[-empyre-] introducing week 3

Leandro Delgado oxibitue at gmail.com
Tue Nov 18 16:35:15 EST 2014


When I speak of the unwatchable (unlookable?, ungazable?) I am not
doing the emphasis only on an ethics or politics of watching. I try to
describe watching as THE grammar of violence, thus a violence of being
spectator. Is there a spectator for criminal performances? There are
many, I think. In the last massive decapitation of 15 Syrians and one
American, executioners garments look so incredibly brand new. Like in
the rest of the videos, the design of the frame is evident: the far
sand dunes at the background, a small tree somewhere, the position of
the bodies at the front, a whole landscape where the victim is totally
exposed at the sun light (so different to the dark indoors home made
cell phone video of Saddam Hussein hanging) and making such a typical
oriental landscape for western(ized) audiences. “Unwatchable” means to
me the (non)capacity of something to be (un)bearable not only in terms
of the cultural meanings that would work to build the notion of what
must be tolerable or not but also in the way of how cognitive systems
tolerate or face or engage in violence differently when exercised from
one living creature to another. Bataille speaks about some kind of
ecstasy in the gaze of the Chinese man who is being quartered alive by
a mob (and being photographed). There seems to be ecstasy also in the
gazes of those who watch. The cruelty of the ISIS political
performances reminds me of one occurred in the beginning of the
eighties in Peru when maoist guerilla group Sendero Luminoso hanged
ten dead dogs on street lamp posts with a sign reading: “Teng Hsiao
Ping, son of a bitch”. THP was the successor of Mao after his death
and considered a “revisionist” by Sendero Luminoso. Even in this case,
the East  seems to fall in the place of the cruel political
performative to be watched and tolerated.


On Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 3:35 PM, Johannes Birringer
<Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> dear all
> week 3 is starting up, but first we wish to  thank everyone, and especially our guests, who have so actively and incisively contributed to our debate on during the first weeks and these past days.
> Participating guests included Pier Marton, Jon McKenzie, Reinhold Görling, Yoko Ishiguro, Mine Kaylan, and Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, and we have heard consistently from others as well who joined the round table --
> Alan and I are very grateful for your feedback to each other, and for challenging our thinking on matters that ranged widely, last week, and that thanks to Pier, but also to the others, for slowly shaping a methodology of approaches or a set of concerns that we realize needs addressing, whether it is the question of violence  (and ethology of violent behavior amongst members of clans, societies, species), or the search for empathy and listening to others, whether it is
> an ethical and political choice we have to watch ISIS or, rather, the terror of executions  -- Leandro asked:  <watch the unwatchable? Are ISIS beheadings unwatchable? What do we mean by "unwatchable"? >   – or whether we
> are also engaged in practices (beyond-media, performance, activism, altruism, criticism, communal work, stilling) that can intimate catharsis, or a form of re-performance that may help to work through trauma or through the truth finding process antedating reconciliations, or a ceasing.
> I will come back reflecting on last week's discussion soon, trying to cull a few important statements from what all of you have shared here, and what matters, I think, is that we have heard from numerous people here on this fictive roundtable who said that this month's theme matters to them, and to us, and that they felt (even if they listened silently) that languages here needed to be found, even if, as Andreas pessimistically suggested, we can merely claim a kind of self-legitimiising collusion, as share-holders  in circle of spectacularities & spectacularisations  (<We are everywhere, fearful observers in our blind administration of justice, we belong nowhere but to the vast plain of suffering>). These observers are also, if I understood Jon McKenzie, "the homo sacer data bodies".....?
> Now Alan has introduced Monika Weiss, and I follow up with introducing a few more guests for the coming week.
> There were some fine, provocative posts coming from Yoko and Mine regarding performance practice, and Alan also told us he performed last week, and I just returned from performances/rehearsals in Dresden, thus it is with
> a sense of both enormous pleasure and nervousness that I introduce some colleagues from the theatre who told me that they are caught in midst of production, and thus may be overwhelmed, or, as in Rustom's case, may not be altogether comfortable or used to the asynchronous flow and speed of this list and its discursive customs  (Rustom thus asked me to "encryption" him or the theses from his new book on terror and performance into the discussion -- but how could I keep his, or Fereshteh's or Hamid's valuable ideas safe? and what do I know about encryption?).
> please join me in welcoming:
> *Aneta Stojnic  is theoretician, artist and curator born in Belgrade (Yugoslavia). She is a post-doc researcher at Ghent University, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy Research centre S:PAM - Studies in Performing Arts & Media (2013/14) and at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna Conceptual Art study program, IBK (starting from January 2015). Aneta's  professional work is characterized by strong connection between theory and practice as well as interdisciplinary approaches to art practices that affirm critical thinking. She obtained her PhD at University of Arts in Belgrade (Interdisciplinary Studies - Theory of Art and Media) defending a thesis: “Theory of Performance in Digital Art: Towards the New Political Performance". Aneta was Artist in residence in Tanzquartier Vienna in 2011, and writer in residence at KulturKontakt Austria in 2012.  She has authored a number of international publications on contemporary art and media, as well as various artistic and curatorial projects. Stojnic collaborated  with institutions and organizations such as: Tanzquartier Wien, Open Systems (Vienna), Les Laboratoires d'Aubervillier (Paris), Quartier21 (MQ Vienna), Dansens Hus Stockholm, Odin Teatret (Denmark), BITEF Theatre (Belgrade), TkH Walking Theory, October Salon (Belgrade), Pančevo Biennal and many others.
> *Rustom Bharucha is professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Dehli. He is a writer, director, dramaturg and cultural critic, as well as the author of several books, including ‘Theatre and the World: Performance and the Politics of Culture’ (Routledge, 1993), ‘In the Name of the Secular: Contemporary Cultural Activism in Inda” (NewDehli: Oxford UP, 1998), ‘The Politics of Cultural Practice: Thinking Through Theatre in an Age of Globalization’ (Athlone Press, 2000), and most recently, ‘Terror and Performance' (Routledge, 2014).
> *Fereshteh Vaziri Nasab is an Iranian writer, translator and poet. She has studied physics and English literature in Iran and received her master degree in English language and literature from Azad University of Teheran. After graduation, she started teaching English literature at university and till her immigration to Germany in 2001 she worked as a lecturer at different universities. She wrote her dissertation under the title “Towards Delogocentrism: A Study of the Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard and Caryl Churchill” at Goethe University in Frankfurt and taught contemporary English drama for two semesters at Frankfurt. Her first artistic experience was playing a role in a performance of Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Chidren in 1979.  Later she played in six other plays including “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” and “The shadow of a Gunman” by Sean O’Casey. She has also translated three plays, Great God Brown by Eugene O’Neill, Awake and sing by Clifford Odets and Educating Rita by Willy Russell from English into Persian. In addition, she has written  articles, on “Postmodernism and Theater” and “Ibsen and Idealism” for Iranian theater Journals. She founded “Kerman Theater Society” together with Behzad Ghaderi and Yadolah Aghaabasi in 1990. She has also written and translated many articles, short stories, and poems which have been published in literary magazines such as Tasian, Piade ro, Shahrgan and Kandu, and she worked as an editor for online magazines Kandu and Shearane. In Germany, she lectured on “Hegemonic Notions of Faith Versus Liberality of Literature in Iranian Nights” and “Transcultural Identity in  GoliTaraghi’s Short Story “Wolf Lady” at Bamberg University. Two collections of poem, one her own poetry and the other a translation of German poets were recently published, and her new play, “Heimatland war kein mitnehmbares Veilchen”, which she directed for an Iranian theater ensemble, premiered at the Iranian Theater Festival in Cologne in November 2014.
> *Hamed Taheri, born in 1975 in Iran, the son of the poor teacher and radical leftist militant Ahmad Taheri and the young woman MAMA who suffered from a neurotic disease after the revolution in Iran.  He writes, "That devastating spasm in he tongue, jaw, face and powerless doctors in the face of this blocked mouth. Electro-shock therapy; She was on the electro-shock chair, jolted by the electric shocks, and screamed.  The mouth refused to open. There are guests who enter through a door underneath this image as a suspended sign that sways in the breeze, a door behind which I practice my T H E A T R E."  Hamed wrote and directed the acclaimed ‘Home is in our Past’ (2008), ‘The Tongues and the Mouths” (play for 27 tongues without mouth, 11 mouths without tongue and an Echo)[2008), and numerous other texts. Currently he is busy directing his first film.
> Website:  http://www.wnmf2006.de/
> warm regards
> Johannes Birringer
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