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the building in april
e-flux

So what does it actually mean, “to be political”?

“Art is not what an individual mind is able to conceive, but what men, in times of change, envision in order to give themselves a future.”

The idea of the political dissident, which is linked to the idea of individuals resisting a repressive regime, has shifted into the idea of organization itself. How are information, knowledge, trade, labor, production etc. being organized? Being political is not necessarily any longer associated with the dissidence of an individual because it is often not entirely clear what this individual may rise up against, or if the means being used are not, in fact, part of the problem. I don’t believe that an artistic practice, which is ‘being political’ is about conveying a specific content. It might rather reside in a gesture. But what could this be?

We believe that the art institution can serve as a place for creating awareness. But is it really so? And if it is not, how should we approach artistic practices of writers, theater-makers, architects, engineers or media theorists, whose works exist in other realms than within the art context, but which can still clearly be described as artistic practices? Should we bring them into the art space or leave them where they are?

The evening will consist of a collage of different approaches from Eyal Sivans’ Izkor: Slaves of Memory, (1991) Santiago Sierras interventions into the infrastructures of cities, the attempt of the Radical Software Group to turn Guy Debords’ A Game of War into a computer game, we will talk about films which are supposed to exist, but which no one seems to be able to find and I will promise NOT to show Alexander Kluges’ nine-and-a-half hour long film version of Marx The Capital.

e-flux video rental (EVR) is an ongoing work by Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda, comprising a free video rental, a public screening room, and a film and video archive that is constantly growing. This collection of over 850 works of film and video art has been assembled in collaboration with more than 400 artists, curators and critics.

EVR is a poetic exploration of alternative processes of circulation and distribution, and it is structured to function like a typical video rental store, except that it operates for free. VHS tapes can be watched in the space, or, once a new member fills out a membership form and contract, they can be checked out and viewed at home. Originally presented at a storefront in New York, in 2004, EVR has traveled to art venues in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Seoul, Paris, Istanbul, Canary Islands, Austin, Budapest, Boston, Antwerp, Berlin, Miami, Lyon, Lisbon and Cali.

Every time EVR opens in a new city, local artists, curators and writers are invited to serve as selectors, choosing artists whose work is added to the collection. In addition, a special program of screenings of works from the EVR collection is part of the project.
Saturday, April 25th 4pm

Stadium X at The Building, Berlin
Live Art Projects in a Communist Ruin, a Reader and its Various Contexts

The 10th-Anniversary Stadium in Warsaw was built in 1955 from the rubble of a war-devastated capital, and was to preserve Communism’s good name for forty years. In the early 1990s it fell into ruin, being ‘revived’ by Vietnamese and Russian traders, pioneers of capitalism. Since then the Stadium and the open-air market surrounding it have become an Asian town, a primeval garden, a realm of discount shopping, a storehouse of biographies and urban legends, a spontaneous piece of Land-Art, or a work camp for archaeologists and botanists. The heterotopic logic of the place and its long-standing (non-)presence in the middle of Warsaw, inspired Joanna Warsza’s curated series of live art projects The Finissage of Stadium X and the related reader, Stadium X — A Place That Never Was (published by Ha!art and Bęc Zmiana Foundation).

A Trip to Asia: An Acoustic Walk Around the Vietnamese Sector of the 10th-Anniversary Stadium by Anna Gajewska, Joanna Warsza and Ngo Van Tuong (2006); Boniek!, a one-man re-enactment of the 1982 Poland-Belgium football match by Massimo Furlan, with commentary by Tomasz Zimoch (2007); or Radio Stadion Broadcasts by Radio Simulator and backyardradio (2008) were subjective excursions undertaken by artists into the reality of a Stadium ‘no longer extant’. The projects, of a participative and semi-documentary nature, touched upon issues of memory, deterioration, or the problematic exoticism of the place.

The afternoon seminar at The Building and in its garden will offer a selection of short, partly performed lectures, mostly by the authors in the reader, forming a multi-faceted picture of the Stadium’s deterioration, its bizarre existence as a ‘city within a city’, and the artists’ interventions. The architectural and topographic situation of the Building in Berlin — as a detached edifice with a plot of green lawn — will play a major role in the construction of the event, which will feature a live radio broadcast by backyardradio and a garden project curated by Sebastian Cichocki.

