us on fac k c e h C . m o c t. gprotes www.performin
Faculty of Arts, Museum M, STUK
Performing Protest INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
RE-IMAGINING THE GOOD LIFE IN TIMES OF CRISIS
2 | International Conference Performing Protest | May 8-10, 2014
noun: a person who publicly demonstrates strong objection to something; a demonstrator
In 2011, Time Magazine named the “protester” person of the year, arguing that protest has become “the defining trope of our times” and the protester “a maker of history”. More than anything, however, this making of history is a creative process. The post-democratic experience of disempowerment at the grass-roots level of many European societies coincides with the urgent need for new visions of social prosperity and wellbeing as revealed by the recent crisis of economic, environmental and social sustainability. In the wake of this multiple sustainability crisis, unexpected forms of political and cultural activism (e.g. Occupy, Femen, Indignados, Wutbürger) have gained momentum and public visibility. Under the close scrutiny of an equally hopeful and skeptical public, these protest cultures are reconsidering older revolutionary positions and forging new cross-cultural visions of alternative wellbeing. While counter-cultural protest movements had already been a motor of major socio-cultural change in Europe, they have been profoundly reconditioned by complex trends of (dis)engagement, (de) politicisation, (trans)nationalisation and (post)democracy since the mid-1990s. The three-day international conference Performing Protest. Re-Imagining the Good Life in Times of Crisis draws attention to protest movements, activist arts (literature, film, performance, theatre, visual arts), theoretical considerations of protest, and the dynamic interaction between them. It discusses these modes of engagement with a special focus on artistic practices that imagine social wellbeing and respond to the experience of political disempowerment and democratic dysfunctionality. Fostering dialogue between scholars, arts performers and political activists it questions the extent to which artistic practice opens up new forms of protest and articulates new models of democratic participation while also testing their viability in virtual concretization.
Performing Protest RE-IMAGINING THE GOOD LIFE IN TIMES OF CRISIS
Editor in Chief
Prof. Dr. Bart Philipsen Dr. Arne De Winde
From Protest to a Better World Leonor Wiesbauer’s local civil protest in Antwerp in 1988 led to the creation of the ‘United Streets’ (stRaten-Generaal) in 1999, a grassroots movement that influenced the political agenda more than once. Wiesbauer’s philosophical and activist trail brought her into contact with political scientist and economist Riccardo Petrella. Together they founded the Belgian chapter of the international University for the Common Good (UCG) in Antwerp in 2005. The UCG is an experimental centre for research, education, social action, networking and product development to serve the common good, and which focuses on well-being and sustainability. ‘The art to improve the world’ is reflected in their motto ‘Imagining, sharing and acting for a better world’ and in their transdisciplinary approach. Within the UCG there are four faculties: the faculty of Water, of Otherness, of Mondiality and of Imagination. The UCG has an inspiring and original voice and develops tools for participation, works with students, school communities and business innovation cells, invites artists, scientists and economists, reflects on different ‘urgent’ social issues. The university hosts particular activities focusing on different ‘international days’, and also hands out an ‘Honorary Doctorate in Utopia’ and an ‘Honorary Doctorate of The Common Good’ to special social thinkers.
Sarah Van Bulck Lisa Moorad Elvira De Cauter Juan D Montoya Felipe dos Santos Thijs Jacobs
Art Director and Designer
This conference is organized by the University of Leuven (research unit literary studies), the University of Leipzig, Luca – School of Arts, the University of Amsterdam (amsterdam centre for globalisation studies) and Verona University. Venues
Faculty of Arts, Blijde-Inkomststraa t 21 Museum M, Leopold Vanderkelenst raat 28 STUK, Naamsestraat 96
Since participants will include academics as well as artistic practitioners and policy makers, this event aims at fostering a true interdisciplinary and interartistic dialogue, in which the study of literature, film, visual arts and theatre goes along with theoretical and philosophical reflection on discourses of protest and visions of utopia.
Anticipation, Performance, Simulation
Recent publications include The Politics of Unsustainability. Eco-Politics in the Post-Environmental Era (ed. with Ian Welsh) (2008), ‘Zur Zukunfts-
new forms of social well-being by means of a philosophy of history which relies on secularized concepts of salvation history. What contribution, then, can political theology make to alternative imaginations of the good life? Does the rhetoric of crisis and apocalypse offer a way out of the postdemocratic condition that Badiou, Zizek and others critique? And what practices does it legitimize?
art, creates collectivity and this is one of the substantial elements it has in common with forms of protest. As far as art is concerned, not all the genres fit in the same way. Literature and fine arts, for example, talk to single persons whereas architecture, theatre and overall music not only talk to a brighter public, they are also produced in a collective way and thus they are able to produce important social effects. Cilione and Ophälders argue that particularly music seems to be a privileged place for overcoming cultural conflicts by virtue of its universalistic instances and its intrinsic transnational and transcultural meaning.
For more information on the University of Common Good see: www.universiteitalgemeenbelang.be
The UCG will be presenting panel A2: ‘From Protest to Imagining, Sharing and Acting for a Better World’ in MSI1 02.08 on Thursday from 11:30-13:00.
Crisis and the “New” This panel reflects on the problematics of modernity as it still dominates our mindset today, and addresses the question of if the arts are a part of this dynamics or rather an alternative to it. The ecological crisis is due to a political crisis, as activists state clearly. The keyword for sustainability is justice, but how does it fit with our modern mindset? In his paper ‘Performing Protest?’, Volkmar Mühleis (philosopher at LUCA School of Arts Ghent) argues the arts play a very ambivalent role in this context: their critical potential is competing with their potential of performing, the latter mainly in service of the capitalist economy. According to Mühleis, the problem is that the solution is not to reduce complexity in this case, but to find a different, more balanced coherence.
Also participating in this panel is Silke Horstkotte (University of Leipzig), who in her paper ‘Political Theology in a State of Crisis: Badiou, Zizek, Agamben’ critically confronts Badiou’s and Zizek’s incendiary rhetoric with Agamben’s concept of ‘life forms’. “What is going on? Of what are we the half-fascinated, half-devastated witnesses?”, are we seeing the “continuation, at all costs, of a weary world” – a “salutary crisis of that world” – or the “end of that world”? Clearly, Alain Badiou’s attempt at a philosophical understanding of contemporary protest movements frames protest and activism in the familiar figures of political theology. Other contributors to the philosophical discussion about protest cultures, too, have resorted to mythological and theological tropes of ‘rebirth’, ‘apocalypse’ and ‘new time’, imagining
Pier Alberto Porceddu Cilione and Markus Ophälders (University of Verona) will together be considering ‘Forms of Art – Forms of Protest’. Nowadays, in an era in which culture itself – in the form of ‘cultural industry’ – seems to give legitimacy to the existing, we should face the task of rethinking the very concept of ‘culture’. ‘Deterritorializing culture’ calls for breaking the link between culture and territory, showing the problematic political implications of the etymology of the word ‘culture’. Culture in general, and more specifically
Silke Horstkotte, Volkmar Mühleis and Markus Ophälders/Pier Alberto Porceddu Cilione will be presenting panel A1: ‘Crisis and the “New”’ in LETT 08.16 on Thursday from 11:30-13:00.
Den (vergangenen) Aufstand auf die Bühne Holen
In order to integrate different approaches and viewpoints, the conference will employ a variety of formats of interaction, ranging from academic papers over workshops and roundtable discussions to performances and screenings.
Ingolfur Blühdorn is Reader in Politics/Political Sociology at the University of Bath. His work combines aspects of sociological theory, political theory, environmental sociology and environmental policy analysis. He has published in many international journals on the transformation of prevalent norms of democracy in European societies, on political protest movements and on issues of contemporary eco-politics.
build on Tim Ingold’s book ‘Making’ (2013) and reflect on a new space in which the protester agitates; on the making of history as a more dynamic, morphogenetic and artistically ephemeral interactive process in correspondence to the world.
What will be discussed is thus the role of artistic production as a test arrangement, both probing and problematizing new models of civic participation.
Symbolic politics is the term that captures both the criticism of insufficient policies and the criticism of those who make them. (...) There is a widespread demand, not only in eco-politics, for a more serious and effective politics that places less emphasis on rhetoric and presentation and more emphasis on the substantive issues and substantive policy making. But there are good reasons to believe that, in eco-politics and elsewhere, this new discourse of seriousness and effectiveness does not really abandon symbolic politics but merely adds an additional layer of performance: the PERFORMANCE OF SERIOUSNESS (Nullmeier). (...) [This essay] develops the concept of simulative politics which challenges a series of assumptions that are implicit in the notion of symbolic politics. The main argument to be elaborated is that despite their vociferous critique of merely symbolic politics and their declaratory resolve to take effective action, late-modern societies have neither the will nor the ability to get serious. Their performance of seriousness, however, is an effective response to certain challenges which are particular to the late-modern condition, and the discourse of symbolic politics are an important part of that performance. They are an integral part of the POLITICS OF SIMULATION by means of which latemodern society manages to sustain – at least for the time being – what is known to be unsustainable. (Blühdorn, Sustaining the Unsustainable: Symbolic Politics and the Politics of Simulation)
In this panel Leonor Wiesbauer, Ruth Loos and Maarten Desmet look at the origins and itinerary of the UCG, the relationship between UCG and art, and the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH). GNH is a Bhutanese concept and a new holistic paradigm in which welfare and sustainability are central. Kathleen Weyts reflects on how art originates within a social context, how art and social change/social questions are interrelated. She presents a few cases from the field of contemporary visual arts that immediately illustrate why an organization like the UCG has a faculty called ‘Imagination’. Philippe Vandenbroeck and Sandrine Rose Schiller Hansen
fähigkeit der Demokratie: Nachdenken über die Grenzen des demokratischen Optimismus‘ (in: Wissenschaft und Umwelt Interdisziplinär 14/2011), ‘The Governance of Unsustainability. Ecology and Democracy after the Post-Democratic Turn’ (in: Environmental Politics 22.1/2013), Simulative Demokratie. Neue Politik nach der postdemokratischen Wende (2013).
Ingolfur Blühdorn will be presenting a keynote lecture: ‘Anticipation? Performance? Simulation? Political Protest in the Era of Post-politics’ in LETT 08.16 on Thursday from 10:00-11:00.
In 2007, a group of French intellectuals called for a coming insurrection (L’Insurrection qui vient) – but what lessons can past insurrections teach us in the present, and what points of connection do they offer to contemporary theatre and art? What forms of theatrical practice emerge when contemporary theatre engages with Friedrich Schiller’s concept of aesthetic education, on the one hand, and his history writing on the Dutch revolt on the other – or with Martin Luther’s and Thomas Müntzer’s antagonistic doctrines about secular and spiritual dominion? These are the topics of a roundtable discussion with Joachim Robbrecht (andcompany) and Beate Seidel (German National Theatre Weimar) about the two recent productions Der (kommende) Aufstand nach Friedrich Schiller and Vom Lärm der Welt oder Die Offenbarung des Thomas Müntzer. Andcompany&Co. is an international performance collective founded in Frankfurt/ Main in 2003 by theatre scientist, author and performer Alexander Karschnia, theatre maker and singer Nicola Nord, and musician and performer Sascha Sulimma. andcompany&Co. is conceived as an open network which new artists coming from various disciplines are constantly joining, among them is author and theatre director Joachim Robbrecht.
The Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar (DNT Weimar) is one of the oldest theatres in Germany with a long tradition and a history dating back to the 18th century when the most famous German author of the classical period – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – directed the theatre. Today the Deutsches Nationaltheater offers a broad repertoire of classical and modern opera and theatre productions as well as concerts in four different venues. Beate Seidel is active in DNT Weimar as a theatre dramaturgist. More about DNT Weimar on www. nationaltheater-weimar.de Joachim Robbrecht and Beate Seidel will have a stage discussion with moderator Silke Horstkotte in LETT 08.16 on Thursday from 14:00-15:30. Panel B1: ‘Den (vergangenen) Aufstand auf die Bühne holen’. (in German)
pital, no no concept of art or ca xt, nte co en op an is &Co. ercial adtrial complex, no comm d of part of the musical-indus way of working, an islan e tiv ica un mm co a t bu venture, ductive networks. social cooperation in pro association ANTIDOT.COM, a free &Co.-productions is an m in drifting through the syste rs ce du pro us mo no to of au n regime, duction & communicatio conflict with the ruling pro llective ways of working & co ive rat bo lla co r fo g hin l searc immaterial & intellectua of ss cla w ne the r structures fo re is a R ALL! Because if the FO de -co py co the rs, worke ng line is struggle, then the dividi re-configuration of class Great d parasitic, but within the an ve cti du pro n ee tw be not factory is has become diffuse, the Production itself: labour ISM ... DOT DOT DOT COMMUN . the ea br we air the s, a ga production al”: Communication & a “communism of capit “Be subjects!” merge in the command: r a new asity also is the matrix fo un mm co l tua vir the t Bu re to the rs – from corporate cultu sociation of free produce gress. The collaborative work-in-pro a – OP CO of re ltu cu ctions, “production of pro du pro s ce du pro y or rat &Co.-Labo ging and ocean, a never-ending lon an e lik are e W . s” on se cti du “this stream broken loo t Bu m. ea str a , od flo a grasping, uncontrol(Brecht) BE A MILLION ” rs! ou is e ph tro tas ! ca by in sight. And now: music d en no d An s. on xxi ex lable Conn ndco.be can be found on www.a
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May 8-10, 2014 | International Conference Performing Protest | 3
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makers. In “Cultural Resistance and Everyday Protest in Contemporary Austria”, she will analyse the wave of protest following the Austrian national elections of 1999 and the subsequent coalition government formation in 2000. Fiddler’s paper will have a double focus: firstly, possible reasons for the unprecedented surge in popular civic protest will be discussed; secondly, some of the immediate appropriations of public space for the manifestation of protest will be explored.
