In Spite of Everything:
Stubborn Returns and Urban Afterlives
Haunting raises specters, and it jams time—the way we separate the past, present, and future. Ghosts appear when the trouble they represent and symptomize is no longer being contained or repressed or blocked from view. Ghosts arise or haunting occurs when repression or blockage is not working […] The whole essence, if you can use that word, of a ghost is that it has a real presence and moreover is demanding its due, your attention.
Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters
On May 25 in the context of the public art project Monument to Revolution by Sanja Iveković in Avdi square in the center of Athens, a public program of talks, screenings, and discussions takes place. Under the title “In Spite of Everything: Stubborn Returns and Urban Afterlives” the event seeks to think through hauntings of past and recent struggles and examine possible “infrastructures for troubling times” (Berlant, 2016). Haunting raises specters, and it jams time, Avery Gordon writes, and as such this event as a moment of collective study seeks to examine instances across different times and spaces that might haunt current conditions. Talks, screenings, a walk through the city, and discussions rehearse modes of engaging with what is invisible and “blocked from view,” yet present; with a here and nowthat exists in relation to a then and there that is both in the past and in the future.
Sanja’s Iveković’s Monument to Revolution hosted by documenta 14 borrows its form from the Monument to the November Revolution (1926), which was commissioned by the German Communist Party, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and destroyed by the Nazis in 1935. Iveković’s project ephemerally occupying an Athenian square contests the here and now and the then and there of what is remembered and what is lost, questioning the “relationship between revolution and commemoration,” the “construction and deconstruction of public memory” (Majaca, 2017).
Rosa Luxembourg in her last text written just after the Spartacus uprising was crushed by the government, and just a few hours before her arrest and murder, stresses the importance of struggle, the precariousness of the dominant order, and the interrelationship between victory and defeat in historical continuity. She writes: “Every half-century […] the bulletins from the guardians of ‘order’ proclaim from one center of the world-historic struggle to the next […] out of this ‘defeat’ […] have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats […] and future victories will spring from this ‘defeat’ […] You foolish lackeys! Your ‘order’ is built on sand.”
In Spite of Everything brings together theorists, activists, and artists to “jam time” (“the way we separate the past, present, and future”), problematize what fails and what returns, and think through possible urban afterlives—moments of organizing, imagining, thinking, studying, caring, and insisting with others.
Public Program **
17:30 – 19:00 Walk # Constantina Theodorou "Pleasures of Failure" (Starts from Omonoia Square)
19:00 – 19:15 Performance # Yorgia Karydi "Left in Peace"
# 1 Giannis Skalidakis "They Took Athens from Us. December 44—the divided memory of the city"
# 2 Yasar Adanali "How to Get Away with the Extraordinary Now?"
# 3 Pantxo Ramas "Ecologies of Care, Ecologies of Struggle: On the Institutional Thresholds"
# 4 Valeria Graziano “Partisan Welfare: Group fantasy as social infrastructure"
# Lauren Berlant video intervention “Infrastructures for troubling times”—Questions & Answers
# Manuela Zechner “Remembering Europe”—a sci-fi documentary film essay based on the future archive
Closing remarks, drinks, continuities.
The project is conceptualized by Gigi Argyropoulou in the context of the public art project Monument to Revolution by Sanja Iveković hosted by documenta14
** Talks are in Greek and English. Translation is available.