Photo: M. Heidingsfelder

Der Spiegel writes in its current issue: “Economic integration alone can no longer steer world events in the right direction, neither politically nor morally.” Isn’t it amazing that people still talk like that – they know what is politically and morally right and what is wrong?

Such sentences are truly ‘opinionated’. I don’t like mere opinions like that.

Our ally Pörksen claims that constructivist and systemic thinking is a long established paradigm and ‘normal science’. These Spiegel authors have obviously never heard of it …

If that is so, you are in the vapour spheres of middle-range theories. I believe that hardly anyone shares non-controllability – this idea. Polycontextuality, heterarchy, hypercomplexity … only a fraction of our species can relate to such terms.

He warns that epistemological Biedermeier is looming.

Fortunately we have permission for theoretical curiosity. Besides: Biedermeier, that was quite cosy, wasn’t it? Something like restrained passions, bourgeoisie in fact. But Pörksen is right: Paradigms denote the need to resolve them.

Politically and morally right, says Der Spiegel, is ‘freedom’. So and so many states are free, Germany for example, but many are ‘not free’.

You know that I think ‘freedom’ is a clever pathos formula. I don’t know anyone who is free – in general, as it were. Billionaires are also subject to harsh constraints, I guess.

How is it, I wonder, that these people still so naturally and confidently carry a banner in front of them that says ‘right’? And point to others – mostly China –  who are supposedly wrong?

When someone behaves like that, it’s obvious that the opposite is the case. This reminds me, as if by chance, of: Power is like being a lady if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.

What could they mean by ‘painful realisation’? Der Spiegel says: What hurts so much is the realisation that one was wrong – no change through trade. The rest of the world is not becoming ‘free’, ‘democratic’.

Incidentally, the word ‘democracy’ is, as is well known, a harsh paradox: ‘the POWER of the PEOPLE’. And if one appeals to the power of reasonable argument – also a power -, this is, in my view, already empirically untenable.

Change of subject: Kassel. Did you follow the debate about the ‘anti-Semitic artwork’? What were your thoughts on it?

I only know it from photographs. But my first thoughts were simply that it’s about the revitalisation of old schemes of art, for example the form of the ‘grotesque’, the ‘topsy-turvy world’ … roughly as if someone had painted the ‘magic of war’ or ‘an ‘idyll’, or was oriented towards the fact that evil in any guise is simply evil – interchangeable.

According to Der Spiegel, Germany is ‘free’, after all. But not so free as to endure the freedom of art. What’s going on?

Let’s just let Der Spiegel be Der Spiegel. But one should know what ‘art’ is. It is sometimes said that its function is to make the invisible visible. I tend to think of it differently: its function is to ‘make the visible invisible’. That succeeds or fails. That’s that. Freedom is another dance floor.

As a systems theorist, how would you approach the subject of ‘anti-Semitism’?

The term is self-explanatory. This wound has not closed for ages.

Finally, the question of ‘deglobalisation’. What are we to make of this idea? Can globalisation be reversed, as Spiegel suggests: ‘The age of international interdependence is now coming to an end. It is being unbundled.’

We could be dealing with the de-differentiation of functional society. But talking about this presupposes a massive amount of theory.

Bazon Brock believes that such a case of de-differentiation is present in the case of Documenta – as a de-autonomisation of art: “The radicality of the confrontation increases considerably when we see the exceedingly plain cultural achievements presented as art by the curatorial collective Ruangrupa at this year’s Documenta. If we don’t take a stand against this now, there won’t be a next Documenta, because then the cultures of the world will have finally regained power over the arts and sciences. ” He seems to be right about the ‘simplicity’ … But would you also place Documenta within a general trend of de-differentiation?

I don’t even know if I should say anything about this. Because the assessment ‘exceedingly simple’ stunned me in its strangely simple ‘rhetoric’ and left me as good as ‘speechless’. To know what art is, what culture is, even to claim that they are engaged in some kind of ‘war’ … blimey! I find that the word – or the term? – ‘de-differentiate’ just comes in uninformed. ‘Increasing complexity’ would probably be decidedly better, thus more exciting for cognitive interests. Brock himself ‘de-differentiates’ … definitively. That’s all. The Documenta provokes, that is its task and is as much a part of art as ‘shredding’.

