#1: The Untranslatability of Translation
With Fehras Publishing Practices, Boris Buden, Emily Apter, Nicoline van Harskamp and Vincenzo Latronico
#2: Against the Digital?
With Tactical Technology Collective and Telekommunisten
With ASSET Production Studio, Each One Teach One (EOTO) e.V. with their guests Ricky Reiser, Jessica de Abreu and Mitchell Esajas
#4: Molecular Bodies
With knowbotiq in cooperation with Claudia de Serpa Soares, Karin Harrasser and Felix Stalder
#5: Spaces of Theory / (Un-)Learning Institutions
With diffrakt – centre for theoretical periphery, Raumlabor Berlin, Gigi Argyropoulou and Soft Agency (Rosario Talevi and Gilly Karjevsky) with their guests Elke Krasny and Hannah Wallenfels
Once, the knowledge on language perceived translation merely as a secondary form of linguistic practice. For the common sense it was no more than an auxiliary deployed to facilitate communication. Translators who were investing huge amounts of their creative energy and knowledge were generally treated as a backstage personal of cultural production. This, however, has changed. Translation seems today to have largely overgrown its purely linguistic meaning. In an almost limitless expanding sphere of culture it has moved into the spotlight, especially when it comes to dealing with the growing linguistic and cultural diversity of the globalizing world. Moreover, the concept of translation is increasingly deployed to address the emancipatory stakes of social issues in general and the new forms of transnational democratic politics in particular. This applies also to the contemporary knowledge production where the linguistic logic and cultural praxis of translation provide a model for dealing with the new cognitive spaces that emerge between and beyond traditional disciplines.
Whether digitalization is a technological or a social and political phenomenon has recently been widely disputed. In his book The Digital Condition Felix Stalder argues that digitality does not so much consist of computers, software, the Web or other kinds of existing digital technologies but of sociopolitical developments such as postfordist working conditions, self-organization and decentralization and network monopolization which establish their own protocols. In Laruelle – Against the Digital, Alexander Galloway even suggests not to deal with digitality as a technological phenomenon at all but to treat it as a theoretical concept: For him, digitality is a general phenomenon which is based on segmentation, while the analogue unifies heterogenous elements. A game of chess is digital because of its clear-cut grid, but a coffee with milk is analogue, unless you look at its smallest units. In that sense, digitalization can be regarded as a basis of modern knowledge long before the 20th century technological developments, especially in the natural sciences. Digitalization thus both stabilizes and—by establishing new infrastructures—challenges the centuries old institutions of academic knowledge. It is the basis of disciplinary knowledge but also discloses the limits of its division. It is this twofold dynamic, this double-bind, which Strand 3 will be dedicated to. Technologies such as the Blockchain remain ambivalent in relation to centralization and decentralization, democratization and hegemony. In that sense, digitalization is forcing us to unlearn and relearn categories and causal logics and renders knowledge production as a highly political process: digitalization transforms the very social relations between those who learn, teach or in any way participate in knowledge production. It implies a contradictory process: a proclaimed openness, transparency or universal accessibility might easily turn into new forms of enclosure, control and surveillance, which transform the very subject that wants to learn or do research.
Attempting to tell the history of colonialism within an exhibition based on archival material or museum objects confronts curators, librarians, archivists and artists with conflicted situations from which there is no easy way out. Existing museum collections, libraries and archives often owe their very existence to the extractivism of European colonizers and are permeated by their mobile and often destructive histories. When dealing with archival objects, colonial gestures are easily reproduced – thus not anyone who has access to an archive is in the position to do research work on it. And not anyone who wants to tell the history of colonialism has access to collections. How then could a museum without objects (Françoise Vergès) look like? How can on the one hand existing museum collections be reread as witnesses of colonial capitalist exploitation, accustoming visitors to the necroaesthetics of objectivization, as ASSET Production Studio are suggesting? And on the other hand how can an untold history on the other hand be told in the first place, as in the case of the Afro-German archive, which Each One Teach One (EOTO) e.V. has been establishing in their library and project space in Berlin-Wedding? The Strand (Un-)Archiving is looking at strategies of deconstructing and reconstructing historical narratives within existing museum collections and archives and confronts participants with very different approaches to dealing with collections of objects, books or dead animals.
’Molecular Bodies’ looks at our bodily constitution from a technological standpoint of power and institutional critique. Permeated not only by biopolitical prostheses of health apps, public surveillance, medical adhesives, but as a working body already constituted as an economic-technological force, the human body might be conceived of as the first ‘human machine’. How do we negotiate between our bodies as points of access and diffracted hybrid assemblages? How can we conceive of a dividual body of strike, laziness, or monstrosity in a landscape of control? Can we emancipate a molecularized body inside post- and transhumanisitic transformations? The artist-duo knowbotiq (Christian Huebler & Yvonne Wilhelm) in collaboration with the dancer Claudia de Serpa Soares collectively perform new understandings and vocabularies of collective, ornamental bodies queering (or crossing) neoliberal strategies of fragmentation and alienation. In conversation with cultural theorist and translator of Donna Haraway’s Staying With The Trouble, Karin Harrasser (University of the Arts, Linz), the cyborg will be explored as a method to analyse entanglements of bodily substances with science and exploitation. With Felix Stalder, author of The Digital Condition (2017), knowbotiq will engage in a conversation about amazonian bodies.
Today it seems we employ concepts of theory just when we no longer know how to enclose the ideas, thoughts and concepts we operate with through disciplinary categories. We do not feel the urge nor need to still call theoretical practice ‘philosophy’ due to its relation to artistic, political and activist praxis. What is named theory today does not fit into the traditional institutional frames and constantly eludes the old fixed canons. One might say that theory does not have its proper space anymore. More precisely, theory is what emerges when a discipline or praxis is reflected upon either in the format of a theoretical text, a work of art or a curatorial project. In that sense theory resembles curatorial practice as it is performed today in the field of contemporary art and cultural institutions. To put it short, the spaces of theory open up in the process of the disciplinary dissolution of the humanities, or more precisely, in the ever-widening cracks of their institutional edifice in which theoretical thinking freely mingles with art, science, technology, economy, history or politics.