Communitas

Read more

Communitas is a form of community. In contrast to the conventional, often romanticised “community”, communitas is not understood as a container featuring an inside and an outside. Instead of excluding “the other”, it embraces otherness and multitude. Communitas is an open relation to the other, the interrelationship between entities without hierarchy, without defined position within the structures of power.

Communitas subverts and annihilates existing inequalities and focuses solely on the being-in-common, but without wanting to uniform diversity. Communitas is conceptually connected to the “political” interrupting and subverting the present order. It opens up as a dissonance of perception, an interval of the unpredictable. The “political” is the place where social movement can happen, and therefore it is the place of communitas – beyond structures and hence always precarious and fleeting.

Considering concepts of communitas, however, we encounter some issues.

One difficulty is the balancing act between the common (collective) and the “own”. Roberto Esposito mentions this as he discusses the semantic core munus of the Latin word communitas. Munus accentuates the service to the common and thus pushes towards the abandoning of the personal. Communitas therefore is sometimes understood as endangering individual existence, identity and freedom – the self drowning in the common.

The dismissal of hierarchies from the idea of communitas also bears problematic potential. To concentrate theoretically on unstructured, open, and egalitarian relations may lead to the whitewashing of existing inequalities in favour of an ecstatic equality – which de facto does not exist. One might suspect that the prevalence of white male western academics among the theoreticians of communitas is not fully coincidental: their privileged position prevents the experience of discriminatory structures, leading to a conceptual neglect of inequalities that do not touch them directly.

A similar thrust shows the criticism of the conceptualisation of communitas as “coming.” As long as communitas will be constructed solely into a fleeting future, its political impetus will be ephemeral, too. Can communitas be set into present and “vulgarised” in order to gain political force? How can we fruitfully deal with existing inequalities but still work towards the political utopia of communitas?

[ Also, regarding the field of cultural studies, we could ask: how can we explore communitas in cultural practices, if it cannot exist? ]

Focusing on relations instead of a “container” leads to the question between whom relations exist or may be installed. There is first a terminological issue, whether we should speak of subjects, individuals, or even persons. Considering the core munus, the sharing of the common, it seems questionable to speak of individuals: in what way is an individual un-shareable (indivisible) if it solely consists of its con-dividuality? Do we need to assume singularities, whose only trait is to exist in common with others? At the same time, we might want to ask whether communitas extends only to human singularities – an idea not explicitly spelled out, but secretly underlying concepts of communitas. Which role do we appoint to the idea of self-responsible, conscious agency in times of anti-speciesist movements and posthuman cyber-technological developments?

Readings:

Joseph Vogl, ‘Einleitung’. In Gemeinschaften. Positionen Zu Einer Philosophie Des Politischen, edited by Joseph Vogl. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1994. 7–27.

Roberto Esposito. Communitas: The Origin and Destiny of Community. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2010.

André Lepecki, ‘From Partaking to Initiating: Leadingfollowing as Dance’s (a-Personal) Political Singularity’. In Dance, Politics & Co-Immunity, edited by Stefan Hölscher and Gerald Siegmund. Zürich: Diaphanes, 2013. 21–38.

Gerald Raunig, ‘After Community: Condividuality’. In Dance, Politics & Co-Immunity, edited by Gerald Siegmund and Stefan Hölscher. Zürich: Diaphanes, 2013. 271–279.

Der gemeinschaftliche Theatertraum in Covid-19-Zeiten

Der gemeinschaftliche Theatertraum in Covid-19-Zeiten

Die Pandemie des Covid-19 trifft im Theaterbetrieb einen besonders sensiblen Nerv. Von der physischen Bühne zum bodenlosen Cyberspace, vom Publikum zur unsichtbaren Internet-Crowd ist der „gemeinschaftliche Traum“ neu zu erfinden, und dies unter technisch-ästhetischen Bedingungen, die das Theater eher wie ein alter Alptraum anmuten lässt. Doch über die jetzige Krisensituation hinaus mag dies dazu ermuntern, das „Gemeinsame“ des Theaters bzw. der Kunst in einer digitalisierten Kultur zu reflektieren.

