Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain, Timesquare, 2016, courtesy Galeria Verlmelho
Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain, Timesquare, 2016, courtesy Galeria Verlmelho

Saturday, 28 May 2016, 10 am–2 pm, Mestni muzej, Gosposka 15, Ljubljana

Together with the DUM Association of Artists we invite you to a series of lectures and a discussion on the questions of how we can (still) establish and preserve the autonomy and sovereignty of art in contemporary society and what that actually means.
Through the intersection of the philosophy of art, phenomenology, critical theory, and psychoanalysis we will direct our attention toward the most fundamental ways of how art operates and affects us, and how this relates to the possibilities of autonomy and sovereignty and the related emancipatory potential in art today.


10:00–10:30: welcome coffee
10:30–11:30: Jonathan Owen Clark: Art and Presence

Over the last two hundred years, many art theorists have proposed various ideas about the uniqueness or autonomy of art, or its separation from other domains of human activity. Many of these ideas have focused on how art does this by undermining stable and habitual systems of meaning. However, somewhat less attention has been given to another difference about art; how it is a communicative system that operates through perception and perceptual media. Using a range of examples drawn from both historical and contemporary art, including the recent recreation of the Roman arch from Palmyra, this talk will examine how art, as well as generating and subverting meaning, also matters to us in more fundamental ways. This will frame a discussion of how art can affect us viscerally and somatically, how it relates to our sense of temporal orientation in the world, and how it involves our intersubjective relation not only to others within this world, but to our historical predecessors as well. The talk will conclude with a discussion of how these perceptual foundations of art and its reception matter more than ever in an increasingly globalized and mediatized world.
Video Recording

11:30-12:30: Robert Pfaller: How Art Matters. And How It Means.
“...coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Dance, like maybe no other kind of art, may seduce us to sharply oppose how art matters to its meaning: art matters where it does not mean anything, we may thus think (to put it into a slightly Lacanian formula); and when it means something it does not matter anymore.
This idea appears to underlie the well-known pun by the German artist Horst Janssen: “Käthe Kollwitz meant well; Goya was good.” Meaning something appears as a detriment to art's sovereignty; a slavish subjection to some foreign purpose, whereas art may only come into its splendor and dignity when it serves no other purpose than its own. A crucial political point may be at stake here: Since only art that does not serve a foreign purpose is able to remind human beings of the fact that they, as well, do not always have to “function”, but can just behave as their own purposes – in Georges Bataille's words: that they can enjoy sovereignty.
Yet this first theoretical approach can be improved by introducing the notion of form. In a the first step, form appears to be opposed to both, matter, and meaning. Since form is pure appearance. Yet, as can be demonstrated, this is precisely the reason why, in art, form not only matters, but even (against all Aristotelian assumptions) is on the side of matter. And if art's matter excludes meaning, it still is not without signification. Art signifies, even if nobody means it. By focusing on art's signification, instead of focusing on its meaning, and instead of just insisting on its materiality, we will get a better understanding of the efficiency of art – and, in the last instance, of its sovereignty.
Video recording

12:30–14:00: discussion moderated by Gregor Mode


Dr. Jonathan Owen Clark is an artist and academic with research interests in philosophical aesthetics, cultural and critical theory, the philosophy of history and historiography, performance and dance studies, and musicology. He is currently Head of Research at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London (UK), where he leads several research programs in aesthetics and creative practice. Previously he had positions at Brunel University London and at the International Centre for Music Studies, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He publishes in: Critical Horizons, Contemporary Aesthetics, Opera Quarterly, among many others. Within philosophical aesthetics J. O. Clark explores the artwork and its autonomy or uniqueness, combining different approaches involving perception, presence, meaning and historicity.

Dr. Robert Pfaller is a professor of philosophy and cultural theory at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria. He is founding member of the Viennese psychoanalytic research group “stuzzicadenti”. Amongst his publications are: The Pleasure Principle in Culture: Illusions without Owners (Verso, 2014), Umazano, sveto in čisti um (Analecta, 2009), Wofuer es sich zu leben lohnt: Elemente materialistischer Philosophie (Fischer, 2011). In 2007 he received The Missing Link award for connecting psychoanalysis with other scientific disciplines, by Psychoanalytisches Seminar Zurich (PSZ), and in 2015 Best Book Award by the American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis (ABAPsa).
He is known for his concept of “interpassivity”. His work explores and explains the hidden cost of our contemporary approach to belief, illusion, and pleasure (in life, culture, art, sports, etc.) and makes us see why neoliberal ideology in spite of its many clear dysfunctions persist almost undisturbed.

Dr. Gregor Moder is a researcher at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. He is also lecturing philosophy at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film, and Television in Ljubljana. His recent book: Komična ljubezen: Shakespeare, Hegel, Lacan (DTP, 2016).

The conference (held in English) is organized by DUM Association of Artists and Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, with the support by MGML – Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana.


Mike Hentz: Live Art As A Research on Culture And Living
Artist talk (in English), Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 18:00
A.V.A. Institute, Academy of Visual Arts, Trubarjeva 5, Ljubljana

Jonathan Owen Clark: What are Art Schools For?
Lecture (in English), Friday, 27 May 2016, 17:15
AGRFT (big lecture room), Nazorjeva 3, Ljubljana

The accompanying programme (held in English) is co-organized by: DUM Association of Artists, Cirkulacija 2, A.V.A., and AGRFT.