Visual Cultures Public Programme


Each term the Visual Cultures department conducts its Public Programme.

Our public programme is a series of open lectures in which guest speakers discuss the most pertinent issues in contemporary art, society and politics.

Subscribe to event notifications on our Facebook page.

You can access past public lectures via our Youtube channel.

Previous years

Spring 2019

Hostile Environments 

Organized by Lorenzo Pezzani and Nishat Awan

In May 2012, the then UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced in an interview the introduction of new legislation in the field of immigration control aiming to "create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration. […] Work is underway”, she further explained, “to deny illegal immigrants access to work, housing and services, even bank accounts”.

The aim of this public program is not so much to discuss the horrific effects of that specific piece of legislation (even if we want to touch upon that too), but rather to ask more generally the question of what happens when the environment, understood here more as a political-economic effect rather than a simple "natural" background to human action, starts to become not only a site of power but rather one of its mode of operations. This condition is what Foucault, in some of his later work, would refer to as environmentality, when he suggested that power does not work any more by targeting and disciplining subjects, but rather by altering the milieu they inhabit. 

Here we are interested, for instance, in how certain terrains are being weaponised by border controllers: not only the space of the city or that of the nation (as in the UK example), but also the deserts, oceans and mountain ranges across which migrants are forced to travel often at the cost of their lives. We are interested in how the weather itself is being weaponised, and people are made to die of cold or heat across global borders, but also in the ways in which, as C. Sharpe has argued, certain forms of racialised violence have become as pervasive as the climate. 

We want to explore how this atmospheric condition of power affects different modes of existence (human as well as more-than-human), particularly those that are classified as alien rather than native. We want to try to attune our senses and sensibilities to forms of suffering and dying that is ordinary rather than catastrophic and crisis-laden (E. Povinelli), forms of violence that are invisible not because hidden, but because constructed by powerful actors as legitimate through relentless exposure. 

We think it is particularly significant to ask these questions now, at a moment in which, it might be argued, we are already "living in the ruins" (as A. Tsing has it) and the whole planet has been transformed in a hostile environment for some. We want to use this occasion to ask what forms of radical hospitality might still exist when all refugia are in the process of being destroyed.

Ghassan Hage, On Cages

21 Mar – Ghassan Hage, On Cages

The capacity to cage others, and cages in themselves as physical structures, might appear as a sign of immense power and a great capacity for domination. Yet think of a person who has a tiger in a cage, and a person who has tamed their tiger such that they sit next to them obediently without needing any separating border or restraint. Invisible domination, and invisible borders, are often sublimated in many social and cultural settings as the ultimate sign of power. Visible forms of caging, bordering and restraint on the other hand, from shackles to keep other beings within our reach, to prison bars, border walls and overtly exclusionary policies, to keep people away from us, while certainly reflecting a power over others, also reflect a certain weakness. Either we feel that our capacity of domination is still weak because we still have to grow more powerful physically and mentally or we feel that our capacity for domination is in a state of decline. It is the latter situation we find ourselves in today: the powerful are still powerful enough to dominate but are no longer confident of their capacity for domination. Their borders and caging technologies are becoming increasingly visible. They have what Nietzsche calls a weak sense of power. This does not make the powerful weak but it does make them cruel rather than magnanimous, stingy rather than generous, scared of the world rather than ready to embrace it. When borders are signs of a weakening power, the art of tunnelling becomes a primary form of resistance.

A Tale of Two Islands

14 Mar – Screening and discussion with Steffen Köhn and Isaac Marrero-Guillamón,

On March 31st, 2011 the small island Mayotte in the Indian Ocean officially received the status as the 101st department of France. Since that day, a new external frontier of the European Union separates Mayotte from Anjouan, its African sister-island belonging to the Union of the Comoros. Both Islands were for a long time part of the French colonial empire. In the wake of the African decolonization movement of the 1970s, referendums were organized on both islands. While Anjouan declared its independence, the overwhelming majority in Mayotte voted for remaining a part of France. Since then, Mayotte profits from French investments into its infrastructure, education and health system, while Anjouan looks back onto a history full of coups d’états, political turmoil and economic depression. Many Anjouanais thus try to clandestinely reach their neighbour-island in night-time crossings with small motorboats, so called Kwassas.

“A Tale of Two Islands” describes the postcolonial space that originates from this complex political situation. It consists of two synchronized films that are projected onto two opposing screens. Documentary encounters filmed in the ports of the capitals of both islands unfold in precisely composed tableaux, revealing the invisible bonds that connect them.

Interrogating Violence at the European Border

7 Mar - Thom Davies and Arshad Isakjee, Interrogating Violence at the European Border

Drawing on research conducted in Calais (Davies et al 2018) and the Balkans (Isakjee et al forthcoming), this presentation examines the technologies of violence that sustain the European border, as well as the racial logics that underpin them. We highlight how refugees have been immobilized not only through the overt use direct violence, but also through the deliberate deployment of political indifference and violent inaction. The violence of inaction sees migrants left to drown in the Mediterranean Sea when they could otherwise be saved and can be witnessed in the squalor of makeshift migrant camps found across the continent, which have been deliberately denied basic humanitarian standards. We will conclude by raising questions about the possibilities of resistance, refusal and resilience in the face of such direct and indirect forms of oppression.

Lindsay Bremner, Humanitarian Sediments

8 Feb – Lindsay Bremner, Humanitarian Sediments

This is a presentation about sediment and humanitarian violence. It will examine the response of the Bangladesh government to the influx of 600,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in 2017. I will focus on the proposed relocation of the Rohingya from refugee camps on the Teknaf Peninsula to a newly constructed facility on a char island in the Megnha Estuary. Char islands are unconsolidated sedimentary deposits that tends to wander around and disappear or reappear without notice, driven by turbid monsoon-led riverine and oceanic dynamics. Mobilising suspension as analytical method I will argue that this proposal enlists or, in the words of this series, ‘weaponizes’ sediment, to both offer and undercut hospitality to the Rohingya, un-grounding them, heightening their political and material precariousness and ensuring that their return is not possible and limbo has no end.

What do we see if we look at the border from the other side?

14 Feb – Shahram Khosravi, What do we see if we look at the border from the other side?

We live in a time of wall fetishism. Never as today have human beings been so obsessed with building walls. Walls are, however, old. Empires built walls, from the Great Wall of China to Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England and the Limes Tripolitanus of the Roman Empire in North Africa. If we look closer, we can see that there are still traces of the old imperial visions in the modern borders and border walls. In this talk, I will look at the connections of wars and walls; walls and empires. I will argue that there is a link between the installation of border walls (here) and the unsettling of communities (there). The current border regime is part of a larger and older project of colonial accumulation by dispossession and expulsion; stealing wealth, labour force, and time. I will also argue that border crossing discloses the cracks in the dominant narration of borders and that travellers without papers denaturalize what are otherwise naturalized borders, politicize what are otherwise depoliticized borders. I will illustrate this argument by following travellers without papers along the railways in the Balkans; tracing Afghan deportees in Kabul; and narrating the social life of the materialities used in the wall between Mexico & the US.

Salarium with Daniel Mann and Sasha Litvintseva

7 Feb – Film screening of Salarium with Daniel Mann and Sasha Litvintseva

salarium [latin] – “salary, stipend, pension,” originally “salt-money, soldier’s allowance for the purchase of salt,” noun use of neuter of adjective salaries “pertaining to salt”

Salarium captures the entanglements of economic, military and geological forces, which manifests in the figure of the sinkhole. Thousands of sinkholes are today perforating the shores of the Dead Sea in Israel and Palestine, covering a wide strip of land that stretches between the water and the vast Judean desert around. Swallowing the remnants of what used to be a popular beach, a water park, or a settlement, the sinkholes make the land uninhabitable and hazardous. What Zionists once called a Natural Treasure to attract tourism and investment, is today a dilapidating site erected on unstable grounds. The sinkhole appears as both visible symptom and active cause of the failure of the colonial project to instrumentalise nature, collapsing together two temporal scales: the micro-histories of settler colonialism and the slow disaster produced by the exhaustion of natural resources. It appears as the collapsing of the surface into the sub-terrain, with that collapsing the possibility of thinking territory as mere surface.

Nadine El-Enany and Yasmine Gunaratnam, Opening Discussion

17 Jan – Nadine El-Enany and Yasmine Gunaratnam, Opening Discussion

We will be discussing the hostile environment as climate, thinking through Christina Sharpe’s ideas on weathering with a focus on the slow wearing away of bodies and minds, for example in the recent Windrush cases. We will also discuss British immigration and asylum law as it has been shaped not only by its colonial history and the ebb and flow of its imperial ambitions but also as an assertion of colonial power. Finally, we will think about the role of speculative and creative methods to investigate how migrant and displaced bodies can bear and express the weight of living in climates of racialised hostility.

Nisha Kapoor, The Citizen Surveillant

31 Jan – Nisha Kapoor, The Citizen Surveillant

This paper explores the ways in which citizenship, already functioning as a conditional status and an institution for disciplining subjects, is co-opted for the surveillant assemblage as part of a broader (racialized) securitisation agenda. Where the powers to enact the extreme punishment of citizenship deprivation have been cultivated on the back of the pathologized, ultimate ‘bad citizen’, the terrorist suspect who shows no sign of docility or compliance with being surveilled or doing surveillance, the mark of a good citizen is they who are willing to be surveilled and act as surveillants. Surveillance as conditionality of citizenship is further built into the character test which one must pass before citizenship is granted. This racially charged and focused infrastructure functions through the creation and maintenance of a hostile environment.