Read more

La Commune (Paris, 1871). A lecture by Fabienne Liptay

La Commune (Paris, 1871). A lecture by Fabienne Liptay

In his book “Peuples exposés, peuples figurants” (2012), Georges Didi-Huberman asks the question of how to make of the image a „common place“. In regard to cinema, this entails overruling the „commonplace of images of the people“ that is usually occupied by the extras as backdrop of the hero’s story and replacing it by a […]

Read more

«The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is: it’s to imagine what’s possible» – A lecture by Marc Streit

«The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is: it’s to imagine what’s possible»  – A lecture by Marc Streit

«With my initiatives I intend to gather people and foster real encounters – collective experiences. I consider art as a metaphorical exile, a place of resistance and action, that can and should create new perspectives and new meanings. I understand myself as a connecter, collaborator, organizer, contextualizer, producer, and host in the field of contemporary […]

Read more

Affective Community. Towards a Performative Theory of Historical Agency. A lecture by Dorota Sajewska

Affective Community. Towards a Performative Theory of Historical Agency. A lecture by Dorota Sajewska

The impact of symbols in communal practices, developed by Claude Levi-Strauss in the concept of “symbolic efficacy”, influenced several disciplines, inter alia the anthropology of performance (Victor Turner) and performance studies (Richard Schechner). Emphasizing that rituals not only communicate religious ideas but are “taken by those performing them to be ‘doing something’” (Roy A. Rappaport), […]

Read more

Emotional Identification and Abjection. A lecture by Mieke Kolk

Emotional Identification and Abjection. A lecture by Mieke Kolk

“Migrancy…involves a movement in which neither point of departure nor those of arrival are immutable or certain. It calls for dwelling in language, histories, in identities that are constant subject to mutation” (Chambers, 1994) Allthough the discourse on non-western arts is often still dominated by a –positive or negative – binding to western origins and […]

Read more

Inventing Skins. Reinventing Community. A lecture by Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira

Inventing Skins. Reinventing Community. A lecture by Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira

Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira presents in his lecture two topics: Firstly, what does it mean to “invent a skin” in Literature and Art in Brazil? Secondly, how does the use of the word “skin” allow us to better understand artistic practices in reinventing communities. In the first part, he presents the concept of “Inventing Skins” […]

Read more

Divided We Stand or Revolutionary Love in the Making. A lecture by Katarzyna Bojarska

Divided We Stand or Revolutionary Love in the Making. A lecture by Katarzyna Bojarska

If as Ernst van Alphen claims, «affect is the opposite of personal: it is social.» What it means is not so much that affects are not owned by individuals but rather, that their very origin is social, they are produced by and in interactions with numerous agent such as other people (their bodies most specifically) […]

Read more

Sharing Image, Sharing Time. A lecture by Paweł Mościcki

Sharing Image, Sharing Time. A lecture by Paweł Mościcki

Against the backdrop of the ongoing debate, spread across various traditions and disciplines, around the concept of the Commons, Paweł Mościcki proposes his reading of the two possible areas where this concept could be fruitfully used. In order to do it, he has to refer to the old, and somewhat forgotten philosophical discussions around common […]

Read more

Communauté des Chercheurs sur la Communauté

The international network CCC (Community of Researchers on Community) brings together researchers and scholars who share their interest in the notion of “community”. Initiated in 2016 and administrated by Rémi Astruc, Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the Cergy-Pontoise University (Paris), their website and blog comprises various articles in different languages on theory,  aesthetics, […]

Read more

Lernt ihr unsere Namen. Wie Hanau an der Gemeinsamkeit baut.

Rassistisch motivierte, rechtsterroristische Anschläge wie in Hanau im Februar 2020 kommen vermehrt in die Öffentlichkeit, doch eine gründliche Aufklärung hinkt meist noch – der Fall NSU ist hier bestes Beispiel für die Verharmlosung rechter Gewalt und Ideologie. Die Hanauer antirassistische Aktivistin Newroz Duman stellt sich die Frage, wie Trauer und Wut umgewandelt werden können, um rassistischem Gedankengut entgegenwirken zu können. Der Schmerz soll dabei als Anfang dienen, um ein gegenseitiges Kennenlernen über alle gesellschaftlichen Unterschiede hinweg zu initiieren.

