* Last updated on
November 23, 2010. Please check back again before the seminar session starts, since there may be last minute changes in the program.
In this opening session, Art and Desire Seminars organization collective will introduce the aims, the conceptual framework, and the themes of the seminar series.
The video screening program "You Tell Me", which incorporates five videos by various artists and filmmakers, takes up the operational character of direct speech acts as a starting point to performatively intervene into the very space of the screening. As opposed to explanatory voice over, which describes and explicates through a naturalized narration, the operative aspects of direct speech acts reside in their power to intervene and change an existing situation, which in the case of this screening program comprises of the audience sitting in a dark room and watching the selected videos.
The videos selected here participate in performative speech acts, which either reiterate an authoritative structure or mark the collapse of this very structure through a failed performative utterance. These utterances are never autonomous or subjective. In J.L. Austin's example of performatives, when the minister announces a couple as husband and wife, the performative power of his speech is neither reflection nor expression of the minister's autonomous will, but rather a pronouncement of a predetermined and pre-established social convention. Similarly, in Althusser's notion of interpallation, it is not the policemen as a carrier of an autonomous subjective will whose pronouncement "Hey, You!" interpallates the subject. Instead, the very utterance of the policemen is always already an authoritative voice of the police as social institution. Then, the utterance is not expressive but rather operative. It is this operative and performative character of the works that abandon the tired interpretative question "What does the work mean?" to pose the question "What does the work do?"
Hassan Khan, Rant, 6'45'', 2008
Aras Ozgun, Can I? 3'2'', 2002
Shady El Noshakaty, Stammer: A Lecture in Theory, 12', 2007
Lusine Chergeshtyan, Puzzle, 3'32'', 2009
Wael Shawky, The Cave, 12'42'', 2005
In spring 1998, Ulus Baker conducted a 4 months long seminar, titled as "Sanat ve Arzu" (Art and Desire) at Middle East Technical University's Audio-Visual Research Center (GISAM) in Ankara. In these seminars, he traced the relations and passages between the regimes of technological representation and modern social subjectivities, examined contemporary social dynamics and visual representation techniques. Art and Desire seminar had a particular importance in Baker's ouvre; it presented Baker's mature reflection the aesthetic, social and philosophical issues he had been working on since a while at length. Baker's seminar not only became a source of inspiration for a new generation of artists, intellectuals and cultural producers that constituted its audience, but also for this seminar series we are organizing in Istanbul 2010 with the same title. Baker's lectures were recorded on video in their entirety by Aras Ozgun, who organized the seminar. Here, at Art & Desire Seminars in 2010, we are presenting the first public screening of Baker's introduction to his Art & Desire seminars in 1998.
Alexandros Kioupkiolis is currently a lecturer in Contemporary Political Theory, at the Department of Politics of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His research has appeared in Philosophy and Social Criticism (forthcoming), Constellations (2010), and European Journal of Political Theory (2009). His book, titled Politics of freedom: Agonistic democracy, post-anarchist utopias and the revolt of the multitude is forthcoming in Greek from Ekkremes Editions in 2010.
Radical democracy, biopolitical emancipation and anarchic dilemmas
A hallmark of contemporary notions of radical democracy and emancipation is the stronger accent that they place on contingency, antagonism, contestation, pluralism and openness. This emphasis provides a point of convergence for the otherwise disparate figures of social freedom sketched out by Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. In the last decade, however, conceptual developments in this body of thought combined with political events and controversies to sharpen various divisions in radical political theory, highlighting the limits of the different approaches and calling for a renewal of thought. Theoretical dichotomies such as ‘vertical’, hegemonic organisation versus a ‘horizontal’ articulation of differences and creative ‘abundance of being’ versus ‘constitutive lack’ tie in with political conflicts in grassroots movements, which revolve around the need for centralised coordination and state-oriented action. This entwinement has given a more passionate and practical inflection to abstract discussions.
