madrid 2008). [3] See the Espai en Blanc publication nº3-4, “La sociedad terapéutica,” Bellaterra (ed.) (Barcelona 2007) [4] Canetti, E.: Crowds and Power, transl. by Carol Stewart, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2005.y poder, Mondadori, 2005, p. 69

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Fear makes the wolf look bigger – notes on anger Pamina de Coulon

The following text sprung from the considerable insight I got from experiencing the Open Space Technology in terms of collective work, sharing responsibilities and, perhaps surprisingly, on empowerment via anger. It serves both as a sort of subjective report of the experience, as well as a kind of plea for anger. (Note: my practice as an author implies a lot of vulgarization, so get ready for some big concepts shrunk into paragraphs that fit tiny memo-cards!) The Open Space Technology We seem to have this thing about cooperation at Bâtard, it sparks us off. And since we (the current Bâtard team) started working together late 2012, we have been using the pretext of co-organizing a festival to experiment with collective practices and self-organizational tools that are there for us to pick up and use, and hopefully sometimes sharpen. Well, long story short, in preparation for this edition we proposed a specific gathering with our artists, ourselves and some interested comrades. In the past, some of our group experiments have been frustrated and endangered by urgent needs for outcomes and quick decisions to turn into plans and actions. With this in mind, this year we opted for one of the collective thinking approaches most suited for an initial lack of agenda: the Open Space Technology. It goes something like this. You invite a certain number of people (between 5 and 2000) around a topic or an issue or something else; a trigger. At the beginning, a facilitator introduces the following organization process: The group creates the working agenda, as individuals post their issues1 in bulletin board style. Each individual ‘convener’ of a breakout session takes responsibility for naming the issue, posting it on the bulletin board, assigning it a space and time to meet, and then later showing up at that space and time, kicking off the conversation, and taking notes. These notes are usually compiled into a proceedings document that is distributed physically or electronically to all participants.2 When all the slots are filled with sessions, all of the guests are invited to inscribe themselves in the sessions of their liking. And then off you go to your first session and it goes on like this until it’s done. Finally, at the end of each day you do a plenary session to share the discussions of the past day with the group, and to reflect on the process itself. The facilitator and the question Another useful thing we picked up during our previous collective experiments was being aware of how important it is to surround yourself with people who have the talents that you lack, so this time we humbled ourselves and got the help of a facilitator formed in Open Space Technology. He’s the one who explained to us the simple yet powerful process, and told us that if indeed we weren’t necessarily in need of a clear outcome, it nevertheless ought to be organized around a topic, a direction, something, to use as a lens through which to develop the process. He suggested that a question would do great for this purpose.

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By ‘issue’ we understand the specific angle or proposal chosen by the individual or “convener” in order to relate broadly to the « trigger topic » I mentioned before, or in other terms: what he or she feels like talking about. 2 Well, I must say I quoted wikipedia on that one because they explain it in a much more concise way than I ever could! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Space_Technology

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We agreed to ask ourselves “Why aren't we angrier than we are?”. We picked those words from a speech about social democracy by the historian Tony Judd3: […]If we have learned nothing else from the twentieth century, we should at least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more terrifying its consequences. Imperfect improvements upon unsatisfactory circumstances are the best that we can hope for, and probably all we should seek. Others have spent the last three decades methodically unraveling and destabilizing those same improvements: this should make us much angrier than we are. It ought also to worry us, if only on prudential grounds: Why have we been in such a hurry to tear down the dikes laboriously set in place by our predecessors? Are we so sure that there are no floods to come? […] We turned his words into our question, for we somehow shared his concerns and conclusions and wondered what prevents us to be, indeed, much angrier than we are. Whilst reading a chapter on Open Space in the bible of these kind of methods4 I came across a sentence about ‘When to use it?’ that I underlined: “Use Open Space whenever the answer is basically unknown, and the only possible hope is that the group, consisting of all those who care, can from their collective wisdom arrive at solutions that no individual or small group can hope to devise.” Thus, retrospectively, I think that even if we did things backwards, we chose a good question for this method. Two feet, four wings While developing the method of Open Space Technology, Harrison Owen5 articulated one fundamental law (derived in a few principles and two totem animals) that guides as well as explains the process: The Law of Two Feet Taking responsibility for what you love, by standing up for what you believe. If you feel you are neither contributing nor learning where you are, use your two feet and go somewhere else! Well, this law makes it pretty clear that the only person truly responsible for your experience is you •

Principles Whoever comes are the right people. This reminds people that it is not how many people or the position they hold that counts, rather it is their passion/commitment for the subject that is of importance. Whenever it starts is the right time. We might tend to want to stick to the clock but creativity and learning have their own timings… Find faith in the fact that things will happen when they are ready to. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. This is a reminder to let go of what might have been, should have been, or could have been. It is in the moments of surprise, large and small, that real learning and growth occur. When it's over, it's over. If it takes only ten minutes to do what you wanted, great! Move on and do something else. If, on the other hand, you find yourself deeply engaged in what you are doing, keep doing it until it is complete. Do the work, not the time.

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More precisely named What is living and what is dead in social democracy ? that you can read here : http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/dec/17/what-is-living-and-what-is-dead-in-social-democrac/ 4 I hereby present to you: The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today's Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems by Peggy Holman, Tom Devane and Steven Cady. 5 Let’s render unto Owen the things that are Owen’s: he is the conceiver of Open Space Technology and has been promoting and developing it since 1982!

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Totem animals6 The law of two feet can be recognized in two different postures: the bumblebee or the butterfly. While bumblebees are hard workers who help to circulate ideas between sessions by carrying them under their paws (legs, feet, whatever bees have..), butterflies are the beautiful creatures that twirl around the coffee stand, pausing and thinking, and catching the eye of other insects; making them stick around and start another conversation that could lead to ‘impromptu sessions’ and significant exchanges. You can be at turn a bumblebee or a butterfly, you don’t really choose anyway, most of the time these postures are not exactly conscious. However, it’s important to know from the start that they exist and that they have their rightful place in the process. Voila, now you pretty much know as much as we did when we started. There is already one comment I would really like to make on this process for the time being: how incredibly efficient it is at making you able to immediately start discussing things that matter to you with people you might not even know at all! The variety and generosity of the reports I am reading again as I write this essay clearly make this visible. FEAR MAKES THE WOLF LOOK BIGGER – notes on anger As you might imagine, anger was quite a hot topic during our Open Space sessions and several discussions revolved around this notion. Through them, I discovered that I was the only person there describing herself in terms of ‘angry’ (and okay with that). After some time, it started to become my craze and I investigated this situation. I gathered that the others avoided anger; that they were concerned when they felt it, were quite afraid to recognize it in others, finally some confessed never feeling it at all. Ever. Quite quickly we realized that we had different acceptations of the term, but one thing was very common: to picture it as this red faced person shouting at someone else. In this case, anger was always immediately linked one way or the other with violence. Well, since I was the only one who seemed to have made peace with my anger, I decided to try to make a plea for it, my idea being: In order to get angrier, we may first need to accept to be angry. Disambiguation Before all of this, I had already personally made the distinction between what I call anger the feeling and anger the emotion. It is the following: an emotion is a way to interpret the present, a temporal peak linked to the perception of an event; whereas a feeling (or sentiment, to avoid confusion) is a more constructed thing, it has to do with cognitive comprehension of things and recollections, or even just collections. It is in this last comprehension of the term that I can easily envision anger (the feeling) as both sustainable and constructive. My hypothesis is that you can build things on anger; it can serve as a drive, as a mainspring. And it is also a reminder of yourself in a way, but I will come back to this later. Angers Now there is also the matter of the exact expression. This has been a question during the whole Open Space sessions we held: shouldn’t we, prior to all other discussions, make sure that we agree on the vocabulary we use? (This is a hard nut to crack for me, for as much as I like words and their multiplicity, sometimes you get lost in them and you end up never talking about anything because you were not sure you were talking about the same thing, and I have the feeling that maybe we should not fear this so much, we have to trust the fact that indeed maybe everybody understands things a little differently but that’s a good thing, it’s a way to enrich the topic, it’s an additive point of view instead of the condensing/narrowing of the desired common language and understanding… Anyway, I think

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Yes, I know.. Please believe me, I too would rather not have to use this kind of vocabulary.. Well, sometimes one’s got to stick to the words favoured by others in order to talk about them.

