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My notion of Betrayal is informed by continuous work in the field of curating for contemporary art museums and other spaces and with publishing literary work and organizing film screenings and poetry demonstration. Betrayal is a proposal for a fully engaged political action. It offers imagining from a vantage point that is unimaginable. Betrayal differs from treason or desertion which refer to a change of sides within an antagonistic situation or conflict, in that it betrays the trust that this antagonistic situation asks from those on conflicted sides. Following Chantal Mouffe's notions of antagonism and agonism, we realize how antagonisms are the axises by which our identities and political realities are structured. As treason offers a change of sides, it is still embedded within the conflict. But Betrayal enables a new way to enter the conflict - beyond the antagonisms it offers itself through. As the conflict/antagonism constitutes our identities – treason stays faithful to the conflict, while Betrayal moves beyond the antagonism and betrays it.

Using the story of 5th Century BC Athenian politician and pupil of Socrates Alcibiades, I see Betrayal as a loyalty that isn't expedient. If loyalty has a protocol, or better still, is a protocol, than treason would be its opposite. Treason breaks each rule in the protocol of loyalty but not the protocol itself. While loyalty-treason follow a set of protocols that maintain the status-quo - Betrayal is a de-stabilizing of this status-quo. Betrayal is the constitutive component of loyalty. It is a loyalty to the horizon, a real loyalty - beyond protocol. For this political action one can define three main strategies: Exhaustion, Anachronism and Fictionalism. The story of Alcibiades is one of Exhaustion. Alcibiades committed a series of treasons - changing sides from the Athenian camp to the Spartan to the Persian and back to the Athenian, all in one conflict - the Peloponnesian War. His actions have exhausted treason to the extant that they offered a Betrayal - a new formation of the alliances and antagonisms; Anachronism, another strategy for Betrayal, offers a re-entry into the political through the surfacing of a no longer available 'outside' by which leaps to the unimaginable are offered. This is a very different notion from "retro" - with its sentimental appropriation and historical re-stagings. In a way Anachronism is a re-constitution of horizons that have been forgotten and seemed unavailable for us. The most evident of these is Communism beyond Historical Communism; The third strategy I find for Betrayal is that of Fictionalism - this is mainly an artistic practice of injecting inhabited fictions and embodied narratives (the EU, Zionism, etc.) with speculation, invention and plots as critical tactics for destabilizing identities aligned along an antagonism while suggesting new alliances.

The most prominent manifestation of Fictionalism in contemporary art is the different models of reenactment we have been faced with especially since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. The performative aspect of Betrayal is related both to Action and to acting - positioning oneself in the world as a political actor. Fictionalism, Anachronism and Exhaustion provide us with ways to encounter the status-quo through the secret-agency of potentiality. (Joshua Simon, 2010)


The being-curator takes place in the middle of a contradictory web of relations. How to think through these contradictions while being implicated in them? A point of entry is the Blind Spot: It is a point on our retina where the optical nerve passes through in the sake of seeing. This physiological condition for blindness equals us human beings as it distinguishes us. It incompletes our subjectivities as entities, but activates a becoming-subject through relation. Not that ‘you’ and ‘me,’ ‘now’ and ‘then,’ ‘here’ and ‘elsewhere’ cease to exist but the in-between – the and – would indicate a relation that unfolds a complicated time-space of blinding. This would throw us into an arena of the curatorial, full of ambivalences, which is a space of asynchronous temporalities. While curatorial practice might help us a to program a particularly located event in public, blinding makes us entering a moment of darkness or overexposure where we loose control and orientation. It is urgently needed, because, “ … an image is never an image, but a contradiction of images. And it's the same for a sound. Okay. We return to the just contradiction within the people, reflected in their representation. No, not representation, but presentation. Not a show, but a struggle.” (Jean-Luc Godard, Le Gai Savoir, 1968/69).

