An obsessive preoccupation with the archive pervades the arts, criticism, and curatorial practice. In everyday life, digital data storage has turned contemporary users into potential archivists, taxonomists, and collectors, relying on cloud services and social media networks as storage places for the safekeeping, sharing, and manipulation of even the most intimate facts and images of their lives. But the same technologies inspire a widespread archive dysphoria: an exhaustive melancholic state that fuels the current efforts for ‘impossible archives’, that is, counter-archives that question the idea of an all-encompassing repository of personal and collective information and knowledge.
The conversation will focus on archives and collections in contemporary art and takes its cue from the recent publication of Cristina Baldacci’s Impossible Archives: An Obsession of Contemporary Art (Italian edition, 2016). Carles Guerra is the Director of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona. He holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona and a Master in Media Studies from The New School for Social Research, New York. He served as Director for the Primavera Fotogràfica de Catalunya (2004), the Virreina. Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona (2009-2011), and was Chief Curator of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2011-2013). Among his curatorial projects, Harun Farocki: Mit anderen Mitteln – By Other Means (with Antje Ehmann, 2017), and 1979. A Monument to Radical Moments (2011). His work and research investigate the dialogical aspects of artistic practice and the cultural policies of post-Fordism.
Ina Steiner is a photographer who works in the fields of architecture, politics, and fashion. She was part of the Allan Sekula research project at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (M HKA). She was Allan Sekula’s assistant during the last decade of his life and helped prepare his show at documenta XII. Since 2012 she has taken care of his archive and arranged a number of exhibitions and publications.Carles Guerra and Ina Steiner, Impossible Archives, Infinite Collections, discussion, lecture, ICI Berlin, 19 October 2017, video recording, mp4, 37:42 <https://doi.org/10.25620/e171019>
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.Experimental Humanities, discussion, lecture, ICI Berlin, 14 November 2019 <https://doi.org/10.25620/e191114>
The phenomena he pointed out — the mechanisms that underlie anti-Semitism, the psychic effects of authoritarianism, the porosity between capitalism and fascism, the loss of a recipient for the critique produced by the workers’ movement — are highly relevant today. This is probably the reason why — without necessarily recalling Adornos’ work in detail — several analysts refer to his writings when they evoke the current transformations of democracy (the election of Trump, populism, illiberalism). To this extent, it may be interesting to return to Adorno’s research on the authoritarian personality in order to re-examine and update it. The purpose of this reconsideration is to produce new descriptions and analyses of authoritarianism, and to initiate a critical review of The Authoritarian Personality.
Peter E. Gordon is the Amabel B. James Professor of History, faculty affilitate in the Departments of Germanic Languages and Literatures and of Philosophy at Harvard University. His areas of research are in Continental philosophy and social thought in Germany and France in the late-modern era, with an emphasis on critical theory, Western Marxism, the Frankfurt School, phenomenology, and existentialism. He has published Rosenzweig and Heidegger: Between Judaism and German Philosophy (2003), Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (2010), Adorno and Existence (2016). He has also co-authored Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory with Wendy Brown and Max Pensky (2018). Earlier this year, he gave the Adorno Lectures at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt on ‘Adorno and the Sources of Normativity’. He wrote the introduction for the new edition of Adorno et al, The Authoritarian Personality (2019). His next book is Migrants in the Profane: Critical Theory and the Question of Secularization (forthcoming).Peter E. Gordon, Between Realism and Utopia: Reflections on Adorno and ’The Authoritarian Personality’, discussion, lecture, ICI Berlin, 11 December 2019, video recording, mp4, 01:11:52 <https://doi.org/10.25620/e191211>