Autumn 2018

Bleeding edges and solvent objects: racial capitalism and urban technopoetics

Programmed by Dhanveer Singh Brar & Louis Moreno

If the algorithmic city is an instrument of financial capital, then it represents racial capitalism’s latest spatial product, its new bleeding edge. This is something we learn from the black radical tradition: that technologies of financial accumulation presuppose spatial modes of dispossession. But according to Cedric Robinson the tradition makes another claim: that the dispossessed create ‘solvent objects’ able to dissolve the colonial hold of the metropolis.

This programme explores the work of anti-colonial poetics, and asks if an insurgent technopoetics is emerging that can confront new urban modes of domination by renewing our habits of assembly. Through a series of talks, screenings and discussions we will listen to the alienating sensuosity of sounds, take in the opaque force of images, pay close attention to the gestural, and enter into the social production of thought.

Plot and Plantation / Algorithim and Urbanisation - Ramon Amaro, Dhanveer Singh Brar & Louis Moreno

Published in a 1971 issue of Savacou (the journal of the Caribbean Artists Movement), Sylvia Wynter’s essay “Novel and History, Plot and Plantation” examined the form of the novel and the changing system of the plantation, and asked how far the racial apparatus of market expansion had penetrated the soil of the earth and the soul of the human. This question will provide a framework for a discussion between Ramon Amaro, Dhanveer Singh Brar and Louis Moreno on Wynter’s conceptualisation of the sociogenic principle, bodily being, racialisation and the human. The discussion will also allow for a deeper engagement with the ideas informing this Autumn’s Public Program around questions of racial capitalism and planetary urbanisation.

Ramon Amaro (@SambaRhino) is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Ramon is a design engineer by degree and researcher in the areas of machine learning, the philosophy of mathematics, black ontologies, and philosophies of being.

Louis Moreno is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Louis researches the spatial relationships and political-economic forces that shape the social and cultural forms of cities and everyday life.

Dhanveer Singh Brar is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Dhanveer is a scholar of Black Studies, as it intersects with Cultural Studies, Sound Studies and Critical Theory.

Twilight City (Reese Auguiste / Black Audio Film Collective, 1989) - Dr Gail Lewis

Black Audio Film Collective followed the success of its first two screen ventures Handsworth Songs (d. John Akomfrah 1986), a film essay about the riots in Birmingham, and its first feature film, Testament (d. Akomfrah, 1988) with another reflection piece, Twilight City. The theme of this docudrama is the physical and social change of London that occurred under ten years of Conservative rule in the 1980s. A fictional letter from a daughter, Olivia, to her mother in Dominica is the narrative thread connecting interviews from (predominantly) black and Asian cultural critics, historians and journalists (Gail Lewis, Homi Bhabha, Paul Gilroy and George Shire). Twilight City taps into the psychic and social landscape of the city at the time. Olivia's personal commentary supplies a human connection that weaves together the succession of interviews and gives meaning to the images of water, traffic or pieces of statues. An avowedly political documentary, the result is absorbing.

Gail Lewis is an academic in the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College, where until recently she was head of the department. She trained at the Tavistock as a psychotherapist, where she also completed the (now defunct course) Working With Groups. She has worked at the Open University and Lancaster University. Her political subjectivity was formed in the intensities of black feminist and anti-racist struggle through a socialist, anti-imperialist lens. Among her current concerns is how to bring psychoanalytic and sociological understandings of subjectivity into creative dialogue in the interests of generating 'practice against the grain' toward the social good. She was a member of the Brixton Black Women's Group and one of the founder members of the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent. She has written on feminism, intersectionality, the welfare state, and racialised-gendered experience. She has published on Social Policy and Racialisation; Citizenship; Racialised Experience; and black feminism in journals such as Race and Class, Signs; Cultural Studies, European Journal of Women’s Studies, Feminist Theory and Feminist where her (2017) article ‘Questions of Presence’ was published. She is an Arsenal fan.

Spectral Hapticality : solvent objects, the undercommons and acid communism

A screening, listening and study session with Stefano Harney, Dhanveer Singh Brar and Louis Moreno.

We are delighted to welcome Stefano Harney, co-author (with Fred Moten) of The Undercommons : Fugitive Planning and Black Study (2013). We will listen to Laura’s Radiant Future and watch a documentary that inspired Stefano and Fred’s 2015 essay Mikey the Rebelator. After which Stefano will be in conversation with Dhanveer and Louis about the hapticality of the undercommons and the spectrality of acid communism.

Stefano Harney teaches at Singapore Management University. He is co-founder of Ground Provisions, a curatorial collective, with Tonika Sealy Thompson, and founder of the School for Study, a nomadic study collective. He is author with Fred Moten of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, published by Autonomedia/Minor Compositions.

Upon Westminster Bridge (Anthony Wall, 1982)

Made in 1982, Arena director Upon Westminster Bridge focuses on the late Jamaican poet Michael Smith’s first visit to the UK. Smith performs his own work in Brixton market and on Westminster Bridge, as well as exploring what makes a poet ‘revolutionary’ with renowned historian C L R James and LKJ.

Radiant Futures (Laura Grace Ford 2017)

Radiant Futures is an audio work by Laura Grace Ford and Jack Latham (Jam City) and takes us on a journey through the Gorbals area of the city of Glasgow.

Serpent Rain & 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy - Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman

“an earthquake is coming” – Dessalines/CLR James

The films Serpent Rain and 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy are as much an experiment in collaboration as they are films about the future and a re-imagined cosmos. The collaboration began with the discovery of a sunken slave ship, and an artist asking a philosopher – how do we get to the post-human without technology? And the philosopher replying – maybe we can make a film without time.

Serpent Rain speaks from inside the cut between slavery and resource extraction, between black lives matter and the matter of life, between the state changes of elements, timelessness and tarot. Through fragments, images and stories 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy describes an entangled moment prior to separation, and explores what becomes of movement once stripped of development? What can a human be without its crutches of life-time and measure? And what then becomes of our molten ethics when stripped of its value form?

In short, what becomes of the human if expressed by the elements?

Arjuna Neuman is an artist and filmmaker. He was born on an airplane that's why he has two passports. With Denise he will exhibit an installation version of 4 Waters - Deep Implicancy at The Showroom Gallery in London this Spring.

Dr Denise Ferreira da Silva is a Professor and Director of The Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia. Her work in the contemporary art sphere includes essays for publications, as well as events (performances, talks and private sessions) and texts that form part of her own practice, Poethical Readings in collaboration with Valentina Desideri). Her academic publications include the book Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), and the edited volume Race, Empire, and The Crisis of the Subprime (with Paula Chakravartty, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

Uses of science fiction: everyday readers, ambiguous hopefulness and environmental justice - Miranda Iossifidis

Octavia E Butler wrote that science fiction ‘can be one of our methods for looking ahead … not what our future will be, but how we think about it, foresee it’ (OEB 3090, in Shelley Streeby, 2018: 25). This talk explores creative and interpretive responses to the Parable series by Butler and the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. These texts have been mobilised by artists and activists in relation to urban and environmental justice activism, approaches foregrounding the centrality of racial capitalism to ecological devastation (Pulido and de Lara, 2018) and are also objects of more private, mundane and low key readerly interest and pleasure. The talk draws on emerging data and analysis from the Prospecting Futures online project. This recent research has focused on everyday online reading practices, exploring how readers are invested in discussing science fiction, and the different possibilities that online spaces create for readers to collectively, creatively and critically (re)imagine themselves, the world, and futures. It focuses on the ways in which these books are nourishing and generative for different readers, and the articulation of ambiguous hopefulness, distinguished from ‘confidence’ through its careful grounding in the material conditions of the present – or ‘the darkness of the lived moment’ (Bloch, 1985: 1178).

Detroit 1970: Mapping the Tonality of Totality

A screening of Finally Got the News (Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman & Peter Gessner / Producer: League of Revolutionary Black Workers, 1970). Plus a conversation with Ashwani Sharma and Alberto Toscano

In 1970 a group called the League of Revolutionary Black Workers produced a film called Finally Got the News. Documenting their strategies and tactics against the infrastructures of racial capitalism, the film presents an antidote to conventional historical wisdom. While many stories about what went on in Detroit highlight the sonic phosphorescence of black culture against a backdrop of industrial failure and urban rebellion, what the film shows is a different image of the city: an audio/visual image of what an actually existing urban revolution feels like when it’s working. In this session, we’ll watch the film and with Ashwani Sharma and Alberto Toscano discuss the film’s ramifications for feeling “a revolutionary tone” which may be far more than just another record of political failure.

Ashwani Sharma is a Principal Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London (UEL), and a member of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at UEL. Ash researches race, postcolonialism, visual, urban, digital and popular culture, and is completing a book on race, time and visual culture. He is also the founding co-editor of the journal dark matter and is a member of the Black Study Group (London)

Alberto Toscano is Reader in Critical Theory and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory. Alberto is the author of numerous books and articles including The Theatre of Production: Philosophy and Individuation Between Kant and Deleuze (2006), Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea (2010), and (with Jeff Kinkle) Cartographies of the Absolute (2015).

notes towards some notes towards an ends theory (momentations/fluctuations mix) free.yard - Adam Farah

Adam Farah presents broad fragments of research and thoughts they are working with/through/in –which are being encompassed within the frame of what they have termed ‘ends theory’. KEYWORDS/PHRASES/CONCEPTS: moments (as theorised by Mariah Carey, diasporic technologies, disidentifications [with, time, advancements, obsolescence], cruising practises, momentations (different from moments), dwelling theories, residue, portals, ends, ends of, the ends, the end, endings - as beginnings?

