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Different Relations: How Can We Learn Something from Each Other that Doesn’t Yet Exist?

Nora Sternfeld

Friday, 6.7.2018

In German
Moderation: Grit Köppen

»Give her the tools, she will know what to do with them!« is an appeal made by the London feminist femme-punk band Charismatic Megafauna. At first, it sounds as if the song was contradicting Audre Lorde’s famous words: »The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.« But Lorde is actually pointing out the necessity of entering into alliances with silenced and marginalized positions in order to escape from existing violent relations of power.

Bini Adamczak, philosopher and queer communist theoretician, asks what would be if we could already imagine now the other society for which we struggle, and if we were to thereby focus the center of our attention on relationships. She suggests that »we« no longer define ourselves by identities but by relationships, and that a view toward another world will already make these relationships freer, more equal, and give them more solidarity.

So do tools from another world already exist here and now? Can we learn something from each other that doesn’t yet exist? This sounds like a paradox. And yet at the same time it is actually the idea of radical mediation: Learning to understand relations in order to change them, meaning learning to understand them as they might be understood only in another world and in other relations.


Nora Sternfeld is an art educator and curator. Since January 2018, she has been Professor for Art Theory/documenta at the Kunsthochschule Kassel. From 2012 to 2018, she was Professor for Curating and Mediating Art at the Aalto University in Helsinki. She is also co-director of the ecm Master’s Program for Exhibition Theory and Practice at the University for Applied Arts, Vienna, as well as a member of the core team of schnittpunkt, ausstellungstheorie & praxis (intersection, exhibition theory and practice), and co-founder of the office trafo.K, Büro für Bildung, Kunst und kritische Wissensproduktion (trafo.K, Office for Education, Art, and Critical Knowledge Production) in Vienna. Since 2011, she has been part of freethought, platform for research, pedagogy, and production in London. In this context, she was one of the artistic directors for the Bergen Assembly 2016. She has taught at international universities and published work on contemporary art, exhibitions, theories of education, the politics of history, and antiracism.