The paper seeks to foster a more acute understanding of radical democracy and emancipation through an internal engagement with alternative theories. The aim is not to procure a new radical ‘model’ of social freedom or a dialectical synthesis of oppositions. It is rather to open up themes for reworking, to map out directions for revision and to indicate ways of negotiating tensions which would further emancipatory causes. Laclau, on the one side, Hardt and Negri, on the other, give eloquent voice to the antithesis between hegemonic politics and loosely assembled, autonomous and creative movements.
Fidelity to openness and contingency suggests that we should qualify certain pretensions which lie at the pivot of Laclau’s thought and tend to reify hierarchical relations. Moreover, his stress on negativity and undecidability should be balanced off with a keener sense of creative action as a source of social openness. Creativity is given fuller play in the pictures of the biopolitical multitude and absolute democracy outlined by Hardt and Negri. But their positions evince a certain regress from political agency into the certainties of self-propelled mechanisms. Despite recent displacements in their thought, they still sound as if they have discovered the magic key to absolute emancipation, a figure that articulates full freedom and equality, singularity and commonality in ways that ward off internal antagonisms, exclusions and power asymmetries. This reflects a common ambivalence in new or post-anarchist politics which holds on to a utopianism of perfect liberation that seems to be precluded by its recognition of social contingency and deep pluralism. Radical thought on egalitarian freedom can negotiate the tensions that arise from its different assumptions and orientations through a more reflexive awareness of its fundamental contestability. Internal and external conflicts between its different positions should be consciously sustained in ways that could enhance the flexibility and critical revision of emancipatory projects. The pursuit of concrete alternatives should be tied up with a reflective willingness to subject them to scrutiny in respect of their power effects and their effective contribution to equitable autonomy.
Anette Baldauf is a sociologist whose research focuses on popular culture, artistic practices, social movements and postindustrial city formation. Her book publications include Entertainment Cities. Unterhaltungskultur und Stadtentwicklung (Springer Verlag: Vienna 2008), The She Zone (Bawag Foundation: Vienna 2007, with Dorit Margreiter), Der Gruen Effekt (Montage Verlag: Vienna 2006, with Dorit Margreiter) and Lips Tits, Hits, Power? Feminismus und Popkultur (Folio Verlag: Vienna 1998, with Katharina Weingartner). She has also made a series of documentary film projects including The Gruen Effect (Vienna/New York: ORF/Pooldoks 2010), Knock Off. Revenge on the Logo (Vienna/New York: ORF/Arte 2003, with Katharina Weingartner) and Remake Las Vegas (Vienna/Los Angeles 2001, with Dorit Margreiter).
Soho Incorporated: Artistic practices and urban development
In the course of the radical deindustrialization of Western cities since the fifties, artistic practices have become a vehicle of urban redevelopment. As landscapes of production have been redefined as landscapes of consumption, artists have become co-conspirators in extensive rescaling projects orchestrated by powerful alliances between city governments, real estate industries and the financial institutions. For many urbanists, the postwar history of the city of New York offers a telling example: After WWII, when artists and art galleries settled in the former factory spaces of Soho, the mise en scene of lofts as ostentatious setting for a bohemian way of life became a profitable endeavor for bankers and realtors too. In the seventies, city officials and realtors exploited artists’ cultural capital for the radical rescaling, and reselling, of the Lower East Side. In a predatory class and race war that involved the removal and eventual eviction of ethnic minorities, the historic immigration district became the front line of gentrification. By reconstructing the relationship between artistic practices, urban development and cold hard cash in the city of New York, I hope to shed light on the myths of the creative city.
After receiving his BA in Political Sciences, Tolga Tüzün (1971) studied composition with Pieter Snapper and Marc Wingate and advanced orchestration with Ilhan Usmanbas and Hasan Ucarsu at the Istanbul Technical University, Center for Advanced Music Studies. His compositions have been performed in various cities throughout US and in Amsterdam, Paris, Dresden, Darmstadt, and Istanbul. In New York, during his studies for a Ph.D. in Music Composition at CUNY Graduate Center, he studied composition with David Olan and Tristan Murail. He taught harmony and composition at Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music (2003-2005), while giving lectures on music theory and electro-acoustic music at international conferences. Tolga Tüzün participated in the composition and computer music cursus at IRCAM for the year 2005-2006 and studied composition with Philippe Leroux. He is currently teaching composition and computer music at the Music Department of Istanbul Bilgi University. His last album Periphery (2009), compositions for solo instruments with electronic sounds, is published by AK Müzik.