Adam Farah is an artist born n raised in London. free.yard is an ongoing situational and unstable project setup to hold together in equal attention, artistic, research and curatorial lead practise//praxis - with an underlying desire to create collaborative moments for artists to connect, manifest and exhale under the weight of oppressive and supremacist structures upheld within the complacent liberal bubbles of the arts industry.

Extensions beyond Habitation: the urban and dirty computing - AbdouMaliq Simone

Urbanization has not only become more extensive as an ongoing, increasingly dominant process of spatial production and realignment, with a coherent set of constitutive dynamics, but also extends itself into a a wider multiplicity of situations and histories. It offers a particular working-out of dilemmas, tipping points, and conjunctures faced by settlements, and this working-out entails various equations of subsumption, adaptation, erasure, remaking, conciliation, and improvisation.

Urbanization is something that not only spreads out as a function of its own internal operations, but is something contributed to through an intensely differentiated process of encounter, enabling it to change gears and operate through a wider range of appearances and instantiations. If urbanization is extensive, it is not only in the sense that it covers more ground or becomes an increasingly hegemonic modality of spatial and social production, but that it also shows up as a key facet in the vernaculars and operations of institutions and sectors not previously considered urban.

The urban also extends beyond “habitability”—something that exceeds habitation and that requires different ways of “living-with.” From Jakarta to Delhi to Athens, the talk considers some of these ways—from dirty computing to popular propositioning.

AbdouMaliq Simone is Senior Professorial Fellow at the Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield. He is an urbanist with an abiding interest in the spatial and social compositions of urban regions. He is a research associate at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, visiting professor of sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, visiting professor at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, research associate with the Rujak Center for Urban Studies in Jakarta, and research fellow at the University of Tarumanagara. He brings to the Urban Institute a long background working in urban areas of Africa, South and Southeast Asia, with a particular interest in the everyday lives of Muslim working-class residents.

Spring 2018

A Fearless Look At the Unspeakable

During this five-week programme of talks, we will dare to address what is often considered either obsolete and therefore unworthy of philosophical and art-theoretical debate or, more radically, as anathema and therefore vigorously to be opposed: 'faith', not in the sense of a belief in the doctrines of a religion, but as an effort to persevere in the face of what cannot readily be verbalised. The aim for this series of talks is not to resuscitate and/or revisit old theological turns in western thought or return to a transcendental narrative against the prevailing materialist and immanentist status quo of today, but to hazard a look at how we interact with what stubbornly presents itself as already beyond words and is therefore consistently dismissed as unreal, fictitious, hypothetical, irrational, dangerous, or false. The argument for this series is that contemporary forms of incredulity with respect to faith are historically, culturally, and ideologically embedded within modern logocentric paradigms. We argue instead for the urgency of entering a broader field of awareness and endeavour in which 'faith' is understood as part of a number of perceptual, corporeal, and ritualistic ways of engaging with what knows no proper rationalization.

Series conveners Jorella Andrews & Jean-Paul Martinon

Vincent van Gerven Oei - Thinking with/out the Mother

Through an unusual coincidence, two fundamental 20th-century texts, by Heidegger and Wilfred Bion, address the question of thinking by considering the figure of the mother. This paper examines the relation between thought and the mother, and whether thought can take place without her. With the advent of non-human forms of information processing, such as AI, what will be the fate of thinking itself – Is there a future for thinking?
Vincent van Gerven Oei is a philologist and co-director of Punctum Books. He is co-editor of Dotawo, the imprint of the Union for Nubian Studies. He also directs projects for the arts section of The Department of Eagles and is editor of the New World Summit.

Catherine Chalier - On Hope

Hope always exceeds what we know. In this paper, I argue that hope is a subjective attitude towards the present before being an attitude towards the future and that it relies on a blessing (a good word) that allows us to persevere, especially when there is no more reason to hope. This paper brings together readings of the Bible, the work of Emmanuel Levinas and the Marxist thinker Ernest Bloch.

Catherine Chalier is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris. She is the author of over thirty books written at the intersection of Hebrew Studies and philosophy. Her latest books in English are What Ought I to Do? (2011) and Reading the Torah (2017).

Kester Brewin - Acid, Apollo and AI: Getting High on Religion, Technology and the Afterlife

The history of the human quest for flight is also a history of our quest to ‘storm the heavens.’ Fifty years ago, powered by cutting edge new technologies, this quest hit new highs with the Apollo missions and the inner trips of the LSD counterculture. Now, in the aftermath of both, comes AI, the high tech revolution. But to what extent can these ‘highs’ be viewed through the lens of our ancient longing to reverse ‘the fall’?
Kester Brewin is a writer, broadcaster and teacher. He has twice presented at the UK's premier TEDx event, and his latest book, Getting High, has been praised as a ‘beautiful meditation’ by Simon Critchley and ‘fascinating and revelatory’ by Andrew Smith, author of Moondust.

Lydia Schumacher - Reason, Faith, and Virtue: Deconstructing Rationality

For generations, and with increasing intensity, the question has been debated whether it is rational to believe in God. Based upon a two-volume work, this paper will seek to overturn the debate by challenging the standard of rationality that has created problems for faith and proposing to describe faith as the ‘rationale for rationality’ thus affirming it, ultimately, as intrinsically rational.

Lydia Schumacher is Senior Lecturer in Medieval Philosophy and Theology at King’s College, London. She works across the fields of philosophical theology and medieval studies. Her books include Rationality as Virtue (2015), and Divine Illumination (2011).

Lama Gelongma Zangmo - Seeing Without Eyes

Visualization in meditation can take many forms: mental image, thoughts as clouds, images of loving-kindness, visualizing deities, etc. The aim of this process is the dissolution of all forms of visualization and the realisation of emptiness and blessedness. By opening up insights derived from Buddhist practices, this presentation provides a basis for rethinking the place of the visual in the realisation of knowledge.

Lama Gelongma Zangmo is the director of Kagyu Samye Dzong London, a Tibetan Buddhist Centre for peace and health. She is the first person in the UK to have been given the title of Lama after spending over eleven years of practising meditation in various retreats.


Spring 2017

Informatics of Domination

In 1985, feminist scholar Donna Haraway reconceptualized white capitalist patriarchy as the informatics of domination. Addressing the global impact of science and technology at the close of the 20th century, Haraway argued that power and oppression were now “a polymorphous, information system…scary new networks…constructed by a common move—the translation of the world into a problem of coding.” In 2016, worldwide surveillance, securitization, the militarization of policing, biometric governance, and drone warfare all highlight the persistence and intensification of the informatics of domination. In this programme, we will broadly consider the politics of computational surveillance and the digital control, giving particular attention to how artists, academics, and curators are grappling with these challenges today.

Series Organiser: Zach Blas 

Following some lectures, an accompanying text by speakers will be published on e-flux conversations.

Rizvana Bradley - The Aesthetics of Thrown-ness and Capture: Blackness In Flight From the Image, OR Capture and Thrown-ness: Blackness In Flight From the Image

This paper focuses on Glenn Ligon’s 1992 Untitled series of four etchings and aquatints, and his transposition of the Harlem Renaissance writer, Zora Neale Hurston’s assertion: “I feel most coloured when I am thrown against a white background.” Ligon’s transposition projects her onto our historical time. That projection retraces what I am calling an aesthetics of thrown-ness that re-emerges as the condition of possibility for Ligon's abstract aesthetics. I explain what this concept of thrown-ness has to do with a long history of violent subjection and capture, as well as the peculiar marking of the black (female) body. I propose that this aesthetics of thrown-ness inaugurated by Hurston lends itself to the palimpsest quality of Ligon’s paintings, which betray the complexity of racial and sexual difference as the condition of possibility for (black) abstraction.

Rizvana Bradley is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies and African-American Studies at Yale University. Currently, she is finishing the year as a Visiting Research Fellow in the History of Art Department at University College London. She holds a BA from Williams College and a PhD from Duke University. She was a Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Her forthcoming book manuscript received a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. She was the guest editor of a special issue of the journal Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, and has published articles in TDR: The Drama Review, Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, and Black Camera: An International Film Journal, and was also recently appointed Assistant Editor at the journal, boundary 2.

Erika Balsom - Capture and Control in Late Farocki

From its very beginnings, the cinematic apparatus subjected human and animal movement to unprecedented forms of quantification and analysis, serving as a technique for the management of life itself. And yet at the same time, it opened new realms of visibility by recording the ephemeralities of our world in time – a vocation now under threat as computer-generated images increasingly displace lens-based images. In this talk, Erika Balsom will explore this ambivalence of capture through a consideration of the late works of Harun Farocki.

Erika Balsom is the senior lecturer in Film Studies and Liberal Arts at King’s College London. She is the author of Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art (2013) and the co-editor of Documentary Across Disciplines (2016). A frequent contributor to Artforum, she has published in journals including Screen, Cinema Journal, and Discourse. Her next book, After Uniqueness:  A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press in April.

