Lectures : 1 June – 17 November 2011

Venice Biennale 2011 : The State of Things

Klikk her for norsk versjon

About 'The State of Things':

The Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), as commissioner of Norway's representation at the 54th Biennale di Venezia, would like to announce 'The State of Things', a series of public lectures that will be held throughout the Biennale period, reflecting upon themes such as diversity, the environment, peace-making, human rights, capital, migration, asylum, Europe, aesthetics and revolution. Each presentation aims to tackle the 'state of things' today, drawing from the speakers' fields of activity and research, and from what they consider the intellectual and political priorities of today.

The programme takes its cue from the Nansen Passport, created by Norwegian diplomat and explorer Fridtjof Nansen at the end of World War I in an attempt to enable refugees to move across borders in search of political and intellectual shelter.

Wednesday, 1 June / 17:00
Jacques Rancière – In What Time Do We Live?

The state of things is always a state of time. Issues of domination and emancipation are encapsulated in some basic questions: in what time do we live? To what form of historical evolution does our present belong? What futures does it open? From this point of view, this paper will analyse the paradigms of temporality that ground the dominant descriptions of our present, and the ways in which political action and artistic invention can reframe and disrupt them.

at Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Campo Santo Stefano, San Marco 2842, Venice

Thursday, 2 June / 11:00
Leo Bersani – Illegitimacy

'The state creates us by naming us.' These words, which conclude Pierre Bourdieu's Pascalian Meditations, condense the lessons of Bourdieu's lifelong work of exposing the hierarchical classifications by which the social order identifies and legitimises our social existence. To what degree might an effective resistance to oppressive social orders depend on our making ourselves unnamable? And to what extent does this in turn depend on our refusing to be socially, morally and sexually legitimated by the networks of power we inescapably inhabit? With references to Bourdieu, Jean Genet and Todd Haynes's film Safe, this presentation will attempt to examine strategies of negativity as pre-conditions for inventing what Michel Foucault called 'new relational modes'.

at Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Campo Santo Stefano, San Marco 2842, Venice

Friday, 3 June / 10:00
Vandana Shiva – The War Against the Earth

Why does the dominant economic model fail to meet the needs of so many societies and communities? Why is success measured by economic growth, so intimately related to increased poverty, hunger and thirst? As the dominant economy myopically focuses on the working of the market, it ignores both nature's economy and the sustenance economy, on which it depends. Not only does the dominant growth model ignore nature, it is based on a war against the Earth. This paper will speak about this war, and propose instead manners of making peace with the Earth through the notion of 'Earth democracy'. This notion will be articulated through the concrete practices of Navdanya, the movement for biodiversity conservation and ecological agriculture. As Navdanya's experience shows, paradigms and practices that make peace with nature also address issues of poverty and hunger.

at Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Campo Santo Stefano, San Marco 2842, Venice

Friday, 3 June / 11:00
Jan Egeland – Ten Lessons from Ten Peace Processes

On behalf of the Norwegian Government, the United Nations and several NGOs, Jan Egeland has been a facilitator or mediator in numerous peace efforts in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America. He was part of the team behind the secret Norwegian Channel between Israel and the PLO that led to the Oslo Accords in 1993, and was involved in the Guatemala Peace Accords in 1996. Although each war and conflict party is unique, there are some general lessons that can be drawn from every peace effort for the benefit of a more effective approach in the future. This lecture will take such experience as the basis for ten hard-won lessons.

at Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Campo Santo Stefano, San Marco 2842, Venice

Saturday, 4 June / 11:00
Fawaz A. Gerges – A Perfect Storm: An Arab Revolution in the Making?

As the Arab revolutions sweep away autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, the omnipotence of the Mukhabarat, or security-controlled state, appears to be crumbling. In particular, the inability of former President Hosni Mubarak's much-feared security apparatus to suppress protesters and retain the status quo signals the beginning of the fall of the Arab authoritarian wall. Against all odds, millions of Arabs – men and women – have taken to the streets and called for change and freedom, risking their lives. Emboldened, protesters are no longer satisfied with minor reforms. They are demanding substantive political change – restructuring of closed Arab societies along pluralistic lines. This lecture addresses the current prospects of a democratisation of the Arab world, challenging the pretence that Islam and Muslims are incompatible with democracy.

