Jan Verwoert: Ways to Inaugurate the Pleasurdome

Free School for Art Theory and Practice

Ways to Inaugurate the Pleasurdome – A Seminar
Jan Verwoert

Social bonds are forged through techniques of keeping and sharing secrets, coded ways of shaking hands, exchanging words and looks, learning to be, dress and speak in certain ways and not others, to perform rituals and cast spells that summon certain spiritis, not others. These techniques are a matter of practice as much as they involve the imagination. If a bond is to be forged, the community it is designed to create needs to be imagined. So images do play their role in the constitutive moment when a society is inaugurated. They formulate the promise of what that society will give to its members in the future.

The Seminar will look at techniques and images through which communities are inaugurated, communities of the past, present and future. The Seminar will take visual material as its starting point and centre its discussion around images and techniques found in historic and contemporary everyday culture. In the same context it will discuss art works and art projects that explore the practical and visual logic of the inauguration of communities and propose alternatives. In the process of looking at art and everyday life, text material will be added to the discussion. These explorations will be guided by the questions: Does the inauguration of and initiation into a community always imply a moment of violence and the affirmation of a hierarchial power structure? Or can there be practices and images that renounce this violence and thus generate powerless structures of communal conviviality? How could a community be imagined that is not a sect defined through the exclusion of a constitutive other or a fraternity based on the codex of male bonding? Maybe a ‚community without community’, as Derrida puts it, invoked in the moment of a ‚secretless conjuration’ to assemble for those who have nothing else to bring to that community but their own solitude.


Any image (or textbite) that comes to mind when you think about the above, a mural, a sign, a gesture, a pose, a monument, an anti-monument, a political event, a piece of architecture ...

Among the books that may be read in this context as they raise crucial question concerning the politics and ethics of the inauguratial moment are
> Jacques Derrida: Politics of Friendship (Chapter 2 Loving in friendship: perhaps), Verso, London New York 2005
> Jean-Luc Nancy: The Inoperative Community (Chapter 2 Myth interrupted), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis London 1991/2004
> Giorgio Agamben: The Coming Community. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis London 1993/2005

The Free School for Art Theory and Practice

The Free School for Art Theory and Practice considers as the basis of its philosophy the concept that contemporary art and culture produce an excess of knowledge and experience, which can be recycled and used in broader social discourse, beyond their own primary context. The aim of the Free School is to increase the theoretical and practical arsenal of the local art scene based on active participation and dialogue in seminars, and also by analyzing artistic positions, critical aspects and the institutional system. With its name, the school marks community gatherings for people to meet with a view to exchange knowledge and learn from one another.

Goals are:
- To examine the current phenomena of contemporary visual culture in artistic and curatorial practice;
- To enhance critical thinking and dialogue within the art field
- To define the role of art theory and art criticism, to analyse critical concepts and study the possibilities for their adaptation to different contexts
- To discuss the identity /role of the curator and the artist in an international context.

Subjects covered:
- The role of context in cultural production
- The interplay of theory and praxis
- The public domain between the institutional system and forms of self-organization
- Constructive interplay between curatorial and artistic practice

Target audience: Artists, curators, students and anyone interested in contemporary art

How to apply
Artists, curators, students, who undertake to prepare for and to take an active part in the seminars (as is relevant to the lecturers), are invited to send a letter of motivation.
One seminar may be attended by maximum 15 participants.
Application deadline: February 28, 2007
Send applications to:

Planned Schedule
Thursday Public lecture by invited lecturer (s), afterwards discussion;
Friday-Sunday (Fri-Sat 10-13, 14-18 , Sun 10-13) seminar for the closed seminar group with the lecturer.

Attendance at the free school is free. On request we can help in organization of accommodation.