Seb Franklin - Two Kinds of Work: Cybernetics, Fantasy, and Value

In January 1951, R.S. Hunt—a British technical editor and former chemist without any university degree or diploma—sent a manuscript titled “Two Kinds of Work” to the mathematician Norbert Wiener, who did not read it. Hunt’s manuscript promises to “put metaphysics within the scope of physics.” And it claims to do so by making “such quantities as beauty, virtue, and happiness,” as well as all manual and intellectual labour tasks, intelligible as electronic circuits. In other words, Hunt’s text anticipates the wildest fantasies of digital culture and the concepts of affective and immaterial labour associated with post-Fordism.
“Two Kinds of Work” is centred on a concept that Hunt names “G-energy.” This force, Hunt argues, “defies the second law of thermodynamics” by moving material systems from less to more probable states. In other words, it represents all processes that give form or pattern. The ‘discovery’ of G-energy, Hunt insists, necessitates a radical new ontology; humans, nonhuman animals, machines, materials, and concepts all hold and transmit G-energy, and are thus
connected in networks of exchange. Hunt’s formulation predicts the current methodological formulations of matter and bodies as vital networks. But, crucially, Hunt’s underlying motivations
are not philosophical but economic: G-energy is for him the essence of value, a ‘natural’ phenomenon that is represented by money. It is what employers are really paying for when they think they are paying for time.By reading “Two Kinds of Work” in the light of current theoretical concerns, this talk identifies historical and conceptual connections between theories of digitality and value.

Seb Franklin is Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at King’s College London, where he co-convenes the MA in Contemporary Literature, Culture and Theory. He is the author of Control: Digitality as Cultural Logic (MIT Press, 2015).

Heather Dewey-Hagborg - Hacking Biopolitics

In this talk, Heather Dewey-Hagborg will discuss her controversial biopolitical art practice profiling strangers from the genetic traces they unwittingly leave behind. She will examine the politics of invisibility and describe her latest collaboration with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a Chicago-based transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical practice. She has shown work internationally at events and venues including the World Economic Forum, Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture Bienniale, the New Museum, and PS1 MOMA. Her work has been widely discussed in the media, from the New York Times and the BBC to TED and Wired. She is an Assistant Professor of Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a 2016 Creative Capital award grantee in the area of Emerging Fields.

Mohammad Salemy - After Post Internet & The Winter of AI

Viewed from the inside of contemporary time & space, the internet paradigm, network discourses and computational logic appear as a series of sensible theories and philosophies that use computer hardware and software to model intelligence and the working of the cognitive, social and political systems. Viewed from the outside of this particular contemporaneity, however,  computationalism is a specific worldview and the distinct cultural identity belonging to our time & space, one that perhaps is already reaching or will soon reach its peak. Many experts from the fields of machine intelligence and philosophy of technology agree that a decline in research, development and enthusiasm about high technology is inevitable given the fundamental limitations of both our knowledge of the mechanisms of different species of the brain as well as the problems with our concepts and materials that shape our computational infrastructure. There is a widespread belief that technological progress within the next decade will witness a setback while new advancements will greatly slow down if not altogether come to a halt. Then there is the political reality of our technologies, which historically has placed most if not all of their developments amongst the arsenal of the rich and the powerful, those to whom Marxists refer to as the “owners of the means of production.” What happens in the near future when technological progress and the emergence of artificial intelligence is politically subsumed, evolutionally decelerated and culturally forgotten? is there a way for us to overcome the post-internet and the winter of AI?

Mohammad Salemy is an independent New York-based artist, critic, and curator who holds an MA in critical curatorial studies from the University of British Columbia. He currently co-organizes The New Centre for Research & Practice and has shown his works in Ashkal Alwan’s Home Works (Beirut) and Witte de With (Rotterdam). His writings have been published in e-flux, Flash Art, Third Rail, and Brooklyn Rail, and he has curated exhibitions at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Access Gallery, and Satellite Gallery in Vancouver. In 2014, he organized the Incredible Machines conference. Salemy’s curatorial experiment “For Machine Use Only” was included in the 11th edition of Gwangju Biennale (2016).

A Plot, Formerly Known As Dream - Metahaven

There are two difficulties, or traps, in giving talks. One is to always give the same talk. The other is to frantically try to come up with something new to say on every occasion—thereby, progressively thinning out substance. Much of what we care to say is contained in our works. There is a slowness to that. The works have to be “unzipped” first—as in, unpackaged. This is at odds with the way in which works are sometimes considered as shorthand for talking about a social or political issue. The “filter” that work itself proposes—and in fact, within itself, offers as its only available option—is crucial to not just accepting or rejecting it, but more fundamentally: to see it. Every work is also something about and of itself. Having progressed from developing “design research” as including anything that presents itself by nodal connection to its geopolitical starting point—and presenting that aesthetically as a form of perpetual information ruin—to producing film and script, we are attentive to the manner in which wild claims, post-facts, and shady conjecture construct their emotional appeal. Ours is a particular design or art process of insights produced by our beliefs and experiences. What we would like to share in this talk is the process of works evolving from one to the next—their iteration or progression—rather than their ultimate conclusion. A trajectory involving fictional identity, design, political advocacy, music video, documentary film, and finally, hybrid fiction.

Founded by Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden, Metahaven is a collective operating on the cutting blade of design, art, aesthetics and politics. Metahaven’s practice consists of projects across design, art, theory, exhibitions, publications, lectures, and filmmaking. Recent solo presentations include ‘Information Skies’, Auto Italia, London (2016), ‘The Sprawl’, YCBA, San Francisco (2015), ‘Black Transparency’, Future Gallery, Berlin, (2014), and ‘Islands in the Cloud’, MoMA PS1, New York (2013). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Dream Out Loud’, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2016), ‘The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?)’, the 11th Gwangju Bienniale (2016), ‘All of This Belongs to You’, V&A, London (2015), ‘Private Settings: Art After the Internet’, Warsaw Museum of Modern Art (2014), and ‘Immaterial Labour Isn’t Working’, Auto Italia, London, (2013). Recent publications include ‘Black Transparency’ (2015), ‘Can Jokes Bring Down Governments?’ (2013), ‘VOID MYSTIQUE DNA’ in collaboration with Deterritorial Support Group (DSG), published with Auto Italia (2013), and ‘Uncorporate Identity’ (2010). Videos by Metahaven include ‘Home’ (2014), and ‘Interference’ (2015), both for the musician, composer and artist Holly Herndon, as part of an ongoing collaboration. Metahaven’s first full-length documentary, ‘The Sprawl (Propaganda about Propaganda)’ premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2016. Its successor, a short film called ‘Information Skies,’ was shot and edited in 2016.

Shu Lea Cheang - Piss off | I hear the codes running | Double Check

Nina Wakeford checks in with Shu Lea Cheang on bio-power, viral love, fluid, flows, piss, passing, emancipation, ejaculation, contagion and mutation. Surfing through Cheang’s oeuvre, they delve into structures of domination (state, law, nation), leading us to a tribe called ZERO GEN where resistance rises from within. Suffering from science deficiency, pushing for science fiction narratives, a proposition of queer scientific paradigm in the making. BIO: As an artist, filmmaker, networker, Shu Lea Cheang constructs networked installation and multi-player performance in participatory impromptu mode. She drafts sci-fi narratives in her film scenario and artwork imagination. She builds a social interface with transgressive plots and an open network that permits public participation. From homesteading cyberspace in the 90s to her current retreat to post-crash BioNet zone, Cheang takes on viral love, bio hack in her current cycle of works.

Spring 2016

Permissions: How we work now

As boundaries dissolve between teaching, researching and articulating concerns, as definitions of practice expand and mutate – we wish to pay attention to the permissions granted us by such changes. As we self-institute and self authorize in the face of new formats of research, study and practice - how do our permissions come about, are they immanent to fields of study or authorised by the urgent issues of the day?

Series curated by: Irit Rogoff, Manuel Ramos and Susan Schuppli.

In the Frontiers of Climate Change

During the so-called “development decades” of the Cold War, the Earth System experienced the exponential impact of what climate scientists call the Great Acceleration: “the most rapid transformation of the human relationship with the natural world in the history of humankind.” That transformation was accompanied by the enforcement of a generalized state-of-exception across the third world, followed by widespread environmental destruction. This presentation traces the cartography of the modern-colonization of Amazonia, mapping the relations between environmental destruction and political violence that lay at the foundations of the Anthropocene/post-climate change condition. An archaeological excavation of the ruins of such forms of “environmental violence” in Amazonia unearth the history of a territory whose nature is deeply political, shaped and reshaped by spatial conflicts.

is an architect based in Quito/São Paulo. He has recently completed his Ph.D at CRA where he also taught and has been a research fellow of the 'Forensis' project.. His work has been exhibited internationally including at BAK - basis voor actuele kunst, ZMK Center for Art and Media, Haus de Kulturen der Welt and PROA-Buenos Aires. Tavares has lectured widely internationally and is visiting scholar at Cornell University.

Respondent - Anna Sophie Springer is a writer and the co publisher of K-Verlag Berlin. Her concerns are with the multi natural semiotics of shifting perceptions of the environment and she is a PH.d candidate in CRA. Recent publications include "The Word for World is Still Forest" 2016, “Reverse Hallucinations in the Archipelago" 2015 and "Land & Animal & Nonanimal" 2015.

Chair: Susan Schuppli

Curating and the Event of Knowledge - Doreen Mende and Julia Morandeira

Curating and the Event of Knowledge introduces strands of contemporary curatorial practices that explore possibilities of making knowledge manifest in exhibitionary forms alternative to the display of art objects.

Chair: Elvira Dyangani Ose will introduce two different but interconnected projects: Canibalia, ongoing research on the Atlantic cannibal as an archive-image; and the activation of Casa Cannibal, a space devoted to artistic experimentation and knowledge production in San José, Costa Rica. Exploring them through the notion of indiscipline, the presentation will focus on the methodologies of research, affect and governance that were put at play.