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it’s all a question of balance.)7 But what I was going to say before I got sidetracked is this: there are some specificities to the whole anger-lexicon that might be relevant to highlight, at the risk of passing for a word snob8. To me there is anger = the whole package (essence and particular); angry = the adjective related to the emotion; angriness = the quality of someone feeling anger; and there is ‘feeling angry’ which would paradoxically be the expression of anger the emotion, while ‘being angry’ would refer to anger the feeling. Now, let me come back to my two main distinctions and rebaptise them. The first emotional state to which I referred I understand as a kind of overwhelming surge, a toomuchness and a kidnapping (as in being seized by anger), therefore I propose the term angerful to express it; whereas for the feeling/sentiment I will use in anger, which is a literal translation from the French (my mother tongue) en colère that implies very well the engagement and mobilization I sense in the sentiment. At some point down the etymological lane, anger was also linked with ‘being troubled by something’. So it’s a kind of alarm system that states that something is not right. This makes it quite relevant in terms of self-safety. In this sense, it makes me think of fever.. You know how nowadays we can’t stop saying that fever is great, fever is important, it tells you something, you really should listen to your fever, well anger – fever: same fight! The thing that came up most during our talks is that to be angry would mean to be violent, violence would be the only way anger is expressed, and since we all more or less believe that violence has to be suppressed, angershaming is only a little step away. But ANGER ! VIOLENCE. To me that’s really the most important disambiguation there is. Rehabilitations It was Gandhi’s belief that we would have a better appreciation of nonviolence if we understood the violence that exists in the world. It took us quite some time to accept that violence could be something outside of the physical use of force, and now that we know this we are very cautious about it. Rightfully so, but maybe we are so afraid of it that we have lost some sensitivity, or some common sense even, that’s how much we are afraid of violence! For instance: to shout or to scream doesn’t necessarily mean violence! Yet this is where we tend to mix anger and violence: in their expressions. I am someone who talks quite loudly and I was raised in a loud family where from a young age we learned to argue a lot – that is how we love each other. Consequently, this immediate association shouting = violence bothered me; especially since I don’t consider myself as particularly violent. Thus I was quite pleased when our Open Space facilitator told me that one of the things you learn in NonViolent Communication is to allow oneself (and others) to express things the way they choose. That, if something affects you deeply – both positively or negatively, you should be allowed to match this level of affect with the way you express the things you want to express. In fact, as I later understood, NonViolent Communication seems to be all about the content and not the form. I thought that I had found some important foundation for my anger-theory there, so I digged deeper into the subject of NonViolent Communication and found it quite interesting. Here is a very subjective abstract of it:

7

I thought I would reopen this tab of ‘the perfect translation’ later, but I’ve already gone too far that I now feel I must contain myself! Let me just tell that while writing this text I have discovered the debate on “equivalence” in western translation theory, and it is one of the most interesting I have followed lately. It puts so much into perspective regarding togetherness and what I will slightly enounce at the end of this text under the title love of diversity... If you are interested: here is a good way to enter it, a talk given by Anthony Pym about paradigms of western translation theory, and you can read it here: http://usuaris.tinet.cat/apym/online/translation/2009_paradigms.pdf 8 Keep in mind that I used Totem animals before, that might help you dissipate the feeling.

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NonViolent Communication (NVC) was developed in the 60’s by a Marshall B. Rosenberg. It’s a method that you learn, teach and most of all have to practice a lot in order to implement it in your habits (because at first it truly seems too much of an effort). It’s a specific way to consider things that allows you to disassociate with some of your (and others’) violence. Since I come from the arts, I am prone to consider it as a posture. A good illustration of that can already be found in the term ‘nonviolence’ used as a positive intention of what they want, i.e to renounce violence, and not simply as refusal of a violence they don’t want. It is indeed a method in which anger has a specific place. Here are the basis of the process – O F N R, also referred to as “Expressing honestly”: 1)Observation. Observe the facts as distinct as possible from our evaluation of meaning and significance. NVC discourages static generalizations. Observation tinted with evaluation usually leads to some kind of criticism that is then resisted by others. Instead, a focus on observations specific to time and context is recommended. 2)Feelings. Learn to recognize your emotions or sensations (free of thought and story) linked to the facts you observed earlier. 3)Needs. Recognize the needs you have that might be unmet and that lead you to the feeling you are experiencing. 4)Request. Lastly, make a request for a specific action, free of demand. (Requests are distinguished from demands in that one is open to be responded with a "no".) NVC is also known as a ‘language process’, and to practice it you need to develop two more things: Self-empathy (understanding what’s going on with compassion towards yourself) and receiving empathically (well, same thing but towards the others). Because yes, another great thing about NVC is that the better you become at it, the more you can expand it. First you start with yourself, and then it helps you deconstruct violence in others and understand them better in terms of unmet needs or unacknowledged feelings, and this (apparently) can lead to resolving conflicts. All right, well there is much more to it, but let me now just go directly to the points I found more interesting. First up is the careful consideration of feelings. It’s even kind of the main thing actually, this distinguishing feelings from thoughts. The idea is that often when we use the expression I feel, we could more accurately replace it by I think. And very often when we follow the word feel with the word that, we are actually expressing an opinion but not revealing our feelings at all. Rosenberg puts it better than I do: These [feelings] are to be distinguished from thoughts (e.g., "I feel I didn't get a fair deal") and from words colloquially used as feelings but which convey what we think we are (e.g., "inadequate"), how we think others are evaluating us (e.g., "unimportant"), or what we think others are doing to us (e.g., "misunderstood", "ignored"). Feelings are said to reflect whether we are experiencing our needs as met or unmet. Identifying feelings is said to allow us to more easily connect with one another... 9 Rosenberg also advises us to build a varicolored vocabulary for our feelings; to start using words that refer to specific emotions rather then vague terms. For instance in the sentence “I feel bad about that”, bad could be a number of emotions… Here is a small selection of words he proposed for “how we are likely to feel when our needs are not being met”, which indeed can help us to put a finger on the feelings that are being felt: Agitated, alarmed, angry, anguished, apprehensive, beat, bitter, blue, chagrined, concerned, cross, dejected, discouraged, dismayed, disturbed, downhearted, embarrassed, exasperated, 9

Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, PuddleDancer Press, 2003.

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fatigued, fearful, fidgety, gloomy, heavy, hurt, impatient, indifferent, irked, listless, lonely, mad, mean, miserable, mournful, nettled, numb, overwhelmed, panicky, perplexed, rancorous, resentful, sad, scared, shaky, shocked, skeptical, spiritless, terrified, tired, troubled, unhappy, unsteady, upset, weary, withdrawn, worried, wretched.10 Another key concept in NVC is responsibility, mostly used in relation to taking responsibility for our feelings. What others do might be the stimulus of our feelings, but it is not the cause. If we don’t value our needs, others may not either. It is opposed to denial of responsibility, for instance in the phrase makes one feel as in “ you make me feel guilty”: a common example of how language facilitates denial of personal responsibility for our own feelings and thoughts. We consider that the other is doing something to us and we are passively living this imposition and blaming him. Others might do things that affect us of course, but their actions can’t immediately result in what we feel. There at least one other step in between for which we are in charge! And it has to do with our needs: “For example, if someone arrives late for an appointment and we need reassurance that she cares about us, we may feel hurt. If, instead, our need is to spend time purposefully and constructively, we may feel frustrated. But if our need is for thirty minutes of quiet solitude, we may be grateful for her tardiness and feel pleased. Thus it is not the behavior of the other person but our own need that causes our feeling.”11 This is what they refer to as distinguishing stimulus from cause. Finally, and in regards to the previously stated, NVC has quite an interesting relation with anger. It proposes to express anger fully. “[People] are uneasy when they hear the terms nonviolent or compassionate communication because they have so often been urged to stifle their anger, calm down, and accept the status quo. They worry about approaches that view their anger as an undesirable quality needing to be purged. The process we are describing, however, does not encourage us to ignore, squash, or swallow anger, but rather to express the core of our anger fully and wholeheartedly.”12 The first step to this full expression of anger in NVC is indeed to divorce the other person from any responsibility for your anger. AT THE CORE OF OUR ANGER IS A NEED THAT IS NOT BEING FULFILLED. THUS ANGER CAN BE VALUABLE IF WE USE IT AS AN ALARM CLOCK TO WAKE US UP. After that, our positions on anger start to diverge a bit since their goal is to evacuate all anger and mine is not. So I can’t say I apply all the principles of NVC all the time, but since I read the book, it now really got me thinking twice before saying things such as: you make me feel or I feel that. I try to consider the fact that others react as they do because some of their needs might be unmet. And it’s helping.. However, full disclosure, I didn’t totally subscribe to the whole discourse of NVC, because I am already deeply convinced by some other framings that are not totally compatible.I became conscious of my relation with/to anger via psychotherapy, Freudian analytical therapy to be exact. At some point it became apparent that I had stocked a lot of anger, and that I didn’t know exactly what to do with it… It’s a long-term issue that is not really easily dealt with, but this is what gives me the insight to speak about it in such various and even laudatory terms. I have been living with anger for several years now and it’s been a fine cohabitation. Indeed, it is not so much an issue or a problem anymore, it’s mostly something that I acknowledge and recognize as part of my personal narrative. I am in anger a lot. But it is fine. I’ve learned to draw strength from it. 10

