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Workshop “Violent Knowledge: Power and Cruelty in the Arts.”

Time: Monday, July 2, 2018, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Location: UdK Berlin Einsteinufer 43–53, Room 203


Not only do the arts critically reflect scenes of power and violence—they inform them, as well. While the transdisciplinary group Forensic Architecture attempts to reconstruct war crimes through aesthetic-epistemological investigations, narratives of violence such as the television series 24 serve as virtual scripts for real situations of violence—for instance, to rehearse torture. The arts form and reconstruct, as it were, not only the before and after to scenes of violence and power; they themselves become instruments for these scenes. This happens directly, for instance, when continuous loops of music are used to overstimulate the senses of immobilized detainees in secret American prisons; or indirectly, when melodramatic propaganda films such as Jud Süß(Jew Süss) are intended to affectively regulate inclusion and exclusion in a phantasmagoric national community. The arts, however, don’t simply react to violence. They also in turn deploy power, violence, or cruelty as instruments of their own epistemological explorations: for example, when audience members in the immersive, interactive spaces of the theater collective Signaare forced to reflexively react to scenes of submission and domination, or when painters such as Francis Bacon allow invisible forces to operate on bodies (of color) in order to test extreme moments of how they can be (de)formed.  

The workshop “Violent Knowledge: Power and Cruelty in the Arts” aims to discuss this intricate contribution of the arts to the connection between violence and knowledge. How do the arts translate a knowledge of violence into heterogeneous social publics? Where do violence and power themselves operate aesthetically in order to evade detection, maximize their effect, or gain legitimacy? How do the arts themselves deploy stagings of relationships of violence and power to produce a knowledge of power and violence that is beyond propositional meaning, for example, in gestures or affects? 

Taking special interest in differentiating the concepts of power, violence, and brutality and in discussing this question by examining concrete artistic test cases, the Research Training Group “Knowledge in the Arts” at the Berlin University of the Arts extends an invitation to its one-day workshop “Violent Knowledge.” 

We are delighted to have Prof. Dr. Reinhold Görling (Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf/University of Vienna) as a participating guest. Prof. Görling has addressed the media-philosophical implications of “imagery and violence” in numerous monographs, edited volumes, and essays, including “Szenen der Gewalt: Folter und Film von Rossellini bis Bigelow” (Scenes of violence: torture and film from Rossellini to Bigelow) or the edited volume Die Verletzbarkeit des Menschen. Folter und die Politik der Affekte(The vulnerability of the human being: torture and the politics of affects). 


Organizational Note:

The workshop is partially open to the public and is aimed at interested members of the community at the Berlin University of the Arts and in cultural studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. If you would like to present and discuss an example of your own in the workshop, please let us know in your registration. 

Please submit your binding registration for the workshop to the Coordination Office of the Research Training Group by June 4, 2018. 

Concept: Georg Dickmann, MA, Prof. Dr. Barbara Gronau, Sebastian Köthe, MA

Contact Person:

Places in the workshop are awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.

The forms are being prepared to be downloaded.