Theorem 4. Aesthetic Agency and the Practices of Autonomy
Part II: Der Prozess / The Trial
Invitiation card for the exhibition. Still from Orson Wellesâ€™ The Trial, 1962. Graphic design: code flow.
A group exhibition with Robert Estermann, Jakob Jakobsen, Lara Jaydha, Jso Maeder, Aya Momose, Saman Anabel Sarabi & Josefine Reisch
curated by Dimitrina Sevova and Alan Roth,
co-curated by Miwa Negoro and Swati Prasad.
Opening: 24 February 2017, 19:00h
Opening Hours / Öffnungszeiten
Wed/Fri 15:00h – 18:00h
Thu 16:00h – 19:00h
Saturday, 25 February 2017, 17:00h (doors open 16:30h)
17:00h Screening and artist talk by Aya Momose, followed by a discussion between Aya Momose, Miwa Negoro and the audience.
Japanese artist Aya Momose will screen Exchange Diary (2015-; 48 min), made in collaboration with Korean artist Im Heung-soon.
19:00h Discussion between the artists Robert Estermann, Jakob Jakobsen, Jso Maeder, Saman Anabel Sarabi & Josefine Reisch and the curators Dimitrina Sevova and Alan Roth.
Thursday, 2 March, 19:00h
Screening of The Judgment, video by Kosta Tonev, and discussion with the artist.
Saturdays, 4 and 11 March, 14:00h
INTERMEZZO (locus solus), in which the audience is invited to a public visit of Jso Maeder's storage to select a few wrapped pieces or parts of installations, based on their wrapped shape, without seeing them. They will then be transported to Corner College for a public mis a nu par un objet.
14.00h: Meet at Bhf. Oerlikon, bus stop 62 direction “Schwamendingerplatz”, or
14.15h: Werkerei Schwamendingen, Luegislandstr. 105, 8051 ZH (Eingang Halle)
17.30h: Corner College (le public mis a nu par un objet)
Sunday, 19 March, 16:00h
Celebrating high times on a Sunday afternoon with a small reading out of the book Josefine, a special high time music set, some tea and gin. high times at Corner College: http://www.hightimepublishers.com
“The machine has to be rediscovered under the sensibility which is no more than a theatrical effect of it.” (Jean-François Lyotard) 1
“Someone must have traduced Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.” Despite that “K. claims to be innocent and doesn’t even know the Law,” he has been convicted.
The novel Der Prozess by Franz Kafka is appropriated for the title and gives the direction of the second part of the exhibition project Theorem 4. Aesthetic Agency and the Practices of Autonomy. Written between 1914 and 1915, it pulls the reader into a maze of ambiguous biopower entity control by a remote authority, where the nature of the crime is never revealed to either the character Josef K. or the reader. The world is subject to rules and obeys laws – there is order in this world, and knowledge of this world comes by knowledge of its ‘law,’ as Isaac Newton might have said. At the same time, it is haunted by a radical instability. Laws can change. They can be valid for a time but not eternally. The novel remained uncompleted, in a state of ever incompleteness, which turns out to be a concept. Some lines cross over between The Trial and In the Penal Colony, a short story written in October 1914 and published 1919, which describes a sophisticated machine, a device of torture and execution that carves the sentence on the skin of the condemned prisoner before letting him die, all in the course of twelve hours. Kafka, who himself studied law and performed an obligatory year of unpaid service as a law clerk for the civil and criminal courts, was obsessed with the system of justification and the process of justice, of law and aesthetics.
“Baumgarten published his Aesthetica, the first aesthetics, in 1750. Kant would say of this work simply that it was based on an error. Baumgarten confuses judgment, in its determinant usage, when the understanding organizes phenomena according to categories, with judgment in its reflexive usage when, in the form of feeling, it relates to the indeterminate relationship between the faculties of the judging subject.” (Lyotard)
The flashing K-function in the middle is a micro intra-process of reflective actions in a pre-reflexive impersonal consciousness – the real(ity) of virtuality, the power to affect and to be affected, what Deleuze defines to be a theater without a stage. There is no personal inputs by the actors, who do not embody characters, but are only masks behind which there is nothing, just another mask. Their performance of repetitive clothing veils the plane, and is the collective acting of the three avatars Percept, Affect, Concept, which constitute the forces of individuation and the positive estrangement or displacement that clothe the event and transform it.
