I am co-organizing with Dimitrina Sevova a symposium entitled The Diagrammatic Practice of the Micropolitical – the Spatio-temporal Expression of Play between Power, Knowledge and the Aesthetics of Existence at Zurich University of the Arts.

Here are all the infos:

International Public Symposium at Pfingstweidstrasse 6, 8005 Zurich, ZHdK, 14/15/16 November 2013, around the notion of play, its processual (diagrammatic) and political and aesthetic potential in times of cognitive capitalism and its mechanisms of control over life and the urban environment.

Left: "The Playground, a Vacant Lot," Hale House, Boston, Mass., c1903, Social Museum Collection, Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museum.  Middle: Seattle Potlatch Parade showing float, 1912. Right: Nuria Vila + Marcelo Expósito, Tactical Frivolity + Rhythms of Resistance, video still, 2007.

Left: "The Playground, a Vacant Lot," Hale House, Boston, Mass., c1903, Social Museum Collection, Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museum. Middle: Seattle Potlatch Parade showing float, 1912. Right: Nuria Vila + Marcelo Expósito, Tactical Frivolity + Rhythms of Resistance, video still, 2007.

SPEAKERS: Paolo Caffoni, Giusy Checola, Binna Choi, discoteca flaming star (Cristina Gómez Barrio & Wolfgang Mayer), David Dibosa, Anja Kanngieser, Maurizio Lazzarato, Isabell Lorey, m-a-u-s-e-r (Mona Mahall & Aslı Serbest), Carmen Mörsch, Daniel Morgenthaler, Roberto Nigro, Susanna Perin (S.M.U.R.), Gerald Raunig, Adrian Rifkin, Kerstin Schroedinger, Marco Scotini, Diego Segatto, Joshua Simon, Kuba Szreder, Axel Wieder, Espace Temporaire (Magdalena Ybarguen).

RESPONDENTS: Jens Badura, Christoph Brunner, Karmen Franinović, Roberto Nigro, Romy Rüegger, Dimitrina Sevova.

PERFORMANCES: Chiara Fumai, T. Melih Görgün, Michael Hiltbrunner, Franziska Koch, David Maroto.

SCREENINGS: Marcelo Expósito, Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, RELAX (chiarenza & hauser & co).

MICROPOLITICAL WORKSHOP: Wiktoria Furrer & Sebastian Dieterich in cooperation with Elke Bippus.

Throughout three intense days the symposium will be an experimental space for expressing and sharing ideas – a place for intervening, investigating and provoking collective discussions on how to re-activate play’s potentiality in urban space, considered as a playground of deskilled, affective and precarious labor.

The symposium aims at relocating the notion of play from the outdoor to the outside as an ecology and extended space for experimentation and micropolitics beyond spatial confinement. We ask how such an outside emerges through practices unfolding and altering dominant diagrams of power in urban environments. Here, playing-together involves the capacity of forces of resistance to create situations as intensive fields of affection through the micropolitics of diagrammatic practices. Both, playing bodies and the process of learning as a common, a self-productive and living knowledge, perpetuate new forms of social subjectivity and its immanent growth between power, knowledge and an aesthetics of existence.

Bringing together artists, curators, activists and thinkers from the fields of performance, art, aesthetic theory, philosophy, architecture and design, the symposium comprises talks, artistic interventions, performances and screenings.

Curated by Dimitrina Sevova and Christoph Brunner in cooperation with the Bachelor Media & Art, specialization Fine Arts of the Zurich University of the Arts, Elke Bippus, Franziska Koch.

A cooperation with Z+ ‹ http://www.zhdk.ch/zplus ›.

In conjunction with the a-disciplinary project consisting of a platform of irregular non-serial events, screenings, public readings, performances, talks, urban interventions and other ephemera, on the theme of Opportunities for Outdoor Play? Playgrounds – New Spaces of Liberty (The Question of Form) outdoorplay.tumblr.com ›, curated by Dimitrina Sevova at Kunsthof Zürich between March and October 2013 in cooperation with Elke Bippus, Franziska Koch and the Bachelor Media & Art, specialization Fine Arts of the Zurich University of the Arts.

For further information please see ‹ outdoorplay.tumblr.com › or ‹ www.kunsthof.ch .

No registration required. Admission free. Seats limited. Please be on time for each thematic bloc, performance or screening.

[The curatorial text by Dimitrina Sevova and Christoph Brunner, and all other materials, can be found on the project blog, outdoorplay.tumblr.com. And in printable layout as PDF: programabstracts and bioscuratorial text.]


I will be participating in a one-day conference at UCL London on March 2nd, 2013. The conference is based on the latest issue of Third Text (see antecedent post). The format is going to be a kind of open discussion/forum without paper presentations and more conversational developments of collective thinking around the theme of art and ecologies.

Conference abstract:

The Eco-Aesthetics conference marks the release of Third Text no. 120 (January 2013), dedicated to the subject of “Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology,” guest-edited by TJ Demos. The event will include numerous contributors to the special issue, which investigates eco-aesthetics in a postcolonial framework—from global warming in the arctic to oil industry environmental damage in Nigeria’s delta, from conflicts between mining corporations and tribals in rural India to the ecological effects of industrial development in the port of Bahia Blanca, Argentina, from urban farming in Detroit to the Occupy movement’s development of a post-media social ecology. The special issue and conference seek to link international and interdisciplinary researchers, artists, and critical theorists in order to consider the questions of how such politico-ecological developments have been recently analyzed, mediated, and negotiated within the visual cultural of art and activism.