After receiving his B.Sc. in industrial engineering and M.A. in economics, bassist and composer Alper Yılmaz (1969) got his Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from University of California, Davis. In California, he played bass in the UC Davis Jazz Big Band, while he also performed with musicians including John Tchicai, the avant-garde free jazz saxophonist and composer. After moving to New York in 2000, he attended workshops by John Patitucci, and studied jazz music theory and electric bass with Matthew Garrison, as well as theory and improvisation with Adam Rogers and David Binney. He also attended the graduate level Jazz Performance program at the Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music in New York to study improvisation with Antonio Hart, and arrangement and composition with Michael Mossman. Alper Yılmaz has released two albums as a leader (Clashes, 2007; Over the Clouds, 2010) and has performed as a sideman in a number of other recordings (including Tuna Ötenel's Sometimes, 1995; Dan Moses' Sailors Gone, 2010; Brian Adler's upcoming release in 2010).
This performance reverses the fraudulent scheme of "free improvisation" in order to tackle the question of power that has been disguised under stylistic dependencies. When a performer listens, reacts, interprets, and responds to the stream of a variety of information stemming from the live performance, potential musical insertions are already encoded in the performative process of particular styles and, even in a "free" context, one has already made a considerable amount of musical and/or extra-musical choices and concealed them in the interaction before the becoming of music.
In Tolga Tüzün- Alper Yılmaz's performance, there is no score, there is no a hidden teleological process. One has to come up with music that stems from the previous second and carries to the next. The composer becomes the performer of a music that is not written yet and the performer becomes the composer of the very moment that we hear, right now. Nobody has a full grasp of what is going on in the larger scheme; it is the autonomy of the micro-organization of the components that tries to eliminate the ersatz discourse of "freedom through the flexibility of the performance".
Ulus Baker sinema ile video arasındaki farkı verdiği derslerde şöyle betimlerdi: "Sinema filmindeki gibi güçlü renk ve ışık doygunluğuna karşın, video görüntüsü sahip olduğu plastikliğin kendi yapay estetiği içinde deneysel arayışlara çok uygun bir halde durur - ki bu tür bir arayışa sinemada ancak sinema filminin icadı döneminde rastlanmış, sinemanın kitleselleşmesi ile birlikte oluşan sinema dili sonucu 1920'lerde Sovyet avant-garde sinemacı Vertov'dan sonra fazla rastlanmamıştır." Ayrıca videonun sahip olduğu anında kayıt ve gösterim imkanı videoyu bir “sanat aracı” olmaktan çıkarak içeriğin estetikten daha önemli olduğu bir belgeleme aracına dönüşmüştür. Videonun bu belgeleme özelliği “video-aktivizmin” günümüzde neden video ile gerçekleşebileceğinin de gerekçesi olarak ortaya çıkmaktadır.
Karahaber olarak, Ulus Baker'in bu anlatımlarını kafamızda evirip çevirerek videonun plastik renklerini estetik bir dile sokma çabası içerisindeyken refleksif bir halde o plastik imajı ya da elimizdeki o kötü kameraları çevremizde yaşanan ve bizim için gün geçtikçe sıradanlaşan toplumsal eylemler, isyanlar, insan hakkı ihlallerine çevirmeye başladık bundan 10 yıl önce. O zamandan beri çevremizde yaşanan, yapılan eylemlerde bu plastik estetiği toplumsal mücadelenin estetiğine dönüştürme gayretine girdik. Bu sunuş, bir video-aktivist belgesel çekimi için atıkların içerisinde varoluşlarını kurgulamaya çalışan atık toplayıcılarının peşine takılan ve çoğu zaman da onların ellerine düşen kötü kameraların bilinçsizce yarattığı plastik estetiğin kameranın plastik sahteciliği ile hesaplaşma öyküsünü anlatıyor.
