This event proposed literality as a way of naming this ‘it’, or as a way of unnaming the divisions according to which ‘it’ is divided. To refuse such division is to insist on the identity between reality and language, and between philosophy and literature. Literality refuses the theoretical choice between the limitation of language and the renewal of realism, between metaphorical erasure and referential location. It refuses them by interrupting – literally – their work, by insisting on itself.
Manifesto by Daniel C. Barber and Alice Gavin
The Literality Manifesto; or, Keep it Real
Talk by Tom McCarthy
Get Real; or, What Jellyfish Have to Tell Us about Literature
Tom McCarthy is a writer and artist whose work has been translated into more than twenty languages. His first novel, Remainder, which deals with questions of trauma and repetition, won the 2008 Believer Book Award and is currently being adapted for cinema. His third, C, which explores the relationship between melancholia and technological media, was a finalist in the 2010 Booker Prize. McCarthy is also author of the non-fiction book Tintin and the Secret of Literature and the novel Men in Space, as well as numerous essays that have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The London Review of Books, Harper’s, and Artforum. In addition, he is founder and General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network of writers, philosophers, and artists. In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction by Yale University.
Daniel Colucciello Barber is a fellow at the ICI Berlin. He is the author of Deleuze and the Naming of God: Post-Secularism and the Future of Immanence (2014) and On Diaspora: Christianity, Religion, and Secularity (2011), as well as contributing co-author of Dark Nights of the Universe (2013). His work, which has appeared in various journals and volumes, is presently focused on the idea of conversion.
Alice Gavin is a fellow at the ICI Berlin. Her work has been published in Textual Practice and Critical Quarterly, while Our Tale Was True, Our Tale Was A Lie, co-authored with Nahal Naficy, is forthcoming in the Dead Letter Office imprint of Punctum Books. Her first monograph (also forthcoming) concerns early twentieth-century literature and silent film.
The conversation between Jafari S. Allen und Serena O. Dankwa explored different Black postcolonial sites in which desires for (erotic) power, friendship, and intimacy are being negotiated. Both Dankwa’s research into the everyday materiality and provisionality of female same-sex intimacy in Ghana and Allen’s work on transnational Black desires for political empowerment and autonomy transcend analytical boundaries between friendship and sexuality, between scholarship, art, and activism. While considering intimate connections and disconnections across the ‘Black world’, this conversation sought to understand the intertwinement of various forms of struggle and sociality.
Jafari S. Allen is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology. He works at the intersections of (queer) sexuality, gender, and blackness, and teaches courses on the cultural politics of race, sexuality, and gender in Black diasporas; Black feminist and queer theory. Allen is the author of ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-Making in Cuba (Duke UP, 2011) and editor of Black/Queer/Diaspora – a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (18:2-3, 2012).
Serena O. Dankwa earned her PhD from the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Berne. Specialized in the study of gender and sexuality in West Africa, her doctoral project focused on practices of female friendship and same-sex intimacy in postcolonial Ghana. In 2010-2011, she was the Sarah Pettit Fellow in LGBT Studies at Yale University. Besides her academic work, she freelances as a music journalist and broadcaster with SRF2 Kultur.
Damir Arsenijević is a literary theorist and psychoanalyst in training, working and practicing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a founder of the art-theory group ‘Jokes, War, and Genocide’ and his artistic and theoretical interventions are located at the intersection of art, academia, and activism.
Omer Fast is a video artist based in Berlin. He holds an MFA from Hunter College, City University of New York. Much of his work delves into the psychology of contemporary trauma, often relying on the blurring of memory, retelling actual events deploying cinematic conventions.
Kasia Fudakowski studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University. Since moving to Berlin in 2006, her work has developed in a multidisciplinary way that incorporates sculpture, film, writing, and performance.
Abdessamad el Montassir is artist-researcher affiliated with the advanced research institute IMéRA in Marseilles, France. Born in Boujdour, Sahara (southwestern Morocco), he uses the places of his childhood as a starting point for rethinking histories with reference to collective memories, fictions, and non-material archives.
Moderated by Stéphanie Benzaquen-Gautier and Afonso Dias Ramos
Error 400 – Bad Request: Authorship, Authority, Authenticity in the Experimental Setup
The model of the experiment often comes with the imagined attributes of neutrality and openness, particularly made glamorous by the promise of failure. Ideas of replication, verification, and scalability further reinforce the idea of the experiment as a pure form of knowledge production that can be constructed and repeated as a universal given, thus offering a truth that can be evidenced. Shah proposes that experimental setups depend upon the political, contested, and exclusionary constructions of authorship, authority, and authenticity, which are hidden in the description of the experimental setup. Looking at a postcolonial feminist history of digital technologies, computational networks, and cybernetics, this talk will dismantle the experimental setup by looking at the conditions of asking questions and the need to expand the idea of the experiment beyond the logistics of apparatus, process, and replication.