Presentation special issue BLD
Can hope and optimism only be felt and expressed through art? Can we avoid ressentiment when living in it? Can we lose something we don’t desire? What is the role of affect in striving for a good life in times of crisis? In his paper ‘Resisting the Affective Condition of Globalization in European Film’, Wim Peeters (Technische Universität Dortmund) argues that hope and optimism linked to a future agenda seem to be outdated sentimental attributes that do not match the transition in affect (Brian Massumi) the people in question go through any longer. These feelings are no longer linked to a redeemable promise of happiness in society or a realistic biographical project (Heinz Bude). However, current European films try to find narratives for this LIMINAL AFFECTIVE EXPERIENCE. As Boris Buden puts it, hope and optimism have no longer a visionary power in globalized society and have been left to art in general. Film aesthetically imitates this open affective condition, depicting the violence and ethics emerging from it, underlining the protagonist’s vitality against all odds in an adverse environment. These films are political on the level of the in-between, never passing the threshold to ideology, critique or pity. The protagonists are threatened by exclusion, and their affective state is restricted to a form of hope for more life without much future. Laurent Berlant suggests to describe the co-emerging feeling as “Utopian Optimism”.
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Sjoerd van Tuinen argues the time for indignation is over. Anger, despair, shame: they come too late. No cry for al-karama, no gathering of indignados will wake ‘the general public’ in the West from its depoliticized passivity. What is it that keeps us from finding our worthiness? Everything happens as if a diffuse RESSENTIMENT, as the predominant affective infrastructure of late capitalism, is simultaneously the inexhaustible soil from which the reasons for indignation sprouts and that which will forever prevent us from regaining our dignity. In fact, this was already Nietzsche’s diagnosis. Ever since, philosophers and artists have proposed strategies of overcoming and transmuting ressentiment. But the more political they become, the less their strategies seem to work. This is the problem Sjoerd van Tuinen (assistant professor of philosophy at Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam) wants to investigate in his talk ‘Ressentiment and Dignity in Post-Democratic (Protest) Cultures’. If ressentiment is a cultural problem, then under what conditions does today’s culture of ressentiment allow for its overcoming? In his contribution ‘Losing Welfare, Desiring Welfare: Literature and the Good Enough Life’, Pieter Vermeulen (Stock-
Y T I L A C O GL
l a b lo g g n ti c a d n a l a c Thinking lo world d te c e n n o rc te in n a within
Glocality can be described as the convergence between the experience acquired in loco and the experience acquired aloof; but it also denotes the convergence between universal characteristics and the local traces that distinguish a local or regional identity. There is both fusion and tension between the local and the global atmospheres and the process of these convergent interactions is described as glocality.
holm University) states one of the primary vehicles for social well-being in postwar Europe, the welfare state, is itself essentially a variant of biopolitics (Foucault). Contemporary imaginings of social well-being are left with a paradox: both the evacuation of the political and the promise of welfare thrive on a form of invisibility and unaccountability. Vermeulen reflects on this paradox by looking at a number of contemporary instances of genre fiction: the science fiction and fantasy of China Mieville, and the dystopian thrillers of Elliott Hall. He shows how these works capture this paradox and counter it by generating a desire for welfare provisions — not by making them visible, but by imagining a world in which they are lost. By presenting welfare, and the provisions that sustain it, as something that can be LOST, they also qualify it as something that can be DESIRED, and needs to be desired in order to mobilize the energies for an imagining of future well-being. Vermeulen draws on Martin Hägglund’s recent account of the concept of “chronolibido” to theorize the inextricable connection between desire and loss, and uses it as a frame through which to read the post-political, welfarist politics of these novels.
Wim Peeters, Sjoerd van Tuinen and Pieter Vermeulen will be presenting panel C1: ‘Affect’ in LETT 08.16 on Thursday from 16:00-17:30.
This special issue of BLD will be presented in LETT 08.16 on Thursday from 17:45-18:30.
Every human experience is local by essence. Everything we perceive, feel, see, hear, touch, smell or taste is experienced through our bodies from our inner perspectives towards the external world. Nevertheless, the understanding of your role within the global village demands a consciousness of what you represent from a global perspective.
Danielle Child is Associate Lecturer in Contemporary Art History at the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Her research focuses on ‘social practices’ in art, such as collaboration, socially-engaged artistic practices, relational aesthetics, artists’ groups/collectives and art-activism. The topic of her paper is “Performing Action: The Global Theatre of Art-Activism”.
In modern society, however, the value assigned to external perspectives has hugely increased. The actual understanding of self and place is complex and directly connected to the incessant evolution of the communication processes, which has drastically changed human interactions and has prioritized an interconnected global “virtual” matrix over local “tangible” experience. We now live in unique “glocalities”, expressing and absorbing local characteristics but also influenced by global trends and values.
Joachim Ben Yakoub is a pedagogue and social agogue working on the politics of images and diversity in the cultural center of Pianofabriek, Brussels. He is conducting a PhD research in political science on the role of art in the Tunisian revolution at Ghent University. In “Political Iconography and Revolutionary Iconoclasm in the Tunisian Revolution”, Ben Yakoub discusses how performances creatively drew from a traditional ‘Tunisian’ repertoire in order to reshape and deconstruct it. Following performance studies, a repertoire consists of a set of well-rehearsed mises-en-scènes, with its pre-conceived embodied ‘scripts’, ‘scenarios’ and ‘choreographies’, wellchosen symbols and images. Ben Yakoub will outline that, in negotiating with these scripts, public space is transformed into an epiphanic place, a micro-cosmos of the ideal society, a mini-utopia of the values the people had fought for, one that can bring us insight into the possible outcomes of the revolution.
On the first day of Performing Protest, two panels will discuss how the global and the local interact in political manifestations around the globe: A3: Glocality I and C3: Glocality II. Andreas Beer, MA in Anglophone Studies and German Studies and BA in Political Sciences at Rostock University (GER) will link some performative processes and discursive elements of the latest protest movements to the altermondalist movements of the 1990s, more specifically to the Zapatista movement, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2014. zapatistas by Thomas Hawk
BLD was established in 2009 as a publication of visual works created by students and lecturers of Sint-Lucas Ghent. Each issue collects images and visual reflections on a specific topic. By carefully selecting and arranging the contributions each issue wants to offer a visual contribution to the debate in question. In the context of the Performing Protest conference BLD will launch a special issue focusing on PROTEST. Since 2013 BLD is supported by the Research Unit Image of LUCA School of Arts.
Allyson Fiddler is Professor of German and Austrian Studies at Lancaster University. She has published extensively on the Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek as well as on numerous other Austrian writers and film-
Anne Breure is a master in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. In her crossdisciplinary artistic practice she aims at creating spaces where one can see, question and imagine (new) practices that form, organize and constitute the social order. In her paper “Performing a Space of Appearance”, she will focus on two performances: Standing Man, which took place on Taksim Square during the recent wave of protests in Turkey, and The Appearance (1976), a performance by the artists’ group Collective Actions, located in the Soviet Union. In memory of Mohammed Bouazizi, Tunis by Chris Belsten
Florian Göttke teaches at the Dutch Art Institute about topics related to art and public issues and conducts a PhD in Artistic
Research with the titel “Burning Images” at the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, the University of Amsterdam and the Dutch Art Institute/MfA ArtEZ in Arnhem. In his paper “Hanging Evil – US Protest Effigies from Tea Party to Neo-Tea Party (1765 – 2013)” he will trace the performance of protest with effigies throughout US history and highlight the shifts in meaning. From Stamp Act to abolition of slavery, from civil rights to anti-desegregation, from Hitler to Vietnam war to the contemporary partisan divide, the practice of hanging and burning effigies took on various forms and functions: a shaming device, an unveiled threat, a dramatic symbol, a carnivalesque enactment, a ritualistic incantation or a racist slur. Andreas Beer, Joachim Ben Yakoub and Danielle Child will be presenting panel A3: ‘Glocality I’ in MSI 01.20 on Thursday from 11:00 – 13:30. Allyson Fiddler, Anne Breure and Florian Göttke will be presenting panel C3: ‘Glocality II’ in MSI 01.20 on Thursday from 16:00 – 17:30.
Participatory Art as a Mockup of Political Participation e and recreate the instruments of efin red to ng ggli stru still is iety soc ary por Contem the last century, the perception that the of end the ce Sin n. atio ticip par l itica pol ular pop e or representative anymore seems to ctiv effe not are s tem sys ic nom eco and l itica pol consensus that is at stake in several have become a commonplace. It is precisely this the Occupy movement and the Arabic political manifestations worldwide, ranging from in Spain to the protests dos gna Indi and al tug Por in is xíve Infle ios cár Pre Spring, over the during the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
© Thomas Hawk
Estelle Zhong is currently doing a PhD in art history at Sciences Po Paris. Her research focuses on the development of participatory art in neo-liberal and democratic contexts. She is specifically interested in how participatory art reveals the evolution of individualism while inventing new social associations: communities of singularities. In “The New Patrons. A New Model of Democratic Participation Based on the Common Need for Art”, Zhong will discuss the French initiative Les Noveaux Commanditaires (The New Patrons). This project has invented an innovative model of democratic participation which addresses the dysfunctionality of our current democratic model. To re-collectivize the meaning of democracy, one has to rethink participation and more precisely modes of participation which are not addressed to the okhlos – resulting from the addition of individual interests – but to the demos characterized by a reconfiguration of the obvious partnerships and categories of the okhlos.
The New Patrons project proposes a mode of civic participation based on a radically new criterion which exceeds individual interests: the need for art, that is to say the belief that art does have a political effectiveness and can be an answer to specific social issues. It creates a new type of political association which dismantles the former dividing lines and abilities of the collectives: the free association of individuals given a new competence: the commission of an artwork. Jonas Rutgeerts (MA in Dramaturgy at the University of Amsterdam and MA in Philosophy at KU Leuven) is a Belgian dramaturge, artistic researcher and cultural agent who has worked in different arts organizations around Europe. He will present the paper “Staging the Collective: Remarks on ‘We Are Still Watching’”, in which he will elaborate on the ideas of the political theorist Claude Lefort. Starting from his ideas that a community is always in need of a “symbolic order”, which is prior to it and constructs its identity, and that this “symbolic order” essentially creates an “original division” between those who control the order (politics) and those who perform it (society),
his paper aims to explore the political potential of theatre to intervene at the level of that “symbolic order”, thus disturbing the power relation that is ingrained in it. In order to elaborate such ideas, Rutgeerts will focus on Ivana Müller’s work ‘We are still watching’ (WASW – 2012), which was based on a collaboration between Muller, David Weber-Krebs, Andrea Božić and Rutgeerts himself, and presented as part of ENCOUNTERS, a mini-festival that dealt with the notion of community and the idea of theatre as a place for ‘collective thinking’. WASW is performed by the audience and takes the form of a “reading rehearsal”, in which spectators encounter each other while reading a script together. During this one-hour performance, spectators create and perform a community, making decisions individually and collectively while reading a text that someone else has written for them. Esther Peeren is Associate Professor of Globalisation Studies at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam and vice-director of The Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS). She is also researcher at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis (NICA).
Peeren’s paper is entitled “Playing Along: Engaging Engagement in Rimini Protokoll’s Situation Rooms”. It will focus on Rimini Protokoll’s Multiplayer Video Piece premiered at the 2013 Ruhrtriennale in Bochum. It takes the form of an elaborate stage set through which 20 participants walk, holding a tablet that allows them to look at elements of what is described as the global “theatre of war” from the perspective of various protagonists, ranging from a child soldier and a peace activist to a soldier from the Israeli Defense Forces and a security systems developer. Participants are prompted to somatically follow in these protagonists’ footsteps and replicate their carefully coordinated and precisely timed (inter)actions, giving the piece an embodied, affective quality – participants and piece literally “touch” each other. This immersive dimension accords with Rimini Protokoll’s rejection of “the position of didactic omniscience” and commitment to “the systematic inclusion of change.”
Esther Peeren, Jonas Rutgeerts and Estelle Zhong will be presenting panel B2: ‘Community and Participation’ in MSI1 02.08 on Thursday from 14:00-15:30.
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Redefine to Contest To rethink concepts in order to reset targets
The Role of
Photography, Design and Media Mieke Bleyen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Cultural Studies of the University of Leuven and a member of the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography
Media, Photography and Design are crucial factors in the conceptual understanding of the ideas behind social movements. Acting as a mediating agent in the process of communication, these elements and their characteristics delimit the frame of the audience perception.
Lut Pil, Professor of Art Theory and History at LUCA – School of Arts, will analyze forms of protests that currently manifest themselves in the field of design, and trace the strategies and practices they make use of. The use of design in social activism as a way of contributing to real change in society results in a new interpretation of ‘designer’ and ‘design’, and in particular the concept of ‘social design’.
Panel B3, which consists of Marta Zarzycka, Lut Pil and Jeroen Verbeeck/ Mieke Bleyen, will discuss the role of aesthetics and visual representation in political and artistic expressions.
The current generation is still somehow fighting battles from the past and employing outdated concepts which are constantly pushed by the ones who detain the dominant power. To question pre-established concepts can be understood as the first step to construct a new model of society based on the modern-day citizen’s values and the desirability of real democracy. Oliver Kohns is currently »Attract Fellow« at the University of Luxembourg, where he is head of the research group »Aesthetical Figurations of the Political«. Among his most recent publications are Mythos Atlantis. Texte von Platon bis J.R.R. Tolkien (ed., with Ourania Sideri) (2009) and Politik und Ethik der Komik (ed., with Susanne Kaul) (2012). In his paper “Authority and its Critique in Protest Cultures” Oliver Kohns will discuss the role of authority in the newer protest movements in comparison with those of the 1960s.