Read more

Durchlässige Körper und verletzliches Zuschauersein. Einblicke in die künstlerische Praxis der Choreografin Simone Truong

Durchlässige Körper und verletzliches Zuschauersein. Einblicke in die künstlerische Praxis der Choreografin Simone Truong

Die performative Praxis der Performerin und Choreografin Simone Truong lässt sich ohne Weiteres als dauernde Erforschung einer zwischenkörperlichen Sozialität ansehen. In ihrer aktuellsten Arbeit «In the Middle of Nowhere – your Absence Fills the Space» begreift sie die Migration als Zustand der Verletzlichkeit, dessen existentieller Charakter körperlich erfahren wird, der aber auch eine ständige Suche nach Gemeinschaft offenlegt. Bei anderen Performances werden spezifische sinnliche Bedingungen erstellt, wo der Akt des Zuschauens mit einer körperlichen Teilnahme einhergeht. Die Einblicke in drei Arbeiten von Simone Truong beschreiben, wie eine emergente Verbundenheit zwischen Körpern erzeugt wird – eine Verbundenheit, die zugleich die fundamentale Verletzbarkeit dieser Körper offenbart.

Read more

Image as gesture: notes on Aernout Mik’s Communitas and the modern political film

Image as gesture: notes on Aernout Mik’s Communitas and the modern political film

Walking through Aernout Mik’s exhibition Communitas, dwelling in the encounter with the people and situations in front of and on the screens, one is struck by the cinematic and political qualities of the gestures in these powerful video installations. In this article some film-philosophical reflections on the silent performative force of the image as gesture and as politics will be explored.

Read more

Radical Collectivity

Radical Collectivity

Known for the invention of Starbucks, its deep nostalgia for grunge, and a Silicon Valley appeal, Seattle also has a rich Black heritage. As the city becomes increasingly expensive – and historical Black neighborhoods become white – Black artist collectives are using their platforms to address gentrification, historical erasure and ways of existing outside of those structures. Mia Harrison interviewed Ganesha from Cura Club and Saira Barbaric from Playthey and Scumtrust, three collectives that focus on the ways Blackness can be explored outside of the perpetuation of trauma narratives – through actions that heal.

Read more

The Community of the Forsaken: A Response to Agamben and Nancy

India has for long been full of exceptional peoples, making meaningless the notion of “state of exception” or of “extending” it. Brahmins are exceptional for they alone can command the rituals that run the social order and they cannot be touched by the lower caste peoples (let alone desired) for fear of ritualistic pollution. In […]

Read more

The Necromancers

The Necromancers

‘Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony (…).’[1] This passage from the book of Isaiah (8:19–20) is one of the thirteen Old Testament indications of the […]

Read more

Trailing utopia: How can an exhibition on feminist art initiate communitas?

Trailing utopia: How can an exhibition on feminist art initiate communitas?

In this article, I want to explore the ways contemporary art can produce community. By community I mean not a belonging to a specific group, but the concept of communitas as an open, unstructured, and egalitarian interpersonal bonding. The philosophical current circling around this understanding of communitas is closely tied to the Rancièrian concept of […]

Read more

Die Krise-Communitas-Schleife im Kunstkontext. Prämisse

Die Krise-Communitas-Schleife im Kunstkontext. Prämisse

Der schottisch-amerikanische Anthropologe Victor Turner war massgeblich an der konzeptuellen Herausarbeitung des Zusammenhangs von Communitas und Krise beteiligt. Die Communitas als offene, egalitäre und solidarische Gemeinschaftlichkeit sucht ethnische, nationale und sozialhierarchische Grenzen wie Geschlecht oder Klasse zu überwinden und ein Gegengewicht zur «kalten», normierenden Struktur der Gesellschaft zu bilden. Gemäss Turner basiert Communitas nicht auf […]

Read more

Transindividuality in Contemporary Dance and Performance. A lecture by Ana Vujanović.

Transindividuality in Contemporary Dance and Performance. A lecture by Ana Vujanović.

In her lecture from November 9, 2016, Ana Vujanović discusses the idea of transindividuality (Gilbert Simondon, Paolo Virno, Jason Read) as a way of thinking the relationship between the community and the individual. She focus on several dance and performance works that she uses to identify the choreographic strategies of the composition of this space in between and to consider for broader socio-political and everyday perspectives.

