Seminar 75 // 1, 2, 3, 4 May 2019 // London


Curatorial/Knowledge Seminar, 2–4 May 2019


Thursday, 2 May 2019, 11am – 5pm

Location: Media Research Building, room 25

11am – 1.30pm:

Research Presentation by Dennis Dizon, MRes Curatorial/Knowledge:

Sanity/Fantasy – Communicating in a Techno-Delusional Ecology

In a 2015 Guardian article titled “Why Climate Change Needs the Arts” author Andrew Simms correlates the resurgent significance of visual art as a tool for communication about historically political, social, and in this case, environmental threat to society. The article was a part of an editorial initiative – 100 months to save the world – in the paper’s Environment section that began in August 2008, publishing a monthly blog with objectives of “[promoting actions] that will pave the way for the swiftest transition” in the phases of global warming and avoiding “the point of no return.” 

From rationality to complexity, cognition to behaviour, this research is an attempt to interrogate communication in the midst of an environmental and an ontological crisis: What has become of the ecological in the technosphere? How has communication shifted? What are the current conditions of a post-industrial capitalist society, and how do these conditions affect our collective sense? What, in turn, has art practice become in the techno-ecological chapter of Visual Cultures? For the presentation, think of a delusion. Or, better yet – bring your own.

– Jean Baudrillard, “Superconductive Events”, in The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena, pp. 36–43
– “Analysis: Only five years left before 1.5C carbon budget is blown” in CarbonBrief, May 19, 2016.
– Kendra Pierre-Louis, “Researchers say we have three years to act on climate change before it’s too late” in Popular Science, June 28, 2017.
– Jonathan Watts, “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN” in The Guardian, October 8, 2018.

1.30–2.30pm: Lunch Break


Research Presentation by Lalthlanchhuaha (Thlana Bazik), MRes Curatorial/Knowledge:

While the state of sleep has been a relatively peripheral topic in philosophical and political theory, there have been emerging discourses that look at the conditions of sleep and sleep disorders especially in relation to economic conditions of the capitalist order. Diverging the idea of sleep with its many entanglements with economic conditions, the presentation attempts to look at and problematize the political conditions and turn to sleep-related terminologies and affects to navigate the present political situations in India. 

The word “Chowkidar” (watchmen) adopted by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his far-right pro-Hindutva workers as a means of political campaign questions the culture of surveillance and vigilance with ideas of when the Chowkidar chooses to sleep and when to be vigilant. If for Fordism the key sleep disorder was insomnia, and for cognitive capitalism sleep apnea (Alexei Penzin), the key sleep disorder in the present Modi regime in India is probably sleep paralysis – the state of a body being paralysed with its accompanying illusions of being in a state of consciousness (or being awake) which is a characteristic of Modi-led governance with increase in fake news and hate-filled propaganda to instigate collective anxiety and precarity. So, the question then is to ask is what it means to be “woke” in a “post-truth” world and what it means to return to sleep in such a situation.

– Jean-Luc Nancy, The Fall of Sleep, 2009 [2007]. (Please read chapters 1, 2 & 4)


Friday, 3 May 2019, 11am – 5pm

Location: Media Research Building, room 25

Alexei Penzin (Chto Delat?; Reader at Wolverhampton School of Art, University of Wolverhampton):

“Always-On” Capitalism and Possibilities of Radical Practice

In the seminar, I will discuss the work of Chto Delat? (, as well as my own research-in-progress on a philosophical genealogy of “always-on capitalism” that shapes the conditions and obstacles for contemporary radical practice. Chto Delat? (What is to be done?) was founded in 2003 in St Petersburg by a group of artists, philosophers, critics and writers with the goal of merging political theory, art and activism. Since then, Chto delat? has been producing films, installations, public actions, theoretical seminars, texts and publishing a newspaper on art, politics and radical theory. In my presentation I will discuss theoretical and political contexts that shape the background of the collective’s activities, situated in the post-Soviet society, which since the 2000s has been rapidly transformed by the forces of the emergent authoritarian capitalism. I will also show two short films by Chto Delat?, including the most recent one, “One Night in a Social Network: An Opera-Farce” (2019).

With respect to my research, by the term “always-on capitalism” I refer not only to a permanent connectivity and “plugged-in-ness” that is typical for contemporary technologies but to the whole social ontology that imposes a “sleepless” continuity of 24/7 production, consumption, surveillance and algorithmic digital activity all over the globe. The genealogy of this predicament is based on analysis of the philosophical debates on sleep and subjectivity, hidden and seemingly marginal but crucially important, which had been running from early modern philosophy to the twentieth century thought. Another element, intertwined with the previous one, is constituted by a political economy of an essential continuity of capitalist production, as presented in Marx’s Grundrisse.

– Alexei Penzin and Maria Chehonadskih, “The Only Place to Hide? The Art and Politics of Sleep in Cognitive Capitalism”

On Chto Delat?:
– Simon Sheikh, “The End of the Line: Historicity, Possibility and Perestroika”
– Irmgard Emmelhainz, “The Grammar of Collectivity as Experimented by Chto Delat”
(both published in Afterall, 46, Autumn/Winter 2018)

1.30–2.30: Lunch Break



Saturday, 9 March 2019, 12–4pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, room 307

Reading Group – chaired by Susanne Ewerlöf, MRes Curatorial/Knowledge:

By combining a text by the historian Martin Jay and an audio play by the Norwegian artist Toril Johannessen I aim to open a discussion on vision and how we can think about it in our time. Jay accounts for the late 20th century visual turn and quotes Hal Foster in the introduction to his text: “Although vision suggests sight as a physical operation, and visuality sight as a social fact, the two are not opposed as nature is to culture: vision is social and historical too, and visuality involves the body and the psyche.” Jay’s writing pronounces a moment in time when the visual came into extensive consideration and gives an overview of how thinking about visual experiences has altered throughout history.

I propose these works as a way of contemplating vision and visuality of today, where new technologies are available and anticipated. The play by Johannessen plots the history and future of the Eye and brings an additional perspective to the discussion; it argues that the human eye may become expendable and eventually retreat.

– Martin Jay, “Cultural Relativism and the Visual Turn”, in Journal of Visual Culture, 1(3), 2002, p. 267–278.

Listening during the seminar:
– Toril Johannessen, The Invention and Conclusion of the Eye(2017), 38:40 min



Seminar Dates: 
Wed, 01/05/2019 - 05:00 - Sat, 04/05/2019 - 07:00