In contrast with the widely spread discourses of authority critique in the 1960s, ‘Authority’ plays no central role in the protest movements of the 21st century. Nevertheless, ‘Question Authority (do not forget)’ is a famous slogan in the almost globally active Occupy movement of the years 2011 and 2012. Kohns will compare the role of authority critique in both protest movements and analyse the influence of these discourses on their own political modes and models. The way political protest is ‘performed’ is highly dependent on conceptions of authority (it is e.g. remarkable that political leaders seem to absent in present-day movements).
print’. The revolution in France not only struggled with authority during the tempestuous, rapidly changing circumstances of history. It also laid out the foundation of a revolutionary tradition and was in the centuries thereafter subsequently acclaimed authority, and deprived of it again. Consequently, heterogeneous and contradictory features mark the reception and representations of ‘la Grande Révolution’ as well as of its main protagonists. Indeed, many discursive cases of reception try to come to terms with precisely the authority of the French Revolution and its protagonists, such as Maximilien Robespierre, as a basis for further reflections on the revolutionary phenomenon, (progressive) politics and state terror. Three texts, ranging from 1871 to the present, will be discussed briefly to illustrate this rhetorical technique. By restaging the French Revolution and Robespierre in his 1871 play Danton und Robespierre, Robert Hamerling, , makes a positive appeal to their authority in order to draw lessons from Robespierre’s mistakes and spread a didactic message for his own time. Wilhelm Ihde’s deconstruction of Robespierre’s authority in his Discours (1939), on the other hand, is a means to undermine the validity of his
This contribution will thus analyze the ways Robespierre’s authority is instrumentalized as a benchmark to start a dialectical engagement between the historical event of the French Revolution and the urging needs of contemporary situations.
In her analysis of the revolutionary phenomenon, Hannah Arendt stresses the exemplarity and authority of the French Revolution for later upheavals. Arendt called this revolution a ‘conceptual blue-
political program and Western democracy, which is considered as his legacy. Finally, in 2007, Slavoj Zizek co-edited Virtue and Terror, a selection of Robespierre’s speeches. In his introductory remarks, the Slovenian thinker tries to re-actualize and make relevant ‘the event designated by the name “Robespierre”’ once again to face the future challenges of the world we live in.
In her presentation “On Love and Shame: The Politics of Protest Photographs”, Zarzycka looks at two photographs of female activists in Cairo, Egypt, and underlines a link between civil protest and the politics of gendered representations. Bearing in mind the long tradition of connecting femininity with feelings and emotions, she reflects on the affective powers of the figure of a female protester in contemporary conflict reporting.
Thomas Ernst is Assistant Professor of Literary and Media Studies in the German Department at the University of DuisburgEssen. He is an expert on German literature from 18th to 21st century, literary and media theory, intercultural and multilingual literatures (BeNeLux and Germany) and literature in digital media. He is the author of Literatur und Subversion. Politisches Schreiben in der Gegenwart (2008/2013) and SUBversionen. Zum Verhältnis von Politik und Ästhetik in der Gegenwart (2008). In his paper “Literary Discourses of Subversion and its Aporias. Political Writing after ‘littérature engagée’ and the End of the Intellectual”, Ernst traces a paradigm change in Germany during the 1990s and after unification from a ‘littérature engagée’ to a literature which deals aesthetically with discourses of subversion. His lecture will analyze the way in which ‘subversive literature’ archives, reflects or ironizes political-institutional, avant-garde aesthetic, subcultural or deconstructive discourses of subversion.
The power of politicians resides fundamentally on political fictions – without therefore being unreal: by being perceived as powerful, politicians become powerful. Oliver Kohns Michiel Rys, who’s working on a PhD project in literary studies at KU Leuven, will present the paper ‘(De)Constructing Robespierre’s Revolutionary Authority’.
Marta Zarzycka is an Assistant Professor at the Gender Studies Department of the Institute of Media and Culture, Utrecht University. She teaches and publishes in the field of visual studies and feminist theory. © Hamada Elrasam - VOA
In “The Critical Potentiality of ‘Venture Aesthetics’ in the work of Sven Augustijnen, Jan Peter Hammer and Ronny Heiremans and Katleen Vermeir”, Jeroen Verbeeck & Mieke Bleyen will look into the critical and aesthetic strategies of three artist films, namely Sven Augustijnen’s Une Femme Entreprenante (2004), Ronny Heiremans and Katleen Vermeir’s The Goodlife, a guide tour (2009) and Jan Peter Hammer’s The
Anarchist Banker (2010). Each of these films tries to appropriate and subvert the problematic promises of the discourse on project development, gentrification processes, and venture capitalism. Jeroen Verbeeck is a PhD student at the Art History Department of the University of Leuven and a member of the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography;
Public Debate (in Dutch) with:
reus Thomas Dec
pher, Political philoso er rit w d an activist
Philosopher, activist and documentary filmmaker
Oliver Kohns, Thomas Ernst and Michiel Rys will be presenting Panel C2: ‘Rethinking Concepts’ in MSI1 02.08 on Thursday, May 8 from 16:00-17:30.
Panel B3: Media & Design (Thursday, May 8, 14:00-15:30, MSI 01.20)
Mei 2014: Heeft macht nog verbeelding?
Kathleen Van Brempt
Member of the European Parliament for the socialist party (sp.a)
D.W. Coleman Photography
The design world has its own tactics to express protest, to mobilize action and to spread ideas that contribute to the formation of a global movement. The user/ consumer is given a new cooperative role in this process. This process of co-designing also has an impact on the local nature of production and consumption .
s Dejaeghere, who is The debate will be moderated by YveDepartment of Political senior researcher and lecturer at thep and is affiliated with Science at the University of Antwerocracy at KU Leuven as a the Centre for Citizenship and Dem and social movements. lecturer on political communication
rtveldt Johan Van Ove member
idate Journalist and cand rliament for the Pa an of the Europe Alliance (N-VA) New Flemish
Thomas Decreus, Bleri Lleshi, Kathleen Van Brempt and Johan Van Overtveldt will be debating in Kardinaal Mercierzaal – HIW1 01.01 on Thursday from 20:00-22:00.
8 | International Conference Performing Protest | May 8-10, 2014
May 8-10, 2014 | International Conference Performing Protest | 9
‘Ostinato’, in music meaning ‘stubborn’, normally pops What else can be said about the Belgian philosoup in strong, repeated motives. ‘If the cadence may be pher, writer and activist Lieven De Cauter? regarded as the cradle of tonality, the ostinato patterns De Cauter will be presenting the Keynote Lecture ‘Theses on Art and can be considered the playground in which it grew Lieven Activism (and Other Dangerous Liaisons)’ in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 11:00-12:00. strong and self-confident.’ (Edward E. Lewinsky).
THESES ON ART AND ACTIVISM
For De Cauter, resistance is rooted in subversion, which we typically (should) find in eccentric (sub)movements and areas, such as art and academia but also in squats or not-yet-claimed desolated urban spaces. (Heterotopias, in other words.) But – subversion is not action (and heterotopias aren’t political statements.) “The subversive gesture in art and culture is mostly frivolous. Play is not action. Action can be playful, but it should remain action: a political activity, gesture or statement in the public sphere. Work is not play either.” (De Cauter, Art and Activism in the Age of Globalization)
[a question of spheres]
The orgiastic-frenzied carnival of Gin/i Müller What is the political meaning of recent queer protests? What happens if theatre becoming act-ing? A conversation between Franziska Bergmann and Gin/i Müller.
What is the ‘carnavalesque’ for De Cauter? The fleeting, or the liminal which constantly slips into daily life. A carnival, indeed. Or even more intensely perhaps: a fun fair, where the child thinks of himself as being in a utopia – and its parents go along, fully aware, however, that once they get in the car again, order will be restored. At the other end of the spectrum we find Antonin Artaud who, with his spectacle of the plague, connects disturbance radically and irreplaceably not with daily life but with death. It is precisely in the face of death, in the midst of rotten decay of societal hierarchy, that the strong and authentic force of the carnavalesque floats up. Would an intermediate position be possible? This form should know how to escape from De Cauter’s vanity fair – which in essence confirms the Establishment –, yet at the same time staying out of the grasp of Artaud’s deathly plague. Exactly here, in between the frivolity of the fun fair and the rage of the plague – in between the tug-of-war of the Nietzschean Apollonian and the Dionysian – is ‘die Posse’ situated, as Gin/i Müller calls it: “In the notion ‘the posse’, theatre and politics meet each other as a playground of the real, of the possible, of the comic and of the performative.” (Müller, Queere Possen des Performativen). What we get is a conscious blurring of all possible, safeguarding demarcations, not the least that between culture and politics. Müller: “Despite all relationships and cross-
Examples: the struggle against the privatisation of seeds – Monsanto and co; the appropriation of the resources of the North Pole; the privatisation of knowledge.
Art can, maybe, reinvent itself as an anthropological practice, mapping, documenting processes and events in poetico-political ways.
overs, it somehow always seems obligatory to draw a line between theatre and politics. (…) Nevertheless the border passage between theatre, performance and politics, between empty appearance and reality, can be shoved up and blurred.” The theatre indeed becomes an act, the player an actor, yet without ever losing sight of the shaky, subtle balance: “Whenever theatre becomes active in the political field, the emptiness of the performance has to be filled. The spectacle [‘Schau-Spielen’, from the German verb ‘schauen’: ‘to watch’] becomes ‘armed’”. According to Müller, this (antagonistic) power of acting, this subtle game between reality and fiction, between art and politics, but also between inner, private and public, open space, takes outstandingly form in some recent queer protest movements. The theatrical play of their being-different and being-deviant goes beyond the carnivalesque and becomes a political statement. Politics? Rather than strict, closed, hidden categorical thinking they defend open and fluid thinking. By showing their carnivalesque selves to the world they playfully but consistently question accepted identities and common categories and thus unsettles sovereign power: “A video of AktivistInnen shows how a police troop and their retinues linger before a huge Samba-Fee and – visibly irritated – do not know how to stop the frenzied orgiastic carnival”. In other words: these protests become a temporary shelter/ heterotopia in which radical democracy is at work: protesters aren’t representants but of themselves. The posse: giving a form to the tension between the unique and the crowd. Posse: se’ as ‘to be 1. >Latin: “As a notion of event: ‘pos , as capacity able (to)’ (Latin), the power as a verb multitudes/ to act, as political subjectivity of the ).” ardt ri/H Neg mobs (according to language the 2. >English: “In the English ‘mob’, ‘gang’, word ‘posse’ is used for ‘bunch’, ‘HipHop’/ ‘Skater-Clan’.” tics meet as a 3. >German: “theatre and poli y and in the playground of the comic, of the witt buf foon, essubjectivized form of the wag, the edy (Johann pecially as designation for the com Nestroy) and slapstick.”
Franziska Bergmann and Gin/i Müller, together with Lorenzo Bernini (see other article), will be presenting panel D1: ‘Gender’ in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 9:00-10:30.
1. Not extreme but eccentric 2. Wants to disrupt rather than overthrow 3. Shows the weak and forgotten point in a system (totalizing by nature) 4.“This is not a time for subversion. It is a time for ‘affirmative action’. Interruption into it is the only real option.” (De Cauter, Art and Activism in the Age of Globalization)
Gender and LGBT Activism
The spectacle becomes ‘armed’: in the performant ‘Act’ of playing, acting and doing [Spielen, Handeln und Tun] in public spaces of conflict, it becomes an antagonistic power of acting. [eine antagonistische Handlungsmacht] Müller
The fight for the commons is the most urgent struggle of our time.
But. Let us believe in the mimetic power of art and the power of mimesis.
Action is a deed in the public sphere, the space of appearance. Therefore, political activism is the only real form of activism. (…) It is the sphere of the common and of otherness: the common uncommon.
“In their carnavalesque mode, they somehow ventilate morals: a festive reversal that momentarily interrupts everyday life to make existence more bearable. At the same time, these reversals and transgressions, these feasts of reversal, keeps the order going: excess and transgression as relaxation, as a safety valve. Such temporary inversion is not subversion per se.” (De Cauter, Art and activism in the age of globalization)
[the battle for the commons]
Art can change perception only in a sort of slow-motion, almost in retrospect. (…)
(and other dangerous liaisons), Lieven De Cauter 2013
There is only one real form of activism and it is political activism.
According to Lieven De Cauter, at certain moments a peculiar form of subversion pops up, which he calls ‘moral’ inversion:
[trust the mimetic]
How utopias could/should change the actual world
(…) In short: agonistic radical democracy (Mouffe) over sweet dreams of a new anarcho-communism (Negri, Badiou, Zizek, Virno, etc) or a messianic breach in history (Agamben, Nancy?). The world has to be saved in this history not in some dreamed off after-history (ultimately based on a vision of the second coming of the rousseauist bon sauvage as savage messiah).
Indeed, in the seventies a movement came up that rather than adapting themselves to the ruling establishment wanted to ‘liberate’ its members. This liberation was given a form in unlimited daydreaming of a paradisiac and unrestrained community where sexuality was freely experienced. In other words: they turned themselves against any ruling order, since these had made sexuality in a fierce way an a-political subject: “the scoop of the homosexual struggle had to be the sexualisation of the public sphere in contrast with the privatization of sexuality in the family.” It is precisely by dreaming of an unrealistic reality, also an a-moral one, that the ideology of everyday life is revealed. These movements did not conform themselves to any existing order neither did they look for conformation: “these youngsters didn’t need the authorization of any institution for taking the right to enjoy their proper body here and now.” The unveiling of (moral) ideologies and dreaming of another reality might also be useful in present political contexts – especially to resist the common logics to tackle current crises. “In times of crisis looking forward seems to be compulsory: we are asked to sacrifice our present for the future, and at the same time the future is paradoxically conceived as but a repetition of the present.” Exactly the queer battles of the seventies show us that nowadays “our present isn’t written like a destiny in the past” (Bernini).
Lorenzo Bernini, together with Franziska Bergmann/Gin/i Müller, will be presenting panel D1: ‘Gender’ in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 9:0010:30.
From the official Monsanto website
Fast Facts: • From 1995-2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent. • Consolidation in the seed business has left 53 percent of the global market in the hands of three corporations: Monsanto, DuPont (DD), and Syngenta (SYT).
