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Lawless: Clouds Reprise
Lawless: Clouds Reprise

Ute Holl

The Moses Complex

The Moses complex derives its actuality from recalling the emergence of cultures as fields of mutually engendering relationships. From the perspective of media studies, which is a science of differential relationships between materialities and immaterialities, noises and messages, channels and signals, apparatuses and perceptions, the relationship to God or gods turns out to be one between people and their systems of thought. So media studies argues against fundamentalism, whether ontological, anthropological, or technicistic. The figure of Moses is a decisive node...
  • community
  • Jean-Marie Straub
  • exile
  • Arnold Schönberg
  • Danièle Huillet


Current Texts

Okwui Enwezor

Intense Proximity

In Tristes Tropiques, a seminal work of ethnography and travel writing published to international acclaim in 1955, the great anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss begins the account of his legendary research trip into the interior of Brazil in a sceptical tone: “I hate travelling and explorers. Yet here I am proposing to tell the story of my expeditions.”Despite its hybrid format – combining memoir, travel writing, and ethnography – Tristes Tropiques became a popular bestseller. Its readers went beyond the niche audience of experts and immediately established its author as a major figure in the fields of anthropology and structuralism. The book appeared at a historical turning point, not only in the way structuralism was transforming anthropology – based on the analysis of society through the structure of language and culture – but also because it was unveiled during the post-war period, when ethnography was being transformed by the great movements of...

  • cultural transfer
  • ethnology
  • identity
  • Claude Lévi-Strauss
  • gaze
Current Texts

Kerstin Stakemeier

Crisis and Materiality in Art

Against all earlier hopes, the survival of mankind in and after the modern industrial age has turned out not to be automatable. On the contrary, it entirely depends on the continued active restoration of its material living conditions. Gilbert Simondon describes this connection between humans and their machines in the 1950s in On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects as a tragically truncated, restricted, and limiting way of living for both because, “man’s alienation vis à vis the machine isn’t only socio-economic, but also has a psycho-physiological sense; the machine no longer expands the image of the body, whether for the worker or for those who own the machine.” In machines, humankind’s fatal self-restraint manifests itself. In humankind, the creation of the machine stabilises itself as a border of his/her own body. This brings about a relationship of continued reciprocal curtailment and scarcity. For Simondon, alienation is therefore not...

  • anthropology
  • material aesthetics
  • thing/thingness
  • materialist turn
  • materiality


»The camera is my »exosomatic extension‹.«
»The camera is my »exosomatic extension‹.«

Gertrud Koch, Michael Lüthy, ...

A Walk With Allan Sekula Through His Exhibition

Gertrud Koch: We would like to start by discussing the different narrative forms you have chosen for the titles of your series, like »story«, »fable« or »tale«: how would you differentiate between stories and fables, and what autobiographical narratives are involved here? Is it a kind of metanarrative, is it a composing of different narrative moments?
   Allan Sekula: Very often my titling a particular work has an idiomatic logic: Fish Story has a vernacular resonance, particularly in American English where a... OPEN
  • photography
  • Allan Sekula
  • exhibition
  • memory
  • fiction
Current Texts

Ulaş Aktaş

The development of cultural screens

The radicalisation of the process of civilisation is a challenge to art, even an overwhelming one. High-modernist art, with its claims to understanding and expressing the world, positioned within a world that has become highly complex, is challenged by itself.

How is one to dance against Auschwitz or Hiroshima?

The sheer attempt to “dance against” anything would be naïve! Art after modernism – and I think the date 1945 would serve very well as a point of reference – had to and must now relinquish its own irresolvable complexity and retreat. It becomes in a sense truly radical but it would be more accurate to say it becomes nuclear, focussing on the core. Beckett’s plays are destilled cores – their greatness lies in their smallness. Absolute music, absolute art – Merce Cunningham’s dance could well be termed absolute dance in this sense – cristallises something from out of the cultural forms of bourgeois art, something which can...

  • body
  • immunization
  • dancing
  • politics
  • crisis
Current Texts

Patricia Ticineto Clough

Hail Mary full of grace. Hail Mary full of grace.

She with my parents, and me left to pray the rosary, counting Hail Marys against the return of some little girl’s jealousy.

The Rosary is a string of beads used to keep count of prayers as they are recited. First given to Saint Dominic by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the 13th century, the rosary would be popularly practiced with spiritual intensity. There also were rosary books, among the earliest vernacular devotional manuals to be printed, thus defining the role of print as a way of shaping and reflecting religious awareness. But the rosary was popular as much among those who could read as those who could not, as indulgences were offered offering a surplus value of grace in exchange simply for the number of prayers that were recited. And with this, a concern arose that the value given to sheer repetition would mix up quantity and quality, spirituality and superstition,...

  • childhood
  • affects
  • body
  • gender
  • objects