Sovereign aesthetics, aesthetics of sovereignty, the power of the image, the poverty of the image, the state of exception, the real exception to the image –Arne De Boever’s new work on art history’s contribution to the philosophy of sovereignty invigorates and severs the too easily assumed connections between Walter Benjamin and Susan Sontag that organize contemporary discourses of image politics. Join us for a workshop with Professor De Boever Tuesday 17 March, 5pm, generously hosted by our collaborator Gallery 400. Reading circulated in advance; request it here.
This article deals with the afterlife of Walter Benjamin’s comments on the state of exception—specifically, his distinction between the state of exception and what he calls a “real” state of exception that would dismantle the former–in Susan Sontag and Hito Steyerl’s theories of the image. It argues, first, that Sontag’s theory of the image, while conceived in Benjamin’s wake, insists on the reality of an outside-image that always risks to create new states of exception. While Steyerl, also working after Benjamin, goes a long way towards dismantling this risk, she too recreates it in her casting of the unreal people in spam images as those who will do the dirty work of imaging for us so that we, the real people, can withdraw from representation. This logic of substitution, which does not change what Steyerl in her work diagnoses as the “exceptional” conditions of contemporary imaging, does not succeed in bringing about the real state of exception that Benjamin called for. For this, the logic of substitution would need to be abandoned. Benjamin himself suggested this in his discussion of strike in his essay “Critique of Violence”. After the strike, Benjamin argues, it is us—i.e., not someone else—who go back to work. But the work has been “wholly transformed”.
Be on the lookout for another Rancière session soon; as always, drop us a line to propose events; and for now, here’s what’s
on our calendar:
2 March, Atmospheres
3 March, Charles Palermo,Photography and Modernism
5 March, Adam Kotsko, Creepiness
5-8 March, Narrative theory conference in Chicago
“There exists a specific sensory experience that holds the promise of both a new world of Art and a new life for individuals and the community, namely, the Aesthetic.” – Jacques Rancière, Dissensus.
InterCcECT is pleased to announce two upcoming events aimed at warming up winter with some fiery thinking on aesthetics and politics.
First, 16 Feb, join us for a Rancière reading group. We will focus on two chapters that encapsulate his project of the past decade, “The Aesthetic Revolution and Its Outcomes” & “The Paradoxes of Political Art.” 4:30-6:00pm at The Map Room, 1949 N Hoyne Ave (Blue Line Western; Damen, Armitage, Western, and Milwaukee buses). Contact us for readings.
Second, 17 March, we’ll host a workshop on contemporary theory with visiting critic Arne De Boever. The workshop is generously co-sponsored by Gallery 400; meet us there at 5pm.
Till then, a few highlights around town:
6 Feb, Elizabeth Freeman, Sex in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
12 Feb, Sector 22337, “Everything is Still Really Interesting”
19 Feb, Glenda Carpio, On Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety, or The Marvelous Sugar Baby”
6 March, Adam Kotsko, “Creepiness”
From systems theory to object oriented ontology, the post-human to the multitude, empiricism and its latent historicism underlie the most orthodox (and most contentious) questions and methods in the humanities today. In Historicity and Holism, Joshua Kates plumbs the depths of this radical empiricism, proffering an experimental absolutism as its most resourceful alternative. InterCcECT is delighted to host a mini-seminar with Professor Kates, focusing on “Radical Empiricism Revisited,” an excerpt from that project.
Join us Friday 22 November, 3pm, at our frequent host The Newberry Library, room B-91.
Contact us to request the reading.
“Radical Empiricism Revisited” stages a major invention in contemporary theory, by grouping together work around Deleuze, Latour, Luhmann and others as a form of empiricism inflected by Kant, and contrasting this to a more innovative and experimental relation to the absolute found in Derrida and the early Foucault. My treatment is an outgrowth of possibilities opened up by my current project, Historicity and Holism (parts of which have appeared or about to appear in differences and diacritics), as well as those I explored in my previous two books on Derrida and phenomenology, history of science, and philosophy of language.
As always, write us to propose or announce events, check out our calendar for recommendations like Hegel’s Critique of Kant
and Forms of Fiction: The Novel in English, and connect with us on Facebook for frequent links and commentary.