In Hegel’s negative dialectics, they are Abstract, Negative, Concrete, or Immediate, Mediated, Concrete. In Deleuze, they are transformed into the positive affirmation of No! The immanence evokes the masks and hiding, crime, and the false (the fancy, or funky). The politics of justice, which is not only in the ethical but also in the aesthetic domain, deals with the distribution of force between the layers of violence and control.
The exhibition tests the ‘other’ logic of Labor of negativity (Hegel), which resonates in Karl Marx’s Theories of Surplus Value, in which he constructs the notion of an “other” to “consciousness” or an “other” to “productive” labor as the case may be. The ability of labor to recognize itself in terms of its own otherness, or to ‘create a void in front of themselves.’ (Althusser) Only in the void can solidarity become concrete. There is a striking proximity between the theory of surplus value and the aesthetic sublime, that in the economy of translation comes even closer the politics, aesthetics and economics.
Excerpts from the curatorial text by Dimitrina Sevova, in collaboration with Alan Roth.
We also refer you to the first section of the curatorial text for Part I of this exhibition project, which applies to both chapters.
Out of the Fog
2016. Video, HD, 20′35″, looped.
I let the rider ride. I set up a spectacle („I“ not being a less speculative claim than „spectacle“). Everywhere (prism-like), are uncounted drum-like cylinders (to use an image) with reflecting surfaces autonomically revolving around themselves, deflecting the light from all the other cylinders. The wobbling „man with the movie camera“ is just one of these revolving cylinders in this beach-scape. There is no relationship between them – none. Out of the fog is being recorded just after sunrise. Coming out from the cold into the warm, the glasses of the camera are foggy when starting recording. During the video, the fog on the glasses is slowly fading away. Speaking of revolving cylinders, the earlier work Distant Riders consists of a larger-than-life model of a zoetrope, a revolving cylinder with vertical slices on it, one of the first cinematographic devices.
„In this larger-than-life zoetrope, the individual riders merge, so to speak, into a single rider. The landscape in the background of the nine photographs also seems to coalesce into a hyper-landscape. The background does not refer to a concrete geography more closely defined in temporal and spatial terms, but is rather the visual correspondence of a more diffuse kind of “beach-likeness” with a heavily metaphorical element: distance, culturally protected zone, state of emergency. Once again we are dealing not with a literally political discourse - for which read sexually reformist, generally “liberationist” – although it is also possible to discern an atmosphere of this kind in Distant Riders. This atmosphere is produced by the hallucinatory effect of the signifiers of the 1970s which Estermann is quoting here, apparent in the slightly voyeuristic gaze with which the riders enter the field of vision. One consequence of this hallucinatory treatment of signs may be that another context interposes itself over the sexually reformist and generally “liberationist” discourse of the 1970s: the question of the economic, political or even erotic relationship between humans and animals. But how does this theme arise, when it is neither formulated as an ethical programme nor idealised as a mythical unity from the past? As has already been discussed, the slight sexualisation of the motif of the girl rider is too faint to locate the sequence of images in the sphere of the obscene, let alone the perverse. And the atmosphere of the images, with their location in a distant, undefined coastal zone is too restrained to be subjected to a moral discourse. One key may be the landscape. Its significance as a trope may be better understood if we compare it with the function of the scenic refuge zone commonly featured in dystopias: usually this is portrayed as a zone contrasting with the civilised space, which is why it is depicted alternately as an inaccessible desert far from city life, as in Brave New World, as a hidden, protected forest at the end of the last railway line as in Fahrenheit 451, or as a distant coastal zone as in Distant Riders. This counter-world is rich in sensations and full of sensual freshness (in Fahrenheit 451, this is represented by the constant light snowfall in the protected zone of the forest). But as it is freed from the everyday, and its inhabitants are often in a kind of temporally and/or culturally exceptional condition, there is always something unreal – phantasmatic – about the counter-world. This makes its psychological function all the more important: it allows the citizens to experience sensomotoric renewal or even awakening (as opposed to social anaesthesia), psychical continuity (as opposed to schizoid fragmentation), and develop ethical care (as opposed to moral cynicism).“
Excerpt from: Improper Thinking by Daniel Kurjakovic
in: Robert Estermann, Pleasure, Habeas Corpus, Motoricity. The Great Western Possible, ed. Susanne Neubauer, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Museum of Art Lucerne, edition fink, Zurich, 2007, ISBN 978-3-03746-105-1
2015, two artist’s newspapers, concept with Georg Rutishauser, Edition Fink, Zürich.