Zafer Aracagök is an academic/musician who teaches art theory and continental philosophy at Bilgi University, Istanbul TR. He has a PhD in Comparative Literature (Oslo University) and is the author of three books (in Turkish) and a number of articles addressing the issues of image, resonance and noise in continental philosophy and in the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari in academic journals such as Pli-The Warwick Journal of Philosophy, Parallax, Third Text, Rhizomes, PMC and Symploke. Recently his book, Desonance: Desonating (with) Deleuze has been published by VDM Verlag, Germany (September 2009). His musical work is well received, released and performed both in Turkey and abroad such as, UK, France, Germany and Italy. ZA will be organising "Resonances: A Deleuze and Guattari Conference on Philosophy, Arts and Politics" at Bilgi University, Santral Istanbul in July 8-10, 2010; and he will be editing a special Deleuze and Guattari issue for Parallax (Routledge) in early 2011.
Becoming Sexual of the Sexual
In this paper I discuss first the urgency of a critique of an insistence on a certain appropriation, disappropriation or misappropriation of Deleuzian thought which, in doing so, eliminates the question of the "undecidable" and yields to an identitarian politics via pure reduction especially in academia today. Then I try to demonstrate the ways in which quantum theory and the concept of "complementarity" inform Deleuze and Guattari's thought especially where their conceptualisation of "becoming" in general and "becoming-woman" in particular are concerned. If it is possible to produce the undecidable between the decidable and the undecidable in a tracing of the concept of "complementarity" in their philosophy, I argue that the ways in which the philosophers put forward a ban on "becoming-man" with a certain degree of undecidability encapsulates, albeit in a cryptic form, other becomings, the most important of which is becoming-queer, or rather, becoming sexual of the sexual.
Yannis Stavrakakis studied political science at Panteion University (Athens) and discourse analysis at Essex and has worked at the Universities of Essex and Nottingham. He is currently Associate Professor at the School of Political Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He is the author of Lacan and the Political (Routledge 1999) and The Lacanian Left (Edinburgh University Press/SUNY Press 2007) and co-editor of Discourse Theory and Political Analysis (Manchester University Press 2000), Lacan & Science (Karnac 2002) and The Political in Contemporary Art (Ekkremes 2008).
Discourse, Affect, Jouissance
Intervening in the debate around the role of emotions in politics, this paper will focus all the relation between discourse and affect in the construction and reproduction of political subjectivity and hegemony. In this context, recent criticisms of the Essex School of discourse theory from a post-hegemonic point of view, inspired by the so-called 'affective turn', will be first discussed and evaluated. Then, the two levels at which identification processes operate—semiotic and affective, official and intimate—will be highlighted from an anthropological and psychoanalytic point of view. Last but not least, relevant empirical examples, such as national identification and workplace practices, will be briefly mentioned to illustrate the arguments of the paper.
Yahya M. Madra teaches political economy and history of economics at Gettysburg College. He is an
associate editor of Rethinking Marxism. He has published on the methodology and
philosophy of economics, and the intersection between Marxian political economy
and Lacanian psychoanalysis. His writings have appeared in Journal of Economic
Issues, European Journal of History of Economic Thought, Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture, Subjectivity, Toplum ve Bilim (in
Turkish) and edited volumes. Currently, he is working on the intellectual genealogy of
neoliberalism and its variants.
Ceren Özselçuk teaches at the Sociology Department, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. Her current
research intersects the fields of post-Althusserian thought, Marxian political economy
and psychoanalysis. In particular, she explores the relationships between the processes
of subjectivation and the ethico-political questions around economic transformation.
She is a member of the editorial board of Rethinking Marxism. She has authored and
co-authored articles in a number of academic journals in English and Turkish, such as
Rethinking Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, and Toplum ve Bilim.
Jouissance and Antagonism in the Forms of the Commune: A Critique of Biopolitical Subjectivity
In recent years a growing literature on biopolitical governmentality, prompted by the work of Michel Foucault, presents subjectivity as the decisive locus of both the rule of neoliberal capitalism and the production of the common. While sharing its central focus of subjectivity, we are concerned with what this literature leaves out (due to what we discern to be certain implicit tendencies of behaviorism): the constitutive role that subjective investments and ''enjoyment'' (jouissance) play in the crisis- ridden formations of capitalism and in the constructive turns to communism. We proceed from the premise that there is no balanced relation to jouissance and that class antagonism is irreducible. From this perspective, we propose to approach capitalist and communist subjectivities in terms of two different ''forms of the commune'': that is, as two distinct subjective orientations toward enjoying the impossibility of instituting the common once and for all.
