[-empyre-] introducing week 3

Aneta Stojnic aneta.s7 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 22 04:49:40 EST 2014

Greetings to all! 

And many thanx to Johannes for introducing me to the list and inviting me to participate in this necessary and wonderfully deep, yet deeply disturbing discussions. 
As a newcomer to empire I have been following the development of conversations from the beginning of the month  with great  interest and attention often in awe at how many diverse yet coherently connected topics have opened up so far. 

Johannes kindly invited me to this 'roundtable' with regard to a book project, a collection of essays, that I am currently working as one of the editors http://www.theaterwetenschappen.ugent.be/bodydanger 
and which at least on some levels resonate with this months discussion (at least I think so!). Below I provide the main points  we aim to research and hope to open for debate. 
However,  for me the shift from biopolitics to necropolitics will be particularly important to consider when I try to think about the ISIS,  the impact of the specific type of their production of violence and the effect and affect it creates trough the spectacularisation of monstrosity, the performativity of videotaped beheadings and the "unrepresentable" and the "unwatchable" that suddenly became both presented and watched.  And also the question that haunts me eternally and that has already been asked in different forms several times on the list, how can art respond to this if at all, how to face the "powerlessness" and where to seek the "empowerment"? 
I would like to elaborate more on this in the mails over the weekend and in the following week. 

Meanwhile I send the not so short :-) description of the topics we're thinking about. 
Titled "This body is in Danger! Shift-shaping CorpoRealities in Contemporary Performing Arts" the book will aim to look at they changing corporealities in the light of: 
Shifts from Biopolitics to Necropolitics - from Foucault through Agamben to Mbembe

For contemporary subjects of biopolitics and necropolitics, the body becomes the locus and symptom of an (embodied) social trauma. In the last decade, life, its modes and the social and political space of global capitalism have been managed and organized by the logic of death. In "Necropolitics" (2003), Achille Mbembe discusses this new logic of the capital and its processes of geopolitical demarcation of world zones based on the mobilization of the war machine. Mbembe claims that the concept of biopolitics - one of the major logics of contemporary societies, due to the war machine and the state of exception - should be replaced with necropolitics. Biopolitics is for that matter the horizon for articulating contemporary capitalist societies from the so-called politics of life, where life (which does not matter anymore, following Giorgio Agamben, if it’s bare/naked life or life-with-forms) is seen as the zero degree of intervention of each and every politics into contemporary societies; but today, capital’s surplus value is based on the capitalization of death (in Latin: necro) worlds.

Technologies - Pop-up bodies in the desert of the real

The notion of the body is going through a major transformation, moving from an anthropocentric to a anthropomorphist one. Digital technologies brought the crucial shifts and changes in contemporary understanding of the body from the natural over the cultural to the technological body. These shifts produced and keep on producing unstable changes in the architecture of reality, indicating the influence of the real over reality.

This also had a grip on gender studies. As Beatrice Preciado (2013) writes, “gender” assumes that the configuration of a subject’s sex can be influenced by means of various interventions such as surgery, hormonal and psychological therapy. She introduced the word “technogender” to replace the concepts of sex and gender because bodies can no longer be isolated from the social forces of sexual difference.

In relation to above mentioned concepts we shall address the particular bodies that are ‘in danger’ or ‘endangered’ and the diverse ways they pop up in performance contexts, including specific performativity of pop-up bodies (Stalpaert) in digital constellations, where both the "space-time paradigm" (Grzinic) and "one subject - one body paradigm" (Žižek, 1997) are broken.

We particularly welcome contributions on how these bodies might pop up and create dissensus in a "police" corporeal constellation, i.e. appear as political bodies and embodied different realities.

Activism - from performing protest to cultivating a diplomacy of dissensus

In the twenty-first century, a new ethical aesthetic is developed with regard to performing protest and activism. Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory (ANT) proclaims the end of corporeal agency as targeted action, for our capacity to act is embedded in a network consisting of human and nonhuman agents and actants. This posthuman thought creates a new perspective on how nature and society operate and considers bodies from within a complex collective or community, incorporating humans and non-humans. This entangling mesh of interdependent beings, of a coexistence with other life forms is the ground and also the object of contemporary art in relation to protest and activism. In this complex collectivity artists, might take up the role of artivists or act as what Latour calls artists as “diplomats”. Artivism concerns the radical practices where art and politics merge and overlap (Milohnic, 2005) and art becomes (one of the possible) means in political struggle. Artivist practice is based in joining socio-political activism with cultural and artistic performance. The line between art and politics (as well as between “art” and “life”) is blurred and crossed as needed. This often means that artistic practice explicitly and unambiguously equals political practice, where the relation between art and politics is rearticulated in terms of art as politics (Rancière).