Just for hopes of a better karma I will now re-establish some kind of balance by also providing some terms for when our needs are being met: adventurous, alert, alive, amazed, ardent, buoyant, comfortable, carefree, concerned, confident, curious, ebullient, elated, enlivened, exhilarated, fulfilled, glad, grateful, helpful, hopeful, inspired, intrigued, jubilant, loving, mirthful, overwhelmed, peaceful, perky, pleased, proud, radiant, refreshed, relieved, satisfied, serene, surprised, tender, touched, trusting, upbeat, wide-awake, wonderful, zestful. 11 Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent communication, PuddleDancer Press, Encinitas, 2003. 12 Ibid.

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Anyway, enough about the particular, let’s go back macro. Here are some psychoanalysis-inspired thoughts about anger, because initially the importance of the latter in the first was really my only point! So, here are some really basic notes that can help us put some more depth in our relation with anger: It seems as if anger is a feeling that globally isn't recognized, or legitimized in a way. Ever since our childhood we are taught to contain and to retain our anger: we have been told not to go for it, that it was a nasty nasty thing, that we were being bad, that it made mommy and daddy sad, that it was a tantrum, something indeed not legitimate. But this is all too one-sided, we could maybe make this very superficial distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ anger. Anger expresses things of ourselves. The good one, and the bad one too; but the latter appears to us as destructive anger.13 Since we are afraid of / intimidated by the ‘bad anger’ (destructive) we try to repress it, no matter what. And while we are at it, we seem to be thinking that we might as well repress the good one, because well, one never knows right? Because of this negative connotation connected to ‘destructive’ anger, we tend to recognize all anger as the ‘bad one’ (constant drive pressure), and therefore we either repress it (on purpose) or suppress it (unconscious reaction). I would dare to say that this is basically how anger is most commonly dealt with. What we are consequently keeping far away from our consciousness, is that all this repressing is actually very likely to affect our psychic structure.14 Another angle to all of this is that anger is an outbreak from ‘normality’. It bears a notion of ‘madness and irrationality’ not unlike the one found in love (but much less respected). Also, in psychoanalysis anger is considered something constructed, again just like love, as opposed to just the ‘momentary blast’ we pretend they are. And lastly, just like love, it's something that links one person to another person (or ‘object-direction’ in their slang). If we generalise to the maximum, we could say that if NVC uses anger only as the alarm system and deals with it fully in order to let it go; psychoanalysis (being more broadly about a subject bringing things to his or her comprehension so that they don’t form hidden knots, conflicts and pathologies) implies a much more durable relation to anger. Upon this, I based the idea of cohabitation with anger which consequently led me to believe in a certain sustainability in anger. Social anger & outrage While we were trying to ‘map’ anger during the Open Space, we agreed that it had something to do with injustice: it’s a reaction to something you consider not fair (either a situation that you understand as intrinsically injust, or the fact that you consider a situation to be “too much” for you to keep accepting). Partly because we obey certain social rules and habits, there is already an important distinction between the felt anger and the expressed anger. Furthermore, if you want to make your anger socially ‘interesting’ you can't just express it. Linking anger and injustice is what Stephan Hessel did in late 2010 when he called us to outrage and indignation in his Indignez-vous! (translated as: Time for outrage!). He talks about the capacity and the freedom to feel outraged as an essential part of being human. He says: “keep going, get angry!” 13

Let’s watch out again: some psychoanalysts suggest that there might be a significant difference between aggressivity and destructivity; and that aggressivity could be a “good thing” as well, a kind as self-affirmation tool, as a feeling of the self. I am very interested in this distinction, but maybe let's not go there right now. 14 Which, may I remind you, Freud puts like this: the Id (unorganized part of the personality, the drives, the pulsions) once “transformed and structured” becomes the Ego (the part that tries to fulfil the Id, but in a “realistic way”) and the Superego (the kind of control-helicopter that keeps watching you, some kind of moral authority that contains the internalized cultural specificities).

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He talks about being ‘justifiably angry’, which I understand not in the controlling moral sense of “do it only it it’s justified”, but in the affirmative moral sense of “the reasons to be angrier than we are exist”. Most negative critique on the text, at least in France, argued that outrage was just epidermal, superficial and irrational; and that this precisely represented a weakness of reasoning. That it led to “politics of emotions” and not “justice”. I strongly have to disagree here, because on the contrary I believe that flirting with irrationality is precisely the way to go in order to strengthen reasoning. By mentioning psychoanalysis and thinking anger through this specific lens, I already posed some examples of this belief. But I’ve got more up my sleeve. In numerous statements and texts, the Belgian philosopher Isabelle Stengers also pleads to open ourselves towards the so-called irrational when she refers to the neo-pagan witches.15 Neo-pagans are people who, by calling themselves witches and practicing rituals, reclaim (and re-actualize) the use of the term magic. For magic entails power, in the sense of a capacity for action, a capacity to create, to link, to take position, to act with courage. I read somewhere that the witches’ “aim” is to give everybody back the realization of his or her own power. And for me, this is also part of the EMPOWERMENT Stengers often refers to. This movement of going first within oneself, grasping oneself – seizing oneself – and then, strengthened by our own power and comprehension, continuing the journey towards the rest, the common. In 1917 – the year Hessel was born – the not yet imprisoned Italian marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci also stepped away from the idea of a ‘cold rationality’ when he wrote about war and the extraordinary acceleration it brought to the formation of subjectivity of people: Three years of war brought so many changes in the world. But maybe here is the biggest of all these changes: three years of war have made the world sensitive. We feel the world, whereas before we simply thought it.16 Indeed, we feel the world, and it is with the help of these individual and collective emotions that we can think of it in all its dimensions. Anyway, to the people criticizing him because of the temporal essence of indignation, I feel that Hessel himself formulated the best answer. Shortly after Indignez-vous!, a young reporter interviewed him on ecology, and this interview was later published. It bears the name Engagez-vous! which is to be translated as: Time for commitment!. To me, this is the exact right follow-up because maybe we rely too much on the self-evidence of engagement after outrage.17 By talking about sustainability and publishing it under this variation of the bestseller title, he makes a strong hint about the advised chronology of the two dynamics: first outrage, then commitment. In a sense, those two different temporalities make me think of the fact that some communist thinkers (Camus for instance) opposed revolt and revolution, because of the temporary nature of the revolt, whereas revolution is supposed to bring lasting change. Hessel doesn’t oppose them, but offers a causal link between the two. This again brings me back to the short-term angerful and long-term in anger, and the fact that the first might very well be a useful nourishing element of the latter. Let’s consider it: what if we embraced the whole mobilization of the angerful and reconvened it in the in anger posture… That would probably promise long term anger and commitment!