So proud to be part of this! The Cooler Lumpur Festival celebrates its 7th edition with the theme #SuperCanggih – and I will join them in a ‘John Lennon session’ on the topic of “truth in a post-truth world”. With me on stage: the much admired Kirsten Han, fantastic writer and unbelievably pro-active counter-activist who got the Human Rights Press Award this year for her commentaries on the issue of “fake news” and freedom of expression in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Plus, she’s working very hard to make the death penalty in Singapore a thing of the past. Check out the website of We Believe in Second Chances, a group she is part of:

Here’s more info on our session that will take place next Friday:

It is a part of their free Journalism Campus program (well, free for the most part, only certain workshops have a separate charge for the facilitators benefit) which was inspired by the Berlinale Talent Campus. If you’re a student of Journalism, you should definitely check them out:

And those of you who want to experience the entire festival:

See also:

trump images

Z: Congratulations to your latest publication on Trump in the Journal of European Studies.

M: Thank you.

Z:  Tell us about your paper! What was your motivation to do research on Donald Trump?

M: Well, you can’t escape him, can you? So far, the mass media are controlling the Trump discourse, and they do it by using moralistic distinctions, by demonizing him, and by placing themselves on the other side as the ‘good guys’, using this whole idea of the press as the fourth estate. I think it’s amazing that the Washington Post changed its slogan to ‘Democracy dies in darkness’ – this is clearly a Trump effect. But what they are actually saying is of course: We won’t let that happen, we’re here to shine a light, to ‘enlighten’ the world.

Z: But wait – so you agree to his thesis that they are organizing a ‘witch hunt’ against him?

M: (laughs) No, of course not. It’s not that simple. But he kind of has a point here. It’s a hunt for information and from the perspective of communication theory, information is anything that surprises you. Anything new. And he gives them that – another breaking of norms, another attack on a political opponent or on the press, another funny or mysterious tweet, more embarrassing behaviour – they’re complicit in this – also in making Trump bigger than he actually is. Especially as one of their main selection mechanisms is conflict, and as you know, Trump is a master of conflict ceremony. It is his favourite communication strategy, for a number of reasons. But I think the biggest problem is the mass media’s interest in persons, in heroes and in villains. They overestimate the importance of individual actions. So that’s the deficit I tried to compensate – to point at the structures that are at the heart of all those conflicts. And by doing that, live up to my social responsibility as a scientist.

Z: Which is?

M: I would say to ‘tell the truth’. Sounds pathetic, doesn’t it?

Z: Indeed!

M: Well, you have to take it with a grain of salt – it is not ‘the’ truth of course. But that’s our social monopoly, we have the license to distinguish between fake and real, between what is true and what isn’t. Which is why I find it amazing that the mass media are trying to claim this as their main function these days. And why do they do that? Because Trump says they’re spreading fake news. So again, they are just reacting to him, they’re playing his game. He calls them the enemy of the people, and what do they do? They create this strange kind of ‘functional movement’, led by the Boston Globe, appealing to the people: ‘Please listen to us, we are not your enemy!’

Z: I heard you already have a contract for a book on Trump. Is that fake news? And if it’s not, how does that relate to your article, will it be a part of it?

M: No, that’s actually true. The book looks systematically at Trump, relating the phenomenon to the different areas of society, like politics, economy, the law, the mass media, etc. Whereas the article compares Trump to the AfD (Alternative for Germany) –

Z: Which is this new German party.

M: Right. Dr. Tasneem, who is one of the editors of the Journal of European Studies asked me to contribute something to their latest issue of radicalization, so I kind of extended my Trump research and looked at this German equivalent. I consider both as a part of a bigger trend I call the crisis of politics.

Z: In one sentence, how do you define that crisis?

M: In one sentence: Politics has lost its claim to make generally valid decisions for the whole of society. Can I have two more please?

Z: Just two!

M: Well, normally the AfD or Trump or the right-wing movement in general are seen as problems. What I do is, I’m inverting this perspective. They are there for some reason, right? So I see them as solutions. They solve something. And my job is to construct this something, this problem.