On the other hand, “diplomat artists”, rather than conveying a clear message or communicating their social, political or ecological aims in order to take direct action, they seem to perform the labour of a diplomat, asserting several claims (Stalpaert 2014). These artists do not perform protest, they desire, as a performer-diplomat, to leave “the question of the number of the collective open, a question that, without him, everyone would have a tendency to simplify somewhat” (Latour 2004). The artist-as-diplomat for that matter does not try to convince people of a Truth; he rather provides space to disagree, or, to put it in Jacques Rancière’s words, for “dissensus” (Rancière, 2004). Following Rancière, the introduction of a third thing, owned by no one, is a way of dismantling the mechanism of equivalences and oppositions.

Ethico-aesthetics (from moralism to decolonial aesthetics)

The ethical cannot be separated from the aesthetic (Guattari outlined this in his notion of the ethico-aesthetic paradigm, which he developed in his book Chaosmosis, 1995). Ecology for that matter moves into the direction of what Félix Guattari in The Three Ecologies refers to as “the ethico-aesthetic aegis of an ecosophy”, a contraction of ecology and philosophy that connects the environmental with the psychic production of subjectivity and social relations.

At the core of the discussions around the relations between art and politics, Rancière claims that art should stop trying to explain to its audience ‘the truth’ about social relations and to present ways of how to struggle against (capitalist) domination. According to Rancière, art need not be politicized, for artistic practices are already political as they alter the distribution of the sensible within a given society. Only in this way they can engage with the "aesthetic regime of art" where "aesthetics refers to a specific regime for identifying and reflecting on the arts: a mode of articulation between ways of doing and making, their corresponding forms of visibility, and possible ways of thinking about their relationships (which presupposes a certain idea of thought’s effectivity)." (Rancière, 2004)

In contemporary debates about ethics we have to take into consideration the necessity of decolonization of knowledge and being. These concepts that have been introduced by the Working Group Modernity/Coloniality/Decoloniality of the Transnational Decolonial Institute (TDI) since 1998, are encountering the decoloniality of aesthetics in order to join different genealogies of re-existence in artistic practices all over the world. Decolonial transmodern aesthetics is intercultural, inter-epistemic, inter-political, inter-aesthetic and inter-spiritual but always from perspectives of the global South and the former-Eastern Europe (Grzinic, 2013). In addressing this shift the concepts of liminality and dissensus can be valuable.

Warm regards to everyone! 


