June 20, 2011

Art and Subjecthood – a Conference on the Return of the Human Figure in Semiocapitalism


Jutta Koether “Mad Garlands”, 2011.
Installation view, Art Basel, 2011.
Courtesy of the artist

Organized by the Institut für Kunstkritik (Isabelle Graw, Daniel Birnbaum, Nikolaus Hirsch)


Many art works today evoke the human figure: Consider the omnipresence of the mannequin in current installations of artists like John Miller, Thomas Hirschhorn, Heimo Zobernig or David Lieske. Or consider the revival of a minimalist vocabulary, which embraces anthropomorphism as in the works of Isa Genzken and Rachel Harrison. This conference seeks to speculate on the reasons as to why, since the turn of the Millennium, we have encountered so many art works that tend to reconcile Minimalism with suggestions of the human figure. It proposes that this new artistic convention becomes rather questionable when discussed in the light of Franco Beradi’s theory of semiocapitalism—a power technology that aims squarely at our human resources. The participants of this conference are asked to offer possible explanations for this wide acceptance of anthropomorphism—could it be that this is a manifestation of the increasingly desperate desire for art to have agency?


Participants: Hal Foster, Caroline Busta, Michael Sanchez, Ina Blom, Jutta Koether


Respondents: Stefan Deines, Stefanie Heraeus, Magdalena Nieslony, Oliver Brokel


The conference is part of the project “Art and Life” and made possible by Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain




Art and Subjecthood
The Return of the Human Figure in Semiocapitalism


Friday, the 1st of July


3 pm Welcome (Nikolaus Hirsch)
3.30 pm Introduction Isabelle Graw “When Objecthood turns into Subjecthood”
4 pm Hal Foster “Philosophical Toys & Psychoanalytical Travesties: Dolls, Puppets & Mannequins in the 1920s”
5 pm Caroline Busta 
”Body Doubles”
6 pm Michael Sanchez  “Behavioral: Some Thoughts on Art Under Network Capitalism”
7 pm Ina Blom 
”Media Animism. Rachel Harrison’s Living Images”
8 pm Jutta Koether “Mad Garlands”


Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Kuenste – Staedelschule
Duererstraße 10
D-60596 Frankfurt am Main
+49 (0) 69 60 50 08-0
+49 (0) 69 60 50 08-66


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or contact: [email protected]


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