15

She even does this in her text present in this reader! See text number 16 ! From the pre-prison writings (scritti giovanili), 1917. My translation. 17 Indeed it always felt as a kind of joke to me that Indignez-vous! empowered people to call themselves Indignados, but that no one further decided to be the Engageados. 16

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I hate the indifferent In one way or the other, what Hessel is calling for is the ability to be affected by things. We can call it care or concern or even differentiation, as opposed to indifferentiation. And this as well is what I love in anger: that it reacts to things, it doesn’t let them pass by. Another one who was strongly in disfavor of indifference was (again) Gramsci, who stated it loud and clear in his nowadays famous text I hate the indifferent. I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life. That is why I hate the indifferent. Indifference is the deadweight of history (…) the inert matter in which sink the most enthusiasts, it’s the swamp that surrounds the ancient city and defends it better even than the most sturdy walls, better even than the chest of its soldiers, because it engulfs the attackers within its gulps, because it decimates and discourages them up to making them renounce their sometimes heroic enterprise.18 Gramsci embodies the hate for indifference; he is a spirit of passion, anger and outrage. He is fully mobilized because he cares about everything and considers everything as a personal concern. As Martin Rueff19 states: Far from merely letting himself go to anger, far from merely whipping it20, he knows how to make it interesting, and how to make us understand that indignation is not the sole refusal of what revolts us, but the attempt to understand it, in order to try to later modify it. The author later states that one shouldn’t neglect the fact that ‘to grow angry’ is to consent to it, to acquiesce to it.21 He quotes Seneca’s numquam impetus sine assensu mentis est: there is no ‘fury’ without approval of the mind. This is another important point for me, because it differentiates the all too common acceptation of anger as something that seizes you; a hostile takeover. If you decide to grow angry, you then renounce indifference. And if indifference is this spirit of collaboration22 that exonerates from individual responsibility, then to refuse it is to resist it with your sensitivity, your intelligence and your imagination. Gramsci refers to these faculties as ‘what Italians politicians lack’. Yet, when you differentiate, you convene these faculties: you have the sensitivity to perceive the world’s sufferings, the intelligence to analyze them and the imagination to invent political solutions that could bring them to an end. Order(s) and disorder As I begin to summarize all the directions I went in this text, I start to fear the patronizing tone I might be getting which is not my goal, since I am only reporting the state of my reasoning on anger. And if I might want to convince, because it’s my nature, I am mostly proposing to try and reconsider anger. That’s it. But it’s true that, for me, anger means concern, and care; and I strongly link anger with individual and collective responsibility. I furthermore trust that anger can not only lead to commitment and getting involved in the world (and since I am now situating my discourse, I might as well state that both of them are things I advocate for), but that anger is also a desirable step towards them. Because of its empowering aspect; because of this journey in assertiveness of the self. This gives you strength – and strength is also a part of sustainability for me – to face the world in a sturdier manner. Because anger is this ‘expression of the self’ that, together with the necessary self-empathy, helps you 18

Again from the pre-prison writings, 1917. My translation. In his excellent preface of a selection of Gramsci’s writings called Pourquoi je hais l’indifférence, Editions Payot & Rivages, Paris, 2012. 20 As one would do eggs. 21 And here french is more subtle since it says: se mettre en colère. “To put onself in anger”, which supposes the active part the subject has in it. 22 Martin Rueff’s formulation. 19

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consider your place in the world without doubting it too much. Anger can assist in speaking the I; in accepting that we have a voice that we can use. As I tried to convince my fellows of the good kind of anger, we wondered about the term social anger and most of all about collective anger. Can anger be cumulative? Can you take somebody’s anger and make it yours? How does that work? These are some interesting questions that would surely find their place in a school of anger, if such a thing (stemming from a proposal I just found back in the reports of our Open Space sessions) ever comes to life. We talked about vocabulary before. Here is the lexicon that anger allows me to outshine: passivity as not allowing oneself to be affected, what I would call outpowerment: an outsourcing of your own means of resistance. Anger also allows me to go beyond resilience, which might seem like a good faculty, except when it turns into a determinist pile of crap the moment when its main thinker proposes that some just have it and some don’t.23 Finally, anger allows me to go beyond mere tolerance, which I conceive as an acceptation outside of one’s life, as opposed to an acceptation inside of one’s life. For anger is this decided-mobilization, this engagement, this differentiation, and this can only happen in the sensitive world where we agree to be affected; not as victims24, but as partakers, participants, partisans. With all of this in the back of our minds, I would like to zoom out one last time back to the Open Space Technology. Tasting the ambrosia The last day of our Open Space sessions I was subject to an epiphany, which I now cherish. I truly understood what it meant to work collectively and to share responsibility. It was not particularly new to me, as in: for a long time now I have been in favor of it, practicing it, talking about it, forcing it upon myself even in times of doubt. So I was already convinced, but somehow only in my cold rationality… I don’t know how to phrase it so that it doesn’t sound cheesy (and I am quite sure that it is not going to help if I tell you that it happened via this butterfly totem animal thing), but yes, I must say I suddenly understood how one could be a butterfly without being an individualistic selfish stubborn bitch25, and that made all the difference! The context was a bit special: it was the last afternoon of the Open Space sessions, we were only a few left and had decided to look back at all the reports and start working on some sort of conclusion from there. We realized we had mostly answered questions by raising more questions, in a fractal-like way. We then decided to try and draw some bigger ‘main’ questions out of our material. Personally, I would have rather wanted to try and force ourself to answer some of these questions for once; to be affirmative instead of interrogative. But I reckoned: well, let’s go with the consensus here. And suddenly it hit me, NO, I can also be a butterfly. Instead of frustrating myself into something I knew I was not totally interested in doing, I could just withdraw from it, and it wouldn’t mean that I was opposing it, or resisting it; it just meant that I would not share this part of the work. Since we were only few, I still felt I had to explain my actions a bit so I excused myself, goofily stating that this specific bumblebee would be a butterfly for a change and let them do this work together, while I sunk in the totality of the change that had just happened to me. I must say that I was almost ashamed that it was only after all this time, after all this work about collective and sharing, that I finally knew HOW IT FELT! In a way I had been rhetorically convinced, but still needed the empiricism. This certainty that the construction will not collapse, that the work will not be undone, that the task did not stop if you stepped out for a moment. This feeling of support. 23

Since this is one of my other hobbyhorses, let me just tell you that to this deterministic resilience I oppose the term mental flexibility: something that everybody can work towards. 24 See Marina Garces, text number 14 in this very reader, about this crucial distinction! 25 Not a totem animal here.

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I don’t know if this is what is meant by embodiment, but the relief was really physical. It made me think of Atlas finally being able to stretch once Heracles carried the vault of heaven on his back for a change. But this is a bad analogy, since Heracles then has to trick Atlas into retaking his place, while here the whole point is to take shifts… This sounds quite naïve and obvious, and I am definitely not setting the world on fire. But seriously, yes, the whole point is that you don’t have to take shifts, but if you would want to you could! We can all carry the vault of heaven at the same time, or have a little stretch while the others carry our part of it. This was an epiphany, and it felt good. But it doesn’t mean that everything now is easy, and that sharing the burden is evident, and that I will never feel frustrated or misanthropic! Au contraire mon frère! I am now more than ever affected when I see that this potential responsibility-sharing is not obtained, and I wonder about how and why, and well, basically I am now running after the feeling I had at this precise moment when the caterpillar turned into a butterfly, if I may say so. But since I now am certain that it can happen and that I know the sweet taste of true cooperation, it is somehow truly worth the try. No doubt that it nourished my care for the ergonomics of collective work necessary to reach it a lot. With regards to my street cred’, I should as well not have shared all this hippie-ish epiphany. But it helped me think other things: First of all, it is this kind of real comprehension about anger that I wished upon my anger-fearing fellows. That they fear/dislike/disqualify anger absolutely doesn’t mean they don’t care, don’t commit, don’t engage! But I believe that, if they could experience the stability and the drive anger can give you, they might not push it away so often. Secondly, it strengthened my belief in processes like Open Space Technology. I had a discussion with one of the participants who stated that it all was nice and sweet and interesting, but that it really are only the privileged few who are able do these kind of things; and that we had to acknowledge the fact that, if we took all this time to do it and once more discuss it, it meant that we were deciding not to allocate this time to concrete actions in order to really change things we might be angry about. And even though I normally have concrete arguments26 to oppose these kind of statements, I had let my guard down and felt a bit destabilized in my faith in the ‘validity’ of all of us doing this at that specific moment. The day after, however, my butterfly realization fortified my belief in the fact that a process is an action; especially if we consider action as a positioning that shifts paradigms and brings changes, but also if we consider action as an assertiveness. Love of diversity Let’s quickly return to this exercise the others were doing, while I was totally tripping on collective responsibility. They collected all the questions, talked about them, tried to come up with a conclusive question, and finally retook the thing in hand and decided that they’d better find the question we wanted to address at this moment, the question that excited us; as opposed to the one we found to be the one we had to address, that would draw the best conclusion. This question ended up being: “How can we imagine a way of coming together based on a love of differences (and not on same-ness)?”. Our debate was once more very interesting: we mapped all possibilities of what ‘differences’ could mean; how plurality implied that not everybody had to be able to identify with everything; that we needed to rethink the role models, to reconsider the common values; we pondered that our need for identification was in tension with the idea of the love of diversity; we asked ourselves if we have to 26

Such as: is there really a more rightful way to occupy our time? And therefore a wrong one? (In regards to that, one of the participants told us he started thinking about this rightful occupation of time after several people told him to “get a job” while he was taking part in a political action in the street. How was this an ‘answer’ to what he was doing?) Or we might be the elite, the privileged, it's okay. Let’s just think from there. Just don't ignore it. And also don’t pretend to think FOR the other. But also don't shame yourself because of the position. Especially if you had nothing to do with it, and it came by birth. Etc etc etc.