Antiknow Scene 2. The Body Event (Plumbing). On improvisation, unlearning and antiknow
2013-2017. Work-papers from the Antiknow Research Group and one speaker playing unskilled music. From Antiknow. A pedagogical theatre of unlearning and the limits of knowledge. Directed by Jakob Jakobsen.
The installation Antiknow is a collective effort into unlearning and nonknowledge as critical strategies. This, in a time where institutional and frozen forms of knowledge and learning shaped by economic forces increasingly characterise education and society in general. The term ‘Antiknow’ was originally introduced by John Latham as his course title for the Antiuniversity of London in 1968. It is doubtful whether this course ever took place.
During his six-month residency at Flat Time House, starting in April 2013, visual artist Jakob Jakobsen engaged in elaborating possible meanings and consequences of the term Antiknow in the current context of so-called knowledge economy. Jakobsen set up the Antiknow Research Group, involving young artists from FTHo’s MFI Graduate Group as well as a number of artists, writers and therapists with whom Jakob has collaborated for many years. This led to a series of meetings focusing on Antiknow in relation to work, politics, art and resistance. Marina Vishmidt, Maria Berrios, Howard Slater and John Cunningham were invited to reflect on specific themes within these fields of social practice. Also involved in the group were John Hill, Mary Vettise, Henrik Heinonen, Claire Louise Staunton, Katriona Beales, Mohammad Namazi, Danny Hayward, amongst other incidental participants.
This installation is one of the consequences of Antiknow and involves experiments into drama for non-actors, unskilled music and free drawing. The installation refers to FTHo as a ready-made stage, using as a point of departure the anthropomorphic scheme that John Latham proposed for the building, where each room is dedicated to a specific part of the body: The Mind, The Brain, The Body Event (Plumbing), and the Hand. In the space, a mechanical theatre was developed. The various themes investigated by the Antiknow Research Group are presented as a drama (or anti-drama) between sets of loudspeakers and synchronised lighting. The scripts have been produced collectively using transcriptions of the Antiknow Research Group meetings. The improvised/unskilled music is produced together with Paul Abbott and Gabriel Humberstone.
Broken and open
2017. Moving Image | A series of digital collages (work in progress)
We reach out for a real connection to stay afloat in a sea of submerged emotions. From a deep sense of longing for connection, comes the desire to open and share parts of ourselves. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable and in doing so realize the fragility of our existence. There is an attempt to hold on to the present but everything keeps slipping away. Endings are often unresolved.
This existential truth is terrifying but at the same time, I find there is a sense of beauty and calm in it. I am interested in exploring how we perceive the idea of fragility and its association with gender, form and stereotypes. Why is it looked at a sign of weakness? How can we change this notion? Can we look at it without judgment? Could it symbolize a source of inner strength?
