DARK MATTER, BLACK TRANSPARENCY & THE AESTHICISATION OF POLITICS
The Alt-Right’s recent re-appropriation of dissident & revolutionary discourse, married to a regime of (real or implied) violence, represents a crisis in the institutionalised culture of Western democracy, whose self-preservation strategies of the past seventy years have been principally directed at communism & the anti-capitalist “left.” Within the institutional avantgarde, the revolutionary foundations of Western democracy – being dissociated from political life & reserved to mere aesthetic ritual – acquire the abstract status – like art itself – of an acte gratuit. This “seizure of initiative” by the far-right hinges at every point on a logic of cultural decadence – above all a revolutionary decadence: the dissolution of dissent as “spectacle of critique,” critique as “art,” & art as commodity. It relies on the representation of real dissent as liberal democracy’s “dirty secret,” suppressed by hidden conspiratorial hands manipulating the public agenda.
THE INSECTUAL BROTHERS: KAREL ČAPEK’S & JAN ŠVANKMAJER’S AVANTGARDISMS & THE LIMITS OF HUMANISM
Jan Švankmajer’s recent “last” film called Insects (2018) is unique in the context of the phenomenal surrealist moviemaker not only in that it is a loosely based fantasy on the themes of the famous Brothers Čapeks’ 1922 play. It is both an homage to Čapek’s problematic avantgardism (which the paper seeks to contextualise within the 1920s Czechoslovak art scene), but it’s also a critique of some of Čapek’s own political compromises made in the play. The analysis of the Čapek/Švankmajer dialogue,taking place over the 100 years separating our present moment from the post-WW1 inception of Central & Eastern European avant-gardism, aims to bring together the former’s supposed humanism and the latter’s lifelong avant-gardism. This on the basis of their shared examination of the limits of the human, and the problematic borderline between the human and the animal, the “natural” and the technological, and the biological and the machinic.
Organized by a publishing house Litteraria Pragensia.