Doreen Mende - Knowledge of Struggles - What can an exhibition do to allow a prisoner’s knowledge to reintegrate into society? The talk will introduce the collaborative process for an update of the Abu Jihad Museum for the Prisoners Movement Affairs on the Abu Deis campus of Al-Quds University, West Bank. It will discuss the geopolitics in exhibiting processes as it emerged during a work gathering of artists, former political prisoners, architects, civil servants and curators at the International Art Academy in Ramallah. The politics of Occupation in Palestine require an understanding that the politics of exhibition-making are under Occupation too.

The Abolition of Distances - Kader Attia

Kader Attia grew up in both Algeria and the suburbs of Paris and uses this experience as a starting point to develop a dynamic practice that reflects on aesthetics and ethics of cultural difference. He explores the wide-ranging repercussions of Western modern cultural hegemony and colonialism on non-Western cultures, investigating identity politics of historical and colonial eras, from Tradition to Modernity, in the light of our globalized world, of which he creates a genealogy. For several years, his research has focused on the concept of Repair, as a constant of which the modern Western Mind and the traditional extra-Occidental thought have always had an opposite vision. From Culture to Nature, from gender to architecture, from science to philosophy, any system of life is an infinite process of repair.

Recent and coming exhibitions include "Reason's Oxymorons" at the 66th Berlinale; “The Injuries are Here” a solo show at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts de Lausanne; “Culture, Another Nature Repaired”, Middelheim Museum, Antwerp; ‘Contre Nature’, Beirut Art Center; ‘Contested Terrains’, Tate Modern; Biennale of Dakar; dOCUMENTA(13); ‘Performing Histories (1)’ at MoMA, New York.

Why Situationism? - Samson Kambalu

At the recent Venice Biennial the artist Samson Kambalu had intervened in a court case between Situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti and his American translator, a gesture which led in turn to a legal action against him. The defense Kambalu mounted in the Venice court cited the principle of the Gift Economy in Chewa philosophy. The installation and his understanding of how Situationism is far more than an historical movement but a set of resistant attitudes, will be the focal point of his presentation while also pointing towards his wider practice and his works Nyau Cinema and The Last Judgement.

Chaired by Jean-Paul Martinon

Born in Malawi in 1975, Samson Kambalu studied Fine Art and Ethnomusicology at the University of Malawi, and has an MA in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University. He is currently completing a practice- led PhD in Fine Art looking at the problematic of the gift and the general economy in the various aspects of his art practice, at Chelsea College of Art. Kambalu has recently won research fellowships at Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution. He has shown his work widely including the Dakar Biennale (2014), the Liverpool Biennial (2004), and was featured in Okwui Enwezor's Venice Biennale, 'All the World Futures’ (2015). Kambalu is the author of two award-winning artist novels – a memoir,'The Jive Talker or, How to Get a British Passport', and 'Uccello's Vineyard', a fictional narrative of modern art set in the Middle Ages.

Self-Organisation - Janna Graham, Manuela Zechner and Paulo Plotegher

Self-organisation is becoming an increasingly important tool for empowerment under the conditions of the Neo Liberal management of knowledge production which have depoliticised education while stressing the pragmatics of employment as its only outcome. In this session Janna Graham (Centre for Possible Studies), Manuela Zechner (murmurae, Barcelona) and Paolo Plotegher (New Cross Commoners, London) share their experiences, questions and problems with regards to self- organisation and its relation to educational, artistic and political institutions.

Forensis - Eyal Weizman

The Forensic Architecture research project offers critical reflections on new image practices and the seeming opposition of transparency and opacity in what they convey and reveal. Through these considerations of the status of the image and its reliability, the presentation will also consider aspects of our relation to law and activism. Jointly these will propose possible avenues for engaged visual and spatial cultures today.

Technology and Subjectivity - Luciana Parisi and Susan Schuppli

With the development of interactive, asynchronous and distributive computing, computational thinking can no longer be described in terms of closed systems of axioms and deductive rules. As computational theorists remind us, axioms ARE modified, rules amended, and truths have become experimental. Whilst computational thinking has become bound to the social, the distinction between formal rules and social practices is not simply to be overcome, but needs to be rendered perceptible so that its operative dynamics can be made available for cultural analysis and critique. How is formal time embedded in the sociality of time? What arrangements of subjectivity are being produced by our algorithmic attitudes and oversight? How do these operate in tension with the emergent properties and behaviour of computational systems themselves? These and other questions inform a wide-ranging discussion around cultural approaches to understanding the social and political conditions induced by computational paradigms.

Autumn 2016

Culture & Finance Capital

The nature of contemporary capitalism has radically altered in the last forty years: financial activity dominates overproduction, speculative investment is commonplace, indebtedness is a globalising condition, austerity targets the most vulnerable. These developments have not only changed the economic system, but they have also produced a new culture with widening inequality reshaping the social landscape of education, housing and public space. In this programme, we shall explore the intricacies of the phenomenon called 'financialisation': surveying the way the credit system relates to everyday life, and hearing how artists, curators and activists are confronting finance from within the site of culture.

Series organisers: Louis Moreno & Tom Trevatt

You can listen to audio recordings of the lectures here.

Why Debt Matters: Understanding The Financialisation of Everyday Life

Following the global crisis of 2007 and 2008, the economic question of debt has had a deeply political and profoundly divisive impact on the social and cultural structure of Europe. In the wake of Brexit, Johnna Montgomerie will explain what the concept of ‘financialisation’ means - and its political and cultural ramifications - in terms of the way our daily lives are subjected to the credit system’s demands.

Dr Johnna Montgomerie is a political economist and deputy director of Goldsmiths’ Political Economy Research Centre (PERC). Prior to joining Goldsmiths, Johnna was a researcher at Manchester’s Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), a pioneering centre of research into financialisation.

London’s Housing Crisis: its political activisms and visual cultures.

Anna Minton, (University of East London) & Paul Watt, (Birkbeck, University of London)

London’s landscape has always been the nexus of cultural and financial power. But over the last 40 years, the crystallization of neoliberalism had led to something new, a deliberate squeezing of housing supply to make ‘city-living’ a highly desirable financial commodity. Activists and experts point out this process is behind the rise of homelessness, the growth of evictions, a widespread feeling of resentment, producing an urban culture shaped by the isolating logic of financial capital.

Anna Minton and Paul Watt will explore the cultural and political dimensions of London’s ‘Housing Question’: examining who this crisis is precisely a crisis for, the aesthetics and culture of property development, and how social movements have emerged to challenge the incorporating force of contemporary real estate.

Chair: Louis Moreno

Anna Minton is a journalist and academic, and co-directs the 'Reading the Neoliberal City' course at UEL and is the author of Ground Control published by Penguin.

Paul Watt is Reader in Urban Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. He has published many books and articles on urban inequality and is an expert on the sociology and politics of social housing and homelessness. Forthcoming edited books include: ‘Social Housing and Urban Renewal: A Cross-National Perspective’ (Emerald), and ‘London 2012 and the Post- Olympics City: A Hollow Legacy?’ (Palgrave Macmillan).

Kerry-anne Mendoza - Austerity: The demolition of the welfare state and the rise of the zombie economy

In 1944 the architects of neoliberalism met at Bretton Woods, with the aim to rid the world of fascism. What they actually did was lay the ground for a new corporate fascism, with austerity as the means to deliver it.

We are witnessing the end of what was started in 1944, which now takes its form in the demolition of the welfare state and the rise of the zombie economy. This is not a case of poor people suffering austerity while the wealthy are able to continue unperturbed; it is a case of poor people suffering in order that the wealthy can live in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

Kerry-anne Mendoza is Editor-in-Chief of The Canary. She is known for creating one of the UK’s top independent political blogs (Scriptonite Daily), for authoring the best-seller 'Austerity', and for her Middle East reporting (notably Operation Protective Edge from Gaza through the Summer of 2014).

Her passions are politics, economics and current affairs, which she examines with the basic question: “How do we build a world that works for everyone?” She is based in Bristol, UK.

Dhanveer Singh Brar - Poverty, Abstraction, Debt: Actress’ Ghettoville

Released in 2014, the album Ghettoville represents a major point in the constellation of electronic music Darren Cunningham has released under the Actress “image”. In Ghettoville Actress takes the abstraction engine that is black electronic dance music and fuses it with the ecology of poverty in his local South London. The work could be said to construct a sonic palette that rewires the racialized logic of debt, and extends and troubles the (black) social indebtedness found in Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s thought. This lecture will attempt to track Actress' complication and intensification of the dynamics of racial capitalism through the phono-material grain of this album.

Dhanveer Singh Brar is a scholar of Black Studies, as it intersects with Cultural Studies and Critical Theory. The research he undertakes covers theorizations of black diasporic culture from the mid-twentieth century to the present, the history of the black radical tradition, and the politics of black critical thought. He has published in journals such as Social Text, Darkmatter and Cesura // Acceso and is a founding member of the London based Black Study Group.

Vermeir & Heireman, Masquerade

Vermeir & Heiremans will present the live 'version' of their latest film MASQUERADE a 'fictitious reportage' on 'Art House Index', an experimental financial index that measures the economic and symbolic value of the 'house as art work'. MASQUERADE addresses a specific intersection of the contemporary art and finance markets, through the filter of Melville's novel The Confidence Man: His Masquerade (1857) as the structure for its episodic narration. The film takes its name from the subtitle of Melville’s novel. Art, like finance, is a system of belief and their markets are where this belief is put to work.In the live version of their film the financial market influences the real-time 'cutting' of the film. The actual performance of AHI–, showing the index going up or down, in 'real time' triggers a switch between two timelines, one of which shows the fully post-produced 'finished' film while the other captures variations, rehearsals and outtakes. The artists have no control over the 'editing' of MASQUERADE, the markets creating a 'unique' moment in time...