Democracia real Ya!? Ja (doch)! Aber Real(Politik). [da capo: there is only one real form of activism and it is political activism…]
Lorenzo Bernini isn’t merely recalling sweet memories of unconventional queer movements in the seventies, he’s also stating their utopias could help us to find a way out of the current crisis better than the official recommendations of politicians do. How could the wild seventies help us to rethink our present? Bernini focuses on movements explicitly refusing equaling emancipation to confirmation: “We are used to think of lesbian, gay and trans as respectable citizens, eager to show their capability of being brave mothers, brave fathers and brave soldiers willing to die for the proper country. But it has not always been like this” (Bernini, Sessualità, genere, democrazia).
When a new edition of Microsoft Office hits the market, it’s copyrighted. You can’t buy a copy, burn it and sell it to your friends — or else it’s called piracy. It’s the same with Monsanto’s patented seeds.
• Seventy percent of the corn and cotton grown in the U.S. is Roundup Ready [trademark of Monsanto] Source: http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/monsanto-gmo-roundup-ready-seeds-patents-foodprices/
Seeing difference together A literally down-to-earth – locally based – approach of globalism might offer a much more fruitful input to local struggles and conflicts than a continuous emphasis on bewildering worldwide inconsistencies.
O Dear Ostinato Play(ground)
“Our performance (…) begins from the specificities of localities and their cultural realities, the possible camaraderie and contrasting relationships they establish with others.” “The aim is to explore the potential of certain localized resistances and to question how they can help us examine the totalizing understandings of contemporaneity and beyond.” Nine Yamamoto-Masson, Jerome Reyes and Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi
already globalism?) Example 1: Locality (or India, cer tain charwithin ‘one’ culture: In r student mobilization acteristics of the peculia orated in the recent im subculture were incorp otably starting in Demense rape protests (N but also in anti-corrupcember 2012 in Delhi) ing in 2012, originally tion movements (start in New Delhi)
[glocalism] Real activism is always local, at most glocal.
(There is, unfortunately, little you can do for faraway causes. You can only force your local institutions, your local politics to take the right position.)
n’s Fukulocal reactions on Japa g vin ser ob By 2: ple Exam its global become better aware of t gh mi we er ast dis shima impact (or neglect?). “Thousands protest ag ainst tough new officia l secrets law in Japan” Reuters, 21 No vember 2013 “Fukushima taboo? Po litician draws Japanese Emperor into nuclear controvers y” October 31 2013 Coma-Chi – Say NO! Protest song The world is disgusted father If you were someone's ns feel the pain of the citize
Source: The Student Association of India © wikimedia
o, No We gotta say No,No,N le op pe ese an say “No” Jap
“But the mainstream rejection of these political or protest songs, may not just be a matter of corporate pressure. It might have cultural roots as we ll.” Source: New York Tim es, June 30, 2011.
Example 3: ‘The local’ as an isolated case simply doesn’t exist. Already its past, revealing both differences and resembl ances, makes part of a certain local site. As shown in San Francisco, USA. Today: US real estate is currentl y the most expensive in San Francisco. It is unlikely that there isn’t a connection with the gentrification of the area. The pres ence of Silicon Valley heavily disturbs the normal functioning of housing and job dem ands and even public transport (as it is amo st exclusively used by companies such as Google and is thus not really public anymor e). Then: In 1907 the International Hotel is built in Manilatown, San Francisco. It will soon become the home of large num bers of (Asian) labour migrants. In 196 8, after mass displacements due to ‘urban renewals’, people begin to fight back. A growing mass makes evictions out of the Hotel literally impossible. Nevertheless the battle was finally lost in 1977. Relevan t stor y? “Even though the manongs were evic ted, the system really didn’t win. We weren’t defeated in one important sense: We lear ned the lesson of fighting back.” (Larry R. Solo mon 1999, Roots of Justice)
The performance ‘‘Seeing difference together’ will take place in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 18:00-18:30.
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May 8-10, 2014 | International Conference Performing Protest | 11
Top 10 Rebel Radio
Leuven Street Art
Anthems of protest and dissatisfaction, these songs have paved the way for some of the most striking changes in the post-war world. In many cases, these tunes have gone from the underground scene to the most mainstream. As the perfect soundtrack for taking over the streets or taking down a government, music has certainly become a key aspect of igniting the flame of rebellion. These are our top picks: Queen od save the 1. G 2. Guerrilla radio
6. Welcome to Tijuana 7. Vai Passar 8. Bin Laden
nd up 3. Get up sta 9. Sunday Bloody Sunday 4. Another brick in the wall ent eer de presid h n ij m , n te 5. Imagine s ru 10. Welte
It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here, what better time than now!
1. God save the Queen (1977) Sex Pistols Released during Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Sex Pistols really mocked the British crown in times of strong conservatism and uncertainty. The ‘No future’ british generation certainly broke in two the history of music subcultures, giving rise to the Punk scene which soon spread all over the globe, embracing all sorts of criticisms against post-modern madness. Certainly one of the most politically oriented music subcultures of all time. 2. Guerrilla radio (1999) Rage Against the Machine Tom Morello’s dazzling riffs and Zack de la Rocha’s strong commitment to left-wing political beliefs made the perfect combination for opposing the changes of a world about to reach the ‘globalization’ project by the end of twentieth century. In RATM’s words, “a spectacle monopolized.” The band finally split, mainly as a consequence of attacking the system within it. 3. Get up stand up (1973) Bob Marley and the Wailers No other discourse addressing the African diaspora or post-colonialist issues has had a deeper influence on western culture than Bob Marley’s songs of freedom. Dreadlocks, ganja and the colours of the Rastafarian movement became the symbols of a brave struggle against the pervasive and devastating effects of centuries of slavery. 4. Another brick in the wall (1979) Pink Floyd Symbolic and revolutionarily supported by great visuals, Pink Floyd’s message directly attacked the bases of society, like family or the education system, while exposing the mood of a generation that grew up in a world split in two because of the Cold War. Key concepts: alienation, war, identity, fascism, ideology, hegemony. 5. Imagine (1971) John Lennon Few songs have tried to promote the achievement of so many idyllic human aspirations. No hell or heaven, countries or walls, killings or religions. The ex-Beatle proposed a subtle and achievable revolu-
Rage Against The Machine
tion based on brotherhood and joy. “You may say I’m a dreamer,” he sings. Living times embedded in a rather optimistic mood, Lennon certainly was not the only one back then. 6. Welcome to Tijuana (1998) Manú Chao Although the whole album ‘Clandestino’ is a sort of manifesto addressing all kinds of political and ethnical claims that abound in Latin America, this song does it by grabbing the listener with the most joyful melody, just to confront them with a speech read by Subomadante Marcos himself, the enigmatic Zapatista leader: “Housing, land, work, bread, health, education independence, democracy, liberty… These are the things we have craved during the long night of 500 years. Today, these are our unimpeachable demands.” 7. Vai Passar (1970) Chico Buarque The song was written by the Brazilian singer during the Military Dictatorship and uses a letter to an ex-lover as a metaphor of the political system. This song was prohibited for 7 years. 8. Bin Laden (2005) Immortal Technique The Peruvian-American rapper/activist Immortal Technique blames George Bush for 9/11 and explains how the American Government supports and benefits from ‘terrorists’. This song features Eminem, Mos Def and Jadakiss. 9. Sunday Bloody Sunday (1983) U2 In one of their first hits, U2 describes the horror of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, focusing on the Bloody Sunday event, when the British troops shot and killed unarmed civil rights protesters. 10. Welterusten, mijnheer de president (1966) Boudewijn de Groot Years before the big protests in Europe against the Vietnam war began in the late 1960’s, Boudewijn de Groot made a Dutch protest song to criticize the actions of then American president Lyndon B. Johnson. The text was written by Lennaert Nijgh, a Dutch text poet. Photographers: Juan D Montoya and Sam Gielis
A plea for the public intellectual in yourself In her analysis of the documentary ‘The Joycean Society’ (by Dora Garcia), Sarah Késenne makes a plea for a truly equal relationship between artist and public. Crucial to the notion of ‘public intellectual’ is the linkage between artist and public/ community. In Rancière’s vein, the Belgian scholar Sarah Késenne, however, observes that the present-day artist, under the pretext of ‘emancipation’, all too often is supposed to take up an educational, even ‘liberating’, role, thus becoming a ‘maître ignorant’. “Seen from the perspective of Rancière’s ‘ignorant schoolmaster’, the artist thought of as an emancipator of social groups quickly brings inequality rather than equality.” (Késenne) Also De Cauter argues that “new alliances between sociopolitical work and culture are charming, but they tend to be amateurish, inconsequential forms of social or political work.”. Such socio-cultural projects seem very remote from the intellectual emancipation as envisaged by Rancière: “Intellectual emancipation is the verification of the equality of intelligence. This does not signify the equal value of all manifestations of intelligence, but the self-equality of intelligence in all its manifestations. (…) [The] poetic labour of translation is at the heart of all learning.” (Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator) Essentially, this poetic labour is, according to Késenne, political labour. One striking example of such a poetic-political translation, set in an intellectual-democratic climate, finds Késenne in the recent documentary ‘The Joycean Society’ by Dora García. By filming a reading group dealing with ‘Finnegans Wake’ García analyses
[powerlessness of art]
Art is part and parcel of the cultural middle-class spectacle. All attempts for an ‘exodus’ (away from the institutions and temples of culture into real life) have proved pretty vain – commitment as gesture.
New alliances between socio-political work and culture are charming, but they tend to be amateurish, inconsequential forms of social or political work.
the phenomenon of ‘communal reading’. Moreover, she situates this project in the larger context of her analysis of deviancy and antipsychiatry. García in ‘a letter to Eva Fabris’ (2012): “I try to explain a bit about Joycean Society. It all comes from a very old work of mine from 1999 (attached) and of course the logical parcourse The Deviant Majority/ The Inadequate. (…) In fact, it [Finnegans Wake] is said to be ‘impossible to read’ but I think it is rather ‘impossible to read in the conventional sense’.” This makes its interpretation – or ‘translation’ – for Késenne a political act: “The unreadability of Joyce’s text stands at the same time for an open, democratic character: Every reader is a translator, an author. And this
Not a social project Are prisons in Vanhee’s performance a symbol for what society covers up, disregards, isolates, mutes?
I screamed and I screamed and I screamed
Last year, that’s what artist Sarah Vanhee did. And not just she, but the inmates she met at a prison in Mechelen as well. ‘I screamed and I screamed and I screamed’ is one of the projects Vanhee, whose artistic practice is linked to performance, visual art and literature, has successfully developed in the last years. Perhaps, this is one of the projects she would not like to be called “social.” Maybe because this project has a lot to do with isolation, as Vanhee tells us on her website sarahvanhee.com. “‘Dear prison directors,’ I said to the three prison directors in Mechelen, ‘can I organize a screaming concert in your jailhouse?’”, she recalls. “I wanted to design a score, together with the prisoners, a score they would scream, each from their own cells, in all three wings of the building. It would make the prison vibrate and the bells of the chapel pale. On set days, at set hours, a col-
May 8-10, 2014 | International Conference Performing Protest | 13
lective muezzin of punished men.” Two of the directors said ‘go on’, but, in spite of the artist’s aspirations, the prisoners were not allowed to scream from their cells. “The screaming would cause chaos in the cells, the directors said, uncontrollable by the guards”. Jack, Jean, John, Jimmy and Jamil – names that the artist made up – joined the project. In other words, they screamed and screamed and screamed. Especially the fourth session of the prison workshop was telling. Vanhee describes the reactions of inmates when Jakob starts a screaming try-out: “He had only began, when some guys started raising their voices. Especially this one guy in his cell, in sighting distance from where we were standing, was very disturbed by Jakob’s screaming. He kept yelling: ‘Hey, faggot, shut the fuck up, I want to sleep.’ A very strong voice he had. Others were excited, wondering about what was happening; one of ‘our screamers’ in his cell, trying to explain to the others, said that this was ‘scream-art’. But the guy close to us kept freaking out, and a guard had to come to calm him down. When we met Jakob after[wards], he felt very intimidated. And he had no voice left to scream.” After some sessions with the inmates, Vanhee even started to recognize the talents each of them had. “One detail I didn’t
freedom of interpretation is political, because everybody is able to do so.” It remains however a moot point how flexible the definition of politics is. Even if Finnegans Wake has been re-classified as ultimate democratic – what does it change? Is this really a matter of politics? According
to Késenne, the following question lies at the heart of García’s documentary: Can art form communities? On the one hand: definitely yes. Késenne: “The Joycean Society is explicitly about the ‘living together’ of the ‘reading together’. (…) García devotes a lot of film to the faces of the participants (…) ‘Being understood’ seems to be more important than understanding the text.” On the other hand, the group might exist precisely because it offers a safe and secure place away from real life. Késenne: “They are in other words fanatics with a language and behaviour of their own, stored away in the microcosmos of a small library room full of books about Joyce and maps of Dublin.” And García: “These secret societies with a secret language and a clear purpose…”.
Sarah Késenne, together with Sarah Vanhee (see other article) and Frank Theys (see call-out), will be presenting panel F2: ‘I don’t do social projects’ in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 16.15 – 17.45.