Aras Ozgun is a media scholar/artist living in New York. He was born at the Black Sea coast of Anatolia, he studied political sciences (BS.) and sociology (MS) at MIddle East Technical University in Ankara and media studies (MA) and sociology (Ph.D.) at New School University in New York. Currently he teaches graduate courses related with media theory and digital media practices at Media Studies Department of The New School. He produces experimental video and digital media works, and writes on arts, culture and politics in various scholarly journals. He is among the cofounders of korotonomedya collective in Ankara and pyromedia collective in New York. He recently finished his Ph.D dissertation on the political-economy of contemporary cultural production at The New School for Social Research.
Kairos: On the Temporality of Electronic Image
This video lecture aims to reflect upon the ontological transformation imposed by the digital technologies vis-a-vis modern representation regimes, and to speculate on the temporality of electronic image by examining the social relations it organizes in this "instant".
"In the classical conception of time, kairὸs is the instant, that is to say, the quality of the time of the instant, the moment of rupture and opening of temporality. It is the present, but a singular and open present. Singular in the decision it expresses with regard to the void it opens upon. Kairὸs is the modality of time through which being opens itself, attracted by the void at the limit of time, and it thus decides to fill that void." — Antonio Negri, Time for Revolution
Angela Harutyunyan is a Visiting Professor in Art History and Art Program Director at the American University in Cairo. She recently completed her PhD at the University of Manchester, UK, and is the co-organizer of Summer Seminars' Program for Contemporary Art Curators in Yerevan, Armenia and a member of AICA-International Association of Art Critics. She has curated several solo and group exhibitions of contemporary Armenian art and has conducted numerous seminars, workshops and lectures as a visiting lecturer and curator in various international academic and artistic contexts. She teaches courses related to the history and theory of modern and contemporary art.
ACT/ivism: Political Aesthetics of Affirmation
In my presentation I would like to look at the conceptual artists’ group ACT which was operating in Armenia in the mid 1990’s in the context of the Republic’s first President’s neoliberal market reforms and neo-positivist demythologization of history and everyday life. I argue that the avant-garde in Armenia of the mid 1990s, which propagated artistic participation in politics but through a model predicated on a belief in art’s autonomy, offers both a point of departure and a point of return to reclaim the public sphere, a domain co-opted by the commercial interests of the global art market and/or the dominant narratives of the nationalist state and the church in Armenia. This potential for reclamation emerges, however, not because the avant-garde in Armenia abandons utopia, but precisely because it incessantly holds on to a belief in art as a utopian space. Subsequently, as with all utopias, art as utopia ultimately fails as a political project. I argue that it is through this failure in the Armenian context that we can articulate art’s potentiality to form a democratic public sphere. To this end, I introduce some of the gaps that emerge between ACT’s stated artistic intentions and the group’s failure to realize these ends. I argue that through conceptualizing and interpreting these gaps, it is possible to articulate a relationship between the political avant-garde and the aesthetic avant-gardes in which the aesthetic avant-garde provides discourses for the political one, rather than the opposite.
I would like to specifically look at the discourses provided by the first President of Armenia after the Independence, his philology as a scientific method and the ways in which ACT over-identified its practice with this method. The question to be asked is: in what ways did neo-positivism come to serve both the discourses of the state and the aesthetic avant-garde? How did it function in the face of social chaos and total reconstruction of life after the collapse of the Soviet Union?
Istanbul 2010 Kadırga Sanat Üretim Merkezi
(Istanbul 2010 Art Production Center)
Kadırga Limanı Caddesi, No:82,
34130 Kumkapı İstanbul – Turkey
T: +90 212 516 07 12
F: +90 212 516 07 13
(Please double-click on the map to see the directions)