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include the ones that exclude, in our attempt to love the difference; etc. After that, our facilitator 27 brought to my attention that we had spent all of our time defining diversity, and not love. As if love was common knowledge. And indeed, we had totally overlooked love, taking it as if it basically meant: being okay with something or someone. But we all agree that it is much more than that! Love, like anger, is a link towards the other. Thus loving the differences is genuinely agreeing to be surprised and possibly overwhelmed by what you are confronted with; it is genuinely being willing to engage in the unknown, and most of all the unshared, the not understood. It is not the mere tolerance that makes you accept diversity outside of your life, it’s accepting it IN your life. (And, when you stretch a little further, it is even seeking it.) Love of differences is friction; perpendiculars not parallels. It is crossings and flirts. In my view, we overlooked love just like we tend to overlook anger, because we think they are objective positions that you either take or not take. But they are not: they are very much biased, because they are super subjective. As Brian Kuan Wood states28: “we must see love as a radicalization of the integration and confusing of the public and private spheres.” This radicalization of integration is both the overwhelming love of differences, and the ‘being concerned by everything’ of anger-acquainted Gramsci. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have Just as in the love of diversity example we should not underestimate the work there is in the love. We also should be careful when we consider collective practices with too much self-evidence. We must remind ourselves that the ‘shared’ is not implied, and that ‘collective’ doesn’t just mean a bunch of people together. It are ways of organizing, processes and tests, and they should be taken good care of! For the simple reason that they do do wonders! And we aren’t angrier than we are, because we might still feel a bit isolated in our anger, and because we seem to fear anger more then we fear the rest. But let’s not forget: fear is what makes the wolf look bigger, and ironically one of the things that anger suppresses is fear. Fear makes the wolf look bigger, but it is anger that makes you want to confront the wolf (and maybe this is the first step towards loving it?). In the long run, anger is not a goal but a tool, just as the Open Space Technology is not a goal but a tool. Anger is a tool for thinking, and the Open Space Technology is a tool for making thinking exciting again. And in order to get acquainted with the tools, sometimes they have to become your goal, at least for a moment. Just like the way a process is an action.

27

As I quote him once more, it is now apparent that I owe him much for triggering this whole reasoning, so I hereby salute you Jérémie! 28 In his interesting article Is this love? e-flux journal #53 – march 2014.

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introductory notes on

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an ecology of practices ISSAARBAE LKLNEOSXT E N G E R S

Prepared for an ANU Humanities Research Centre Symposium in early August 2003, these notes may be considered as a comment on Brian Massumi’s proposition that ‘a political ecology would be a social technology of belonging, assuming coexistence and co-becoming as the habitat of practices’.1 — Physics and its habitat Let us start with a not-so-simple example, since it follows the path along which I encountered this idea of ecology—that of scientific practices and, more particularly, physics. Physics as a practice is in dire need of a new habitat, since from its birth as the first socalled ‘modern science’ its claims were entangled with its historical ‘habitat’. Since then, however, the claims have survived, but not the habitat. As a result, the way physics presents itself now, the way it defines ‘physical reality’, is by way of persistent but now freely floating theologico-political claims referring to the opposition between the world as understood from that an intelligible point of view (which may be associated with divine creation) and the world as we meet it and interact with it. As a result of defining ‘physical reality’ as the objective and beyond our merely human fictions, physics claims for itself a exclusive position of judgement over and against all other ‘realities’, including those of all other sciences. It is a position practitioners do not know how to leave, even when they wish to. It is indeed a question of ‘habitat’; they feel that as soon as they leave the secure position of claiming that they ‘discover’ physical reality beyond changing appearances, they are defenceless, unable to resist the reduction of what they are producing to simple instrumental recipes, or to various human

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fictions. They become subject to the very same kind of reductive judgement they use against all other realities. This is indeed what did happen, for instance, with Henri Poincaré, at the end of the nineteenth century. In the process of unpacking the idea of convention, he was heard to admit that physical laws were only useful recipes. It happened again with the recent ‘science wars’.2 Physicists were afraid that their social environment might be susceptible to deconstructivist description, and since they have the social power to equate attacks against physics with attacks against rationality itself, they mobilised this power and retaliated, producing the terrifying alternative—either you are with us and accept physical reality the way we present it, or you are against us, and an enemy of reason. Now, my own reaction was—what a terrible waste! Those physicists’ practices, as I had learned working with Ilya Prigogine, can be so passionate, demanding and inventive! They really do not need to present themselves as associated with the authority of ‘physical reality’. But physicists need the support of this authority as long as they are afraid of their environment and have the social, historical power of claiming that doubting the way they present themselves is equivalent to standing with Might against Reason. But as long as claims such as ‘physics is a social practice like any other’ could be considered viable and plausible, then physicists would be right to be afraid. Their environment is indeed a dangerous one. This is how I produced what I would call my first step towards an ecology of practice, the demand that no practice be defined as ‘like any other’, just as no living species is like any other. Approaching a practice then means approaching it as it diverges, that is, feeling its borders, experimenting with the questions which practitioners may accept as relevant, even if they are not their own questions, rather than posing insulting questions that would lead them to mobilise and transform the border into a defence against their outside. Now, there is another process going on, which may be associated with what Marx called ‘general intellect’, and it means the destruction of physics as a practice. It is what some scientists were already afraid of at the end of the nineteenth century. As is well known, beginning with Ronald Reagan in the USA, the settlement scientists had achieved against the position that they should be working directly towards the development of so-called productive forces became less and less respected by the very states that were supposed to support their autonomy. It may mean that scientists will just become part of the so-called ‘mass intellectuality’ which theoreticians of Empire see as today’s potential antagonistic force against the Capital.3 From those theoreticians’ point of view, the destruction may thus be identified as a positive move, just as the destruction of the old corporations was for Marx a positive move. Practices as such would be static stratifications that must be destroyed in order for the multitude to produce its ‘common’.

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— Ecology of practice as a tool for thinking What I call an ecology of practice is a tool for thinking through what is happening, and a tool is never neutral. A tool can be passed from hand to hand, but each time the gesture of taking it in hand will be a particular one—the tool is not a general means, defined as adequate for a set of particular aims, potentially including the one of the person who is taking it, and it does not entail a judgement on the situation as justifying its use. Borrowing Alfred North Whitehead’s word, I would speak of a decision, more precisely a decision without a decision-maker which is making the maker. Here the gesture of taking in hand is not justified by, but both producing and produced by, the relationship of relevance between the situation and the tool. The habit of the tool user may make it plausible to speak about recognition, rather than decision, as if those situations where this or that tool must be used had something in common, a sameness justifying the use of the same tool. Habits and decision are not opposed, as no pre-existent sameness explains or justifies sameness in either of them. But when we deal with ‘tools for thinking’, habit must be resisted. What is at stake here is ‘giving to the situation the power to make us think’, knowing that this power is always a virtual one, that it has to be actualised. The relevant tools, tools for thinking, are then the ones that address and actualise this power of the situation, that make it a matter of particular concern, in other words, make us think and not recognise. When we deal with practices, recognition would lead to the question—why should we take practices seriously as we know very well that they are in the process of being destroyed by Capitalism? This is their ‘sameness’, indeed, the only difference being between the already destroyed one, and the still-surviving ones. The ecology of practice is a non-neutral tool as it entails the decision never to accept Capitalist destruction as freeing the ground for anything but Capitalism itself. The point is not to defend physics or any other surviving practice. So many have already been destroyed and those that are now surviving are not the crucial ones, whatever their claims of embodying rationality, of equating their loss with the loss of the very soul of humanity. But the way they defend themselves, thereby accepting and even justifying destruction of others, is not a reason to celebrate as well deserved what will eventually happen to them also. This would be a moral attitude, the sheer expression of resentment. The point is to resist any concept, any prospect, which would make those destructions the condition for something more important. It is clearly hard to think without reference to a kind of progress that would justify its past as a path leading to our present and future. The ecology of practices has this ambition, and this is one of the reasons why I choose an open reference to the wisdom of naturalists who