Frank Theys (Belgium) is a visual artist and theatre, video and film maker. His work is situated on the border between art, science and academics. In 2006 he created ‘Technocalyps’, a critical documentary on both the seduction and the danger of a future transhuman society. In 2013 followup ‘Lab-Life’ came out: “a feature-length documentary about an increasingly influential yet unknown tribe: the laboratory people. (...).” (www. savagefilm.be) With his study ‘The tragic science – an ethnographic study in the dramatic elements of the current scientific research practice’, Theys is also in the academic field unravelling the illusion of separated alpha – ‘too human’ – and beta – ‘exact and objective’ – sciences. Frank Theys will present and discuss his projects in an artist talk with Sarah Késenne. Panel F2: ‘I don’t do social projects’. LETT 08.16 – Friday, 16:15-17:45.
mention yet is that Jack is a professional singer, with a very particular screaming palette. Singing is beautiful and restorative. Singing has a calming effect. Singing is like working. It’s normalizing”, she argues, although she very soon found out not everybody agreed on this point. “The concept of a screaming choir was ‘too difficult’ for the prisoners, some of the people in charge of the prisons told the artist after the fifth session of screaming recording. ‘Too challenging.’ ‘Negative peer pressure.’ ‘One has to be really tough to resist and stand firm.’ The project had fallen out of grace with most of the prison staff, after the incident with Jakob in de wandeling [corridor]. And once, John had screamed at a guard when he entered the rehearsal space. The guard hadn’t particularly appreciated that. There had been complaints of one of the neighbours. I knew all that would come up. In a country where a woman gets a fine for spitting out a cherry pit in the street, where, in some cities, fortune-telling and dream-explanation is forbidden, and in other cities street musicians have to pay 150 Euros when they get caught playing out of tune. I understand screaming is a most controversial thing. In Berlin, they had to give the sound of playing children the same exceptional legal status as church bells, emergency sirens, snow ploughs and tractors, to prevents complaints.
A screaming choir, in this specific jail, was an impossible thing to achieve, regarding its precarious social body and the limbo these men are in. I understood.” Why screaming, listening to people in performed pain? Well, the artist gives some hints: “There is nothing more personal than a voice. Screaming is something very intimate. To open your mouth and let off sounds from a hole in the middle of your face. But you do it, you speak, or you scream, primarily, in order to be heard. And the idea of being heard, of possessing a voice nearly coincides with that of human and civil rights. Having a voice is much the same as having a vote. A voice is never a voice in general though. It is always a voice of a particular kind.” She ends her performance with an invitation, recalling the inmates who screamed and screamed and screamed: “Feel free to scream with them”. In her artist talk with Sarah Késenne, Vanhee will present and discuss her projects “Lecture for Everyone” and “Untitled”. Sarah Késenne, Sarah Vanhee and Frank Theys are the panellists presenting F2: ‘I don’t do social projects’ in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 16:15 until 17:45.
“Art and academia should remain playgrounds. The heterotopias of culture (the space of play, contemplation, study, scholè, free time) should shield and defend themselves against the all-pervasive logic of economization. Nor should these heterotopias be politicised.” (De Cauter, Art and Activism in the Age of Globalization)
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[back to heterotopia]
Retreat into Heterotopia? Yes! Why not? Art and culture should be defended against the neoliberal logic of marketing and management. Temples of cultures (museums, theatres) are not enterprises that work on turnout (numbers of performances, public, etc). (…) Sharing the common uncommon (from Oidipous to the present) as a mimetic meditation, a mediation between the private sphere (the space of hiding) and the public sphere (the space of appearance). What we live through is the blurring of the spheres.
Is this real?
the Are the capitalist at the Stock Exchange and at cultural spectator really that different? And wh difference does it make to know so? Is it in vain to hope for independent heterotopias, away from the all-pervasive economic logic? In the post-fordist era no one would still dare to claim independence. However, this shouldn’t mean neither the euphoria of post-operaismo nor pure pessimism. By close analyses of what is happening in recent theatre, the German scholar Franziska Schössler shows how economics and culture are interwoven. However, precisely this insight can become a gate to resistance, humour and even playfulness. First and foremost, Schössler reminds us that the cultural sphere is irreversibly economized: “The theatre as part of the economic field has been touched by sharpening economic conditions (…).” (Schössler and Bähr, Die Entdeckung der ‘Wirklichkeit’. Ökonomie, Politik und Soziales im zeitgenössischen Theater). Of course, this phenomenon is familiar since Weber. Nevertheless, an analysis of the economized scene could, compared with other colonized spheres, add an extra value if we take into account the strange (estranging?) relationship theatre has with reality: not merely mimetic – yet also definitely not fiercely separated. With this mirror-not-exactly-mirror complexity in mind and the current economization of society and of the subject’s self-image, Schössler and Bähr introduce the concept of ‘Wirtschaftsdrama’ (‘economic drama’). These plays give us the opportunity to experiment with social-economical questions: “Theatre discovers itself more and more as a socio-economical laboratory and turns towards concrete life narratives in order to present these in ‘fictional authenticity’.” Rather than offering ready-made solutions, theatre sharpens our consciousness of current – economized – reality: “Theatre also reflects the economization [Durchökonomisierung] of all realms of life (…)”.
Theatre is economics is theatre On the one hand, modern economics isn’t but a form of performant theatre: “The modern market with its visual products is a performance game: During the theatrical simulation of stock market activity, the public is taken by a speculation fever (…)” (Schössler, Das Theater als Börse, Kaufhaus und Bordell. Das Festival Palast der Projekte) On the other hand, modern theatre as well has some fundamentally economic characteristics: 1. Recent theatre has a growing interest for the postfordist subject in a highly economized world.
2. Both market and theatre appeal to their spectators’ fantasy as well as his preparedness to go along with/ create an utopia: “Both buyer and theatre visitor (who is as much a buyer) act in the modern art and consumer world as phantasizing beings, creating this (codified) wishing world which they so deeply long for and which they want to experience.” 3. Experiences are for sale – the play as prostitution deal (‘the erotic-economic gaze’): “the unspoken conviction that, with the stake of money, a claim to authentic play is acquired, that the inner externalizes and satisfies the voyeuristic desire. (…) Out of money comes art comes money.” 4. Both spectator and speculator base their judgement on reliability. In terms of reliability the paradoxical situation pops up that a theatre maker, in order to assure the success of his performance, has to convince its audience… from its fictionality. Now what Schössler’s groundbreaking work demonstrates is a very interesting form of – cultural? or political? – resistance against the economized logics and expectations. Actors, theatre makers and directors can satisfy the expectations and wants of the spectators. But they can also decide to challenge them, to make them uncomfortable, to question them, dare them, involve them, even make them co-authors or fellow actors. Exactly this ‘tightrope walking’ between keeping connected with the audience yet simultaneously reclining to indulge blindly its desire for entertainment, shows how thin and flexible the borderline between culture spectators and consumers is. Schössler’s analysis of the interconnectedness between economics and theatre is very revealing in relation with a play by the German theatre company Gruppe International entitled ‘Stadt in Aufruhr/ ein theatraler Stadtrundgang’. Gruppe International will be presenting panel E1: Stadt in Aufruhr in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 13:30-14:30.
Franziska Schössler will be presenting the Keynote Lecture ‘Institution and Protest: City (Theatres) in Uproar’ in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 14:45-15:45.
nkrupt a b t n e w s n a rm e G e w
German theatre company Gruppe International created a slightly uncomfortable situation in which German spectators saw all of a sudden their own broken city. In June 2013 Gruppe International created ‘Stadt in Aufruhr/ ein theatraler Stadtrundgang‘ (‘City in Riot/A Theatrical Procession’). By the help of hundred - non-professional - inhabitants of Trier (a German border town close to financial capital Luxemburg) they created the dramatic illusion of a dystopia: it is 2025 and Germany is in total crisis. As a spectator we see the social-economical consequences: homelessness, riots, police aggression, privatization of commons like water etc. Gruppe International: “Our performance deals with the question what people in Germany would feel like and what they would do, if the crisis (like in the Southern Europe) would have an effect on their lives.” As already suggested by the title of the play, this is done by the means of a dynamic space, namely a procession throughout the city’s centre, ending in the town hall where a ‘post-democratic tv-show’ takes place. The whole performance can be watched on Internet (http://vimeo. com/75475708). By ‘staging’ current economic themes and problems, it becomes a form of resistance against certain - economical - logics. Moreover we could consider it as an example of a ‘Wirtschaftsdrama’ (a concept introduced by Franziska Schössler who will be presenting the Keynote Lecture ‘Institution and Protest: City (Theatres) in Uproar’). Gruppe International - Stadt in Aufruhr
1. Explicitly economic theme: it is not always clear whether this thematic choice is merely based on a critical stance or on a certain fascination: “out of sheer necessity critique also swears by a fascination of its opponent.” (Schössler, Das Theater als Börse, Kaufhaus und Bordell). Indeed the ‘post-democratic’ entertainment show demonstrates (in a rather uncanny atmosphere) how ambiguous its thrill is: where does the performance stop and the speculative show start? 2. An advanced play and conscious confusion between fiction and reality, at least on two levels: a. L evel of the story (content): As spectators we see misery in Germany, which is a fictional situation. Yet, at the same time certain scenes are clearly based on well-known images and cries from South-European countries. Are we watching reality or fiction? b. Level of the performance (relationship actors/citizens/spectators): Who is spectator? Who actor? Who citizen? And who is a mere passerby? Besides working with local, non-professional actors, the ‘play’ takes places at different locations in the (crowded) city centre, such as the market place where people are drinking. What is their role? Are they silent witnesses? Is this procession playful or real for them? 3. A play/confrontation with the (economic) expectations and the (the ‘erotic-economic’: Schössler) gaze of the spectator: a. What did spectators expect from this play? Did they experience this play as entertaining or rather confronting or even offending (certainly in the context of the present European crisis)? b. The spectator’s gaze: the result of the performance can be watched online. So: the public – whom has paid to get permission to watch/to participate – in its turn is watched by us, online spectators. And we? Are we being watched by someone?
Gruppe International will be presenting panel E1: ‘Stadt in Aufruhr’ in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 13:30-14:30.
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The group Studies in Performing Ar ts and Media (S:PAM) from Ghent University introduces some iss ues embedded in the context of new media and Greek Tragedy.
Occupy Wall Street activists. © David Shankbone
Anke Sabbe will analyse how new media have fostered some of the most crucial social changes in the twentieth century until the recent use of web 2.0 during the Arab Spring. From Jacques Ranciere’s perspective, Katharina Pewny, professor of Performance Studies and director of S:PAM, will discuss three performances based on intricate acoustic dramaturgies staging mutual support and political companionship. Firstly, Pewny will focus on Hamburg’s
The ironic, the grotesqu e, the absurd and the carnivalesque in a so cio-political context
‘Radioballette’, an original project in which participants follow a joint choreography in critical urban environments. Via headphones the dancers are provided with acoustic scripts which are inaudible for their fellow pedestrians. Secondly, Pewny will discuss the ‘Human Microphone’, a tactic by which Occupy activists acoustically supported each other’s speeches, since the New York police had forbidden the use of microphones at demonstrations. The third exemplary case is ‘Alexis. Una Tragedia Greca’, a performance by the Italian collective Motus that traces the circumstances of the death of Alexis Grigoropoulos, shot by the police during the Athens riots in 2008. Antigone is certainly a key figure in this new interpretation of the Greek Tragedy, a topic that will be tackled by Charlotte Gruber. ‘It cannot be denied’, Gruber argues, ‘that Antigone, as introduced in Sophocles’ tragedy, is one of the oldest and most famous examples of a protester.’
Anke Sabbe, Charlotte Gruber and Katharina Pewny will host panel D3: ‘Media, Discourses and Sounds of Change’ (S:PAM Gent) in MSI1 02.08 on Friday from 9:00 to 10:30.
This panel will explore the possibilities of humorous approaches in situations of traumatic violent conflict. The question the members of this panel raise is: how can artists approach ‘the opponent’ employing humour? Regardless of whether this tactics is used in India (Bakwas-Laureate), Austria (Wiener Gruppe, Rebelodrom), the Netherlands (Provo) or Belgium, irony has become a weapon of choice at the crossroads of art and activism in contemporary protest. Focusing on a wide array of topics, from the non-violent movements in India to Dutch counterculture movements rising in the 1960s, the panellists will critically examine the ‘post-democratic’ condition from a cross-cultural and transnational angle. As Sruti Bala suggests in ‘Workshopping the Revolution? On the Phenomenon of Joker Training in the Theatre of the Oppressed’, the relation between performance, humour and politics could easily be inferred from theatre roles: “The joker thus acts as a mediator between actors and spectators, as a facilitator and a coordinator of the rehearsal process, as a community member or as an engaged outsider committed to the community’s problems”. Sruti Bala, Veronika Zangl and Janna Schoenberger will be presenting panel D2: ‘Humorous Approaches to Art and Activism in Conflict’ in MSI 01.20 on Friday May 9 from 9:00 until 10:30. Dramaturge Benjamin Van Tourhout will join them with a paper on the possibility of and need for staging heroes in contemporary theatre productions.
“Never”, Archive footage. Courtesy of the artist, 2012
Better ‘Never’ than ‘Enver’ How to transform a dictator’s homage into political landscape art? A talk between Albanian artist Armando Lulaj and curator Sonja Lau. The message is crystal clear: Never again. For almost 40 years, from 1946 until 1984, Albania was ruled by Enver Hoxha, a communist leader that was cocky enough to write down his name in capital letters in a couple of mountains around Berat City. In 2012, however, the inscription changed. This is how Sonja Lau, curator and cultural producer, recalls the artwork: ‘In the 1960s Enver Hoxha, the country’s long-term leader of the Communist regime, had commissioned the sketching of his first name, ENVER, onto the surrounding mountains. With each letter measuring 150m in height, the gigantic ENVER remained visible for many decades, outliving its author as well as the regime he built. After a failed attempt in the 1990s to eradicate the then nearly haunted inscription, the letters persisted – eventually giving rise to the project NEVER by Armando Lulaj. In the summer of 2012, artist Armando Lulaj set out to re-write the fading letters of the dictator’s infamous self-homage,
however implementing a distinct alteration: ENVER became NEVER’. It was not an easy task to persuade the Albanians to alter this lasting self-homage, Lulaj said when participating in Festival Les Recontres Internationales. ‘It took me more than six months to complete the work, but this time was mostly spent on organizing and convincing the inhabitants of the villages near the sign. The five letters that form the name are positioned on several slopes of the mountain, which are some kind of property of the villagers, – the first two letters belong to one village and the other three to the second one. I recorded some of the encounters in which I tried to convince them that the operation of turning ENVER into NEVER is more than a negation, it goes towards a global attitude. It was difficult because everything in this country seems to have its roots in politics, so they were insecure about this and were wondering to which political party I belonged’.