INTERMEZZO (locus solus)
2017. Two visits to the artist's storage, on 4 and 11 March 2017. Public mis a nu par un objet.
2017. Video installation.
B°N-BATTERIE. amuse-um/TRICKSTER’S TANK
„We are getting rid of ownership“ - John Cage, „Silence“
The trickster, showing up like sort of keeper of the gap as far as he widens out a line normally/normatively marking a dualities’ explicit distinction/discrimination, that appearingly determines and legitimises a difference between two positions like also hierarchic classification (true/contingent, active/passive, dominant/submitted to etc.), to a proper area in between (thus: a gap), compromising/corrupting these positions and so far the ‚system’ of segregations establishing them as obligatory rules valid by its law/language.
Therefore, like a dissimilation by not correctly choosing a position but taking the gap, the trickster breaks the dialectic matrix of a historiography basically reflecting differences as functions of volition and, by consequence, a notion of rationalism of decision making character, whose logics always justify that some corpus has/is to rule: a fix scheme of continiouity or change in an antagonistic scenario, succession or revolving replacement regarding dominant positions as given by an abstract order within rulers/winners and victims/loosers (reproduced in terms of ‚culture & science‘ by modern disciplinarity in theory like economics as a referential construction of social efficiency). So an agent provocateur, if on purpose or not, disobidient and without respect in a way of not reaching any given part in such dispositions, one hardly can localise the trickster’s ambitions or motivations.
Like an analog concept of dis-sense and an incongruousness under that aspect of being regardless of culturally prevalent principles/the institution’s régimentality, his trouble making behaviour/inter-actement is morelike similar to a setting/display like the one of bricolage’s (a way of disobidience in/through matters of knowledge in comparison to the ingenieur/professional standards): what is brought together/assembled and taking place in a combination, is not functionally predefined by controlling instances nor can consequently become conclusion of this kind - there’s more the occasion/opportunity than a goal in the bricoleurs parapractice, a non-repetitve making of also temporally, not a stepwise efficient development from a to b, or a specific sense that predetermines logically the actions, which also and finally means that they remain conflicting as they cannot automatically be assumed as useful being connected with an intentionally positive assertion.
Text: Jso Maeder
2015. Video, HD, 7′16″, looped.
Employing theatrical techniques, Momose often depicts situations in which voices and bodies diverge, or departures from stated intentions, to generate new shades of meaning. In this work, in the bottom of the screen, there is a Japanese written with a roman character / pronunciation and English translation distorted as an “(fictional) Educational Video for Japanese Language Learners”. The sign language is false after all, the definition and the context which the gesture and the voice (sound) sends becomes separated eventually. The separation is suddenly broad between the expression on her face and the voice, and the parole subjective becomes ambiguity / multiple. Here, there’s a fight for ethnicity and the language, between the sorrow and the grievously of the oppressed / enforced, and the cruelty and deception by the oppressing / enforcing. Beyond its non-expression mask, there’s an alternation theater made by their change of the voice’s intonation.
To Cuddle a Goat, a Poor Grammar Exercise
2016. Single channel video, HD, 13′50″.
Distinguished by its adroit ability to overturn the link between voice and body, Momose’s works have dealt with misunderstandings and discrepancies associated with communication, and reversals in the relationship. In the recent work, To Cuddle a Goat, a Poor Grammar Exercise, which includes scenes filmed in Mongolia, she explores different approach to the previous, and expresses the ambiguous nature of its subjects and the uncertainty of relationships with others. The work implies the oppressed subjects and bodies in the history beyond any boundaries.
Saman Anabel Sarabi & Josefine Reisch
How to sing in the midst of the capitalization of art: the desirable table of Josefine. An orientation device
2017. Installation, table, cloth.
Saman Anabel Sarabi and Josefine Reisch have drafted their own orientation device to orient themselves through the cliffs and institutions, waters and archives, mountains and walls, cities and channels, forests and schools, - finally through the horizontalities and flatnesses of 2017. Extending, stretching and flipping the semi-autobiographical short story of Franz Kafka titled Josefine die Sängerin oder das Volk der Mäuse they use their rather specific orientation device to articulate questions on the autonomy of art in our time within which the capitalization of art has been already fully articulated. Through the perspective and voice of Josefine and with the help of her device they will put urgent questions on the table in the near future, starting at Corner College on 24 February 2017.