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have learned to think in the presence of ongoing facts of destruction—with nothing beyond to justify it—who are able both to feel that the disappearance of any species is an irreparable loss, which makes our world poorer, and to accept the loss of so many species. Never will these naturalists agree to promote a given loss to the status of something that was needed— unfortunately—as a condition for the further progress of Life on this earth. However, we also diverge from naturalist wisdom as our present is something that we cannot try to understand independently from a diagnostic bearing on its possibility of transformation. Whenever our present is concerned, whatever understanding we have, comes to be included in this present anyway, and this in turn cannot be separated from the understanding it generates. An ecology of practices does not have any ambition to describe practices ‘as they are’; it resists the master word of a progress that would justify their destruction. It aims at the construction of new ‘practical identities’ for practices, that is, new possibilities for them to be present, or in other words to connect. It thus does not approach practices as they are—physics as we know it, for instance—but as they may become. Maybe we can then speak again about some sort of progress, but, as Brian Massumi puts it, it would be a progress brought about by a ‘social technology of belonging’, addressed to the many diverging practices and their practitioners as such, not a progress linked to any kind of Truth, to any contrast between the old ‘belonging’ man and the ‘new man’, or the modern man. — Escaping the ‘major key’ Taking seriously the ecology of practices as a tool for thinking means that we now have to differentiate between what we may ask from it and what we may not, and also to make explicit how it exposes the practitioners who might use such a tool. I would propose that the ecology of practices functions in minor key, not in major key. As an example of ‘major key’, I could offer a quotation from Empire: ‘We need to identify a theoretical schema that puts the subjectivity of the social movements at centre stage in the process of globalization and the constitution of global order’.4 Identifying a centre stage and what occupies it produces a theoretical vision, the implications of which I certainly understand since it avoids the theoretical pitfall of identifying the development of Capitalism as an Hegelian-like development of the Absolute Spirit, of which Empire might be the final stage. However, using the words of Herman Meville’s Bartleby which Gilles Deleuze loved so much, ‘I would prefer not to’. I would prefer to just avoid this central stage, this conceptually ‘incontournable’ stake as we say in French, with no possibility of getting away from it, a stake defined by an ‘either/or’ disjunction. Now in order to propose thinking in the minor key, it is not sufficient to avoid the major one. If the ecology of practices is to be a tool for thinking, it will understand that avoidance

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is not the renunciation of any major key, accompanied by some unending deconstructive discourse which would put the renunciation itself at centre stage. If this avoidance is both deliberate and constructive, it can create a different practical landscape. An ecology of practices may be an instance of what Gilles Deleuze called ‘thinking par le milieu’, using the French double meaning of milieu, both the middle and the surroundings or habitat. ‘Through the middle’ would mean without grounding definitions or an ideal horizon. ‘With the surroundings’ would mean that no theory gives you the power to disentangle something from its particular surroundings, that is, to go beyond the particular towards something we would be able to recognise and grasp in spite of particular appearances. Here it becomes clear why ecology must always be etho-ecology, why there can be no relevant ecology without a correlate ethology, and why there is no ethology independent of a particular ecology. There is no biologically grounded definition of a baboon which would authorise not taking into account the presence or absence of baboon predators in the environment. And, in the definition of what an ape might be, we even have to include the kind of speech performance some of them are able to produce in very specific human environments. In the same way, I would venture there is no identity of a practice independent of its environment. This emphatically does not mean that the identity of a practice may be derived from its environment. Thinking ‘par le milieu’ does not give power to the environment. The obstinate work and research of ethologists to discover what kinds of relations with their apes would be the right ones for those apes to learn, whatever they learn is sufficient to lend support to the point that the issue is not one of power but of involvement. Spinoza might say to us, we do not know what a practice is able to become; what we know instead is that the very way we define, or address, a practice is part of the surroundings which produces its ethos. I would thus claim that an important divergence between thinking in a major or in a minor key may well concern the relation between thinking and what we may call, in each case, ethics. The need and power to define a central stage is obviously determined by a political, and also an ethical, project. Celebrating the creative power of the multitude as the very resource Capitalism exploits in its own self-transformation is not a neutral characterisation, but one that is intended to participate in its own enaction. There is no problem with that. The problem, for me, is that such a characterisation leads to identify the thinker’s task as one of enlightenment, a critical and deconstructive enlightenment aiming to subvert the hegemonic languages and social structures, in order to free the constituent power which by right belongs to the multitude only. This is ethics in a major key since it implies and means to enact the great convergence between Truth and Freedom. Only the Truth will make you free. In order trace the escape route from this major key, I could contrast Benedict de Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz. It has been said that while Spinoza did entertain an optimistic conception of the power of truth, Leibniz was pessimistic; and I would add that he had plenty of

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reasons to be pessimistic since his time was the time of religious wars, killing in the name of God and Truth. It may well be that Spinoza’s so-called optimism is much too tricky to figure as an example of ‘major key’ thinking, even if he has come to be an inspiration for some of them. But the very discomfort surrounding Leibniz, the thinker of diplomacy about whom it was said ‘Herr Leibniz glaubt nichts’, marks him as a ‘minor key’ thinker. I think Leibniz would have understood Bartleby’s ‘I would prefer not to’—I would prefer not to appeal to the strong drug of Truth, or to the power to denounce and judge, to deconstruct and criticise. The strong drug of enlightenment against illusion. — Leibnizian technology Take Leibniz’s affirmation—we live in the ‘best of all possible worlds’. Already in his times this is something that could not be understood by any Truth-addict. And it is as such that it indeed plays the role of a critical point for Leibniz, not as a matter of belief but as a testing experience. A critique ‘par le milieu’, so to speak, is a critique in the name of nothing but the test such an affirmation is fabricated to produce. Indeed you cannot affirm our world is the best without becoming, without being transformed by the obligation to feel and think all that this affirmation entails. I would say that the best of all possible worlds is part of a Leibnizian technology, as Brian Massumi used the term, to have us thinking for the world and not against it. The contrast between technology and the power of Truth is an ethical one. With technology comes a sense of responsibility that Truth permits us to escape. Leibniz wrote that the only general moral advice he could give was ‘Dic cur hic’—say why you chose to say this, or to do that, on this precise occasion. Such advice does not imply that you have the power to define either the situation or your reasons. The whole Leibnizian philosophy denies that you may have this power as your choice cannot be separated from the divine choice of this world. The question of responsibility is thus divorced from the definition of truth. Responsibility is not a matter of who is being ‘truly’ responsible, it is a matter of concern, and, as such, open to technical advice. When you are about to act, do not rely on any general principle that would give you the right to act. But do take the time to open your imagination and consider this particular occasion. You are not responsible for what will follow, as you are not responsible for the limitations of your imagination. Your responsibility is to be played in the minor key, as a matter of pragmatic ethos, a demanding one nevertheless—what you are responsible for is paying attention as best you can, to be as discerning, as discriminating as you can about the particular situation. That is, you need to decide in this particular case and not to obey the power of some more general reason. The ecology of practices is Leibnizian because, in order to address practices, we have to accept the critical test of abstaining from the powerful drug of Truth. Indeed, as far as

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practices are concerned, what comes first is the etho-ecological difference between a practice and its outside. In the name of Truth, it is very easy to identify this difference with a matter of belief. Physicists ‘believe’ their knowledge is different. The ethical point has nothing to do with tolerance for other people’s beliefs or with the nice prospect of a civilised conversation among polite practitioners. The ethical test may well, on the other hand, begin with trying to envisage others as having to tolerate you. But the point is not tolerance anyway, and it is not a matter of reflexive self-indictment either. The first point with the ecology of practices as a tool for thinking is that any tool always relates to a practice, in this case the tool relates to a practice which makes Leibniz’s advice ‘Dic cur hic’ crucially relevant. Indeed the ‘ecology of practices’ practice first implies that whatever its good will, its practitioners will not cross the border of the practice it addresses without a transformation of the intention and aim of the address, what is often called a misunderstanding. And the practical certainty of misunderstanding is something an ecology of practice has to affirm without nostalgia for what would be faithful communication. Indeed it would refuse nostalgia for a situation where you can take the place of the other, that is, where the borders can be explained away, for instance through the appeal to something in common, stronger than the divergence these borders signal. Such a situation is no part of the ecology of practices. Thus, just as Leibniz claimed that nobody can know the true reason why they act as they do, the ethos of thinkers practising the ecology of practices must resist the test that they cannot justify what they propose in the terms of reasons that should be accepted in spite of borders. However what they know is that their propositions will be part of the milieu of the practice it concerns, and will thus intervene in the ethos of the practitioners. This is the crucial pragmatic point, the one that demands that thinkers actively deny the protection of any kind of general reason entitling them, or authorising them, to take the risk which they are taking anyway.