After making them sure he was not part of any political party, Lulaj was able to develop his project. The repercussions of the new landscape are still being felt. Some say this artistic intervention has fostered the political discussion Albania needs after so many years of communist control; others do not agree at all. “When I completed the work someone very linked to the heritage department wrote that I had destroyed the cultural heritage and this was shameless. But these same people now want to turn the Pyramid (ex-Enver Hoxha’s museum) into a contemporary arts center by changing its inner structure, its architecture and design. So essentially they are doing the same thing. Before this plan the Democrats had agreed with the Socialists to destroy this structure completely in order to build the new parliament. And then there is a Socialist deputy who wants to build a private beach inside Butrinti, the ancient city in the south protected by UNESCO. So it seems they are measuring with different standards. Another deputy wanted to stop the NEVER project, only because by doing so I would supposedly take away from him some 10.000 voters for the Socialist Party. And last but not least, the most interesting thing was when an American am-
We should perhaps turn to think of the mountain as the unlikely site of collectivity. Nina Powers
S:PAM from Ghent
bassador visited Berat by the end of the 90s. He was so impressed by this ENVER sign that he proposed to change it in Denver, the city where he was born. Of course, our bureaucrats were very happy to do so, but it remained a kind of provocation”. According to Sonja Lau, ‘Never’ revolves around ‘the process of (un-)naming the recent past whilst in a sense re-enacting the historical incident’, engaging in the relationship between language and history, cognitive and geographical annexation, and the entanglement of “old” and “new” forms of power’. The artist, on the other hand, stresses the opportunity of unfolding a social story full of power taboos. More fundamentally, ‘Never’ raises the question of how the artistic and the political are always interwoven.
Lecturers Armando Lulaj and Sonia Lau will hold a conversation on Friday from 13:30 to 14:30 at MSI1 01.20. Panel E.
The everydayness overwhelmed us
They came to stay for just three hours
(and we do not mind it might be the biggest loss of our age) It is stated that current protest movements fundamentally differ from former ones. But what exactly is different: individuals getting rid of their institutionalized identity as ‘unemployed’ or ‘evicted’ rather than becoming ‘the protestor’? Or is it the docile, quiet reaction of the current masses, looking at the protests as if they were a new Game of Thrones? In other words: what is missing to make modern society realize it is made out of… human individuals? The panel ‘Figures and Institutions’ focuses on the inevitable tension between, on the one hand, every form of authentic awareness – be it by means of art or protest, or in the form of a housewife not content with her life – and, on the other hand, the official powers. Ruben De Roo, researcher at RITS School of Arts and co-editor of Art and Activism in the Age of Globalisation, discusses strategies against alienation and abstraction by the ruling ideologies (causing docile quietness). De Roo draws a line from Henri Lefebvre via the Situationist International to current protest movements. Emma Mahony discusses how the practice of art itself will choose radically different forms of self-organization: from governmental supported organs yet taking up a politicalsocial role over negotiating positions to a
complete exodus away from official institutions. Finally, Nico Theisen explores the work of German, present-day dramaturgist René Pollesch, who is eager to set central his actors and their reactions in the struggle against the overwhelming everydayness caused by the ‘Konsumgeist’ (as well as by the current, daily ‘Zeitgeist’). At the same time, his work is characterised by a continuous tension between the reality of the stage and that of the streets, thus urgently questioning whether the stage really is a place adjusted to the performance of protests. Ruben De Roo, Emma Mahony and Nico Theisen will be presenting panel F3: ‘Figures and institutions’ in MSI 02.08 on Friday from 16:15-17:45.
Spaces and ecology New artistic perspectives such as tho se pulled by Benjamin Verdonck keep moving forwa rd the eco-activism.
© Benjamin Verdonck
Suddenly, pedestrians in Brussels, Birmingham or Rotterdam were tempted to look up and realise that there, in a building, a sort of human nest was hanging. According to contemporary philosophers such as Bruno Latour, a new encounter of ecology is needed if eco-activism still wants to have a future. ‘It seems that – in order to survive – eco-activism, as well as eco-art have to move beyond their narrow and limited anthropocentric perspective and to renounce the (Romantic) discourse of mourning’, argues Christel Stalpaert, professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Ghent University and co-director of the research unit S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts and Media). According to her, this move beyond is something Benjamin Verdonck is achieving. This Flemish theatre maker and visual artist, Stalpaert argues, might be considered a contemporary eco-artist who assumes the role of a ‘diplomat’ (in Latour’s sense), who rethinks the relation between ethics (community), the environment and ecology. Or, as Stalpaert specifies: “His pile dwellings and tree houses are on the one hand deliberately reminiscent of the Ro-
mantics’ sublimation of nature and their urge for a reclusive life in nature, far away from the decadent and wicked city. (…) On the other hand, Verdonck re-casts the hut in an urban environment and does not retreat in isolation. On the contrary, throughout the performance he engages with the things and people within the interconnected mesh of the collective he encounters in the present.” The Dutch academic Joost de Bloois (University of Amsterdam) investigates ‘new alliances between political and cultural movements’. Besides elaborating the new – beyond modernism – epistemologies of ‘new political ecologies’ his focus is on the peculiar and problematic concept of ‘political art’. “Rather than claiming art’s political neutrality, this presentation aims at exploring the preconditions of contemporary art’s enduring political significance. What if such significance would proceed from art’s irrevocable – yet dissymmetric and precarious - relation of exteriority towards politics? What if ‘political art’ refers foremost to the process of art’s politicization? And what if this process, today, is, at best, perilous?”
Rehearsing for Reality
By Pieter Baets (LABO vzw)
activist, social worker and facilitator, co-founder of LABO vzw and policy worker at UTV (Union of Turkish Associations) An interactive intro into Theatre of the Oppressed and popular education… Together we will form images of oppression, feel our resistance and exercise change… get ready for creative action on stage and among the audience! LABO (Learning, Acting, Moving and Organizing) is a young organization set up in 2013. LABO is a social laboratory where we experiment for creating social change in reality. Our key objectives are enhancing critical citizenship, empowering communities and supporting social movements. To achieve these aims different educational and artistic methods form a crucial part of our work, such as emancipatory education, theatre of the oppressed, despair work, etc… www.labovzw.be or https://www.facebook.com/LaboVzw
Joost de Bloois, Christel Stalpaert and Tommaso Tuppini will be presenting panel F1: ‘Ecology and Space’ in MSI 01.20 on Friday from 16:15-17:45.
This intervention will take place in LETT 08.16 on Friday from 18:0018:30.
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Liberate Tate Photo by Amy Scaife
Liberate Tate is an art collective exploring the role of creative intervention in social change. They aim to free art from the grips of the oil industry, primarily focusing on Tate — a public institution owned by, and existing for, the public — and its sponsorship deal with BP. They believe Tate is supporting BP rather than the other way around by cleaning the corporation’s tarnished public image with the culture of the UK’s leading art museum.
A Migrant’s Odyssey Giorgos Moutafis is a Greek freelance photojournalist whose work has been published in several renowned newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Time, Paris Match, Der Spiegel and The Guardian. He has produced pictures of humanitarian crises and conflicts in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Kosovo, Gaza Strip, Turkey, South Sudan, Haiti and Swaziland. His most recent work and projects focus on the European paths and gates of immigration. I Had a Dream By Giorgos Moutafis
They formed in January 2010 when Tate tried to censor a workshop on art and activism because of its sponsorship program. Tate failed and Liberate Tate was formed in direct resistance to this attempt to limit freedom of expression. Working creatively together, they are dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding. Their chosen form is performance, their artworks site-specific and self-curated, necessarily situated in the honourable tradition of institutional critique. Their medium includes many substances that look like oil, which they squeeze, spill, squash, release and pour. Their intervention Dead in the Water (May 2010) took place during Tate Modern’s 10th anniversary celebration No Soul for Sale. As BP was creating the world’s largest oil painting in the Gulf of Mexico, dead fish and birds attached to black helium balloons were released into the rafters of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
Sunflower (September 2010), an oil painting squeezed from tubes of black paint, commented on the green-wash behind BP’s green and yellow sunflower logo and anticipated Ai Wei Wei’s Sunflower Seeds installation that was to follow in the same location of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. Other performances have included Human Cost (April 2011, on the anniversary of The Gulf of Mexico spill), a durational intervention within the figurative sculpture exhibition Single Form at Tate Britain. In the performance a naked figure lay on the ground covered with another oil-like substance (an image of which appeared on the front page of the Financial Times the next day). Their alternative audio tour of Tate, with sound works by commissioned artists, allows anyone visiting Tate to be part of a Liberate Tate durational performance in an unsanctioned installation inside the galleries, providing a new experience of the presence of BP within these spaces.
Liberate Tate’s work is the shadow of an industry the reality of which arts organizations do not want to see on their doorstep.
Deliberately abject and sometimes foul, Liberate Tate’s work is the shadow of an industry the reality of which arts organizations do not want to see on their doorstep. Take their performance at the Tate Summer Party when Tate celebrated 20 years of their partnership with BP (against the ongoing backdrop of the Deepwater Horizon spill!). License to Spill (June 2010) was a symbolic act designed to create maximum disruption to the ‘celebrations’ and draw attention back from the canapés and champagne to the horrors of the Gulf of Mexico. As Liberate Tate spilled hundreds of gallons of molasses at the entrance to Tate Britain, two elegantly dressed ladies inside the gallery (going by the names of Toni [Hayward] and Bobbi [Dudley]) released another oil spill from beneath their bouffant dresses, a “relatively tiny one, compared to the size of the gallery”. Their work as Liberate Tate brings together the
Greece is believed to host almost a million immigrants; about 10 percent of the total population, nearly half of them are undocumented migrants including a big number of unaccompanied mi-nors. Most of them are dumped on the Aegean Sea islands by smugglers ferrying human cargo or try to enter through Evros and the homonym river that separates the two countries and has turned likewise the Aegean Sea to an aquatic grave for hundreds of immigrants.
languages of art and activism. They speak directly to Tate, communities of artists, activists and to the wider public and media.
The future for Liberate Tate? There are more artworks and commissions in the pipeline (sic). They encourage people all over the world to use their creativity and voice. Their invitation for artists, art lovers and other concerned members of the public to act to ensure that Tate ends its oil sponsorship remains open. Imagine culture without oil. Free art from oil! Liberate Tate often has open meetings or performances where wider participation is welcomed. See www.liberatetate.org for previous actions and how to get in touch. No artworks are harmed in the making of any of their performances. This is a shortened and reworked version of ‘Liberate Tate’ from “Not if but when: Culture Beyond Oil” (http://platformlondon.org)
Liberate Tate will be delivering the keynote lecture “Disobedience as Performance” in Museum M on Saturday from 14:40-15:40.
In Summer 2012, the country’s minister of Public Order compared the influx of migrants to the invasion of the Dorians 4,000 years ago, while the Prime Minister called for a re-occupation of the cities. At the same time a terrifying xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment is shared in Greek society. Photo by Immo Klink
The following letter from Liberate Tate was released in May 2010 during the weekend of Tate Modern’s 10-year birthday celebration: Dear Tate,
During the last couple of years, an increasing number of refugees and migrants has been constantly attempting to leave Greece in any possible way for other EU countries or return to their homeland due to unemployment and shrinking of economy. Adam, father of five, “had the dream” to set his life in Greece. He hoped to find a job and support his family back in Sudan. He was expecting to face harsh conditions but not living in an occupied building without even access to running water. Moreover, he never expected that he would leave Greece because of unemployment. Adam did not choose to leave Sudan; he was forced to do it because of a civil war. Now, he was forced to leave Greece because of an economic war. (Published on depressionera.gr)
Moutafis’ Artist Talk A Migrant’s Odyssey will take place in Museum M on Saturday from 11:00-12:15. After the presentation of his work, there will be a roundtable discussion with Eva Brems, Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Ghent; Carmen Dupont, European Campaign Coordinator on Migration of Amnesty International Europe; and Hilde Van Gelder, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Leuven and director of the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography.
Happy Birthday. We wish we could celebrate with you. But we can’t. As we write, your corporate sponsor BP is creating the largest oil painting in the world, inspired by profit margins and a culture that puts money in front of life, its shadowy stain shimmers across the Gulf of Mexico. A toxic tide that turns thriving ecosystems into deserts and deprives cultures of their way of life, it is one of the world’s greatest works of corporate art, a work that reeks of death and speaks of our society’s failure of imagination. Every day Tate scrubs clean BP’s public image with the detergent of cool progressive culture. But there is nothing innovative or cutting edge about a company that knowingly feeds our addiction to fossil fuels despite a climate crisis, a company whose greed has killed twentyone employees in just over a year, a company that continues to invest in the cancer-causing climate crimes of tar sands in Alberta, Canada. By placing the words BP and Art together, the destructive and obsolete nature of the fossil fuel industry is masked, and crimes against the future are given a slick and stainless sheen. Every time we step inside the museum, Tate makes us complicit with these acts; acts that will one day seem as archaic as the slave trade, as anachronistic as public executions. Every time Nicholas Serota is asked how a museum that prides itself on dealing with climate change can be funded by an oil company he responds that there are no plans to abandon BP sponsorship (anything to do with having an ex-CEO of BP chair Tate’s board of trustees?). When art activist group The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination were invited to run a workshop on art and civil disobedience, they were told by curators that they could not take any action against Tate and its sponsors and the workshop was policed by the curators to make sure the artists produced work “commensurate with Tate’s mission”. In March 2010, Tate Modern ran an eco symposium, “Rising to the Climate Change Challenge: Artists and Scientists Imagine Tomorrow’s World”, on the same day that Tate Britain was celebrating twenty years of BP sponsorship with one of its ‘BP Saturdays’. Incensed by this censorship and hypocrisy, participants in the symposium called for a vote: 80% of the audience agreed that BP sponsorship should be dropped by 2012. So today we offer you a birthday present, a gift to liberate Tate from its old-fashioned fossil fuel addiction – a gift for the future. Beginning during your 10th anniversary party and continuing until you drop the sponsorship deal, we will be commissioning a series of art interventions in Tate buildings across the country. Already commissioned are Art Action collective, with a birthday surprise at this weekend’s No Soul For Sale event, and The Invisible Committee, who will infiltrate every corner of Tate across the country in the coming months. We invite artists to join us and act to liberate Tate. Free art from oil.
