2018 ~ Sunday January 21 in Thessaloniki: Roaming Assembly#18 ~ Until The End Of The World And Back ~ curated by Galit Eilat and moderated by Nataša Ilić
Sunday January 21, 2018
Dear comrades, friends and relations of the DAI,
In January DAI Roaming Academy, will land in the magnificent, ancient city of Thessaloniki. We are absolutely thrilled to invite you to join us there for our 18th Roaming Assembly: ‘Until the End of the World And Back’, a symposium on eschatology initiated and curated by Galit Eilat and moderated by Nataša Ilić, with contributions by:
‘‘The concept of progress must be grounded in the idea of catastrophe. That things are “status quo” is the catastrophe …"
- Walter Benjamin, ‘Central Park’ (1938)
We live today in a state of crisis. At least, this is what we have been told: environmental, nuclear, and economic catastrophes, the debt crisis, exceptional reforms, preventive actions, socio-economical ‘critical points’, recoveries and survivals are dramatically changing our way of life. The crisis is a fact and catastrophes are real events. Yet, catastrophe has also become a rhetorical tool used to reinforce a general state of anxiety and the sensation of imminent collapse. The rhetoric of crisis suggests a daily apocalyptic scenario in which preventive measures and special interventions are required to ensure the survival of neoliberal forms of governance.
Abrabanel, Hobbes and Schmitt, among other political philosophers, situated the potential catastrophe in the future to make use of it in the present as a tool for consolidating and intensifying collective consciousness, and for defending the political body and the sovereignty of the state. Nowadays, policymakers understand that by means of maintaining and managing the prospect of a potential catastrophe, they can preserve the collective political consciousness of the states they rule, and use fear as the last adhesive that preserves the unity of the national political entity. This only functions to distract one from the fact that the event of catastrophe – and the psychological effects of the crisis – provide for further social and cultural exploitation. The disaster becomes a basis of exploitation, providing for an opportunity for economic and political reforms that will embed the status quo forever. Neoliberalism has thus appropriated elements of classic religious eschatology, without offering us any possibility of redemption.
During the symposium ‘Until the End of the World And Back’, we will trace the elements of various forms of eschatology from theology to our contemporary reality. We will learn to recognize, understand, and if necessary transform the narratives and imaginaries of eschatology, and move from utopia to dystopia and back.
The symposium, especially conceived for DAI's Planetary Campus, is part of Galit Eilat's wider research project entitled “Syndrome of the Present,” investigating sovereignty, present conflicts, and eschatological movements through the 17th century myth of Westphalia. "Syndrome of the Present" is supported by the Mondriaan Fund and the Foundation for Art Initiative.
Until The End Of The World And Back will be preceded by curated city-walks as part of the Planetary Campus: The Factory workshops on Saturday January 20 and followed by the involvement of Köken Ergun and Nataša Ilić, in the role of guest respondents to our Planetary Campus: The Kitchen student presentations, thus connecting Thessaloniki, researchers and students in an interactive way.
(scroll for practical information)
PROGRAM Sunday, January 21
14:00-14:10: Introduction by Galit Eilat: On eschatology and Syndrome of the Present
14:10-14.20: Video by Köken Ergun: I, soldier (7 min., 2005)
“I, Soldier” is the first part of a video series dealing with the state-controlled ceremonies for the national days of the Turkish Republic. The nationalistic attributes attached to these large-scale ceremonies are underlined in a non-descriptive and almost voyeuristic point of view. ''I, Soldier'' was shot at the National Day for Youth and Sports, the day that marks the start of the independence war of the Turkish public under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk against the Allied Forces back in 1919. The annual ceremony held at the biggest stadium of each city consists of figurative dances of high school students, choreographed in a timeless socialist-realist manner. In the last decade, popular songs have replaced the usual military marches, which accompanied the choreography. In this video a nationalist hip-hop song is played during the gymnastic demonstrations of the military school students, backed by a stern poem of a high-ranking soldier about the virtues of “The Soldier”.
14.20-15.10: Lecture by Savas Michael-Matsas: Modernity and the Messianic
The Biblical concept of the Messianic is neither an obsolete relic of the past in our secularized world of capital globalization, nor does it just represent an archaism exclusive to certain sectarian groups in the global North and the global South, a political agenda disguised by religion.
Although its source is situated in pre-modern times, the Messianic as a concept of history, breaking from any linear gradualist conception of historical development as well as with all myths of a cyclical Eternal Return of the Same, is crucial to understand modernity, its contradictions, its social struggles, and the opening of an horizon of a universal human emancipation.
The collapse of a so-called “actually existing Socialism” in 1989-1991 had be considered by mainstream ideology as the ultimate proof of the failure of Marxism and, simultaneously, of every emancipatory project. “Messianic utopias” were thought to be condemned to fail. A quarter of century later, all the celebrations of a liberal “end of history” and the “final and complete victory” of capitalist globalization ended with the implosion of this same globalization and the eruption of an unprecedented global systemic crisis, still unresolved. All conceptions of linear or cyclical development of history are in and reflect the impasse. The rediscovery, rethinking, and re-invention of the concept of Messianic break of historical continuity are vital for a theory of the Present as History and of a praxis to change it.
