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.


New sound seminars @ The Nutshuis: Silence on 5 March

on: Silence

18.00 hrs. Food
19.00 hrs. Start program
Sound I to IV are interdisciplinary evenings, at which art meets science in the form of Q&A sessions, lectures and performance.
There can be no sound without silence.

The new interdisciplinary sound series at Het Nutshuis starts on 5 March with an exploration of silence in all its constitutive and creative richness.  Against a negative definition of silence as speechlessness, voicelessness, or soundlessness, the discussion this evening will shift our attention to silence as intentional and productive content in artistic manifestations and activist strategies alike.  

Set in a socio-politico-aesthetic context that embraces silence as presence rather than absence, the audience will hear the power of silence as well as experience silence and silencing in various artistic contexts.  This intimate seminar and participatory experiment puts the audience in discussion with British internet artist Heath Bunting, Portuguese video artist Miguel Peres dos Santos, and Dutch experimental composer Samuel Vriezen, whose artistic practices and research quiz and stretch the potential of silence as sound, voice, and action.

This event is curated and moderated by Cissie FuAssistant Professor of Political Theory at Leiden University College The Hague.

  English program
Admission is €15,- including food (students €8,-)
Admission is €10,- only program (students €5,-)
For tickets, click here

Our odyssey continues: GAMING THE CITY on 16 April

A big congratulations to all recent geo-cachers!  Photo-essay entries will be prepared for the next issue of +HIP, to launch alongside the geo-caching photo exhibition in The Nutshuis in mid-April. Before then, mark your calendars for the grand finale of Geo-Caching The Hague: GAMING THE CITY, an interactive symposium in the early evening of Wednesday 16 April about the city as a playground and augmented spaces for urban gaming.

Check out our speakers, and get in on the action!

London's Southbank Undercroft, an urban skate-boarding mecca


Future Vocabularies @ BAK: Aernout Mik's comment on survival post-Fukushima

In the course of 2014–2016, BAK’s program unfolds through a new series of projects under the title of Future Vocabularies. The series explores, through various artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries, the conceptual lexicon through which we might imagine a way of acting out concrete propositions and possibilities from within what is largely considered the crisis-ridden, ruinous folds of today. The opening vocabulary entry on survival is developed in the course of 2014 with a number of artists and theorists from BAK’s key past and ongoing projects, thus drawing a line of continuity into these times of interregnum and into the unknown of what we used to call the “future.” This multifaceted series is inaugurated with the work Cardboard Walls (2013) by artist Aernout Mik, which weaves together the key lineages of thought that we have marked for ourselves as critically important for (rethinking) survival—namely, questions surrounding the endurability of the planet, the lives of refugees, and the need to reorient our thinking around (institutional) infrastructure.

The video and spatial installation Cardboard Walls confronts us with the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Unfolding before us are various situations—both real and imagined—brought on by the catastrophe as they are enacted by the evacuees from the region, now destined to a “life” in the makeshift, fragile cardboard compartments. At first, the collective improvisations replay the concrete recollections of the traumatic events, to the extent that even the provisory habitat itself—all that the people here have left—becomes destroyed in an outburst of despair. Yet, gradually, the improvised (unscripted) actions take a more speculative and propositional—even if at times illogical—course, prompted by a number of politically charged moments when Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) staff, who are responsible for the accident, enter the camp to issue a public apology. A new composition of solidarities, relations, and possibilities begins to surface from within the debris of the calamity, driven by the force to survive in the face of tragic circumstances of an inhuman scale—until a new cycle of accusations, anger, and hopelessness restarts the vicious circle, time and time again.

The spatial installation of the work incorporates the viewer into its own structure of cardboard walls so that it quickly becomes manifest that the disaster in question is not of marginal concern by virtue of having occurred far away, but rather that we are in this together. Although claimed to be an act of nature, this event of huge global consequence might better be understood as a result of our enduring hazardous, obscene, and abusive genealogy of relations to both the environment and to each other. The installation addresses how what we thought we controlled (nature), or created and thought to control (capitalist doctrines), has in fact taken charge of our lives in an authoritative swoop, announcing loudly that the era fully engineered by the actions of humans—the regime of the Anthropocene—has reached a level in which the possibility of survival itself is placed under alarming threat. 

Aernout Mik (b. 1962) is an artist based in Amsterdam.

The work Cardboard Walls has been produced by Aichi Triennale, Aichi and Aernout Mik, with additional support by the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam and the Netherlands Film Fund, Amsterdam.

Aernout Mik's Cardboard Walls opens at BAK, Utrecht on Saturday 1 March 2014 at 20:00, and the exhibition is on display from 2 March 2014 to 18 May 2014.


(Un)Cache me if you can!

There is still time to get in gear for Geo-Caching The Hague!  If you haven't started on your adventure yet, do so from now until 23 February and compose your photo-essay in The Hague from one QR code to the next.  Start at The Nutshuis come rain or come shine, register for bonuses, and submit your photo-essay this weekend!


Ciphers: Theatre for Thought

Political science is the handmaiden of the nation-state; political arts reclaim politics for the people. ~ Political Arts Manifesto, Statement 3

“The people”. A whole. Bound by whom, bound by what? On the basis of our humanity perhaps? If so, what defines us as humans if not our physical features? Knowledge upholds our thinking about the Self, and communication our relation to the people.

Yet sometimes knowledge presides interaction, and people find themselves inexplicably linked through imagined communities and doctrines. We might rightly question why the nation as an imagined community functions as a symbol of group cohesion, whilst through this very nature fractures the importance of proximity to human interaction.

Ciphers, Dawn King’s second play after her much acclaimed Foxfinder, tells a tale of spies, lies and betrayal. The protagonist, referred to as Justine, appears to have unknowingly found herself caught up in contradicting operations carried out by British and Russian spy operations.

As recent events have led us to question the “surveillance state”, ciphers subtly reverts huge national spy operations to the micro level, giving a sense of individual cost and confused loyalties. In order to challenge the abstraction of politics as something inhuman and mechanic, we must not only focus on the reclaiming of politics by ordinary citizens, but also recognize the actors who construct political institutions as human and complex. This idea is well encapsulated in the play, illustrating the tensions between states and their constituents. Throughout Ciphersdark, revolving boards with simple yet memorable phrases, flashing clinical lights and stern multi-lingual dialogue create an intimate and eerie atmosphere even in spacious theatres.

The theme of the play itself felt a little too close for comfort. 

This is a guest commentary by Rosalind Lowe, who is currently completing an MSc in Sociology at the University of Oxford after graduating with a major in Human Interaction and double minors in Arabic and Journalism from Leiden University College The Hague in June 2013.



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