Free School for Art Theory and Practice

Ways to Inaugurate the Pleasuredome. Seminar with Jan Verwoert


We and contemporaneity. Jan Verwoert Interviewed by Brigitta Iványi-Bitter

March 9–10, 2007 / Open Society Archive, Budapest

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 spirits, 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 center 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 hierarchical 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.


Jan Verwoert  is a critic and writer based in Berlin. He is a contributing editor of frieze magazine, his writing has appeared in different journals, anthologies and monographs. He teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam and the de Appel curatorial programme.

Brigitta Iványi-Bitter is an art historian, curator, and lawyer based in Budapest. She wrote her PhD thesis on Central European modern and contemporary experimental animation.