15:10- 15:55: Lecture by Ayşe Çavdar: Apocalypse as a Radical Solution
In this lecture, Çavdar will discuss how the idea of apocalypse has emerged as a radical solution to the political crisis in Turkey. One of the pillars of Islam is the belief in the apocalypse and in life after death. Thanks to this pillar of believe, fantastic descriptions of hell and heaven came into existence, representing the idea of justice: non-believers go to hell, while believers can look forward to enjoy heaven. The problem for present and past believers in this pillar is as follows; before believers and non-believers take their way to their eternal non-places, the event of the apocalypse must take place. Until the apocalypse, believers and nonbelievers alike have to go through terrible torture under the soil for their often minor sins. Thus, the apocalypse should occur soon in order to keep the time spend in the grave as short as possible. Hence, for a believer the apocalypse is not something to fear. It is the final step before arrival at the eternal address. Moreover, sometimes there are collective reasons to call for the apocalypse: political instability, economic crisis, corruption at the societal level, ethical dilemmas, unsolvable problems, grave injustices - in other words collective hopelessness. In these times, the idea of the apocalypse becomes a desire. While political and economic problems deepen, the individuals responsible for the crisis attain legitimation and support by means of the idea of the upcoming apocalypse. In this way, leaders become not elected but chosen, to lead their people to their interminable address: heaven.
16:15-16:35: Video by Köken Ergun, Ashura. (22 min., 2012)
The Battle of Karbala was a military engagement that took place on 10 Muharram, 61 AH (October 10, 680) in Karbala, in present day Iraq, between the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph and Hussein, the grandson of prophet Muhammad. Hussein and his supporters were killed; women and children were taken as prisoners. This battle is central to Shi’a Muslim belief in which the martyrdom of Hussein is mourned by an annual commemoration, Ashura (Așura in Turkish).
Köken Ergun has worked in close collaboration with the Shiite inhabitants of Zeynebiye district in Istanbul, documenting their preparations for the ceremonies, which involves a mass theatre performance and the 'isolated weeping ritual' at the end of the Ashura day.
16:30-17:15: Lecture by Julian Reid: Confronting the Anthropocene: Movement, Eschatology and the Future
The Anthropocene describes the collapse of belief in the human capacity to secure itself from the threats and dangers it locates in its world, and the hysteria related to the sense of its endemic vulnerability. Confidence in the future is displaced by a fear for the coming end of the human. This is portended by a range of catastrophic events that are no longer perceived as possibilities, but as inevitabilities which the human must learn to accept, and adjust its expectations in accordance with. On the one hand the Anthropocene would seem to offer a radical break from the modern, a collapse of the modernist hubris which engendered the very practices that led to the predicament the human now finds itself in. But in other ways it can be seen to have been constitutive of modernity, as well as having deeper historical, philosophical, political and theological roots which lead us back to the origins of the West itself.
In this lecture Reid will argue that the Anthropocene presents us with the challenge of how to recover our belief in this world, our place in it, and most notably in our own abilities to master it and to subject it to singular human powers of imagination and creation, in the face of regimes of knowledge which would otherwise have us believe in the inevitability of our own demise, of miserable vulnerability and future failures. This challenge requires equipping ourselves with techniques that share the same histories and roots as the Anthropocene itself, drawing as they do from the poetic imagination of the modern, as well as from the eschatological imagination of various theologies older than the West itself.
17:15-18:15: Panel discussion with all participants and the audience
19:00: Continue the conversation and join us for a cozy, communal diner at MAMASTAPER at Klisouras 11, Thessaloniki.
When: January 21, 2018
Admission is free. Lectures, talks will be in English, screenings with English subtitles.
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If you wish to join our communal dinner at 19:00, please be sure to make a reservation by Friday, January 19. Reservations can be made via Peter Sattler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Costs for food & one glass of wine: €10 - payments (cash only) directly at the restaurant.
This edition of the Roaming Assembly is generously hosted by the School of Drama of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and will take place in the CLIO building: Egnatia 122, 546 22 in Thessaloniki. For further instructions, click here.
The Planetary Campus is an innovative conceptual space (without walls) where the MA curriculum "DAI Art Praxis" meets with a wide variety of external parties. A welcoming space where we want to host a fleeting, "affective community", where we generously share art and research, where complexity can be embraced and intellectual intra-actions are fostered, aiming to endow our praxes, wherever they are operational. As an infrastructure Planetary Campus is the container for several activities initiated by the DAI.
One of them is the Roaming Assembly, a recurring public symposium scheduled to take place once a month, functioning as it were as the DAI-week's 'centerfold' event. This state-of-the-art speculative and hybrid program explores specific themes and topics of contemporary relevance to the thinking of art in the world today.
Although closely interlinked with the DAI's curriculum, Roaming Assembly editions are not conceived as plain extensions of the regular DAI classes and seminars, but rather envisioned as sovereign happenings, designed to mobilize our bodies, our intelligences.
Initiator and curator-in-chief Planetary Campus: Gabriëlle Schleijpen
Senior coordinator Planetary Campus: Nikos Doulos
Communication design: Lauren Alexander/Foundland
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The Planetary Campus is generously supported by the Innovations Fund of the