Zur Aufteilung von Arbeit, Tun, Wissen, des Sinnlichen, der Räume und Zeiten

When do divisions of sex and gender, head from hand, center and periphery, paid and unpaid work, accepted and disavowed knowledge, citizen and non-citizen, become a form of domination and control? And, on the other hand, when does a synthesis constitute an act of violence?

Is a counterhegemonic exchange possible between the fields of art, wage labour, politics and knowledge? Neoliberal imperatives of synergy and cooperation that demand that knowledge be economically viable, or that art function only as adornment or spectacle are not what we consider to be a valid critique of violent divisions and syntheses.

Karl Marx’s so-called primitive accumulation and Jacques Rancière’s primary aesthetics (esthétique primaire) serve as starting points for our questions. Both of them address primordial, naturalized, and violent divisions. While Marx’s primitive accumulation describes the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production, Rancière’s primary aesthetics refers to a habitualized division of the senses. In the mode of a historical a priori these divisions determine what is possible for a particular group of people to see, hear, think, speak and smell, while others apparently do not exist at all. Both Marx and Rancière not only elaborate on the violence of processes of division and formation but also on the necessity of constantly re-establishing and reiterating them in order to make them last. However, can we presume (with Marx) global and systematic inequality, or rather (with Rancière), the equality of all human beings?

Without claiming that existing divisions and forms of discipline would be easy to overcome, and mindful of our privileges as knowledge workers and artists, we would like to invite you to engage with the possibilities of not being divided, partitioned and separated in such ways.

The symposium will aim to provide equal space to both scholarly and artistic contributions, and, taking inspiration from Plato’s Symposion (despite its male-dominance), will apply its spirit of convivial exchange and its praxis of a conversation without bystanders.

Possible perspectives for contributions could be: the idea, history and epistemology of division(s), such as dispossession (Athena Athanasiou, Judith Butler), the part of those who have no part and indisciplinarity (Rancière), division of labour, distribution, the dialectic of individuation and collectivization; or specific axes of division i.e. sexual, racial, operational, familial, disciplinary and aesthetic.

Possible topics for contributions 

  • What is the relation between the production and reproduction of the relations of production (Marx) or of primary aesthetics (Rancière), on the one hand, and our postmodern concept of knowledge and history as a series of ruptures on the other?
  • How do processes of social and economic expropriation, such as indebtedness and deprivation of civil rights relate to current demands for the appropriation of space, resources and the commons, but also to those for debt relief and the redistribution of wealth?
  • What is the violence inherent in the current division between the time-regimes of e.g. labour, unemployment, unpaid work, reproduction and self-realization? How is this violence connected to the fact that the separation between work and leisure seems to have been abolished (in specific contexts at least)?
  • To what extent can violently established and hegemonic knowledge-regimes be challenged through practices of militant and participatory research?
  • Which claims to power and which exclusions have been part and parcel of the separation of autonomous art from economic, scholarly, political or ethical practices as well as from the so-called applied arts (and craftsmanship) since the end of the 18th century in Europe?
  • What role does the division of spaces play in everyday life; in separated worlds and territories; in who can access land, soil and resources; in the way things are distributed in space?

Format: The Symposium will consist of three public lectures by Alex Demirović, Marion von Osten and Kristin Ross, and of a number of closed working sessions (non-public workshops). The workshops will consist of participants selected through the Call for Abstracts who will discuss their theoretical and artistic contributions and responses with the invited guests and the Divisions working group. With this format we seek to create a Symposion-like atmosphere of exchange without an audience.

Call for Abstracts/Papers: The Symposium invites a group of participants (scholars, artists, activists) to discuss their papers in the workshops together with Alex Demirović, Marion von Osten, Kristin Ross and the Divisions working group. Abstracts can draw upon theoretical approaches to the topic of divisions as well as specific case studies and art projects.

Abstracts: Pdf files of max. 300 words (artists can submit a 2-page project outline) and a C.V. (max. 50 words) can be sent until June 20th 2016 via e-mail to: [email protected][at]akbild.ac.at

  • Languages: German and English
  • Confirmation of participation: July 5th, 2016
  • Deadline for submission of papers: August 31st 2016. As all papers will be distributed among participants at the beginning of September only timely submissions can be accepted.
  • Length of papers: max. 35,000 characters (including spaces)
  • Presentation of artistic projects during the symposium: max. 30 min.
  • Financial support: 100€ for those travelling to Vienna
  • Divisions working group: Sofia Bempeza, Michael Klein, Jenny Kneis, Sissi Makovec, Ruth Sonderegger

Contact: [email protected][at]akbild.ac.at