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.


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Legacies of the Living Theatre

Co-founded in 1947 by Judith Malina and Julian Beck as an imaginative alternative to commercial theatre, the Living Theatre has been renowned for radical experimental performances, with unconventional stagings of poetic drama and nomadic outdoor dramatic interventions.  Its unique body of work has influenced the form, content, and politics of theatre since the latter half of the 20th century, and its wide-ranging corpus of productions has reached twenty-eight countries over five continents and eight languages.

The mission of the Living Theatre, composed by Beck, speaks for itself:

   To call into question
   who we are to each other in the social environment of the theater,
   to undo the knots
   that lead to misery,
   to spread ourselves
   across the public's table
   like platters at a banquet,
   to set ourselves in motion
   like a vortex that pulls the
   spectator into action,
   to fire the body's secret engines,
   to pass through the prism
   and come out a rainbow,
   to insist that what happens in the jails matters,
   to cry "Not in my name!"
   at the hour of execution,
   to move from the theater to the street and from the street to the theater.
   This is what The Living Theatre does today.
   It is what it has always done.
With Beck’s passing in 1985 and Malina’s retirement earlier this year (due to health reasons, but she is still full of artistic vision and energy), the Living Theatre continues to build on its roots in New York and to champion physical, outspoken, and audience-centred dramatic expression. 

The American Repertory Theatre at Harvard, founded in 1980 by Robert Brustein and under the artistic direction of Diane Paulus since 2008, is among the leading forces of global theatre which share the Living Theatre’s commitment to the transformative potential of immersive theatrical experiences.

The Donkey Show, a contemporary take on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream
@ A.R.T., Harvard


Film, Gender, Music: January masterclasses @ NICA

Looking for creative inspiration and extra credits this winter?  The Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis in Amsterdam offers a set of interesting options this upcoming January.

Adrian Martin: Creative Film Criticism - Lecture and Masterclass, January 9-10, 1 EC

Film criticism is an expansive ‘middle field’ that sits in-between two extremes – media journalism on one side, academic scholarship on the other – and draws on both of them for its resources. While the borders between the three activities (journalism, criticism, scholarship) have always been, in the best cases, porous, today it is the Internet that sets a new ‘level playing field’ for the different kinds of writing/speaking about and responding to films. In this masterclass, we ask: where is film criticism today? and what can we do? – rejecting the many gloomy prognoses of its professional death and decay in a corporate media landscape.

Heather Love: Queer Affect and Method - Public lecture and masterclass, January 16-17, 1 EC

Heather Love is the R. Jean Brownlee Term Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include gender studies and queer theory, modernism and modernity, affect studies, disability studies, film and visual culture, psychoanalysis, sociology and literature, and critical theory. She is the author of Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Harvard, 2007), the editor of a special issue of GLQ on Gayle Rubin (“Rethinking Sex”), and the co-editor of a special issue of New Literary History (“Is There Life after Identity Politics?”). She has current projects on reading methods in literary studies, comparative social stigma, and generations and mentorship in queer studies.

Simone Mahrenholz: Music as Knowledge System - Masterclass, January 23, 1 EC

This master class will address a number questions including the following: How is it possible that abstract musical sounds can convey a certain ‘content’ and ‘knowledge’? What does it mean for musical sounds to be a “sign” or part of a “symbol-system” and thus to refer to something outside itself? What distinguishes music from language and what do they have in common? How can one analyze the “logics” of musical signs or symbols, and what do they ‘symbolize’? What role do emotions play in music as well as our bodily perceptions? And what concept of “knowledge” or “cognition” must we apply in order to encompass the manifold simultaneous forms in which music stimulates our intellectual, emotional as well as sensual responsiveness.

Introducing our Political Artist In Residence 2014!

Celebrating the launch of the inaugural Political Arts Residency at Leiden University, this video introduced an audience of students, academics, professionals, and diplomats on 2 December 2013 to the work and inspiration of our first Artist In Residence: Dr. Lien Fan Shen.  

The politics of sexuality, the complexities of gender (re)presentation, and the art of visualisation which will underpin the intellectual and practical fabric of Dr. Shen's residency, alongside post-colonial dynamics in the East Asian region and cultural subversions in and of Taiwan, are artfully captured by the editing skills of Limo Baroud, who graduated from Leiden University College in The Hague in June 2013 with a major in Political Arts.
Seeded by the Political Arts Initiative and funded by a Spotlight grant from the Ministry of Culture in Taiwan, the inaugural iteration of this Artist-in-Residence scheme at Leiden University will be hosted by the University's Honours Academy in May and June 2014.  Stay tuned for more details about Dr. Shen's masterclass series, lecture, and final exhibition, as well as community screenings and research seminars, on our residency website!  

Brave NEW WORLD for 21st-century citizens

Artist Jonas Staal and BAK (basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht) join forces to establish the New World Academy, which invites political organisations invested in progressive political projects to discuss the role of art and culture in political struggles with artists, educators, and students.  Together, they engage in critical thinking through concrete examples of transformative politics and develop collaborative projects that question and challenge the various frameworks of justice and existing models of representation.  The Academy proposes new critical alliances between art and progressive politics, so as to confront the democratic deficit in our current politics, economy, and culture.

For instance, to counter the tragedy of the current asylum policies in The Netherlands, undocumented migrant group We Are Here and the New World Academy devise a housing project where artists and refugees can live and work for three years in a vacant building in Amsterdam.  The closing event for the workshop and public forum on the Collective Struggle of Refugees: Lost. In Between. Together. takes place in de Balie on 6 December. 

Those of us curious about the leaderless politics emerging from open source, equal access, and piracy technologies will not want to miss the public forum and exhibition at BAK on 15 December.



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    PAI is hosted by Leiden University, The Netherlands
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