Filipa César, Textile/Text (research image for Das Neue Alphabet), 2018. Courtesy of the artist.
Is it possible to imagine an overabundance of multifarious fields of languages, knowledge production, and learning practices beyond one universal matrix? Can common reference points and collective action be enabled without monopolistic force? How can knowledge be both situated and globally relevant?
Alphabets are specific kinds of phonographic sign systems built on a finite number of discrete symbols. The letters of an alphabet can be combined, creating seemingly endless possibilities for semantic and operational codings. As a universalistic matrix, subsuming any linguistic expression into one abstract system, alphabets are also imperialist infrastructures. Are algorithms, the binary code, and the information stored in DNA the alphabets of today? And what potential ways are there for re-coding such textual infrastructures?
HKW’s new long-term project Das Neue Alphabet is intended both as a diagnosis and a provocation: vernacular, opaque, or marginalized ways of knowing are increasingly subsumed into abstract universalizing structures. What strategies of resistance against such processes of forced alphabetization exist or could be developed? And which role do artistic methods of appropriation and creolization play in this context?
The opening days of Das Neue Alphabet introduce artistic and scholarly navigations through knowledge and language systems permeated by expanding worlds and created in transcultural encounters between universal and vernacular languages. The New Alphabet School, a school for artistic, curatorial, and activist strategies, explores approaches to learning and un-learning in order to re-think the idea of criticism as a practice of shared responsibility and care. During the opening days, the School will be inaugurated with a unique (Un-)Learning Place, curated by Boris Buden and Olga von Schubert.
In practical explorations, the Educational Program will delineate positions and attitudes: hacking, queering, or mapping are just some of the techniques employed in the context of evolving literacies to engage "new experts" in the bold undertaking of re-reading and transforming the present.
With Asset Production, Kader Attia, Gigi Argyropoulou, Sandeep Bhagwati, Giulia Bruno, Boris Buden, Filipa César, Kate Crawford, Simon Denny, diffrakt – centre for theoretical periphery, Fehras Publishing Practices, Paul Feigelfeld, Karin Harrasser, Ranjit Hoskoté, Yuk Hui, Alexander Kluge, knowbotiq, Sybille Krämer, Britta Lange, Armin Linke, Tactical Technology Collective, Telekommunisten, Trevor Paglen, raumlabor berlin, Slavs&Tatars, Felix Stalder, Studio Nand, Hito Steyerl, Nicoline van Harskamp, and many others.
Curated by Bernd Scherer in collaboration with Olga von Schubert.
Das Neue Alphabet is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag. The educational program will be developed in collaboration with the GfZK, Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig.