Seminar 66 // 14, 15, 16 December 2017 // London


Curatorial/Knowledge Seminar, 14–16 December 2017


Thursday, 14 December 2017, 11am – 4.45pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, Room 325

Joint seminar day with the Research Group ‘Cultures of Critique’, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany

11am – 1.30pm:

Simon O’Sullivan (Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths):

Mythopoesis, Fabulous Images and a ‘People-Yet-To-Come’

My presentation will attend to ‘fiction as method’ and, more specifically, to mythopoesis, a term I use to broadly name the ‘world-making’ character of certain art practices and presentations. Following Gilles Deleuze I will also be concerned with the future-orientation of mythopoesis that summons forth a ‘people-yet-to-come’; a people appropriate and adequate, we might say, to the different worlds in question. Departing from Deleuze’s definition somewhat – though attending to some of his other writings and especially the collaboration with Guattari – I want to suggest that these ‘people’ are not necessarily human, at least as this is habitually thought.  There are other non-human forces – other becomings we might say – that are called forth by the mythopoetic function. I will then turn to the writings of Félix Guattari and, specifically, the concept of ‘fabulous images’. The latter, found in literature and life, operate as ‘points of subjectification’ around which other kinds of subjectivity might coalesce and cohere. Put simply, for Guattari, fiction can be a resource in the production of a different kind of subjectivity and thus, again, a different world. Guattari’s account is highly technical, involving, as it does, different levels of operation (it attempts a more analytic account of how mythopoesis might invent a people), but the general point is similar to Deleuze’s: the image function can help call forth something different from within the same.


– Gilles Deleuze, ‘Literature and Life’, in: Essays Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, pp. 1–6.


Louis Moreno and Irit Rogoff (Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths; members of freethought):

The Infrastructural Condition

In freethought’s contribution to the Bergen Assembly 2016 (, why have we focused on Infrastructure, a term beloved of planners and technocrats? And why in the context of an art world event? In reply we might say, because infrastructure is the condition of our lives: it determines spaces, disciplines bodies, allocates resources and privileges notions of progress and development without any critical interrogation. Infrastructure, being a range of linked processes, also eludes representation and so the only possibility of making it tangible is speculative research and imaginative invention.

Part 1 – We do not wish to be accessed thusly (Irit Rogoff)

We are being ‘accessed’ in new and surprising ways that don’t always register as modes of governance: from big data to euphoric cultural chatter to the supremacy of financial logics, at every corner our material realities, our subjectivities and our aspirations are enlisted as points of access for new levels of unconscious inscription and participation. Taking a cue from Foucault’s deliberations on ‘the will not to be governed thusly, like that, by these people, at this price’, the discussion attends to the forms by which we are accessed and the necessity to move from ‘expectations’ to ‘conditions’ – understanding that much of the coercive/persuasive thought of governance takes place through the establishment of expectations which seemingly serve everyone well.

Part 2 – Always Crashing in the Same City: Real Estate, Human Capital and Planetary Desire (Louis Moreno)

Many argue that the ascent of a financial regime of capitalism has brought about an urban process that is planetary in scale and algorithmic in operation. But what kind of infrastructural support does this require at the level of urban subjectivity, emotion and sensuality? In this talk I will sketch out an answer developing some work started at the Bergen Assembly 2016, to consider how we might read a cryptic 1844 comment by Marx – about ‘the senses becoming theoreticians in praxis’ – in the era of digital urbanism, privatised publicity and personalised credit.


– Michel Feher, ‘The Governed in Politics’, in: Michel Feher, Gaëlle Krikorian and Yates Mckee, (eds.), Nongovernmental Politics, New York: Zone Books, 2007, pp. 12–27.

– Michel Foucault, excerpt from ‘What Is Critique?’, in: The Politics of Truth, ed. Sylvère Lotringer, trans. Lysa Hochroth and Catherine Porter, Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007, pp. 41–47.

– Louis Moreno, ‘Always Crashing in the Same City: Real Estate, Human Capital and Planetary Desire’ (draft)

Lunch Break: 1.30–2.30pm

Thursday, 14 December 2017, 5–7pm

Visual Cultures Public Programme:

Isaac Julien – Title and Location to be confirmed

Friday, 15 December 2017, 11am – 5pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, Room 325

11am – 1.30pm:

Research Presentation by Joni Zhu (PhD Curatorial/Knowledge):

Cyber-Proletariat and the New Subaltern Space

‘Hurry toward your finest dreams, pursue a magnificent life. At Foxconn, you can expand your knowledge and accumulate experience. Your dreams extend from here until tomorrow.’
(From the preface of Foxconn’s employee handbook)

Promise as such has allowed Foxconn – a Taiwanese-owned multinational electronics contract manufacturing company – to become China’s leading exporter, with a workforce of 1.2 million people, nearly half of whom work at the Shenzhen Longhua plant. Most are young rural migrants in their late teens to early twenties. These migrant workers have been emerging to become a new working class, China’s Cyber-Proletariat, which occupies the bottom of the consumerist-driven supply chain and has been incorporated within the global industrial labour regime. In 2010, the outbreak of 18 workers’ suicides at Foxconn Shenzhen facilities seized global attention. This research begins with an account of a young women, Tian Yu, who was cut off from ‘access to the lines of social mobility’ and survived a suicide attempt at the age of 17.


– David Harvey, ‘Neoliberalism with “Chinese Characteristics”’, in: A Brief History of Neoliberalism, pp. 120–151.

1.30–2.30: Lunch Break


Irit Rogoff – Breathing, Part 2

As part of our investigation into the somatic internalization of conditions, I would like to continue looking at the problematic of breathing through questions of racial oppression and violence, starting with the suffocation of Eric Garner by police in 2014 and the emergence of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Please see the video link below. I would also like to look at 2 texts: one on Ashon Crawley’s Black Pentecostal Breathing and a section of Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth.


– ‘I Can’t Breathe’: Eric Garner Dies After NYPD Chokehold (Full Video Compilation),

– Jean-Thomas Tremblay, ‘Being Black and Breathing: On “Blackpentecostal Breath”’,!

– Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 2008 edition, [Please read Homi Bhabha’s intro and look at pp. 185–202.]

6pm: Drinks/Dinner together


Saturday, 16 December 2017, 12–4pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, Room 325

Reading Group, chaired by Eloy V. Palazón (MRes Curatorial/Knowledge) and Laure de Selys-Longchamp (MRes Visual Cultures)

Achille Mbembe, ‘The Aesthetics of Vulgarity’

For Achille Mbembe, ‘the grotesque and the obscene are two essential characteristics that identify postcolonial regimes of domination’. In recent weeks we have seen how president Robert Mugabe has been overthrown from Zimbabwe’s government. Could both Zimbabwe’s current political situation and the figure of Mugabe, who first led guerrilla’s forces and then became a controversial figure at the end of the 90s, serve us as an example to understand Mbembe’s notion of ‘aesthetics of vulgarity’? In its eponymous article, Mbembe tackles what he calls the banality of power in the postcolony. If, as we saw in the previous seminar, capitalism cannot be understood without the key role of colonialism, we could think that neoliberalism can only be thought through the production of postcolonial subjectivity or the figure of the zombie, as Mbembe contends.


– Achille Mbembe, ‘The Aesthetics of Vulgarity’, in: On the Postcolony, trans. A. M. Berrett et al., Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2001, pp. 102–141. [Please read pp. 102–116!]


Seminar Dates: 
Thu, 14/12/2017 - 11:00 - Sat, 16/12/2017 - 16:00