Dr. Aneta Stojnić

tel. +32 488 423769
      +43 68 01457768
skype: aneta.stojnic

Sent from my iPad

> On Nov 17, 2014, at 6:35 PM, Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> dear all
> week 3 is starting up, but first we wish to  thank everyone, and especially our guests, who have so actively and incisively contributed to our debate on during the first weeks and these past days.
> Participating guests included Pier Marton, Jon McKenzie, Reinhold Görling, Yoko Ishiguro, Mine Kaylan, and Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, and we have heard consistently from others as well who joined the round table --
> Alan and I are very grateful for your feedback to each other, and for challenging our thinking on matters that ranged widely, last week, and that thanks to Pier, but also to the others, for slowly shaping a methodology of approaches or a set of concerns that we realize needs addressing, whether it is the question of violence  (and ethology of violent behavior amongst members of clans, societies, species), or the search for empathy and listening to others, whether it is
> an ethical and political choice we have to watch ISIS or, rather, the terror of executions  -- Leandro asked:  <watch the unwatchable? Are ISIS beheadings unwatchable? What do we mean by "unwatchable"? >   – or whether we
> are also engaged in practices (beyond-media, performance, activism, altruism, criticism, communal work, stilling) that can intimate catharsis, or a form of re-performance that may help to work through trauma or through the truth finding process antedating reconciliations, or a ceasing.  
> I will come back reflecting on last week's discussion soon, trying to cull a few important statements from what all of you have shared here, and what matters, I think, is that we have heard from numerous people here on this fictive roundtable who said that this month's theme matters to them, and to us, and that they felt (even if they listened silently) that languages here needed to be found, even if, as Andreas pessimistically suggested, we can merely claim a kind of self-legitimiising collusion, as share-holders  in circle of spectacularities & spectacularisations  (<We are everywhere, fearful observers in our blind administration of justice, we belong nowhere but to the vast plain of suffering>). These observers are also, if I understood Jon McKenzie, "the homo sacer data bodies".....?
> Now Alan has introduced Monika Weiss, and I follow up with introducing a few more guests for the coming week.
> There were some fine, provocative posts coming from Yoko and Mine regarding performance practice, and Alan also told us he performed last week, and I just returned from performances/rehearsals in Dresden, thus it is with
> a sense of both enormous pleasure and nervousness that I introduce some colleagues from the theatre who told me that they are caught in midst of production, and thus may be overwhelmed, or, as in Rustom's case, may not be altogether comfortable or used to the asynchronous flow and speed of this list and its discursive customs  (Rustom thus asked me to "encryption" him or the theses from his new book on terror and performance into the discussion -- but how could I keep his, or Fereshteh's or Hamid's valuable ideas safe? and what do I know about encryption?).
> please join me in welcoming:
> *Aneta Stojnic  is theoretician, artist and curator born in Belgrade (Yugoslavia). She is a post-doc researcher at Ghent University, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy Research centre S:PAM - Studies in Performing Arts & Media (2013/14) and at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna Conceptual Art study program, IBK (starting from January 2015). Aneta's  professional work is characterized by strong connection between theory and practice as well as interdisciplinary approaches to art practices that affirm critical thinking. She obtained her PhD at University of Arts in Belgrade (Interdisciplinary Studies - Theory of Art and Media) defending a thesis: “Theory of Performance in Digital Art: Towards the New Political Performance". Aneta was Artist in residence in Tanzquartier Vienna in 2011, and writer in residence at KulturKontakt Austria in 2012.  She has authored a number of international publications on contemporary art and media, as well as various artistic and curatorial projects. Stojnic collaborated  with institutions and organizations such as: Tanzquartier Wien, Open Systems (Vienna), Les Laboratoires d'Aubervillier (Paris), Quartier21 (MQ Vienna), Dansens Hus Stockholm, Odin Teatret (Denmark), BITEF Theatre (Belgrade), TkH Walking Theory, October Salon (Belgrade), Pančevo Biennal and many others.
> *Rustom Bharucha is professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Dehli. He is a writer, director, dramaturg and cultural critic, as well as the author of several books, including ‘Theatre and the World: Performance and the Politics of Culture’ (Routledge, 1993), ‘In the Name of the Secular: Contemporary Cultural Activism in Inda” (NewDehli: Oxford UP, 1998), ‘The Politics of Cultural Practice: Thinking Through Theatre in an Age of Globalization’ (Athlone Press, 2000), and most recently, ‘Terror and Performance' (Routledge, 2014). 
> *Fereshteh Vaziri Nasab is an Iranian writer, translator and poet. She has studied physics and English literature in Iran and received her master degree in English language and literature from Azad University of Teheran. After graduation, she started teaching English literature at university and till her immigration to Germany in 2001 she worked as a lecturer at different universities. She wrote her dissertation under the title “Towards Delogocentrism: A Study of the Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard and Caryl Churchill” at Goethe University in Frankfurt and taught contemporary English drama for two semesters at Frankfurt. Her first artistic experience was playing a role in a performance of Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Chidren in 1979.  Later she played in six other plays including “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” and “The shadow of a Gunman” by Sean O’Casey. She has also translated three plays, Great God Brown by Eugene O’Neill, Awake and sing by Clifford Odets and Educating Rita by Willy Russell from English into Persian. In addition, she has written  articles, on “Postmodernism and Theater” and “Ibsen and Idealism” for Iranian theater Journals. She founded “Kerman Theater Society” together with Behzad Ghaderi and Yadolah Aghaabasi in 1990. She has also written and translated many articles, short stories, and poems which have been published in literary magazines such as Tasian, Piade ro, Shahrgan and Kandu, and she worked as an editor for online magazines Kandu and Shearane. In Germany, she lectured on “Hegemonic Notions of Faith Versus Liberality of Literature in Iranian Nights” and “Transcultural Identity in  GoliTaraghi’s Short Story “Wolf Lady” at Bamberg University. Two collections of poem, one her own poetry and the other a translation of German poets were recently published, and her new play, “Heimatland war kein mitnehmbares Veilchen”, which she directed for an Iranian theater ensemble, premiered at the Iranian Theater Festival in Cologne in November 2014. 
> *Hamed Taheri, born in 1975 in Iran, the son of the poor teacher and radical leftist militant Ahmad Taheri and the young woman MAMA who suffered from a neurotic disease after the revolution in Iran.  He writes, "That devastating spasm in he tongue, jaw, face and powerless doctors in the face of this blocked mouth. Electro-shock therapy; She was on the electro-shock chair, jolted by the electric shocks, and screamed.  The mouth refused to open. There are guests who enter through a door underneath this image as a suspended sign that sways in the breeze, a door behind which I practice my T H E A T R E."  Hamed wrote and directed the acclaimed ‘Home is in our Past’ (2008), ‘The Tongues and the Mouths” (play for 27 tongues without mouth, 11 mouths without tongue and an Echo)[2008), and numerous other texts. Currently he is busy directing his first film.
> Website:  http://www.wnmf2006.de/
> warm regards
> Johannes Birringer 
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20141121/11dbe8fb/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list