IMAG-E-NATION the political & philosophical arts initiative blog

(re)imagining the political and philosophical in the 21st century

The Political & Philosophical Arts Initiative is interested in the ways in which people interact with and compose political and philosophical ideas and actions through the various, diverse media of technology and the arts. Participants in PAI seek to explore the ways in which poetry, literature, music, photography, performance and other creative arts interleave with the political and philosophical life, either as vehicles for criticism, elaboration, theorization, intervention or activism.
The Imag-e-nation blog is a forum for interested parties to share stories, images or other contributions. Contributors range from students and faculty to artists and musicians to professional and casual commentators. Pieces can be short opinions, re-postings of appropriate materials, or original compositions. In addition, the PAI at LUC will make a selection of relevant or provocative news items each week for (re)publication here.


REVOLUTION! this Thursday

A reminder to start bookmarking your favourite passages of radical philosophy and revolutionary poetry, for 'tis time for REVOLUTION!

Join PAI and the international MA students of Leiden University's Institute for Philosophy for a night of revolutionary thought and poetry at De filosoof in The Hague.  Bring your philosophical and/or poetic weapon of choice to share over blood red wine on 4 June 2015 to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests, celebrate the current New University movement in The Netherlands, and much more.  Doors open at 19:30 and reading starts at 20:00.

Get ready to translate power:

Góruje nad doliną Pewność Niewzruszona. 
Ze szczytu jej roztacza się Istota Rzeczy.
~ Wisława Szymborska, Utopia

~ Bei Dao, Go

Tickets are priced at €5.00 for unlimited tea/coffee/soft drinks and 
€8.00 for three glasses of wine. Register via e-mail and secure your spot in the intimate cellar of Papestraat 5 by paying in advance to De filosoof (IBAN: NL52INGB0006748829 | Reference: REVOLUTION! + your name).

Movers'n'Shakers of the world, unite--you have nothing to lose but scientific rationalism (and sobriety, perhaps). Until Thursday the 4th, keep up the good fight.


What Is T̶h̶e̶ ̶C̶o̶m̶m̶o̶n̶ ̶G̶o̶o̶d̶? An academic, activist, artistic discussion on 22 April

Accompanying et al.’s installation For The Common Good, the Political Arts Initiative joins West Den Haag to investigate the conceptual and practical contours of “the common good”: what is common, what is good, and what are the challenges, opportunities, and caveats of defining a common good?  

You are warmly invited to:
An interactive discussion amongst academic, activist, and artistic voices
on 22 April 2015, 16:00 – 19:00 @ West Den Haag

From et al.'s For The Common Good @ West Den Haag

Attentive to et al.’s artistic strategies and socio-political sensibilities, speakers from a wide range of professions and priorities will share their perspectives on the question of the common good and invite the audience to tease apart assumptions and talk through current and future claims and visions for the common good.  Enabled by et al.’s redactive approach, let’s ponder the blackened omissions and imagine strategies for living and acting together in the 21stcentury with:

