Press Releases : 2014/05

`Phoenix Public Sphere. Man is no Private Being'. A lecture by Rainer Stollman

Published 2014/05/27

Still fromThe Blind Director (directed by Alexander Kluge, 1985)

Norsk versjon


‘Phoenix Public Sphere.
Man is no Private Being’

A lecture by Rainer Stollman

Followed by the screening of
The Blind Director (directed by Alexander Kluge, 1985)

Wednesday 4 June 2014, 19:00
Live audio streaming

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre gate 7, 0551 Oslo l

OCA welcomes Professor of Cultural History Rainer Stollmann with a lecture titled ‘Phoenix Public Sphere. Man is no Private Being’ on Wednesday 4 June 2014 at 19:00. The lecture will be followed by the screening of The Blind Director (directed by Alexander Kluge, 1985).

The term ‘public sphere’ and the idea of ‘publicness’ have been central to the investigation of the emancipation of the self and others in Alexander Kluge’s work as a theorist, novelist, filmmaker and television producer. Sketching the philosophic paradigms of the 19th and 20th century on such notions, which allowed to gauge a greater understanding of personal and collective exercise of freedom and its forum of expression, the presentation will examine the basic features of concepts formulated by Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) and key historical propositions such as the ones of Jürgen Habermas (b.1929). The presentation questions ‘public sphere’ and ‘counter public sphere’, terms on which Kluge posits his thinking, as the need for individual emancipation particularly when an historical subject no longer exists. The lecture will also scrutinise Kluge’s concept of ‘feelings’ pertaining to private and collective memory in its relation to possible spheres of action, while reading Kluge's practical work in the midst of the current historical development and its reflection within film and television productions by the author.

The evening will conclude with an introduction to, and a screening, of The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time (directed by Alexander Kluge, 1985) aka The Blind Director.

For more information, please contact Tara Ishizuka Hassel.

About the OCA Semesterplan – Spring 2014

Alongside the exhibition ‘Unwoven World: Beyond the Pliable Plane’, where works by Norwegian artists Brit Fuglevaag, Elisabeth Haarr and Sidsel Paaske are displayed, OCA is presenting a selection of Alexander Kluge’s eclectic collection of ‘raw materials’, a series of television programmes assembling photographs, drawings, diagrams and diverse footage construed to ‘strengthen the muscles of [our] power of imagination’. In Public Sphere and Experience (written by Alexander Kluge and Oskar Negt in 1972) the authors draw from Walter Benjamin’s criticism of the information-driven content of modern forms of communication. Particularly they criticised the way in which television programmes communicate with their audience, in a decline in both the art of storytelling and the communicability of experience. The attempt, they claimed, should be to replace the ‘monologue’ format of information programmes with programme formats which can stimulate the participation of the viewer. Since the establishment of his own television company DCTP (Development Company for Television Programmes) in 1987, Kluge has produced thousands of programmes for German television to engage with the capacity of fantasy to organise individual experience otherwise concealed by structures of consciousness and the screens capturing our attention. ‘Alexander Kluge. Raw Materials: Present Impressions, Past Wishes and Future Fulfillment’ as presented at OCA, resonates with larger concerns within the Norwegian art milieu of the 1970s regarding what ‘art for people’ should be. The latter was eloquently exemplified by Elisabeth Haarr’s retrospective essay ‘Fantasy in Service of the People’ (2008), reflecting upon the militantism and realistic narrative as well as abstraction and non-narration as different forms of approaching the subject.

About the Speaker
Rainer Stollmann
(b.1947) is a leading authority on Kluge's work and has been Professor of Cultural Theory and Cultural History at the University of Bremen until 2012. His doctoral dissertation Aestheticization of Politics. Literature Studies on Subjective Fascism (1978) and his famous analysis Fascist Politics as a Total Work of Art (1978) drew attention at how fascism created a dystopian public sphere where a ‘beautiful illusion’ of reality different from the ‘beautiful illusion’ of art was used as a ‘mean for a private psychic flight from reality’. He has been conducting research and publishing extensively on critical theory, literature, film and mass media in the 20th century, as well as laughter and cultures of laughter (the grotesque, humor, and wit). Stollmann curated the 2008–09 Kluge’s film- and TV-programmes edition, with the support of the Goethe-Institut. He edited the TV-interviews between Alexander Kluge and the playwright Heiner Müller, all of which were videotaped and some of which were aired on German television between 1988 and 1995. His latest publications include, among others, (in German) The Sense of Beauty Emerging from the Ice. Conversations with Alexander Kluge (2005), and Fear as a Good Remedy Against Constipation (2010).

Office for Contemporary Art Norway

OCA is a foundation created by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs in Autumn 2001 with the aim of developing collaboration projects in the cultural field between Norway and the international arts scene. The foundation aims to become one of the main organs in the contemporary arts debate through initiatives such as exhibitions, seminars, publications, as well as by providing support to Norwegian artists for their activities on the international art arena.