May 25, 2005



May 30, 7pm

Place: Städelmuseum, Gartensaal, Dürerstrasse 2

image: Giorgio Agamben in “The Gospel According to St. Matthew,” directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964



Lecture by Giorgio Agamben: “Oikonomia: The Theological Paradigm of Government”

In recent years Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has established himself as one of the world’s most significant political thinkers. His recent studies of bio-politics develop new theoretical tools for analyzing the political situation of today. In books such as Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (1998), Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (2002), and State of Exception (2005), he explores legal, philosophical, literary, and political themes in an attempt to develop a new understanding of the concepts of life and power. Drawing on sources as different as Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Martin Heidegger, and Carl Schmitt, his writings also question the foundation of the concepts of authority in sovereignty in today’s globalized world.

Agamben has emerged as an important public intellectual. In a famous article published in January of 2004 in Le Monde he explained his reasons for refusing to return to NYU to teach that year: “A few years ago I wrote that the political model of the West is not the city but the concentration camp, not Athens but Auschwitz. That was, of course, a philosophical, not a historical thesis. This is not about mixing phenomena that must be separated. I only want to remind readers that the tattooing in Auschwitz possibly appeared as ‘normal’ and economic in order to regulate the admission of the deportees in the camp. The bio-political tattooing, which we are forced to undergo today in order to enter the United States, is a relay race to what we could tomorrow accept as the normal registration of the identity of the good citizen considering the mechanisms and machinery of state.”

Agamben’s Frankfurt lecture is a collaboration between the Institute for Art Criticism at the Städelschule and the Institut für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literturwissenschaft at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität.

The Institute for Art Criticism was founded in the summer 2003 by Daniel Birnbaum, Rector of the Städelschule, and Isabelle Graw, Professor for art theory. It focuses on the practice of criticism and its relationship to other disciplines. The institute regularly invites art historians, critics, and philosophers — most recently Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Yve-Alain Bois, and Michael Fried. The complex relationship between criticism and artistic practice is particularly relevant to the Städelschule, well-known for its experimentally inclined students.

Staatliche Hochschule fuer Bildende Kuenste-Staedelschule

Duererstrasse 10

D-60596 Frankfurt am Main

Tel 49 (0) 69 60 50 08-0

Fax 49 (0) 69 60 50 08-66

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