Z: And this problem is the crisis of politics?

M: Yes, the mistrust on politics, the mistrust in the ‘political class’ if you like, in the political elite. From that perspective, the people didn’t vote so much for Trump or the AfD – they voted against politics, against that class.

Z: And what can we do about the rise of populism and right wing-ideology?

M: Well, I can only answer that as a researcher: we need to carefully observe these things – and offer our observations to society. I disagree with Marx, in that it’s not enough to simply describe things, that it is our job to change them. And even the Marxists don’t agree with me here, at least someone like Manuel Castells does.

Z: What is Castells saying?

M: Basically that trying to frame political practice with social theory is a dead end. That our task is to free people from uncritical adherence to ideology, that we should not tell them what to do, but offer them different interpretations of what is going on. That’s what I try to do with my Trump research – offer a different interpretation of the phenomenon.

Z: Thank you very much for this interview. And please keep us posted about your Trump research.

M: I will.

Z: One last question – do you think he will be impeached?

M: Absolutely no idea. So far it doesn’t look like it. But I’m not a prophet. The future is uncertain, that is its exact definition.


Images: SPIEGEL-Cover by Edel Rodriguez

Gilles Deleuze hatte mit seiner Metapher des Rhizoms nicht zuletzt eine Alternative zu den alten, in Schulen organisierten gesellschaftlichen Strukturen aufgezeigt, in deren Mittelpunkt das Subjekt des Autors stand, von dem – als einer Art ‚Zentralsonne’ – alles seinen Ausgang nahm, und zu dem alle Wege hinführten – „jede hat ihren Papst, ihre Manifeste, ihre Repräsentanten … ihre Tribunale und Exkommunikationen“. Seine Vorstellung eines ‚Dramas sich überkreuzender Linien‘, der kollektiven Äußerungsverkettung, die an deren Stelle treten sollte, hatten sich die enthusiastischen Netzdenker für ihre Zwecke zu eigen gemacht, die im Internet jene Infrastruktur erblickten, die diese schöpferischen Funktionen gleichsam würde freisetzen können – denn was anderes als eine gigantische, weltumspannende Struktur von ‚Treff-Punkten‘ stellt es dar? In diesem Sinne sollte es zu einem Instrument der Befreiung werden.

Für Deleuze war nicht so sehr die ‚Sterilisierung‘ der Adepten und Schüler das Problem, sondern die Engstirnigkeit, die das, was anderswo geschah – außerhalb der Schulen – zu ‚ersticken‘ suchte. Doch was die Adepten von Deleuze übersahen, ihn gleichsam selbst sterilisierend, war sein Hinweis auf das Marketing, das seiner Ansicht nach als „düstere Organisation“ an die Stelle der Schulen trat und zuletzt eine Rekonstituierung der Autorfunktion ermöglichte. Seine Forderung: die „von jener immer wieder neu sich formierenden Autorfunktion befreiten produktiven, schöpferischen Funktionen wieder zu erfinden und zu entwickeln“.

Aus dieser Perspektive erscheint die Forderung Geert Lovinks, der das Internet reparieren möchte, weil es ‚kaputt’ sei – sprich: den ihm zugemuteten Idealen der Befreiung und Gleichberechtigung nicht nachkommt – als ein solcher Versuch der Planierung. Lovink gehört – genau wie Nicholas Carr – zu einer Schule der Kritik, deren Repräsentant er ist. Würde er versuchen, seinen eigenen Forderungen gerecht zu werden, müßte er auf seine Tätigkeit als Buchautor verzichten und Teil einer jener Produktionsgruppen werden, die Verbindungen zwischen schöpferischen Funktionen durchsetzt und lebendige Interaktion herstellt, „gebrochene Linien zieht“, anstatt einen Ausgangspunkt zu konstituieren (das  Postulat des ‚guten‘ Netzes als Instrument zur Konstruktion einer positiv konnotierten Weltgesellschaft), von dem alle seine Aussagen abhängen. Gegen dieses Netzideal schneidet die Netzwirklichkeit natürlich nicht besonders gut ab. Und genau darum geht es, denn erst das Ideal, nicht die Wirklichkeit, ermöglicht seine Kritik. Es bildet den blinden Fleck eines Denkens, das Kommunikation mit Technologie identifiziert (‘verwechselt’), und die von ihm beobachteten Defekte des Internet – und damit der Gesellschaft – für behebbar hält. Der Gedanke, dass die Kritik ‚kaputt’ sein könnte, kommt ihm nicht.