The practice of Brussels-based artist duo Vermeir & Heiremans focuses on the reciprocal relationship of art, architecture and economy. In their collaborative practice, the artists nominate their home, a loft apartment in a post-industrial building in Brussels, as an artwork. The public does not have access to the 'house as art work'. Instead the artists use their home as source material for the production of ‘mediated extensions’, such as installations, videos, performances, interviews, publications and so on. These extensions create a web of cross-referencing discourses and values and show the 'house as artwork' no longer as something exclusively physical, but rather as a virtual discursive site. Vermeir & Heiremans have presented their work in festivals and exhibitions worldwide, a.o. at Transmediale, Berlin (2016), 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013), Manifesta 9, Limburg (2012), 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennial (2012), Extra City, Antwerp (2012), Argos, Brussels (2012), Arnolfini, Bristol (2009).

Costas Lapavitsas, Money – The Invisible Bind

Money is at once the most familiar and the most mysterious of economic phenomena. It has a deeply contradictory nature, the analysis of which calls for much more than economics. Dollars, euros and pounds are commonplace things carried in people’s pockets, but also highly complex social relations registered in the books of financial institutions. They are able to bind individuals utterly foreign to each other, and equally able to split asunder entire families and communities. In this lecture Costas Lapavitsas considers the philosophical and political dimensions to money’s social and economic power. The lecture will also reflect on Lapavitsas’s analysis of Greece in the Eurozone crisis, asking what new political strategies and theoretical approaches are available to overcome these invisible binds?

Costas Lapavitsas is Professor in Economics at SOAS. His research focuses on the financialisation of capitalism, its characteristic trends, variable forms and manifold implications for contemporary society. His work on financialisation includes the recent books published by Verso : 'Against the Troika' (2015), 'Profiting Without Producing' (2015) and 'Crisis in the Eurozone' (2012). During 2015 he was elected as a Member of Parliament in Greece.

Prometheanism and Rationalism - Pete Wolfendale

The aim of this talk is to articulate and defend the connection between contemporary forms of prometheanism and rationalism. It will begin by defining prometheanism through its opposition to political liberalism and normative naturalism, as developed by the projects of left-accelerationism and xenofeminism. It will then show how the success of these oppositions is premised upon philosophical rationalism, insofar as it supplies the needed accounts of positive freedom and normative autonomy, and articulate the problems faced by alternatives to liberalism and naturalism that reject these conceptual resources. The remainder of the talk will be devoted to elaborating the account of rational agency through which these concepts should be understood. Positively, it will aim to explain what reason is, giving a minimalistic picture of the capacities its exercise involves. Negatively, it will aim to explain what reason is not, addressing some common objections to rationalism based on misunderstanding its relation to affect, embodiment, collectivity, and other issues.

Chair: Simon O’Sullivan

Pete Wolfendale is an independent philosopher from the North East of England. His work develops the consequences of philosophical rationalism for the philosophy of mind, aesthetics, and metaphysics. He is the author of ‘Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Noumenon’s New Clothes’ (Urbanomic 2014).

0(RPHAN) D(RIFT>) [Maggie Roberts]

Maggie Roberts aka MER presents the work of the collaborative artist 0rphan Drift, tracing its emergence as a prescient hive mind in London’s cyber and electronic counter cultures in the 90’s; through its collaborations with the CCRU; post millennial multi screen video works and its current presence organized by time travel, via climate change and bio-science. It has always manifested science fictional pathways and arrivals, producing iterations and investigations in multiple media: collage, video and animation, sound, actions and writing, with a visibly embedded friction between digital and analogue signal, often achieved through remixing and feedback loops between media. The work engages though an amplified tension between the experiential and the speculative, pointing out their material co-existence.

Chair: Simon O’Sullivan

0D has participated internationally in over two decades of exhibitions, screenings and AV performance, showing extensively in the UK, Europe, Canada and the States, including at the Cabinet Gallery and Tate Modern; writing the Scifi-theory text 0(rphan)<d(rift) Cyberpositive and featuring in DJ Spooky's 'Sound Unbound' in the 'Renegade Academics' chapter. Maggie Roberts is an Associate Researcher in the Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths.

Justin Barton - The spheroambient world and the individual as body-shaped eye: human faculties, the "unfilmable," and Barbara O'Brien's Operators and Things

Chairs Mark Fisher & Jon K. Shaw

Justin Barton is a philosopher and writer. He has published academic philosophical articles and has collaborated on projects with artists and theorists. With Mark Fisher he made the audio-essays londonunderlondon and On Vanishing Land. He once spent two years living in a tent in woodlands around London while working at a college in Covent Garden, and he has travelled to rarely visited places such as the mountains of Tuva and the forests of northwest Patagonia.

Grant Farred - The Fourth Spartacus: The Photos of Soweto 1976

This presentation uses photographs of the 1976 Soweto student uprising to argue, in Alain Badiou's terms, for the present as a truncated, punctuated political moment. This presentation locates Soweto 1976, on this its 40th anniversary, as entirely dislocated, as entirely felicitous only to itself. That is, contrary to contemporary South African logic, the event of 1994 (the historic democratic elections) is not the culmination but the betrayal of Soweto.

Grant Farred, a native of South Africa, is Professor of Africana Studies and English at Cornell University. His most recent work includes Martin Heidegger Saved My Life (Minnesota, 2015), In Motion, At Rest: The Event of the Athletic Body (Minnesota, 2014), What’s My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals (Minnesota, 2004), Phantom Calls: Race and the Globalization of the NBA (Prickly Paradigm, 2006) and Long Distance Love: A Passion for Football (Temple, 2008). He served as General Editor of the Duke University-based journal, The South Atlantic Quarterly, from 2002 to 2010. His is currently at work on projects that include Conciliation (Temple), and The Condemned: Lio Messi, Luis Suarez and the 2014 World Cup (Indiana) and Negro: An Essay on James Baldwin.

Adnan Madani - Muslim Subjectivity and Global Art

What subjective space remains in art and theory today, for a thought of the ‘non-Western’ world? Exploring two different working definitions of secularism in the writings of Jean-Luc Nancy and Talal Asad, I trace where a Muslim subjectivity might emerge at the intersection of philosophical and artistic practices. These two thinkers allow me to engage three philosophical traditions simultaneously: European, Islamic and American or analytic philosophy. Deriving an ethical framework from Louis Massignon’s engagement with Islam and the legacy of the 10th century mystic and revolutionary Mansur al-Hallaj, I argue that ‘difference’ cannot be preserved as such, but can only be maintained in the act of desiring the other, even at the risk of reducing, exoticising or violating their otherness. Overall, this paper provides an argument against the staging or fetishisation of difference and hybridity in intercultural artistic and curatorial practices – and attempts to think the possibilities of an altogether more confrontational, situated universalism.

Adnan Madani is a Pakistani artist and writer. He is most strongly associated with the critical practices that emerged at the beginning of Pakistan’s social and media liberalization in the 2000s, and he has consistently explored emerging paradigms of globalized art. His recent research examines the place of religious belief and practice in the formation of contemporary culture.

Spring 2015

Critical Environments

‘Critical environments’ names several senses. If the (Greek) krinein is to sift and kritikos is the ability to discern, then we are faced with the work of interpretation. Yet if we turn to the Latin criticare, then those environments are diagnosed as gravely ill. We know that what we call the ‘environment’ is indeed in a state of crisis – acidification renders the oceans increasingly inhospitable to life; deforestation threatens both local ecologies and global climate maintenance; the appetite for meat eats up land as well as nonhuman life. Many of us choose not to know this, or perhaps maintain the fetishistic logic of knowing that comes with simultaneous disavowal. Corporate interests ranging across agriculture, pharmaceuticals, fossil fuels, and the super-saturation of all forms of media hamper the work of interpretation and the possibility of agency and intervention.

Series organisers: Lynn Turner & Wood Roberdeau

The events are free, no booking is required and all are welcome.

Jami Weinstein - Anthropocene Hipsters and the Critical Theory Apocalypse

This talk is meant both as a provocation and a sincere warning about the future of the academy. I will argue two things: First, academics have become consumers of concepts, seek innovation, and aim to be members of the trendy crowd (quite like today’s so-called hipsters). As such, the concept of the anthropocene and its mode of circulation across the academy replicates the logic of the progress narratives of the Great Acceleration and its attendant hyper-consumption, hyper-productivity, and branding practices. Thus, uncritically adopting this term for research accidentally heralds a parallel apocalypse – an ‘academic anthropocene,’ the death of critical theory, and a mass extinction of the humanities and social sciences.

Second, we need to consider what, if anything, the theory of the anthropocene future could contribute to contemporary research. Is it the Kuhnian paradigm shift many claim it to be? Whose future is this anthropocene future? The anthropocene in effect bestows upon The Human an incalculable futurity, an afterlife, by casting it as a unique and legible cause of planetary destruction. Rather than being an ethical induction to act differently, might we not instead claim it as a narcissistic reiteration of humanism? While the concept correctly identifies the geomorphic capabilities of at least some humans, it does so in isolation—failing to account for the multiplicity of forces at work in shaping geologic futures. Likewise, we must also ask whether employing this concept in our research risks eclipsing asymmetrical human power, agency, vulnerabilities, and impacts, and the force of nonhuman actors. As such I will argue that while there are several important tropes at work in the concept of the anthropocene, in particular themes related to life, overall the temporalities it demands forestall the possibility of queerfeminist futures.

