Under the negatively reparative banner «Un-like», a special series of events has been developed with Ed Atkins to coincide with his exhibition at Kunsthalle Zurich. Artist talks, surrogate performances, scholarly presentations, literary interventions, philosophical debates and karaoke will seek to inquire after the technological and mediatis- ed condition of so much contemporary life, love and death.
Privileging an idiosyncratic and personal approach to such vast themes, «Un-like» will attest to something of the irrecuperable in experience of manifestly contemporary life and its innumerable mediating and mediatising appa- ratuses. What and where are the limits of our self-imagery; how might our relationships with one-another and the world at large, be extended rather than retarded by those objects, devices and ideas that interpellate us?
The title might best be understood as a term to antagonise the ubiquitous blandishments of easy affirmation as the only adherence. A ‘like’ of cool disaffection; the absence of a means of expressing ‘dislike’ (literally, in the case of Facebook, whose ‘like’ button conspicuously lacks its opposite: the only option being to affirm); a ‘like’ of see- ming political apathy and pseudo, ‘alike’ individuation.
This symposium begins with LOVE.
The feeling and fetish, dysmorphia and desire, intimacy or immediacy, anonymity, sex – looking in from recent reflections on ontology and singularity; incorporating – and maybe coupling – two of the more predominant ways of thinking of love: emotion and consequence. With regard to relationships of rejection and responsibility, it might appear an unlikely task: to manifest a space for dissensus in love within a technologically incumbent, mediatised life. That is, the imaginary of a culture that affirms the failure of experience – and at the same time still believing in the possibility of love eluding however high-tech the recuperative apparatus. An attempt at an ontology of us, the personal, human, social.
Ed Atkins will introduce the session with a personal insight into the subject in direct relation to his exhibition. Metaphysical poetry will be presented in a corporeal light, as a meeting point between poetic possibility and material, mortal reality; a site of love and the apex of his practice.
Italian philosopher Mario Perniola will present a talk on love and hospitality, taking in the revealing etymological roots between ‘like’ and ‘love’, their common insufficiencies. ‘Hospitality’, instead, will be presented as a term that might be better suited to the immensely complex task of properly describing, in all its convolutions and con- ventions, contemporary ‘loving’ relations. ‘Hospitality’ to include praise, complimentarity, free-of-charge, ritual and social convention, reciprocity, obligation, submission and domination. It is also a context that is conspicuously destabilised by technology, particularly in the consistent understanding of the host and guest, the power struc- tures both implicit and explicitly propounded online through figurations of users, moderators, fans, followers, etc. Author of, among other seminal works, ‘The Sex Appeal of the Inorganic’, Perniola’s philosophies cleave close and tear free of both the academy and art’s understandings of objecthood, affection, desire. Following his presentati- on, he will be in conversation with Ed Atkins concerning hospitality, love and art.
Love provides a rather red thread also in the work and thought of Felix Ensslin, the German philosopher, writer, dramaturge, director, and curator. From the perspective of cultural critique and a praxis rooted in the performing arts, as recently reflected in the publication „Between two Deaths“ (2007), Ensslin's talk for this symposium will scrutinize the socio-political meaning of love: Love in the West, split not unlike the subject itself, into Eros and Caritas; a task consigned to the bourgeois to unite disposition and duty; inherited by anti-bourgeois fantasies of compliance and liberty. Inspite or because of its longue duree love remains under-termined, prone to irony – and yet a peristent horizon to all questions crucial. Sex and love, the impossible couple, revolving pleasure. „Sha- me“ and „Nymphomaniac“ are two recent attempts in film that will serve as a backdrop to Felix Ensslin posing the question of what psychoanalysis might be able to contribute to the matter. The talk will conclude with a round of questions (and some answers too), moderated by Julia Moritz.
The artist Peter Wächtler will read his new short story, ‘Naki’, to end proceedings, accompanied by new dra- wings. ‘Naki’ is a love story about a samurai and a cobbler that plots love’s manifestations, failures and hopes in Wächtler’s unique tenor. Love materialised and figured, brutal and brutal; its intertwining with power, authority; its contrary, simultaneous motions that provide its combative milieu of hassliebe. Wächtler’s work, as recently published under the title "Come on" (2014), exists at a pole of a literary tradition whose antecedents might inclu- de Goethe, Kierkegaard – the bildungsroman more generically. His works span drawings, animations and sculp- tures, much of which seems to loiter between theatrical prop, set or allegorical vestige. Literature, narrative and its fundamental critique links love through Wächtler’s singular subject and moving voice.
Other contributions to LOVE include the appearance of poems by Quinn Latimer, some screening of moving image, and a deliberately delayed response by Zurich based artist Asia Andrzejka Naveen. «Un-like» will conti- nue with two more subjects on two more Saturdays:
«Un-like» Part 2 DEATH, Saturday, 29 March «Un-like» Part 3 WORDS, Saturday, 26 April