Eva Brems is Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Ghent, with extensive publications on issues related to human rights and diversity, including law and gender, and Islamic law. She is also a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives for the Belgian Green Party, with previous experience as the president of the Flemish division of Amnesty International. She has recently edited a book entitled: Diversity and European Human Rights: Rewriting Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The following is an abstract of that book: ‘Through redrafting the judgments of the ECHR, Diversity and European Human Rights demonstrates how the court could improve the mainstreaming of diversity in its judgments. Eighteen judgments are considered and rewritten to reflect the concerns of women, children, LGB persons, ethnic and religious minorities and persons with disabilities in turn. Each redrafted judgment is accompanied by a paper outlining the theoretical concepts and frameworks that guided the approaches of the authors and explaining how each amendment to the original text is an improvement. Simultaneously, the authors demonstrate how difficult it can be to translate ideas into judgments, whilst also providing examples of what those ideas would look like in judicial language. By rewriting actual judicial decisions in a wide range of topics this book offers a broad overview of diversity issues in the jurisprudence of the ECHR and aims to bridge the gap between academic analysis and judicial practice.’
Eva Brems will be participating in the Artist Talk: A Migrant’s Odyssey panel in Museum M on Saturday from 11:00-12:15.
lessneaercshs The teArtforoLifveLaAw rts Res Institu
Crea ti betw ve dialo g e and en theor ues prac y tice
The Institute for Live Arts Research is an Athens-based research institute founded in 2010 in order to promote and support creative dialogues between theory and practice, as well as initiate innovative research processes and educational and cultural production in the field of performance.
The Institute explores new possibilities for research on contemporary performance including but not limited to theatre, dance, opera and performance art, acknowledging their diverse pasts and attempting to engage with the presentness of contemporary performance production in all its complexity. They are committed to a creative approach to critical theory in order to explore new modes and methodologies in performance discourse and practice. In their panel, The Institute will discuss the notion of lawlessness, with a focus on the Greek situation, and explore how artistic practices cope with the current crisis, asking such questions as: How does art act or react to and within these special political and social conditions? Does it undergo transformations? How does it intervene? And how can one recognize and describe its political and ethical attitude today?
Get to know some of the members of the Institute for Live Arts Research: • Gigi Argyropoulou is a director, curator, researcher, and a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at Roehampton University, London. As both an artist and researcher Gigi’s work moves around alternative forms of dramaturgic analysis – a dramaturgy of space – in order to explore structures that operate between performance and curatorial practices and engage audiences in a temporary production of space within a performance context. • Natascha Siouzouli is a research assistant at the Institute for Theatre Studies of the FU Berlin (Project: The Aesthetics of Applied Theatre). Her major research interests concern conceptions of presence and absence in performance, the shaping of identity and community in theatre, relationships between theatre and festival, and the political performance. • Eva Fotiadi is a lecturer in Contemporary Art and Theory at the University of Amsterdam and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam. Her interests and publications evolve around ephemeral and participatory art practices, art in public space, socially and politically engaged art, performance, theories of play and games, as well as histories of exhibitions and curating in the 20th century. She is currently cocurating the online platform Event as Process. Cities in an ongoing state of emergency and the artists’ Stance (http://athensbiennale.org/agora/). The Institute for Live Arts Research will be presenting panel G1: ‘The Art of lawlessness’ in Museum M on Saturday from 9:00-10:30
1 8 | International Conference Performing Protest | May 8-10, 2014
Over the last decade, Snowdon has authored several pieces of experimental film and video that have been exhibited around the world at festivals and gallery spaces, garnering praise for his highly crafted method of interpreting collective storytelling. “The Uprising,” his first feature-length documentary, is in many ways a continuation of this exploration, but this time the footage was shot by ordinary people with mobile phones and small cameras who were in the streets and in the throes of revolution, many of them anonymous voices and presences with whom the filmmaker has never otherwise communicated. “The Uprising” won the Opus Award at its world premiere at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival in October 2013 and was selected for the prestigious Museum of Modern Art‘s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media Documentary Fortnight. Peter Snowdon studied French and Philosophy at Oxford University, before moving to Paris where he worked in publishing and journalism, and as a consultant for UNESCO. He lived in Egypt from 1997 to 2000. On his return to Europe, he started making agit-prop documentary films. Over time, his work evolved beyond the political purely to engage with the experimental traditions. A number of his films were shot in the Palestinian territories, and India, where he col-laborated with the International Society for Ecology and Culture. His short films have won prizes at Toma Unica in Madrid, Malescorto International Short Film Festival, and Kansas City Film Festival, and have been screened at numerous international festivals. Currently based in Belgium, he is preparing a PhD on vernacular video and documentary practice after the Arab Spring at Media Arts Design Faculty.
We need heroes now
Het geslacht Borgia © NUNC
The following is an edited excerpt of a review from the Next Projection website. It was part of their coverage of the 2014 Museum of Modern Art‘s Documentary Fortnight, which ran from February 14th to February 28th.
May 8-10, 2014 | International Conference Performing Protest | 19
THE UPRISING owdon A film by Peter Sn
Peter Snowdon’s “The Uprising” is a powerful film consisting of almost a hundred amateur videos recorded during the Arab Spring by individuals caught up in various revolutions in the chaotic, crowded, deadly streets of Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt. Snowdon initially discovered these films as uploads on YouTube, and after a painstaking editing process, ultimately used them to frame a larger fictional narrative about the citizen uprisings.
markable array of videos Snowdon builds an audiovisual document of an imagined panArab revolution. For he does not identify the videos in terms of location or date (at least, not until the closing credits), thereby presenting a seamless series of events that transcends geographical borders. This lack of specificity echoes the film’s generic title. […] Th[e] backward temporal structure enables Snowdon (and co-writer/editor Bruno Tracq) to out-line the process of a revolution, beginning with people taking to the streets, chanting slogans, and bumping against rows of MPs. We are witness to a mosaic of individuals speaking against their rich, corrupt government leaders. […] In the absence of location markers from Snowdon, the videos sometimes contain dialogue that specifies where a given scene is taking place: a solitary woman speaks of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia), crowds tell Bashar Al-Assad (Syria) to get out, set fire to a larger-than-life poster of Hosni Mubarak (Egypt) and a man speaks of Mohammed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in protest against what was done to him and his wares. […] People survey the riches once accumulated by their toppled government leaders; clean and repair parts of the city; shake hands with the military; tear down an infamous prison’s doors; without violence and never losing sight of why they are doing it all in the first place. A camera approaches a man who witnesses these goings-on: “There will be so many good things. Nothing bad can happen”. As the film winds its way back to the […] present time, a woman’s voiceover speaks of tomorrow as the first step towards change; what has happened is only the beginning, not the end.
Peter Snowdon, The Uprising © Peter Snowdon
Next Projection Approved For his debut feature-length documentary, British journalist and filmmaker Peter Snowdon constructs a dazzling and moving timeline of an imaginary revolution in the Middle East. But the footage that Snowdon used to imagine this revolution-that-will-be-televised is based entirely from the plethora of ama-
In 2011 Troubleyn, Jan Fabre’s company, performs Prometheus Landscapes II with the leitmotiv “We need heroes now.” “Where have all the heroes gone,” Fabre wonders. “Who can show us the way and can make us dream”? And for which unquenchable fire are they prepared to die if necessary? In their roundtable discussion, theatre makers Benjamin Van Tourhout and Ruth Mellaerts reflect on the role of heroic figures in an allegedly postheroic age. Are these figures (still) able to keep the dream alive that collective happiness can be installed and protected by people who are at the same time reflective and, strengthened by moral persuasion, actional? And how such – historical – figures are being (re-)constructed, problematized and staged in theatrical performances? Benjamin Van Tourhout is playwright and director at NUNC theatre company. He’s the author and director of Het Geslacht Borgia, Evariste, Raisonnez, Zwerfkei, IJzergordijn, etc. He’s conducting a PhD project on the theatrical imagination of historical heroes (“How to touch the untouchables?”) at LUCA – School of Arts.
teur videos uploaded to YouTube and/or Facebook during the actual revolutions that swept across Middle Eastern countries from late 2010 to 2012. These videos were shot by people who were in the eye of the storm of these revolutions — in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, specifically — and so provide a very immersive perspective of them as they transpired. From this re-
The Uprising is arguably part of this beginning. As an unidentified cameraman exclaims earlier in the film, while riot police tell him to put the camera away, “The world must see what hap-pened!” The Uprising will be screened in Museum M on Saturday from 16:00-17:45. It will be followed by a discussion with the director, Peter Snowdon.
cRISEs UP! In 2010, during the aftermath of a new economic and financial crisis, Victoria Deluxe decided to capture the ongoing street protests in picture in order to document the motives and the different kinds of actions undertaken by the demonstrators. Since then they have attended numerous rallies in order to help understand what prompts people to resist and protest. Their footage resulted in the documentary cRISEs UP! and began from the growing social struggle of the unions and other social movements in Belgium, linking them to the Indignados and different Occupy movements worldwide while also comparing and contrasting them with the more classic social movements. Based on a handful of fragments from the documentary cRISEs UP!, Professor Fred Louckx will generate a roundtable discussion on crucial topics like the interferences between protest and union movements, the tense relationship between global dynamics and local anchoring, the transfer of historic models of protesting and current modes of protesting.
Ruth Mellaerts is a dramaturge at theatre company fABULEUS. She wrote and co-directed Playground love, Ik ben geen racist, Speeldrift, etc. Currently, she’s working on the monologue Stand Up, which, on the basis of the 15-year-old activist Barnaby Raine and the texts by Stéphane Hessel, explores the affect of indignation.
Fred Louckx is a professor in Sociology of Health and Wellness at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is also the coordinator of the project De Toekomstfabriek (The Future Factory), which involves eight midfield organizations from Ghent who have united themselves in order to openly discuss the needs and interests of society by means of a common project. This project is founded on a stronger politicized midfield, as it is the aim of the ‘Toekomstfabriek’ to develop sustainable perspectives on our future.
Benjamin Van Tourhout and Ruth Mellaerts will have an artist talk in LETT 08.16 on Saturday from 13:30-14:30.
Fred Louckx’s roundtable discussion will take place in Museum M on Saturday from 13:30-14:30. This conversation will be held exclusively in Dutch.
Resistance & Recuperation The Disappearance of Pleasure In his paper, “The Disappearance of Pleasure”, Christophe Van Gerrewey will try to put Roland Barthes’ 1973 work The Pleasure of the Text into practice by applying it to contemporary works of art from different disciplines, asking such questions as: What is the ‘true’ pleasure of architecture, literature, theatre, visual arts—and what threatens or even replaces this pleasure nowadays? According to Van Gerrewey, in times of political and economical crisis, the value of art seems proportional to the injustice or the wrongs the artwork criticizes. The more terrible the social disaster a work of art ‘pillories’, the better this work of art seems to become. When society is out of joint, committed critics and artists reach out to each other by means of their shared indignation. Art becomes openly—not to say hysterically—political. An aesthetic experience therefore has to coincide with sharp outcries. Look how terrible right-wing politicians are! The autonomy of art is being abolished! Isn’t it inhuman how immigrants are treated? Of course—and somewhat paradoxically—this kind of mechanism entails the end of the aesthetic experience and of the autonomy of art. It is a bitter sequence: all kinds of
phenomena in contemporary society are ‘bad’—the artist has to do something and engage himself directly—result: bad art. Put differently: in times of crisis, by means of a self-willed reaction of the ‘artistic community,’ the pleasure of the artwork (or of the text, to refer to Barthes), disappears because it is replaced by critical outrage. In his text, Barthes wrote: “le texte est (devrait être) cette personne qui montre son derrière au père politique”. [“The text is (should be) this carefree person who shows his behind to Father Politics”.] Van Gerrewey argues that our contemporary situation shows that this is only partly true. On the one hand, artistic pleasure does indeed not concern itself with politics proper. But on the other hand, without the existence of artistic pleasure, society becomes even more one-dimensional and ‘poor’ than it already was. Van Gerrewey studied architecture at Ghent University and literary science at KU Leuven. He is currently completing a PhD (FWO) on the history of contemporary architectural criticism by means of the writings of Geert Bekaert. He is the author of many articles and reviews in both academic and non-academic journals and magazines.
Critical Counter-Narratives in Rabih Mroué’s The Pixelated Revolution In her paper, Jana Johanna Haeckel will discuss The Pixelated Revolution (20112012) by Rabih Mroué. In this video installation, the Lebanese artist, theatre director and actor uses footage of demonstrations and fighting taken by Syrian rebels using their mobile phones and uploaded to YouTube. Knowing that “amateur pictures of hellish events seem more authentic”, to quote Susan Sontag, Mroué deconstructs the Internet footage and demystifies the iconography associated with certain politicized images of protest, re-contextualizing them in a human, personalized manner.
Jana Johanna Haeckel is a PhD candidate and researcher for the project “Photo-filmic Images in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture” at the Université Catholique de Louvain and Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography (2012-2014). Her dissertation “The Portrait Between the Filmic and the Photographic Image 1990-2010” analyzes the work of contemporary artists, such as Rabih Mroué, Fiona Tan and Gillian Wearing employing strategies of photo-filmic portraiture in order to reflect on changing conceptions of subjectivity or identity in visual culture.