Weinstein is Associate Professor of Gender Studies at Linköping University in Sweden, and Founding Director of The Critical Life Studies Research Team (formerly The Zoontology Research Team). She is currently working on a Swedish Research Council funded project entitled Vital Signs: Life, Theory, and Ethics in an Age of Global Crisis, and finalizing her monograph entitled Vital Ontologies. She is also co-editor of the collections Deleuze and Gender and Inhuman Rites and Posthumous Life (both with Claire Colebrook) and has published articles such as: “Vital Ethics: On Life and In/difference,” “A Requiem to Sexual Difference: A Response to Luciana Parisi’s ‘Event and Evolution,’” “Transgenres and the Plane of Language, Species, and Evolution,” “Transgenres and the Plane of Gender Imperceptibility,” and “Traces of the Beast: Becoming-Nietzsche, Becoming-Animal, and the Figure of the Trans-Human.” Weinstein is the Series Editor of The Critical Life Studies book series on Columbia University Press (with Claire Colebrook and Myra Hird).

John Mowitt - Gasping

Much aesthetic theory has concerned itself with the status and significance of the image. Resisting this "photology," my paper (a chapter from the forthcoming SOUNDS: THE AMBIENT HUMANITIES) will explore, by contrasting the sonic to the phonic, the attractions of tying aesthetic experience to sound, specifically the sound of "the gasp." Through readings of Derrida's SPECTRES OF MARX, McNally's LAST GASPS and Rushdie's THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH, I will propose that the gasp vents us to what Spinoza called "admiratio" (wonder), a break that stirs the perception "photology" has long organised around the image (whether beautiful, sublime or craven). Photology, like the particulate matter generating the optical effect of a sunset, is thus read as an inaudible mode of sound pollution.

John Mowitt is Professor and Leadership Chair in the Critical Humanities at the University of Leeds. His most recent book titled ‘Radio: Essays in Bad Reception’, is from the University of California Press. It will be followed later this year by ‘Sounds: the Ambient Humanities’, from the same press. He is a Senior Editor of the journal Cultural Critique.

Wendy Wheeler - Creative Evolution & the Logic of Abduction: The Biosemiotic Self & the Umwelt

An important theoretical underpinning of biosemiotics is the semiotic philosophy of American scientist and semiotician Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) and his observation that ‘the universe is perfused with signs’. Semiotic biology was born from a similar insight, that living systems – cells, organisms, and ecologies – are not mechanical but are scaffolded by semiosis. Semiotic systems characterise life throughout. Sign relations are responsible for the efficacy of biological systems as much as they are for abstract human conceptual systems. All obey the same triadic Peircean semiotic logic. As Norbert Wiener long ago implied about information in cybernetic systems, such informational, or in living things semiotic, relations require material bearers (codes and channels), but are, themselves, immaterial. All sign relations are manifested in von Uexküllian semiotic species umwelten, and while these (including the human) are thus necessarily incomplete models of reality (there being, as Thomas Nagel has noted, ‘no view from nowhere’), sign relations nonetheless form a semiotic bridge between mind and nature, subject and object, and intentional concept and reality. This is the case for every living organism: semiotic relations bridge the supposed gap between mind and body, culture and nature, and idealism and realism.

Wendy Wheeler is Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Cultural Inquiry at London Metropolitan University. She is also a Visiting Professor at Goldsmiths and RMIT in Melbourne. In 2014, she gave the first annual University of Tartu Jakob von Uexküll Lecture to the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and the Environment in Estonia. She is the author of four books, two on biosemiotics, and many essays on the same topic in journals and edited collections. She is on the editorial boards of several journals – New Formations, Green Letters, Cybernetics and Human Knowing, and Biosemiotics – and is currently completing her fifth monograph The Flame and Its Shadow: Reflections on Nature and Culture from a Biosemiotic Perspective.

Philip Steinberg - Wet Ontologies, Fluid Dynamics, Legal Fi(x/ss)ions, Cold Facts

This presentation draws on research on the geophysics of waves, conceptual theorisations of verticality and volume, and legal regimes for the polar regions to consider what it means to think of the world from a perspective that incorporates the ocean in its many physical states.

Philip Steinberg ( is Professor of Political Geography at Durham University and Associate Editor of Political Geography. At Durham, he is Director of IBRU: Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research and he also coordinates the ICE LAW Project (the Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: the Anthropocene, Law, and the World). Phil’s research focuses on the projection of social power onto spaces whose geophysical and geographic characteristics make them resistant to state territorialisation, spaces that include the world-ocean, the universe of electronic communication, and the Arctic. His publications include The Social Construction of the Ocean (Cambridge, 2001), Managing the Infosphere: Governance, Technology, and Cultural Practice in Motion (Temple, 2008), What Is a City? Rethinking the Urban after Hurricane Katrina (Georgia, 2008), Contesting the Arctic: Politics and Imaginaries in the Circumpolar North (I.B. Tauris, 2015), as well as recent articles in journals including Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Society & Space, Ocean Development & International Law, Antipode, Polar Geography, and Atlantic Studies.

Shelley Sacks - Social Sculpture

Through the examples of the University of the Trees and Earth Forum, the talk will highlight the phenomenological and connective approach for enabling us to 'come to our senses' and to understand responsibility as an ability-to-respond. It will also make reference to Beuys' renowned statement 'every human being is an artist' and what this has to do with our work towards shaping a humane, just and ecologically viable social order.

Shelley Sacks works internationally in social sculpture and connective aesthetics, exploring the relationship between imagination, transformation and ecological citizenship, and rethinking responsibility as an ability-to-respond. She describes her long-term collaborative projects as ‘instruments of consciousness’ that foreground the link between individual and community, inner work and outer action. Her practice includes more than fifty actions, site works, installations and participatory social sculpture projects; several books and essays; facilitating social sculpture processes and involvement in grassroots cultural and political organisations in South Africa in the 70s and 80s; and collaborating with Joseph Beuys for more than a decade in the Free International University.

Franklin Ginn - Planetary gardening for the Anthropocene

This talk deals with four lures proffered by the Anthropocene. The first three: hyper-modernisation, or the colonisation of deep time by the anthropos; apocalypse therapy, or melancholic revelry in the end times; the significance sky hook, or “cfp: X in the Anthropocene”. These three are lures to be avoided. I then note a latent underspecified tendency shared by many – from progressive policy folk to biophilosophers – to invoke gardening as metaphor for planetary ethics. Drawing on my research into real and imaginary gardens, I outline something of what such an ethic might partake: anticipating life with vegetal philosophy; domesticating decomposition and death; flourishing awkwardly while fighting wars against the enemy. These take us to a final, more attractive lure. Beginning from nomadic points of difference, we might glimpse beyond the Anthropocene the utopian lure of new collectives and new kinds of humans, composed for more sanity and for feeling more deeply the earth and all its knotty difficulties.

Franklin Ginn is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Edinburgh, where his work focuses on geographies of nature, the more-than-human and environmental politics. His forthcoming book, Domestic Wild: Nature, memory and gardening in suburbia explores how memory and time are implicated in ecological consciousness. His current research explores cultures of everyday apocalypse and the Anthropocene, and as part of an AHRC-funded project, spiritual responses to climate change.

Amanda Boetzkes - Wasting Environments and Environments of Waste

This lecture will consider the meaning and perception of plastic, a material that has seen a sharp increase in visibility in contemporary art of the past two decades. I argue that plastic rests at the intersection of the economic, ecological and aesthetic dilemmas which characterize our critical environment. I link plastic to an unseen stratigraphy of production and consumption generated by the global oil industry. More strongly, I show how plastic discloses the current paradigm of energy management, and its coextensive definitions of waste. The artists featured in this study visualize how automatic and autopoietic processes of global wasting (processes of machinic heterogenesis) extend into waste environments (wastescapes). In this way, plastic gathers together the seemingly dissociated registers of a restricted energy economy and ecological crisis.

Amanda Boetzkes is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph, Canada. Her research focuses on the intersection of the biological sciences (particularly ecology and neurology) with visual technologies and artistic practices of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. She is the author of The Ethics of Earth Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), and co-editor of Heidegger and the Work of Art History (Ashgate Press, 2014). She is currently writing a book entitled, Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste, which analyzes the use and representation of garbage in contemporary art, and how waste as such is defined, narrativized and aestheticized in the age of global capitalism.

Monika Bakke - The crystal life of vigilant plants

Plants historically have been located between the mineral and animal worlds. Not only did they occupy the perplexing border area between the living and nonliving, and were therefore called living crystals, they were also denied any sensitivity or capability for decision making. This talk will investigate how recent philosophical inquiries into plant lives, art practices involving their bodily presence, and the scientific discoveries of plant biologists lead to a conclusion that plants, although occupying a position of full visibility, have been seriously overlooked. Bearing in mind that the evolutionary paths of plants and animals split about two billion years ago, we rediscover plants, observing how they developed their own peculiar body plans, life styles and modes of reproduction, which now come to our attention as a source of inspiration in postanthropocentric efforts to find yet another way of being together.

Monika Bakke writes on contemporary art and aesthetics, with a particular focus on posthumanist, gender and cross-cultural perspectives. She lectures in the Philosophy Department at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland. She is the author of two books: Bio-transfigurations: Art and Aesthetics of Posthumanism (2010, in Polish) and Open Body (2000, in Polish), co-author of Pleroma: Art in Search of Fullness (1998), and editor of Australian Aboriginal Aesthetics (2004, in Polish), Going Aerial: Air, Art, Architecture (2006) and The Life od Air: Dwelling, Communicating, Manipulating (2011). Since 2001 she has been an editor of the Polish cultural journal Czas Kultury (Time of Culture).

Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe) - From Made In To Made Nowhere

Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe) is a duo of spatial practitioners that emerged out of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths. It was born to explore the systems that organize the WORLD through FOOD. Using installation, performance, mapping and video, their research-based practice explores the overlapping boundaries between visual arts, architecture and geopolitics. Their work has been exhibited at the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin; Storefront for Art & Architecture New York dOCUMENTA(13); Peggy Guggenheim Collection; CA2M; TEDx Talks, Madrid; Fiorucci Art Trust; ACC, Weimar; 2014 Biennale INTERIEUR, Kortrijk; OFFICEUS, the exhibition for the U.S. Pavilion, 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale; and have been residents in The Politics of Food at Delfina Foundation, London. They have recently been awarded a Jumex Fundación de Arte Contemporáneo grant to research Islands of Food and Desire in the Caribbean.


Autumn 2015

Futures and Fictions

Futures and Fictions explore the political imaginary, the inventing and imaging of alternate narratives and image-worlds that might be pitched against the impasses of the present. The series ranges from future-oriented science fictions and alternative space-time plots to myths and images generated by marginalized and ‘minor’ communities, queer-feminist strategies of fiction, and the production of new Afro- and other futurists.

Series Organisers: Henriette Gunkel, Ayesha Hameed & Simon O’Sullivan

From Site to Plot to Yarn - Robin Mackay (UK Urbanomic)

Are practices of site-specificity adequate to the question of the complex, folded relation between local and global? Might the concept of ‘plot’, with its combined sense of narrative and spatial translation, prove more appropriate? Using the tropes from detective fiction and stagecraft, the notions of plot and of the ‘yarnwork’ will be mobilised to explore further the relation of local sites with their global conditions.

Robin Mackay is director of Urbanomic and editor of its journal, Collapse. He has translated a number of works of French philosophy, including Alain Badiou's Number and Numbers, Francois Laruelle's The Concept of Non-Photography and Anti-Badiou and Quentin Meillasoux's The Number and the Siren.

Chair: Simon O'Sullivan

Revisiting Genesis: The Slideshow - Oreet Ashery

Revisiting Genesis is a web series in development to be shot in December 2015, featuring a nurse who creates biographical slideshows for those actively preparing for death, and Genesis, an artist who is dying symbolically and otherwise. Revisiting Genesis responds to a diverse range of influences including the growing digital afterlife industry and expanded mourning practices, feminist art reincarnations, outsider communities, the loss and transmutation of meaningful social structures under neoliberalism, care and friendships.

The talk will consider the span of the project in relation to the politics of fiction.

Oreet Ashery is a London based visual artist working in an international context. Ashery’s work engages with biopolitics, gender materiality and potential communities through an interdisciplinary practice spanning live situations and performances, writing, moving image, photography and assemblages. Most recently Ashery produced Party for Freedom, an Artangel commission and The World is Flooding, a performance for Tate Modern Turbine Hall, 2014.

Chair: Simon O'Sullivan

The Last Angel of History - Edward George

Edward George is a founder of Black Audio Film Collective (1982-1998), the multi media duo Flow Motion (1996-present), and the electronic music group Hallucinator (1998-present). George, the writer, researcher, and presenter of Black Audio Film Collective’s ground breaking science fiction documentary Last Angel of History, will present and discuss the film and its themes of music, Diaspora, science fiction, and its engagement with Afro futurism.

History Will Break Your Heart - Kemang Wa Lehulere
Fiction is constitutive to all histories, but how much fiction is needed to fully disarticulate history’s truthfulness? Kemang Wa Lehulere’s work is located within the boundaries of what Michel-Rolph Trouillot calls “two-sided historicity,” building new imaginaries for consisting narratives, protagonists and facts that have felt into historical oblivion. ‘Sincerely Yours’, the first solo show of the artist in the UK, is the catalyst of a conversation exploring the construction of both personal and collective memories, amnesia and the archive, present in South African social imaginary.

Chair: Henriette Gunkel

Kemang lives and works in Cape Town. He is a co-founder of Gugulective (2006) and is a founding member of the Center for Historical Reenactments (2010), Johannesburg. Select solo exhibitions have taken place at Gasworks, London (2015); Lombard-Freid Projects, New York (2013); Stevenson, Johannesburg (2012) and Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg (2011).

Crowns Without Kings - Tavia Nyong'o

This talk takes the afterlives of Jean-Michel Basquiat's crown icon as its point of departure into a discussion of afrofabulation—the black production, projection, and animation of giants—in contemporary black and African diasporic art. How does work by contemporary visual and performance artists Kehinde Wiley, Wangechi Mutu, Geo Wyeth and others navigate the aporia of loss that conditions back social life and death in the present? What is left of ‘afrofuturism’ in their visual and performative strategies for fabulating presence and loss, trauma and futurity, gender and the sexual cut?

Respondent: Kodwo Eshun

Chair: Henriette Gunkel

Tavia Nyong'o is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, and the author of The Amalgamation Waltz (Minnesota UP, 2009), as well as many articles on artists including Samuel R. Delany, Trajal Harrell, Kehinde Wiley, Kalup Linzy, and Kara Walker. He is completing a monograph on afrofabulation in contemporary black art and performance.

Afrofuturism, Technology and Fiction - Julian Henriques

This talk traces the genealogy of Captain Eko currently in her “sonographic” novel incarnation as a collaboration with artist Heidi Sincuba. Episode 1 Sound Clash single screen version to be shown. Through image and music the talk describes a long-term research process involving several media: filmmaking research and academic research, model making and sound art installations to the current sonographic novel form. The themes explored throughout are the dynamic processes of thinking, feeling, making and presenting though sounding. Further to practice-as-research, the issues raised include fiction-as-research. With Captain Eko this calls for an exploration of superhero popular culture, the graphic novel form of storytelling, as well as the aesthetics and politics of Afrofuturism as a critique of the dominant corporate “technofuturism.”

Chair: Harold Offeh

Professor Julian Henriques is Co-Head of the Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London. He is convenor of the MA Scriptwriting programme and director of the Topology Research Unit. His credits as a writer and director include the 1998 feature film ‘Babymother’, a reggae musical and ‘We the Ragamuffin’. His sound sculptures include ‘Knots & Donuts’, Tate Modern (2011) and publications, the jointly authored ‘Changing the Subject’ (1998) and ‘Sonic Bodies’ (2011).

Luxury Communism - Judy Thorne

Mark Fisher and Judy Thorne explore the idea of luxury communism as a slogan for a more libidinal left. Luxury communism is a gesture out of the fug of the present and towards a utopian horizon. Luxury communism says that we are communists because we are in love with beauty and joy. We are communists because we insist on a world of universal abundance. All the things which capitalism promises can be everyone's, and more - communist luxury means art for all. It means social housing with stained glass windows. It means public swimming baths with frescoed ceilings. It means the abolition of second class. It means the reduction towards zero of alienated work. It means the delinking of work from the wage, and the queer decoupling of sex from procreation. It means sensuousness, sensitivity, luxuriation. It means nothing is too good for the working class. Luxury communism gestures at utopia and says: this is ours, now, let's have it.

Judy Thorne is an underemployed researcher living in Sheffield, interested in the anthropology of desire and the future. She enjoys writing, drawing, having strong opinions about cities, and going round asking people what they want the world to be like in the future. She's got an MA in anthropology and is currently applying for funding for a PhD project on utopianism in Greece.

The Ubiquitous Liminal Space - Daniel Kojo Schrade

In their wealth of transnational allusions, their inscriptions of overlapping temporalities and materialities, and their magistral mobilization of the most diverse painterly strategies, Daniel Kojo Schrade's works create a diasporic archive, which refers not solely to the past but also holds itself radically open to the future. In their controlled interplay of formal construction, improvisation and chance, Schrade’s works can be understood as the Afro-German expression of a black ‘vernacular modernism’, in which ‘formal mastery’ and the ‘deformation of mastery’ go hand in hand, because it both claims the unfulfilled aesthetic and political promise of modernity and questions the latter’s omissions.

Chair: Henriette Gunkel

Daniel Kojo Schrade, artist and Associate Professor of Art at Hampshire College Amherst Massachusetts USA, presented his painting-installations internationally, including the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Oaxaca - Mexico, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and MOMA Warsaw. Selected work cycles, entitled ‘Afronauts’, ‘Synapses’ and ‘Brother Beethoven’, embrace repeated motifs such as the ‘Afronaut’ figure and textual/symbolic elements.

Laboria Cuboniks

The Xenofeminist Manifesto, published earlier in 2015, is a discursive scaffold for future work yet to be built. With the aim of “forking” this foundational, written-gesture into more substantiated forms, two presentations will be delivered, preceded by a introduction as to the impetus driving the generic thematics of xenofeminism. The first branch will examine the shift from ‘knowing that’ to ‘knowing how’; transdisciplinarity; as well as the concept of hyperstition – a concept involving new models of time. The second ‘branching out’ will address the necessity of alienation as a perspectival catalyst for post-catastrophic world-making, and how this ‘estrangement’ could function in relation to other modes of thinking universalism as a type of glue, rather than a top-down schematic.

Laboria Cuboniks (b. 2014) is a polymorphous xenofeminist collective. As an anagram of the “Nicolas Bourbaki” group of mathematicians, Cuboniks also advances an affirmation of abstraction as an episto-political necessity for 21st century claims on equality. Espousing reason and vigorous anti-naturalism, she seeks to dismantle gender implicitly. Cuboniks is a multi-taloned, tetra-headed creature uncomfortably navigating the fields of art, design, architecture, archeology, philosophy, techno-feminism, sexuality studies, digital music, translation, writing and regular experiments with the use of evolutionary algorithms in offensive cybersecurity.