— Technology of belonging Usually technology is linked with power, and social technology then would mean power to manipulate, to subdue; that is everything we are meant to fight against in the name of human or social freedom. The problem is that when we deal with so-called ‘material technology’, the contrast between submission and freedom is not a very interesting one. In order to make something do what you want it to do, you can certainly use brute force, like using dynamite in order to have an annoying rock do what you want it to do, to disintegrate. But in order to have dynamite do what you want it to do, a long line of chemists had to learn how to address chemical compounds in terms of what they could produce, and those chemists had to actively resist the temptation to submit those compounds to their own ideas.

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The symbiosis between science and technology, which characterises experimental sciences, is not grounded in some common methodological definition of their object as Martin Heidegger would have it. It is, as all symbiosis, a relation between two heterogeneous ways of being, both needing the other because without the other none of them would be able to achieve its own pathways and goals. As Deleuze said, only what diverges communicates, and communication here relies on the fact that, for diverging reasons, both experimental science and technology need to address things not from the point of view of their submission, but in terms of what can generically be called their force, what they are able to do in particular well-defined circumstances. When a scientific statement is stabilised, or when a technology works, it may well look like some kind of submission has been achieved, but it is a force which has been both unfolded and re-folded. Contrasting this symbiosis both with normal social sciences and social technology is very interesting. On the one hand, you have social sciences claiming that they have nothing to do with technology as it is identified with domination. Indeed they would fight against illusions and domination. But, on the other hand, you have something which is truly common between them. While experimental science and technology cannot succeed without increasing or heightening what they address, without producing situations where what they address becomes able to do what it could not do in the usual circumstances, social sciences and technology proceed by lessening or lowering what they address, enhancing the weakness, the propensity to submission. Social technology of belonging, as it deals with people who are not only social beings but people who belong, would then be that technology which can and must address people from the point of view of what they may become able to do and think and feel because they belong. It is important to state here the difference between being part of and belonging. We are all social beings, parts of a society, and an easy way to produce an objective lowering of what we feel and think is to emphasise that what we claim as ours is not ours at all, but identifies us instead as part of our society (I am referring to Pierre Bourdieu, for instance). In strong contrast to this, you do not belong without knowing that you belong. I use the term ‘obligation’ to characterise what it is to know that you belong. Practitioners have obligations. Not all they can do has the same value. This is the primordial fact for an ecology of practice, and if you make it relative to something you can identify and relate it to more general categories, you insult practitioners. Indeed obligation also communicates with indebtedness. Because of the fact I belong, I am able to do what I would not be able to do otherwise. In other words, addressing people as they belong means addressing them in the terms which Bruno Latour called ‘attachments’. As for belonging, attachments here do not mean ‘social facts’ that can be characterised as valid independently of the way people are conscious or not conscious of what does

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determine them. Attachments matter and the way they matter becomes apparent when you do not take them into account or carry on as if people were free, or should be set free, from them. As Latour beautifully showed in Pandora’s Hope, attachment and autonomy rather go together. Attachments are what cause people, including all of us, to feel and think, to be able or to become able. The problem is not with attachment; the problem may be that some of us, those who call themselves ‘moderns’, confuse their attachments with universal obligations, and thus feel free to define themselves as ‘nomads’, free to go everywhere, to enter any practical territory, to judge, deconstruct or disqualify what appears to them as illusions or folkloric beliefs and claims. Latour famously wrote that ‘we have never been modern’, we are just ‘modernisators’, breaking and destroying attachments without another thought. We may well present ourselves as free, detached of superstitious beliefs, able to enter long networks, but the moment you try to tell physicists that their electrons are only a social construction, you will get war. And you will have deserved it because you have insulted not simply their beliefs but what attaches them, causes them to think and create in their own demanding and inventive way.

— Causes In order to affirm the positive value of attachment, or the Deleuzian ‘truth of the relative’, as contrasted with the relativity of truth, a technology of belonging needs a particular syntax. We are used to the opposition between the realm of causes and the realm of reason and freedom, the usual idea, a rather strange one, being that true reasons would be in harmony with freedom while causes would define what they act upon as passive. I have learned instead to use this term, cause, as French-speaking lawyers speak about a cause, which unhappily has become a case in English. It is what causes them to think and imagine. Here again I am with Deleuze, this time affirming that thinking is not a matter of good will or common sense. You think when you are forced or obliged to think. You do not think without a ‘cause’. However, what is most important is that a technology of belonging is not a technology of causes. The point is emphatically that causes are causes for those who are obliged to think by them. Those do indeed belong and the cause does not belong to them. Manipulation of causes is not impossible—Hitler probably did it, marketing does it everyday—but it may be precisely what technology of belonging must resist. If technology of belonging may be related to ecology, it is because the question it addresses does so positively, accepting causes as ecologists accept that a wolf is a wolf and a lamb is a lamb. They do not dream of manipulating them in order to have them entertaining peaceful cohabitation; that is, they do not dream of submitting them to their own human ideas about what would be a better world.

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The crucial point, then, the one which makes it possible to think for the world but not accept it in a passive way, is the fact that we do not know how wolves and lambs may become able, as wolves and lambs, to behave in different circumstances. This is the point of causes not belonging to people. They oblige but there is no possibility of producing a defining relation between the cause and the obligation as it is formulated in this or that habitat. But this does not mean that one would be free to define how one is obliged either. The ‘how’ is a question which exposes, which puts at risk, those who are obliged. Which also means that only these people can take the risk of putting experimental change into the formulation of their obligations, because only they are exposed by the question. Here it is important to recall the difference between ‘technology’ as implying tools and the kind of blind power of definition implied by the notion of an instrument. Instruments are designed in order to fulfil a predetermined general goal, that is, a goal defined as independently as possible of the situation. A technology of belonging, in contrast, entertains no general vision or theory, making each case just another case. It is a case all right, but a case is a cause, and for each case-cause, you have no economy of thinking, just the experience nourishing your imagination. In other words, no ‘if … then …’ must be allowed as a matter of generality, none can be taken for granted. This is why an ecology of practices, as a tool for thinking, needs ‘generic’ terms, such as cause, obligation or risk, which aim at conferring to a situation the power to matter in its particular way, in contrast with general terms which look for illustrations, for cases that are not causes but refer instead to their potential unity. Unity always means mobilisation, what was asked from armies having to follow orders in a faithful and immediate way. In order to affirm this point, I once used the term ‘cosmopolitics’.5 I do not know if I will keep this word in the future because it was used by Kant and contemporary Kantians have taken a new interest in it, playing it in a major key. Some misunderstandings are interesting but not this one. Anyway, I meant to affirm that each achievement in the ecology of practice, that is, each (always partial) relation between practices as such, as they diverge, must be celebrated as a ‘cosmic event’, a mutation which does not depend on humans only, but on humans as belonging, which means they are obliged and exposed by their obligations. Such an event is not something that can be produced at will. This is why technology of belonging is not a technique of production but, as Brian Massumi put it, works both as challenging and fostering. Its two main matters of concern are the question of empowering, a matter of fostering, and the question of diplomacy, a matter of challenging. Inversely, challenging as associated with diplomacy, and fostering as associated with empowering, must make explicit the cosmopolitical stance that ‘we are not alone in the world’. What I call ‘cause’, whatever the name it is given, cannot be reduced to some human production, not because it would be ‘supernatural’, but because it would be a syntactical error.