Due to several observations throughout my (short) life at universities and all its registers, teaching, administration, research and so fort, I come to a strong disbelieve that thought is actually taken seriously in everyday modes of academic existence as ethical concern. I am using the notion of concern explicitly from Whitehead’s mediation on the Quaker concept of concern in Adventures of Ideas. For Whitehead the “occasion as a subject has a ‘concern’ for the object. And the ‘concern’ at once places the object as a component in the experience of the subject, with an affective tone drawn from this object and directed towards it” (WH (AoI) 1967, 176). A concern creates a relation in the midst of novelty emerging through a subjective form. Without concern, there would be no relation possible and without the possibility of relation as ontogenetic force there would be no event, no emergence and no becoming. This scheme of concern permeates the entire spectrum of existence, up to quantum level, and might be also thought of as that what gives experience the relevance of existence in an actual occasion.

Why do I need this notion of concern to make my point? In academia and particularly in the humanities and even more specific in fields where question of power (à la Foucault) are concerned, readers and writers try to grapple with institutional power by asking what constitutes power relations and what holds them in place. The attempt of a concern is given in the kernel of the question of power but the relevance of it is often not present. To give an example: A teacher introduces first year undergraduate students to Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. Questions of the relation between bodies, institutions, architecture and power are raised and disciplinary strategies are highlighted. The movement of thought that the text generates resonates with the students’ own experiences in a place that aims at disciplinary apparatuses, the means of correct training and the subjectiviation in institutional confinements. The teacher then employs techniques of control and discipline by means of examination, judgement and a strong believe on how to interpret the material properly. This is exactly the point where two modes of disciplinarity meet: 1) the disciplinary enclosure of proper interpretation according to a certain episteme; 2) the disciplinary practice of examination and subjugation as means of correct training. The concerns in such “teaching-machines” is not a concern of relevance. In other words, these concerns assume a certain kind of stable subjectivity of the teacher, who has acquired a certain kind of knowledge and joined a certain kind of power apparatus that supports the reproduction of monotonous interpretations. in Whiteheadian terminology, there is no opening for the incurrence of novel objects to become part of a subjective form of an actual occasion of experience . If there was a real concern that has relevance, one would have to make the modes of thought at stake come alive in the reading and writing of one’s own practice and in the presence of the others (e.g. the students, the concepts, the dead authors, the institution, appearing objects).

Similar problems occur in institutional settings. To navigate between the administrative monster, the desire and pleasure for and of research and the obligation of teaching can create moments of great despair. But what is at stake here is the continued concern to not stop thinking. If thinking is reduced to the fabrication of texts for the accurate positioning in designated fields targeted at the proliferation of one’s own personality, concerns are again without relevance. In relation to an occasion’s relevance in the future Whitehead writes: “The relevant future consists of those elements in the anticipated future which are felt with effective intensity by the present subject by reason of the real potentiality for them to be derived of themselves” (WH PR 1978, 27). This conception of relevance feeds the principle of creativity in Whitehead as the emergence of novelty (AoI 179/180). A concern that is relevant can only emerge through the intensive feeling of the subject for objects as part of their relevant future. In other words, a twofold process is underway for a relevant concern: the subject has to have the capacity to feel potentiality of the future elements of a concern and these elements need their potentiality expressed through their independence. Both parts belong to an ethics of the instant of creation by having a relevant concern. In the case of the institutional impasse the relevant concern arises from the subject’s feeling for the object’s potential - it might be a situation with students, a concept, a political event, a conversation, a thing - and the objects’ potential to become in a relevant future. This means for creative movements of thought to be relevant concerns, they have to constantly begin from the ethical plane in the midst of a feeling for and with potentiality. The genesis of the subject can never rest but has to constantly be concerned with the movement of thought in the very moment of one’s practice. The imposition of institutional power, the aspiration for status and the abuse of one’s position (as rank) create an immobile and uncreative suspension without measure. It is the the surrender of creative thought under the disguise of power imposition. The strange thing is that these sates of uncreative suspensions still create feeling and at some points these feelings might be lured into being concerned again in a relevant manner, glimpsing potentiality from afar. Hence, and this is the great danger of habitual inattention, suspension and immobility increase the decline of an ethical concern emerging from the middle of each occasion to think in the presence of the other.

A relevant concern as an ethical concern therefore requires a “believe in the world” as Deleuze mentions: “If you believe in the world you precipitate events, however inconspicuous, that elude control, you engender new space‐times, however small their surface or volume … Our ability to resist control, or our submission to it, has to be assessed at the level of our every move ” (Deleuze Negotiations 1995, 176). Disregarding to asses the ability to resist control at the level of every move, means to stop thinking and to give in to the standardization of everyday life. The desire for power and control lurks around every corner and the comfort to reproduce pre-given actions is daring. The question of concerns of relevance has to do with how the creative act of emergence is concerned as ethically relevant. It is the task of the subject to put itself at risk at the level of every move to be able to produce relevant concerns in a creative manner. Thought is in decline because anxiety reigns over risk and greed over generosity.