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CalArts Plays Itself Symposium

Curated by Arne De Boever (CalArts) and Stefan Hilterhaus (PACT Zollverein)

What is the significance of art-making and critical thinking today, in what appears to be a time of global economic and political crisis, in which education, and aesthetic education in particular, are under increasing pressure? This question is at the heart of contemporary creative practice and will trigger a three-day symposium, part of the CalArts Plays Itself festival at PACT. Together with speakers Jalal Toufic and Irit Rogoff, Arne De Boever and Stefan Hilterhaus will explore the pasts, presents, and futures of the relationship between doing and thinking. 

Friday, 30 September

10am, SAANA Building

Don’t Go to Hell for the Sake of Finishing Watching the Film

Jalal Toufic

Rilke: “I won’t endure these half-filled human masks; / better, the puppet. … Even if the lights go out; even if someone / tells me ‘That’s all’ … / I’ll sit here anyway. … am I not right / to feel as if I must stay seated, must / wait before the puppet stage, or, rather, / gaze at it so intensely that at last, / to balance my gaze, an angel has to come and / make the stuffed skins startle into life. / Angel and puppet: a real play, finally.” If the narrator were not half-filled, the angel, who is never late, would have already made his presence felt to him—when the angel appears, I discover that he was here all along, and that I could not have waited such a long time without the assistance of his subtle presence. It is precisely those who know how to “wait for the angel” who are the first to leave the movie theater during the projection of certain films. I asked myself concerning the other spectators on my way out of a screening of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City: “Why are they hell-bent on watching this film?” I was the first human to leave the screening—I left with the (guardian) angel.

Related texts:

Jouissance in Post-War Beirut,” more specifically its avertissement au lecteur, in Undeserving Lebanon (Forthcoming Books, 2007). 


“What Is the Sum of Velásquez’s Pope and Francis Bacon’s Pope(s)?” in What Is the Sum of Recurrently? (Istanbul, Turkey: Galeri Nev, 2010). “What Is the Sum of Recurrently?” was initially published in E-flux Journal, no. 19 (10/2010; http://e-flux.com/journal/view/174)

Both books are available for download at Jalal Toufic' website, at:


Saturday, 1 October

10am, SAANA Building

Irit Rogoff

“Public” is both a gathering of subjects and a spatial designation of access. It implies a commitment to both a common good as well as to a certain politics of representation. Within the art world and the broader sphere of cultural engagement, there is a tendency to nostalgically long for the classical 'public sphere' with its intimation of free speech, educated subjects and civil societal institutions. While this seems impossible to recapture in the wake of the overwhelming privatisation of what were once our shared spaces, and in view of composite and overlapping mechanisms of surveillance-and the demise of belief in representation-a new, critical notion of “public” is nevertheless in the ascendance, one which does not differentiate between subjects and spaces. This “Coming Public” demands our attention today. 

Last edited by jrutzmoser on Oct 05, 2011
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