Read more

Das poetographische Projekt «Winterthur» – ein kommunitärer Epos

Das poetographische Projekt «Winterthur» – ein kommunitärer Epos

Das poetographische Projekt «Winterthur» zielt darauf ab, eine poetische Karte Winterthurs anzulegen, um den Namen einer Stadt mit seinen Stimmen zu füllen. Gelingen soll das durch Eydus – kurze Gedichte à 5-7-5 Silben über zentrale sowie periphere Orte, die von Winterthurer*innen eingeschickt und vom Kulturmagazin Coucou monatlich abgedruckt werden. Das Projekt startete im Dezember 2018. […]

Read more

A Metonymic Community. Towards Poetics Of Contingency

In his 2001 book with the programmatic title Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World, Zygmunt Bauman sketches in an almost stereotypical way a concept of community, one that not only seems to be far away, sunken into history, but that, for all that we know, might never actually have existed: a community that is […]

Read more

«Rome n’existe pas». Itinéraire d’une communauté nomade et temporaire

«Rome n’existe pas». Itinéraire d’une communauté nomade et temporaire

Lors de sa résidence à l’Institut suisse de Rome entre 2018 et 2019, la curatrice et autrice Laurence Wagner a suivi le collectif d’artistes-marcheurs DOM- lors d’une de leurs explorations urbaines dans la périphérie de Rome. Elle livre ici le récit d’une exploration célébrant le «possible» dans l’espace public et de la création d’une communauté nomade et temporaire.

Read more

The Herstory of the Black Protest. Solidary fight for democracy

The Herstory of the Black Protest. Solidary fight for democracy

The Czarny Protest (‘Black Protest’, a protest of women dressed in black) is one of the most important phenomena of the twenty-first century Poland. It is a series of events, a protracted revolution, an outcome of activities carried out by various groups and initiatives. It is linked with the past as well as the future. […]

Read more

Der Beat des Widerstandes. Das gemeinsame Musikmachen in sudanesischen Flüchtligslagern

Der Beat des Widerstandes. Das gemeinsame Musikmachen in sudanesischen Flüchtligslagern

Der Film Beats Of The Antonov (2014) dokumentiert, wie die Menschen in den Flüchtlingscamps in der Region des Blauen Nils oder in den Nuba-Bergen mit den andauernden Bombardements durch Antonov-Flugzeuge der sudanesischen Regierung umgehen. Dabei zeigt er auch auf, welche Bedeutung musikalische Traditionen in dieser Zeit der Krise gewinnen können. Der Essay geht der Frage nach, ob Musik als Ort einer Communitas in einer vom Krieg geprägten Gesellschaft gedacht werden kann und welche Möglichkeiten sie für den Widerstand bietet.

Read more

What Carries Us On

Implicit within the debate on Coronavirus curated by Antinomie and archived by Sergio Benvenuto is the question—for what must we carry on?  That is, do we—humanity, which has been reckoned by many thinkers as the error in nature—carry on for the sake of carrying on?  Or, should we, following Thomas Taylor, M. K. Gandhi, Pierre Clastres, and several others, proceed with a project of returning towards a moment in history that, for Agamben, is “the normal conditions of life”. The text is part of a conversation between Jean-Luc Nancy and Shaj Mohan.

Read more

Our Mysterious Being

Considering CoVid-19 a “communovirus”, the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy ponders the official Chinese communism as well as Marx’s notion of individual property and self-realisation. By isolating us, the “communovirus” makes us experience the “shared sense of our uniqueness”, which, according to Nancy, reveals our “most intimate community”. Starting from the question of whether there is a norm for man, Shaj Mohan introduces in his answer to Jean-Luc Nancy the concept of the obscure experience. For the Indian philosopher, this experiences shared by the commonplace allow us to reflect on future forms of our being together.

Read more

We refugees and we the people. A lecture by Tadeusz Koczanowicz

We refugees and we the people. A lecture by Tadeusz Koczanowicz

“The refugee should be considered for what he is, that is, nothing less than a border concept that radically calls into question principles of the nation-state and, at the same time, helps clear the field for a no-longer-delayable renewal of categories” – states Agamben in his essay «We refugees», claiming that a refugee is no […]

Read more

Gemeinschaft auf Hügeln: Kunst und Natur

Šempas Kommune und Monte Verità: Ein Vergleich Die Idee zu diesem Projekt entstand aus der visuellen Assoziation von Fotos, die Bojan Brecelj 1977 von der Šempas-Gemeinschaft in Slowenien aufgenommen hatte mit dem Monte Verità. Als ich mir diese Fotos zum ersten Mal ansah, musste ich sofort an die Kolonie Monte Verità denken, die zu Beginn […]

Read more