Blinding contradicts with curating because it is a way to undo exhibiting, though without a withdrawal of appearance. Blinding is an example of a sliding word, the black between images of a film, the white between letters in a text, the silence between sounds of words, and the span between action and manifestation. Blinding can neither be reified nor replaced nor represented. It is because, in the moment of exposure, blinding escapes as a creative vigor. It is a moment in which 'exhibiting' is not there yet but when it might be constituted. That is to say, blinding also might help us to detect and disturb the conditions in which 'meaning' emerges. Or to word it differently: While the Blind Spot is a point of entry into a contradictory relation, blinding is a moment of danger that crashes the foundations of meaning. (Doreen Mende, 2010)


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As we enter the curatorial as a field of research, two points have resonated with me during our group discussions: First, is the parallel between research and the curatorial which allows us to think about the curatorial as a point of order and a point of pause, and second is the paradox that this duality presents us with, as we set out on a path that carries with it the insecurities of not knowing our destination. Derrida uses the word fermata for points of pause, which in music is the notation that indicates that a note should be sustained for longer than its note value would indicate. Exactly how much longer it is held is up to the discretion of the performer or conductor. Rather than leaving us suspended or in suspense, it is possible, I believe, to highlight these points of pause as a kind of praxis. A ‘doing’ that in the moment of research indicates a hesitation as well as a decision. A point of pause, that is not about casting off limits, but is about navigating through certain limitations.

An insistence on pursuing research that at the same time avoids the traps of assurances along the way: the “disguised re-centering”, “the hegemony of a problematic” – to use Derrida’s words – that convince us that we are indeed on the right path. (Sarah Pierce, 2010)


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I am interested in the notion of interruption and intensification both as co-joining, complementary terms and as oppositional ones. Quite simply, interruption could be seen as the process of pausing and gathering up that the making public of an idea or group of ideas, propositions and practices (such as an exhibition might be) with intensification being a cogent part of that process as well as what might result. However, the opposition between the two terms provides interesting questions for consideration, particularly if we think of them around the idea of “the event” where a Deleuzian model suggests the event as moments of intensification within a continual and continuing process of becoming – that is, as a continuity of the subject’s becoming without interruption. Yet interruption of course provides us with the possibility of an outside space – a space for something new to emerge and for change to take place.

I am interested, then, to think of the opportunities and problems that this idea of “interruption” as well as the introduction of an “outside” pose for us in respect of the relation field that is the shared language of art practices. (Bridget Crone, 2010)


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The term ‘rebellion’, as I understand it, extends beyond the usual uprisings and oppositions, and offers instead inhabitations of knowledge production that involve unsettled, restless, and unpredictable ways of knowing. Rebellion undoes the received knowledge about much Conceptual art from the 1970s, namely its focus on object and medium, and instead provides new ways of knowing. I am particularly interested thinking rebellion through collective features of the gestural described by Agamben as “being-in-a-medium of human beings.” As gesture, rebellion disperses through encounters that are just that—in a Deleuzian sense—something in the world that “forces us to think.” Rebellion arises out of experience and through its emergence the possibilities for knowledge extend beyond a given framework, situation, or predetermined output. (Sarah Pierce, 2010)


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Derrida, when speaking about “sendoffs” in Eyes of the University, thinks through the scheme of destination as rhythms, accents, phases, “points of pause” named as, “those signs destined less to mark the measure than to suspend it on a note whose duration may vary.” In a precursory paper to “Sendoffs” delivered at Cornell University in 1983, Derrida speaks of a “double gesture” similar to the paradox in “Sendoffs”, which asks us to act “as if” no object of study is out of the question, is ‘off limits’ so to speak, which Derrida suggests transforms the contract itself into a pretence for the regulating idea of the university:

There is a double gesture here, a double postulation: to ensure professional competence and the most serious tradition of the university even while going as far as possible, theoretically and practically, in the most directly underground thinking about the abyss beneath the university.

This double gesture both opens the university to the outside, “the bottomless” depths of what is not yet ‘knowledge’, and in doing so closes the university in on itself as it strives for “still not legitimated path-breakings” that attempt to situate what is “unsituatable.” Derrida refers here to Cornell’s landscape, famously built high along the rim of several deep gorges. Cornell University is: “the campus on the heights, the bridges, and if necessary the barriers above the abyss – and the abyss itself.” (In noting the barriers on campus, Derrida also refers to suicide, a myth that persists at Cornell to this day, especially around exam time, when the temptation to jump into the gorge, and into the vast unknown, is all the more real). We base our grounds for our research upon a gorge; “—by which we mean on a grounds, whose own grounding remains invisible and unthought.” (Sarah Pierce, 2010)


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