  • Jason File (b. 1976, Marquette, Michigan, USA) is an artist, lecturer and war crimes prosecutor. He holds Fine Art degrees from the Chelsea College of Arts, London and from the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (2013), where he currently teaches. He also holds degrees in the humanities, social sciences and law from Yale (1998), Oxford (2000) and Yale Law School (2004). He has been awarded numerous art prizes including the 2014 Zabludowicz Collection Future Map Prize. File has exhibited in solo and group shows both in Europe and in the United States. He lives and works in The Hague.
  • Of Flemish-Scottish, atheistic background, Helen Hintjens grew up in the African continent, following her father's career to Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Angola, Rwanda, France and Croatia.  Since 1986 Helen has been teaching Development Studies in UK universities and since 2005 at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. She publishes on Rwanda and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and on asylum rights advocacy in the EU and beyond.  In July 2014, she achieved a lifetime dream of graduating in Fine Art from the Royal Academy of Fine Art in The Hague.  In the Age of the Wall, with a global war on forced migrants, Helen stubbornly sticks to the belief in the common good of unrestricted free movement.
  • Els Leclercq is an urban designer and published researcher with expertise in delivering planning, design and development projects for the public and private sectors, including urban analysis, urban design and masterplanning, and project management. She has a professional interest in observing and researching the evolution of urbanity.  To this effect, she is currently undertaking a PhD at the department of Design as Politics at TUDelft, Netherlands, to examine whether the European ‘urban renaissance’ of the late 20th and early 21st centuries has delivered the regenerative revival it promised to deliver.
  • Enzo Rossi teaches political theory at the University of Amsterdam, and co-edits the European Journal of Political Theory.  His academic background is mostly in philosophy, and his work is centred around the relationship between the normative and the descriptive study of society.  The more practical upshot of this focus is an ongoing interest in legitimacy, both de facto and normative—an interest which recently has become far more practical than usual, because of Enzo's involvement in the Rethink UvA campaign for the democratization of university governance.
  • Urok Shirhan (b. 1984) is a visual artist and a current research resident at the Jan van Eyck Academy.  She studied Fine Arts at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2012/2013 she was a participant in the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, Lebanon.  Shirhan’s work examines issues such as identity, migration and (mis)representation.  She has recently worked on a research project regarding the mediatisation of the Iraq War, Occupy Baghdad (2012-2014).  Shirhan currently lives and works between Amsterdam and Maastricht.

The event will be moderated by Cissie Fu in an intimate and interactive setting, where speakers and audience will share the site-specific terra nullius created by et al. for a substantive and open dialogue. 

Entry is free and a light supper will be served.  For catering purposes, RSVP here.

We look forward to welcoming you on 22 April!


Tagging beautiful moments: an all-weekend data party 11-12 April

Following PAI's collaboration with i4C to kick off Janne Willem's Seize Your Moments data weekend in February, Janne invites you to party with her team and thousands of beautiful moments collected from around the world this coming weekend in Utrecht!  Full details are here.

Data analysis for Janne's project began on 20 February and has continued steadily over the weeks, with keen eyes and descriptive power of over seventy crowd-sourced strangers who met in person to shared memorable moments while tagging images collectively, or worked separately at home to code distinctive characteristics per drawing to keep intercultural perceptions of beauty to life.  Take a glimpse into Janne's online tagging environment and join in the fun!


O, the oraculous!

Missed or missing ORACLE this past Sunday?  May the moments below--still and quotable--from this performance art installation inspired by International Women's Day remind us of our quest for collective living in a complex world.  Where words fail, let images move and movement speak.

Setting the scene for ORACLE

It is about more than resistance.  It is about what is being defended.  It might be a one-off unique sound.  It might be an often heard cry.  It might not be that special.  When the invaders are gone, are we then screaming in the desert?
~ Manifesto, Les Filles Sophies

Spectactors unite: Nathanja van den Heuvel reading supine
[L-R] Hannah Dawn Henderson, Roxane van Beek, Marie Jeanne de Rooij, Simon Gnagy
(Photo by Ronald Bal)

We have not finished chanting the litany of the ignorances of the unconscious; it knows nothing of castration or Oedipus, just as it knows nothing of parents, gods, the law, lack.  The Women's Liberation movements are correct in saying: we are not castrated, so you get fucked.
~ Anti-Oedipus, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

Simon Gnagy: dancing the message, with Rita Hershkovich sitting still
(Photos by Ronald Bal)

So humans move: our arms reach out, our knees collapse, our heads nod, our chests cave in, our backs arch, we clench our fists, we jump, we shrug, we pick each other up, we push each other away.  This is what the body has to say about need, defeat, courage, despair, desire, joy, ambivalence, frustration, love. 
~ Crystal Pite

ORACLE in action: [L-R] Hannah Dawn Henderson, Roxane van Beek, Cissie Fu
(Photos by Ronald Bal)