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— Diplomacy and challenge As Deleuze said, an idea always exists as engaged in a matter, that is as ‘mattering’ (we have an idea in music, or painting, or cinema, or philosophy, or …). As a result a problem is always a practical problem, never a universal problem mattering for everybody. Problems of the ecology of practices are also practical problems in this strong sense, that is problems for practitioners. In proposing diplomacy as a name for the challenging aspect of the practice, I emphasise the need to take borders seriously. To challenge is something rather easy; you can always challenge somebody. But challenge as related to the eventuality of a cosmopolitical achievement must include the very special fact that faced with a challenging situation, nobody can speak in the name of this situation. Indeed borders are involved and there is no neutral, extra-territorial way of defining what matters in the situation. It implies, for each involved party, different risks and different challenges. This is the first feature that makes the figure of the diplomat relevant. A diplomat will never tell another diplomat ‘why don’t you just agree with this or that proposal’ or ‘in your place I would ...’, because diplomats, if true to the art of diplomacy, know that they are all at risk and that they cannot share the other’s risk. Will the kind of modification on which may depend the possibility of peace we negotiate be accepted by those each represents? Or will they be denounced as a traitors when arriving back home? Indeed diplomacy does not refer to good will, togetherness, a common language or an intersubjective understanding. It is not a matter of negotiation among free humans who must be ready to change as the situation changes, but of constructions among humans as constrained by diverging attachments, such as belonging. What is generically asked, when war is defined as possible, is best expressed by the famous ‘give peace a chance’. Indeed there can be no place for diplomatic work if the protagonists do not agree to a common slowing down of all the good reasons everybody has to wage a justified war. But giving a chance is a necessary, not a sufficient condition. Peace depends on the success of diplomacy, which may then proceed. Diplomacy as a practice is a technology of belonging. Belonging as constraining protagonists, as expressed by obligations which those protagonists are not free to forget or reformulate at will, is not defined as a weakness to be tolerated, but is the very challenge of the diplomatic practice. The diplomatic achievement means the event of the production of a new proposition, articulating what was a contradiction leading to war. Such an achievement, the slight modification in the formulation of some obligations derived from an attachment, does not result in any final convergence overcoming a previous divergence. The articulation is always a local one. There is no general opening of the border; instead a contradiction (either/or) has been turned into a contrast (and, and).

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This achievement is what I describe as a cosmopolitical event, emphasising that it cannot be produced by discursive argumentation. Indeed such an argumentation is ruled by the fiction of the everybody or the anyone—‘everybody should agree that …’, ‘anyone should accept this or that consequence ...’—a fiction which downgrades to good will and enlightenment the creation of the possibility of a conjunction, ‘this and that’ where the disjunction ‘this or that’, leading to war, ruled before. Diplomacy thus affirms a divergence between challenges and what our culture too often refers to the trauma of Truth—somebody would be challenged to accept the hard Truth, in spite of the rupture it will produce. Come and you will be free, says the Christ figure. Diplomacy is much older than Christianity and it celebrates another, quite artificial, conception of truth—what is true is what succeeds in producing a communication between diverging parties, without anything in common being discovered or advanced. Each party will indeed keep its own version of the agreement, just as in the famous example given by Deleuze of a ‘noce contre nature’ (unnatural coupling) of the wasp and the orchid, we get no wasp-orchid unity. Wasps and orchids give each quite other meanings to the relation which was produced between them. I come now to a consequence of diplomacy. There is no possible diplomacy if diplomats cannot return to the people they both represent and belong to, if the situation defines those people by their weakness. Diplomacy is nothing if the challenge of the eventual diplomatic agreement diplomats bring back is not considered as something which may or may not be accepted. Diplomats must be ‘empowered’ but this means that the people who empower them have the power to do so, and also the power needed to accept being put at risk by the propositions the diplomats bring back. This is why fostering is a complementary feature of diplomacy as technology of belonging. — Empowerment and fostering Using the word empowerment is a risk because the word is now everywhere, even in World Bank deliberations about creating a better world. So I will double the risk by explicitly referring to the source from which I learned to think with it. It was when I learned about the story which has led activists to name themselves neo-pagan witches daring to take the old word ‘magic’ up again in order to name the efficacy of the rituals they produce. As the witch Starhawk wrote, calling forth the efficacy of ritual magic is in itself an act of magic. Indeed it goes against all the plausible, comfortable reasons that propose magic as a simple matter of belief, part of a past which should remain in the past. ‘We no longer …’— as soon as we begin like that, the master word of progress is speaking in our place, precisely the one the contemporary witches contest as the name they gave to themselves is there also to recall to memory witch-hunting and the ‘burning times’.

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Magic, as neo-pagan activist witches define it, is a technique, a craft or an art which many would be tempted to reduce to a matter of mere psychology, relaxation, psychosociology and so on. But the name ‘magic’ makes fully explicit something which both feminists and nonviolent activists have discovered—the need to create techniques which entail what I would call ‘depsychologisation’. Rituals are modes of gathering, the achievement of which is that it is no longer I, as a subject, as meant to belong to nobody but myself, who thinks and feels. But it is not because I have been overwhelmed by something those who gather would have in common. And it is not because of the powerful influence of that in the name of which we do gather, or in which we believe. What the ritual achieves could perhaps be compared to what physicists describe as putting ‘out of equilibrium’, out of the position which allow us to speak in terms of psychology, or habits, or stakes. Not that they forget about personal stakes but because the gathering makes present—and this is what is named magic—something which transforms their relation to the stakes they have put up. There is magic in the famous cry by Oliver Cromwell, which Whitehead quoted once without comment and which I have since found myself quoting again and again. He implored his Christian fellows: ‘My Brethren, by the bowels of Christ I beseech you, bethink that you may be mistaken’. Here the Christ does not confirm or refute, Cromwell is just trying to make him present, with an efficacy that is the efficacy of a presence without interaction, without a message. His kind of efficacy is one of having certainties, positions we feel entitled to take, stammering. A bit like Deleuze writing that an author makes language stammer, against the possibility of identifying language as a communication tool to be used at will. It is important to contrast empowerment, as the transformative power produced by what the witches call rituals, with unity in the name of a cause, that is, mobilisation. The Goddess the witches’ rituals make present is indeed a cause but a cause without a representative, an authorised spokesperson. It is a cause which is nowhere else than in the effect She produces when present, that is, when fostered. And this effect is not that of ‘becoming aware’ of something which others already knew, of understanding some truth beyond illusions—her effect is enacting the relation between belonging and becoming, producing belonging as experimentation while it is always in danger of being some kind of a psychological habit. If there is to be an ecology of practices, practices must not be defended as if they are weak. The problem for each practice is how to foster its own force, make present what causes practitioners to think and feel and act. But it is a problem which may also produce an experimental togetherness among practices, a dynamics of pragmatic learning of what works and how. This is the kind of active, fostering ‘milieu’ that practices need in order to be able to answer challenges and experiment changes, that is, to unfold their own force. This is a social technology any diplomatic practice demands and depends upon.

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I started with the problem of ecology of practices as a tool for thinking, the need of which I felt while working with physicists. Physicists feel weak and they protect themselves with the weapons of power, equating their practice with claims of rational universality. But the tool, as it is not an instrument to be used at will, co-produces the thinker, as shown by the very fact that it led me from physics to the art of the witches. Doing what I did, my own practice was that of a philosopher, a daughter to philosophy, thinking with the tools of this tradition, which excluded magic from the beginning and which, rather unwittingly, gave its weapons to physicists and to so many others presenting themselves in the name of universality. Maybe this is why I had to go back to this very beginning, since as a daughter, not a son, I could not belong without thinking in presence of women, not weak or unfairly excluded women but women whose power philosophers may have been afraid of. —————————— ISABELLE STENGERS

teaches philosophy of science and production of knowledge at the Free Uni-

versity of Brussels. Her last translated book is The Invention of Modern Science, University of Minesota Press, 2000, and her essay ‘The Doctor and the Charlatan’ was published in Cultural Studies Review, vol 9, no. 2, November 2003.

—————————— 1. As in the introductory handout, Brian Massumi

continues: ‘This symposium will consider some of the forms of meeting and mutation populating our contemporary world, examining their academic implications, but also and especially their political significance for an ecology of practices’. 2. The author is referring to the long scandal associated with the journal Social Text and the

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hoax perpetrated on it by New York University physicist Alan Sokal in 1996 [editor]. 3. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2000. 4. Hardt and Negri, p. 235. 5. See her two volume Cosmopolitiques, La Découverte and Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond, Paris, 1996.

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