“Mroué begins his lecture/performance by stating that it all began with the sentence: “The Syrian protesters are recording their own deaths.” To create this performance he went to the Internet to find out more about “death in Syria today.” […] Mroué analyzes the images as fleeting testaments to unseen protesters’ deaths, and brief digital memorials. The question he poses is “How should we read these videos?” Mroué’s answer to this question is in the form of a proposal to his spectators, that they consider the videos as evidence of a new kind of aesthetic, perhaps even an aesthetic weapon. Protesters who have used the digital video recording capacity of their mobile phones to document demonstrations and conflict have become the targets of government soldiers for doing so. There are two kinds of shooting, Mroué informs us: shooting with a camera and shooting with a rifle. “One shoots for his life and one shoots for the life of his regime.” The images captured by the protesters are testaments to their life-risking attempts to prove that what they saw actually happened. The Pixelated Revolution reveals a strange paradox. Everyday recordings can suddenly become acts of resistance and treated as transgressions that have to be eliminated. Surveillance here is not constant and panoptic. The surveillance of and by both the Syrian Ba’athists and their opposition is a surreptitious pop-up surveillance. There is not one eye scanning the landscape but many eyes, all looking for and trying to capture other eyes. [...] Mroué participates in an aesthetic and analytical discourse that claims to represent the real and to tell the truth while openly acknowledging the simultaneous use of fiction to do so, in his invention of a fictional aesthetic manifesto. He straddles fiction and nonfiction, performance and documentation, and entertainment and edification in a performance in which acting, video, photographs, stage design, and text all operate together as equal partners in the creation of meaning. In our upload culture the revolution we can see and know is the revolution that is aesthetically digitized.” (Edited excerpt from “The Pixelated Revolution”, in The Drama Review, translated by Nawfal)
The panel ‘Resistance & Recuperation’ will discuss the different ways art can manifest itself in times of crisis and how it can take a stand against repression. Speakers include Christophe Van Gerrewey, Jana Johanna Haeckel, Kris Pint and Nadia Sels. Tri-li-li-lee! Long before post-structuralism or even existentialism, the Polish novelist and dramatist Witold Gombrowicz provided a splendid analysis of how our identity is always the fragile product of the other’s gaze and discourse with his 1937 novel “Ferdydurke”. In all of his works, we see his characters being tormented and moulded by the oppressive presence of the other, while at the same time looking for inventive ways to escape this oppression. In their lecture, “Tri-li-li-lee! Techniques of Oppression and Resistance in the Work of Witold Gombrowicz”, Kris Pint and Nadia Sels will present Gombrowicz’ work as a source of inspiration and practical toolkit for resistance. His novels offer useful concepts and micro-strategies that several of his characters develop to reclaim a certain autonomy, and to create their own version of what they consider “the good
life”. Searching for a broader context to implement Gombrowicz’ techniques, Pint and Sels will compare them to those of the Greek Cynics–a philosophic movement of resistance that also developed in what could be called ‘post-democratic’ times. Nadia Sels is a lecturer of Cultural and Architectural History at the University of Antwerp. She received her PhD in Literary Studies from the University of Ghent, where she also lectured in Mythology and Latin Literature. She publishes on art, architecture, culture and literature. Kris Pint is affiliated with the Faculty of Architecture and Arts of Hasselt. His main area of research is the relationship between the scenography of the interior and subjectivity, both from a phenomenological and a semiotic perspective.
“From his very first book, a collection of short stories called Memoirs from a Time of Immaturity […], Gombrowicz raged against what he saw as the aristocratic conservatism of Polish culture, the formality of men bowing and kissing ladies’ hands in greeting, the general insistence on how Poland’s grand destiny had been sidetracked by a century of partition and occupation, and perhaps most of all the uncritical reverence for such cultural heroes as Copernicus – of questionable nationality; Mickiewicz – the national poet, actually born in Lithuania; and Chopin – half-Polish, who spent most of his life in France. […] What Gombrowicz found truly frustrating – even dangerous – is how his country’s inferiority complex, its need to remind the world time and again how Polish culture is just as great – nay, greater – than that of the West, cripples the individual, forces him to memorize verses and dates and to behave in a manner befitting the great civilization that is Poland. Or at least this is the attitude represented in the preponderance of Gombrowicz’s work, any treatment of which is obliged to bear the disclaimer that you can never fully trust an author so fond of irony and masks. Indeed, writing about Gombrowicz’s attitude toward Polish culture is kind of like writing an obituary for someone who didn’t believe in death. That said, the individual’s battle against the strictures of culture remained a lifelong obsession for Gombrowicz. In his early work in particular, this theme manifests itself as a battle between maturity – that is, the social expectation that the individual will behave according to a given code, a superego imposed from above – and “immaturity” the freedom to do as one will and, in general, not to give a damn.” (Benjamin Paloff, “Witold Gombrowicz, and to Hell with Culture”)
Between the truth and lies there is a hair, and I am trying to cut this hair and as I do this I remember the words of the poet Al Akhtal Assaghir: ‘He cries and laughs not for sadness or joy like a lover, no he draws a circle in the air and then erases it. Rabih Mroué
Panel G2: ‘Resistance & Recuperation’ will be presented in Museum M on Saturday from 9:00-10:30.
2 0 | International Conference Performing Protest | May 8-10, 2014
Thursday, May 8 2014 lcome 9:30-9:45 We LETT 08.16 al za Justus-Lipsius
Prof. dr. Rik Torfs,
Rector of the University of Leuven
rks ening Rema 9:45-10:00 Op LETT 08.16 al Justus-Lipsiusza Arne De Winde, Silke Horstkotte, and Esther Peeren
re ynote Lectu 10:00-11:00 Ke ir: Martin Kohlrausch ha LETT 08.16 – C Ingolfur Blühdorn
on Anticipation? Performance? Simulati litics t-po Pos of Era Political Protest in the
11:00-11:30 Coffee Break LETT 00.01
A1: Crisis and the "New" LETT 08.16 – Chair: Esther Peeren Silke Horstkotte Political Theology in a Sta te of Crisis: Badiou, Zizek, Ag amben Volkmar Mühleis Performing Protest? Pier Alberto Porceddu Cilione / Markus Ophälders Forms of Art – Forms of Protest
A2: From Protest to Imagining, Sharing and Acting for a better world (Univ. Alg. Belang) MSI1 02.08 – Chair: Sofie Verraest Sandrine Rose Schiller Hansen / Philippe Vandenbroeck Creative Correspondence – Making History through Protest Maarten Desmet, Ruth Loos, Leonor Wiesbauer, and Kathlee n Weyts
A3: Glocality I MSI1 01.20 – Chair: Anke Gilleir Andreas Beer Free-Floating Indigeneity or Concrete Local Contexts? The Co nnections between the Discourse of the Zapatistas and Post-2008 Protest Mo vements Joachim Ben Yakoub Political Iconography and Re Iconoclasm in the Tunisia volutionary n Revolution. Danielle Child Performing Action: The Global Theatre of Art-Activism
13:00-14:00 Lunch Break LETT 00.01
en (vergangenen) Aufstand auf B1: D die Bühne holen tte T LET 08.16 – Moderator: Silke Horstko Roundtable discussion (in German) with: Joach
im Robbrecht (andcom pany) and Beate Seidel (DNT Weim ar)
B2: Community and Participation rs MSI1 02.08 – Chair: Markus Ophälde Estelle Zhong The New Patrons. A Ne w Model of Democratic Participation Based on the Common Need for Art Jonas Rutgeerts Staging the Collective: Re marks on "We Are Still Watching" Esther Peeren Playing Along: Engaging Eng in Rimini Protokoll's "Situa agement tion Rooms"
B3: Media & Design MSI1 01.20 - Chair: Heidi Peeters Lut Pil Performing Protest throug h Design: New Strategies for Social De sign Marta Zarzycka On Love and Shame: Th e Politics of Protest Photographs Jeroen Verbeeck/Miek e Bleyen The Critical Potentiality of 'Venture Aesthetics' in the Work of Sven Augustijnen, Jan Peter Ha mmer and Ronny Heiremans and Ka tleen Vermeir
15:30-16:00 Coffee Break LETT 00.01
C1: Affect LETT 08.16 – Chair: Stef Craps
Wim Peeters Resisting the Affective Condition of Globalization in European Film Sjoerd van Tuinen Ressentiment and Dignity in PostDemocratic (Protest) Cu ltures Pieter Vermeulen Losing Welfare, Desiring Welfare: Literature and the Good Enough Life
C2: Rethinking Concepts MSI1 02.08 4 – Chair: Hubert Roland Oliver Kohns Authority and its Critique in Protest Cultures Thomas Ernst Literary Discourses of Su bversion and its Aporias. Political Writing after 'littérature engagée' and the End of the Intellectual Michiel Rys Hate him or love him! Th e Robespierre Reappraisals of Hannah Arendt and Slavoj Zizek
C3: Glocality II MSI1 01.20 – Chair: Michael Ludwigs Allyson Fiddler Tu felix Austria: … protes t! Or, Cultural Resistance and Everyday Protest in Contemporary Austria Anne Breure Performing a Space of Appearance Florian Göttke "Hanging Evil" – US Pro test Effigies
tion rnal Presenta 17:45-18:30 Jou sentation Journal Issue BLD re LETT 08.16 – P 20:00 Public Debate (in Dutch) Kardinaal Mercierzaal – HIW1 01.01 Moderator: Yves Dejaegh ere Mei 2014: Heeft macht nog verbeelding? Thomas Decreus, Bler i Lleshi, Kathleen Van Brempt , and Johan Van Overtveldt
Day 2 Friday, May 9 2014
D1: Gender ont LETT 08.16 – Chair: Stephanie Eggerm Lorenzo Bernini The 'Post' in the Past: Qu eer Radicalism - in the Spirit of Stonew all. Franziska Bergmann / Gin/i Müller Artist Talk Intersections – Theatrical Art, Gender Theory and Queer Activism
D2: Humorous Approaches to Art and Activism in Conflict (ACGS) MSI 01.20 – Chair: Tom Toremans Benjamin Van Tourho ut Veronika Zangl Janna Schoenberger The Anti-Smoking Homo Ludens: Performance Art and Pro vos in Amsterdam
D3: Media, Discourses and Sounds of Change (S:PAM Gent) MSI1 02.08 – Chair: Claire Swyzen Anke Sabbe Theatre and New Media as Oppositional Media Charlotte Gruber On Behalf of the Testim ony. Antigone and the zeitgeist of pro testari Katharina Pewny The Sound of Support. Reading Linga's "Radioballett", the "Huma n Microphone" and Motus' "Antigone" (wi th Rancière)
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break LETT 00.01 re ynote Lectu 11:00-12:00 Ke ir: Jeroen Laureyns ha LETT 08.16 – C Lieven De Cauter
Theses on Art and Activism (and Other Dangerous Liaisons)
12:00-13:30 Lunch Break LETT 00.01
nel E 13:30-14:30 Pa E1: Stadt in Aufruhr LETT 08.16 – Chair: Sientje Maes ce Gruppe International (Performan on) Documentation and Discussi E2: “Never” – Artist Talk MSI1 01.20 Sonja Lau / Armando Lul aj
re ynote Lectu 14:45-15:45 Ke ir: Bart Philipsen ha LETT 08.16 – C Franziska Schößler
Institution and Protest: City (Theatres) in Uproar
15:45-16:15 Coffee Break LETT 00.01
nel F 16:15-17:45 Pa F1: "I don't do social projects" LETT 08.16
Sarah Késenne The Joycean Society of Dora Garcia Frank Theys Artist Talk Sarah Vanhee Artist Tal k
F2: Ecology and Space elein MSI1 01.20 – Chair: Anneleen Massch Joost de Bloois Art and Politics: On Se parable Ties. Christel Stalpaert Eco-Activism in a Posth uman Era. The Case of Benjamin Verdo nck Tommaso Tuppini Georges Bataille: The Lan guage of Protest, the Spatiality of the Street
F3: Figures and Institutions z MSI1 02.08 – Chair: Thomas Crombe Ruben De Roo The Protester as a Revol utionary Romantic Emma Mahony Inside, Outside, or on the Sidelines: Mapping the Strategies of Resistance Nico Theisen Actors in Uproar. Revolutio n Protest against the Everyd in Theater as ay (Theater) Life in the Earlier Works of René Pollesch
rformance 18:00-18:30 Pe LETT 08.16 "Seeing Difference Together"
Nine Yamamoto-Masson, Jerome vi Reyes, and Srinivas Aditya Mopide
18:00-18:30 INTERVENTION LETT 08.16 – by Pieter Baets (LABA vzw) Rehearsing for Rea lity 18:45-21:00 Conference dinner STUK, Expozaal ng Protest? collaboration 21:00 Enacti Exhibition – in A Performance ool of Arts ch with LUCA – S Wim Lambrecht aal – Curator: ez bl m se En , K STU
Saturday, May 10 2014
in Museum M
G1: The Art of La wlessness (Institute for Live Arts Research, Athens) – Chair: Ba rt Geerts Gi
gi Argyropoulou , Natascha Siouzouli, and Ev a Fotiadi
G2: Resistance & Recuperation Chair: Tom Van Imschoot Christophe Van Gerrew ey The Disappearance of Ple asure Kris Pint / Nadia Sels "Tri-li-li-lee!": Techniques of Oppression and Resistan ce Work of Witold Gombrow in the icz Jana Johanna Haeckel Critical Counter-Narrative s in Mroué's The Pixelated Re Rabih volution
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break igrant's ist Talk: A M 11:00-12:15 Art ator: Hilde Van Gelder der Odyssey – Mo in debate with s afi ut o ational Giorgos M (Amnesty Intern nt o up Carmen D a Brems Europe) and Ev
12:00-13:30 Lunch Break
nel H 13:30-14:30 Pa H1: cRISEs UP! Roundtable Discussion (in Dutch) with Fred Louckx H2: We need heroes no w LETT 08.16 Artist Talk with Benjami n van Tourhout (NUNC) and Ruth Mellae rts (fABULEUS
re ynote Lectu 14:40-15:40 Ke hair: Kurt Vanhoutte C Liberate Tate – Performance as e Disobedienc
15:40-16:00 Coffee Break 16:00-17:45 Film Scr Peter Snowdon: "T eening he Screening and Disc Uprising" ussion with the Director
17:45-18:00 Closing Remarks and Goodbye