There is always an old woman ahead of you on a journey, and there is always an old woman behind you too, and they are not always the same, and may be fearful or kindly, dangerous or delightful, as the road shifts, and you speed along it.  Certainly I was ahead of you, and behind you too, but not only I, and not only as I am now.
~ The Story of the Eldest Princess, A.S. Byatt

Roxane van Beek's wall of pictorial answers
(Inner photo by Ronald Bal)

One clear feminist challenge is to wake up sleeping metaphors in science . . . Although the literary convention is to call such metaphors "dead," they are not so much dead as sleeping, hidden within the scientific content of texts--and all the more powerful for it. Waking up such metaphors, by becoming aware of when we are projecting cultural imagery onto what we study, will improve our ability to investigate and understand nature. Waking up such metaphors, by becoming aware of their implications, will rob them of their power to naturalize our social conventions about gender.
~ The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed Romance 
Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles, Emily Martin

Hannah Dawn Henderson: balancing text, image, speech...and stones

Almost anything carried to its logical extreme becomes depressing, if not carcinogenic.
~ Introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin


Site-specificity: soundscapes for Blueprint and terra nullius

Two new exhibitions open in The Hague this coming weekend: their respective interrogations of space and place promise to conjure visual rhythms and sonic imagery to accompany the recreative imagination of the artists and their audience.

New Zealand collective et al. presents a new site-specific installation on Saturday 14 March, with an opening performance at 17:00 in collaboration with composer Samuel Holloway, detailed as follows in the press release of this exciting exhibition:

In its new installation at West, the document evolves as expanded references on the dialectical object as sites of neutrality and engagement, transparency and opacity, art and non-art.  Gathering together a rich complexity of reflective documents within stylistic devices of audio-visual film, video, montage, and installation, the project looks at nonutopian, or other spaces, within culture.  Here, the installation becomes a potential site where fixed beliefs can come undone, where the ground rendered is unstable. 
Increasingly, land and ideological ‘occupation’ are invalidated through displacement, hypocrisy, and surveillance. et al. probes these issues, in For The Common Good, through real-time streaming of Google Earth, where the viewers can witness how time and space can be reinterpreted and reimagined.  The non-site and terra nullius (land belonging to no-one) are marked out through models and drawings of actual and envisaged sites reflecting models of community that seek to improve-upon current social conditions and create communal prototypes that aim to minimize the destructive impact on the earth.  et al. references return to the land movements, urban and intentional communities, and sustainable co-operatives including mobile homes & trailer parks.      

The evening of Friday 13 March brings an experimental exhibition project to life.  Engaging the sonic and spatial potential of GEMAK, Justin Bennett and Pascale-Sophie Kaparis collaborate with each other and with invited musicians--including electroacoustic ensemble MAZE, vocalist Marie Guilleray, and cellist Semay Wu for the opening performance at 18:30--to enhance experiences and understandings of cityscapes.  Whet your appetite with this excerpt from the exhibition announcement:  

Central to Justin Bennett’s presentation is the film project-in-progress Blueprint. Blueprint, made in close collaboration with a number of improvising musicians, combines hand-drawn animated city-maps and stenciled texts with a live soundtrack. Blueprint asks questions to the musicians and the audience about the links between social, urban and musical structures.  The context of Blueprint is widened by the inclusion of two older works.  City of Progress is another animation, this time accompanied by a spoken text which touches on the roles of architects, developers, artists and the military in urban planning.  Stimmung is a sound installation documenting the intervention of the audience during a Karlheinz Stockhausen concert at the Holland Festival of 1969.  We hear the music being interrupted as the audience “join in” with the musicians.  The concert is stopped but then a discussion starts over music, politics and audience participation.  Around these three audio-visual pieces, Bennett shows a selection of sketches and related source material for Blueprint and the other works.

Here's to an aurally and visually stimulating weekend ahead!



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