The program starts at 4 p. m.
4:00 – 5:00 p. m. backyard radio transmissions, lawn exhibition, Vietnamese garden reception
5:00 – 5:30 p. m. Dr Stefanie Peter, anthropologist, The Stadium as Stage
5:30 – 6:00 p. m. Anda Rottenberg, curator and critic
6:00 – 6:30 p. m. Joanna Warsza, curator, Laura Palmer Foundation, Finissage of Stadium X

6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Break

7:30 – 8:00 p. m. Sebastian Cichocki, curator at Warsaw MOMA, In praise of entropy
8:00 – 8:30 p. m. Warren Niesłuchowski, writer and philologist, Stadion | Spadion | Spatium: Signing-Off
8:30 – 9:00 p. m. Pit Schultz & Diana McCarty, berlin backyardradio, The Radio and The Baazar

Followed by a party in the basement, 10 PM till the last person leaves!

Stadium X — A Place That Never Was: A Reader
Edited by Joanna Warsza Contributing authors: Claire Bishop, Sebastian Cichocki, Benjamin Cope, Ewa Majewska, Pascal Nicolas-Le Strat, Warren Niesłuchowski, Marek Ostrowski, Grzegorz Piątek, Cezary Polak, Anda Rottenberg, Roland Schöny, Pit Schultz, Tomasz Stawiszyński, Stach Szabłowski, Ngô Van Tuong photos Mikołaj Długosz, Marta Pruska, Marta Orlik

Published by Ha!art and Bęc Zmiana Foundation, Warsaw and Kraków, 2008/2009

On sale in Pro QM Berlin and at the Building

Organizers: The Building, Laura Palmer Foundation, Bęc Zmiana Foundation
Partners: Polish Institute Berlin, Ha!art publishing house, Pro QM Berlin, backyard radio Berlin
This event was made possible thanks to the generous support of The German-Polish Foundation
More at: http://www.laura-palmer.pl

Wednesday April 29th 7:30pm

Jan Verwoert: Affect—in Effect: Being Touched by The Face

In search of concepts of art practice that could offer an alternative to stale theories of strategical intentionality the previous talk approached a particular form of material logic: the journey of the thing (the ‘objet petite a’, in Lacanican terms), a concatination of objects that, in the selected film examples by Antonioni or Visconti (L’Eclisse, Il Gattopardo), consistently structures the unfolding of the movie and makes the moving image move without ever really fully making sense, propelling the action without ever really fully entering into the narrative, defining the trajectory of the movie on a level of intuitive material association that exceeds, defies and punctuates the economical rationality of intentionally constructed plotlines and references.

Symptomatically, in the context of the story of material ambition and desire for social status—the story of the arriviste—told by these movies, the journey of the thing reflects this hunger for the object of desire as much as it eventually suspends it: as the thing returns to its point of departure, a sphere of sheer material nonsensicality, the symbolic sphere of status and prestige momentarily disintegrates, and the material logic of mindless creaturely jouissance, of sex, death, joy and pain prevails.

This talk will continue that train of thought, firstly by describing how Deleuze, in his cinema theory, reformulates the Lacanian notion of the journey of the thing in terms of his (rigorously anti-psychoanalytical) philosophy of material intensities–specifically in relation to his notion of the face: It is in the succession of shifting states of intensity in someone’s facial play that Deleuze traces a similar material logic of matters unfolding without necessarily making sense in any intentional way. It is a material logic of affect that, as a mode of address, brings the cinematic image to life and, while being structured and structuring, always also touches on the mindlessly creaturely, the force of being touched by affect.

To understand affect as a form of touch means to radically break with the psychological paradigm of emotional causality—i.e. of emotions residing in, being caused by and thus expressing ‘inner causes’—and instead think towards a material logic of affect in terms of intersubjective relationality—i.e. of emotions, in effect, existing as a mode of address between people out here in the world, as Wittgenstein too suggested in his Philosophical Investigations.

Taking its departure from Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) the visual exploration of what happens in faces—and how faces make things happen as a medium of address—will touch on Bas Jan Ader’s Too Sad Too Tell You (1970-71) to, via this rereading of the emotional stakes of conceptualism, then return to painting as a medium that like few others, can activate the affective potentials of the face as a medium of address by, in the wake of portrait painting, addressing, touching, that is: facing you like a face.

Jan Verwoert is an art critic based in Berlin. He is a contributing editor to Frieze magazine and also writes regularly about contemporary art for such art magazines as Afterall, Metropolis M. Teaches at the MA Fine Arts department at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam.

the building
Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a
10249 Berlin DE

phone: 030 28 04 79 73
[email protected]

http://www.e-flux.com

the building is open Thursday through Saturday, 12 – 6 pm

Image above: installation view, e-flux journal at the building, 2009

For more information go to: http://www.e-flux.com

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April 13, 2009