at Aula Magna, Università Iuav di Venezia, Tolentini, Santa Croce 191, Venice

Thursday, 30 June / 17:30
Eyal Weizman – Forensic Aesthetics

The last decades of the twentieth century, often referred to as 'the era of the witness', were saturated with representation of testimonies of trauma – written, recorded, filmed archived and exhibited. This primacy of trauma as a site of history also lead to a depoliticised 'politics of compassion' apparent in the forums of transitional justice, truth commissions, human rights and humanitarianism. However, a recent shift of emphasis from human testimony to material forensics means that science has begun invading some of the legal and cultural grounds previously reserved for the speech of humans. Potentially, therefore, at its most extreme, new ways of using forensic science have blurred a previously held distinction: between evidence, when the law speaks of objects, and that of the witness, referring to subjects. Such shift has aesthetic, political and ethical implications, dangers and potentials that will be unpacked in this lecture.

at Aula Tafuri, Palazzo Badoer, Università Iuav di Venezia, Calle della Lacca, San Polo 2468, Venice

Wednesday, 7 September / 18:00
Judith Butler – The Politics of the Street and New Forms of Alliance

Although some have argued that the politics of the street has been replaced by new media politics, it seems that the public sphere within which politics takes place is now defined by a specific mode of bodies interacting with media. Hannah Arendt once argued that there could be no exercise of freedom without the creation of a 'space of appearance' and even 'a right to appear'. How do we understand those new forms of democratic insurgency that form alliances that are not in coalitional forms? Who is the embodied 'we' on the street transported through media, and yet in place and at risk?

at Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Campo Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5252, Venice

Thursday, 8 September / 18:00
Franco Berardi – The 'Movimento Studentesco' and Pier Paolo Pasolini: A Misunderstanding

In 1968 the relation between Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Student Movement in Italy was a troubled one. In the midst of the controversy, Pasolini was accused by the students of being a populist representative of a backward culture, nostalgic of a legendary pre-modern time. This paper will argue that, from today's perspective, things seem different, and Pasolini can be understood not to have been looking to the past but to the distant future that is now our present: an age characterised by barbarianism and of ignorant aggressiveness. Today, in the age of the televisual and financial dictatorship, reading Pasolini is a way to retrace the genesis of Italy's present.

at Laboratorio Occupato Morion, Salizada San Francesco della Vigna, Castello 2842,Venice

Thursday, 20 October / 17:30
Saskia Sassen – When the Acute Challenges of Our Epoch Materialise in Cities

Cities have long been sites for conflicts, including wars, racism, religious hatred and exclusion of the poor. And yet, while national states have historically responded by militarising conflict, cities have tended to triage conflict through commerce and civic activity. Major developments in the current global era signal that cities are losing this capacity, and becoming sites for a whole range of new types of conflicts, such as asymmetric war, urban violence and acute environmental challenges. Further, the dense and conflictive spaces of cities, overwhelmed by inequality and injustice, can become the sites for a variety of secondary, more anomic types of conflicts, from drug wars to the major environmental disasters looming in our immediate futures. All of these challenge the traditional commercial and civic capacity that has allowed cities to avoid war more often than not, when confronted with conflict, and to incorporate diversity of class, culture, religion and ethnicity.

at Aula Tafuri, Palazzo Badoer, Università Iuav di Venezia, Calle della Lacca, San Polo 2468, Venice

Thursday, 17 November / 18:00
T.J. Clark – The Experience of Defeat

Whether or not the present Restoration is invulnerable, the Left in advanced capitalist countries has lived for the past two decades looking failure square in the face. The disappearance of a Left alternative from the space of politics, or even from the space of political imagination, remains the great fact of our time. Taking its title from Christopher Hill's great study of radical writing after the English Civil War, this lecture is concerned, as part of that work, with the Left's sense of progress. It asks what it could mean to a Left politics for it no longer to consider itself 'on the side of history' – not to imagine its task, in other words, as the realisation of the baulked potentials of capitalism and/or modernity, not to see its eventual victory written into the DNA of an economic order, not to posit some version of utopia, not, in a word, to 'have the future in its bones'. Is a Left with no future a contradiction in terms? If not the future, then what? Is it only the Right that can (imaginatively, politically) dispense with the myth of freedom in full possession of technics? What aims and imagery might there be for an 'un-modernity' to come?

at Auditorium Santa Margherita, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro 3689, Venice

Norway's representation in Venice in 2011 is commissioned by OCA and organised by its director, Marta Kuzma and its associate curator, Pablo Lafuente, together with Peter Osborne, director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London. Norway's representation at the 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, also includes 'Beyond Death: Viral Discontents and Contemporary Notions about AIDS', a graduate programme by Bjarne Melgaard at the Faculty of Design and Arts, Università Iuav di Venezia.

Fritt Ord  'The State of Things' has been generously supported by Fritt Ord.

For press inquiries and more information on this announcement, please contact Marthe Tveitan.

Visual Identity: Hans Gremmen