Nishant Shah is the Vice-President of Research at ArtEZ University of the Arts and a research mentor with the Hivos Foundation’s ‘Digital Earth’ programme. His current preoccupation is with questions of ‘aesthetic warfare’ that examine digital technologies, informational networks, and design practices that shape current post-truth moments and their implications for social justice and human rights interventions.
Lines of Sight: Excursions in Seeing, Feeling, and Knowing
The talk examines the use of historical reenactment, virtual reality (VR), machine learning, and big data in the production of knowledge about the past. Dealing with museum and art exhibits and documentary shorts such as Nazi VR and Triple Chaser, Agnew examines the ways in which new technologies are marshalled and older ones repurposed in order to gather and present compelling historical evidence. Against this backdrop, the talk asks what space remains for interpretation and the articulation of feeling. Is history’s ‘affective turn’ in the process of being superseded?
Vanessa Agnew is a professor of English at the University of Duisburg-Essen and senior fellow at the Australian National University. Her Enlightenment Orpheus: The Power of Music in Other Worlds (2008) won the Oscar Kenshur Prize for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the American Musicological Society’s Lewis Lockwood Award. She co-organizes the Critical Thinking programme of the Academy in Exile, which provides fellowships for scholars-at-risk.
From Source to Poem, 2016
35mm film, colour, optical sound, 12’
From Source to Poem shifts focus from artworks (in her previous works on museum storages) into archival storage. Shot at the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center of the Library of Congress in Culpeper, Virginia, and at an enormous solar power plant in California, it juxtaposes images from the world’s largest media archive with a study of rhythm and images of cultural and industrial production. Like the temporal property of two things happening at the same time, “the interval determining the coincidence gate is adjustable.” The film exposes the preservation of cultural outputs, but also their digitisation for the future. A vast number of the archives’ holdings is sound material (audio recordings, wax discs, vinyl and LPs); a sonic memory that Barba rescues and mixes in the soundtrack as a way of setting in motion otherwise unlikely dialogues.
Rosa Barba is an artist interested in film and the ways in which it articulates space. Composition, physicality of form, and plasticity are important aspects of this articulation, but Barba also interrogates the industry of cinema with respect to various forms of mise-en-scène by taking them out of their contexts and restaging them. Her solo exhibitions include: Tate Modern, London (2010); MAXXI, Rome (2014); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge MA (2015); CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, and Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2016); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, and Malmö Konsthall, Malmö (2017). Group and large-scale exhibitions include: the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2016), and the 53rd and 56th Venice Biennale (2009 and 2015). From Source to Poem is the latest monograph on her work (Hatje Cantz, HangarBicocca, and Malmö Konsthall, 2017).
The Embassy, 2011
HD, colour, sound, 27′
(Directed, produced, photography and editing by Filipa César; written by Armando Lona and Filipa César; performed and narrated by Armando Lona; sound by Nuno da Luz; director’s Assistants: Jorge Biague and Philip Metz; supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin)
This film deals with the codes of representation used by the former Portuguese colonial administration in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau, and with modes of memory production. It shows a photo album depicting the perspective of the Portuguese colonist, who photographed landscapes, people, architecture, and monuments in Guinea-Bissau in the 1940s and 1950s, with documentary diligence and the implied violence of objectivation. Intersected by gestures of re-animation, this photo display – handled, flipped through, and re-framed by the hands of the Guinean archivist Armando Lona – is the point of departure for a critical, multi-layered narrative on the common past of these two countries.
Filipa César is an artist and filmmaker interested in fictional aspects of the documentary, the porous borders between cinema and its reception, and the politics and poetics inherent in the moving image. Since 2011, she has been looking into the origins of the cinema of the African Liberation Movement in Guinea-Bissau as a laboratory of resistance to ruling epistemologies. César premiered her first feature length essay-film Spell Reel at the Forum section of the 67th Berlinale (2017). Selected exhibitions and screenings have taken place at: 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010); Manifesta 8, Cartagena (2010); Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2011–2015); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2012); Khiasma, Paris, (2011–2015); Kunstwerke, Berlin (2013); SAAVY Contemporary, Berlin (2014–2015); Tensta konsthall, Spånga (2015); Mumok, Vienna (2016); Contour 8 Biennial, Mechelen, Gasworks, London, and MoMA, New York (2017).