The Future of Demonstration

Season 2 PASSION: October 20–25  2018
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PASSION




The leitmotif of season 2, PASSION, builds on and expands the leitmotif of season 1. After engaging with VERMÖGEN in 2017 as an active potency for a new artistic culture, we now explore what PASSION offers – and can achieve – in a (bio)technopolitical age in which frameworks based on information asymmetry reorganize the scales of ecological, social and class structures.

According to Immanuel Kant, Vermögen is based on cognition, the feeling of pleasure and displeasure and the capacity to desire. In this way, we look at Passion as an emphatic Vermögen that reproduces itself and is amplified either by encouraging or afflicting affectivity. If Vermögen, as Pierre Bourdieu puts it, is "interiorized culture," then to question power implies exploring how Passion as an emancipatory force can transform cultural capital towards Vermögen as common wealth.

Here, the immanent qualities of Passion play a vital role. As an active and shaping force brimming with diversity and heterogeneity, PASSION opens passages for resisting and reorienting ego-centricity – the register that drives the capitalist appreciation of things and beings. Passion, we argue, is a catalyst for metamorphosing from the regime of self-interest into a desire for giving and receiving, for embracing communicative participation in hybrid entanglements.

To be clear, Passion as "sympathetic communication" is not only to be understood as a human quality. It also concerns non-humans and thus constitutes an expansive capacity – a VERMÖGEN to reconceptualize the perception of emotive beings and affective engagement.

This raises the question of the putative distance between "them" and "us" (including the issue of concepts like singularity) and the potentials for "worlding". Distantiation dominates the West – the attempt to keep distance to whatever moves closer is a pathology on the rise and a massive barrier for all forms of worlding – while in some Asian cultures, to give but one example, the question of distance does not exist in quite the same way: nonhuman beings participate in liveness, they partake in Buddha nature. But such sentience is not alien to Western metaphysics, it is, for instance, a defining feature of Whitehead's process philosophy.

Imagination is the magic that links us to others including non-humans: our capacity to see ourselves in others, to imagine ourselves as others, to reinvent ourselves by becoming other. Against the backdrop of a (bio)technologically transformed life-world, in which "self" and "other" will be shaped in ever more complex and interwoven differentiations, such emancipatory magic emerges as a medium, a nutrient solution for all those who embrace the risk of being other: a passion for alterity in which recognizing the other and adapting bodies and minds to one another might well be the epitome of PASSION as VERMÖGEN.

But exploring this utopian premise first implies a close examination of the status quo. The crises that involve humans and non-humans, cultures and natures, are ever more engulfing. And information asymmetry – a term that amounts to division, enclosure, segregation and fraud – reigns corporate as well as political networks and interests. A massive divide has opened in the informational matrix: knowledge – or, to refer back to Kant, "cognition" – succumbs to a proprietary right and an instrument for leveraging power within a hypercompetitive and volatile environment. In our derivative condition, noise is the master of information.

The Future of Demonstration addresses these massive forms of global violence, this abuse of sentient and desiring bodies, and engages with Unvermögen in the sense of a deprivation of subjectivity, welfare, rights and livelihood; and with Passion in the sense of suffering, the annihilation of potentiality and the volatile constitution of being at risk.

Season 2 counters these schemes with what we term renegade activism. The art series examines occasions and opportunities that support the rise of insurgencies both on a collective level and in the sphere of individual agency. We conceive renegade activism as an agency that stands against injustice both in one's vicinity and on a systemic level; that manifests by acts of civil courage, whistleblowing and other forms of active resistance; and which appears, amongst others, in tactics that "make the black box speak," in forums that encourage "speaking up" and in technocultural infrastructures that subvert the hegemonic order.

Renegade activism attempts to reorient the precarious state of being at risk – the pure negativity of neoliberal self-interest – by embracing and sharing risk together. Thus, it reconceives solidarity as a plural in the sense of multiple forms of love that emerge vis-a-vis and against different granularities of injustice. The question that arises here is whether Passion can manifest, exceed and subvert the derivative economy of relationships that conditions the future-at-present by quantified expectations of risk and return?

What would interpersonal relationships look like when we consider the Passion of non-humans, allowing them to feel and act along with us? And instead of serving antiquated power fantasies in politics and economics, how can nonhuman others contribute as mediators, moderators, and producers to communities expanded in such a way?

Season 2: PASSION radically challenges and opposes the powers to be by engaging in imaginations that are saturated with a concrete utopia: for only passionate dedication can realize a commonality in which Vermögen corresponds to "the absolute wealth of potentiality" (Whitehead).