Lovink sieht, was wir angeblich nicht sehen: dass die IT-Unternehmen uns mit dem Begriff der ‚Plattform’ ein X für ein U vormachen, mit diesem neutralen Begriff ihre Profitinteressen tarnen, und zudem die „Kollision von Privatsphäre und Überwachungsaktivitäten, Gemeinschafts- und Werbeinvestitionen“ ermöglichen. Er ist, wie es die Rolle des Kritikers vorsieht, ein kompetenter Beobachter. Genau wie Carr und Lanier versucht er sich als Ratgeber, schließlich weiß er es besser, formuliert also Handlungsansätze für den einzelnen User und fordert von der Wissenschaft – ganz so, als ließe diese sich addressieren – das Beobachten aufzugeben und zur Tat zu schreiten, die da lautet: helfen, den Computer als „Instrument der menschlichen Befreiung“ wiederzuentdecken. Mit einem Wort, sein Buch kreiert eine contradictio in adiecto: gutmeinende Forschung.

Illustration: Florian Meisenberg 2017, Screenshot from OF DEFECTIVE GODS & LUCID DREAMS (THE MUSEUM IS CLOSED FOR RENOVATION), Courtesy Henie Onstad Kunstsenter Oslo, ICA, Philadelphia and Florian Meisenberg

38052 10:00-10:30 | Room 503 (5F)

Narrating the Self

Markus Heidingsfelder, Habib University, Pakistan

Our psyches inscribe narrativity into the medium of language to be able to observe our actions. By providing these actions with a story, we are not only able to simplify ourselves – and by doing that, establish a relationship to the world -, we are also capable of telling others ‘our story’, so that they can ‘read’ us. In other words: We are all storytellers when it comes to identifying ourselves (our selfs). In my presentation, I will first reconstruct what we call storytelling by looking at its form i.e. the selective mechanisms that ignore simultaneity in favor of chronology, to then look at the different possibilities of presenting simultaneity in a linear form. In a second step, I will focus on four key aspects of self-narrativity: a) the problem of isolating actions from each other, b) the paradoxon of self-observation, c) the general importance of narrativity in society, and d) last but not least the social conventions that licence certain narratives and prohibit others. Finally, I will ask in how far the new media technologies may have affected the ways of how we narrate ourselves today


A project around activist videos
Open Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm – 6pm

From 2nd June onwards
curated by Marianna Liosi and Between Bridges

“The selection of videos that I have proposed for Between Broadcast stems from the continuation of my research around spectatorship, the generative role of the viewer and their engagement through the mediation of technology.
At this particular stage I’m interested in the re-thinking of videos found on YouTube, visual accounts that have been posted by anonymous citizens and excerpts from broadcasting channels from between 2010 – 2015, whilst considering how the value of these videos can change over time.

I’ve chosen videos of pacifist collective gatherings, public speeches, empowering anecdotes as well as expressions of dissent that have gained thousands of ‘views’ and that have shaped my imagination of certain political events, episodes in which citizens have shown active political reaction towards an oppressive status quo. Situations that I feel I’ve experienced through the screen. These visual fragments – lasting minutes or just seconds – are still very iconic today and empowering for me and I remember them as crucial for describing an intense historical time or emblematic moment.

Subjective reports from personal perspectives that show various forms of activism in public which, thanks to their viral circulation through ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ across online social media platforms, have contributed towards the construction of individual and collective historical legitimization of such events.

I have invited Between Bridges to contribute their own selection of videos from YouTube that have made an impression on them, of images that have stayed with them over time and that they consider examples of activism.
How has our affection for these images evolved over the time? What kind of engagement do we have with them? What might this long lasting empathy produce? Is the act of remembering an additional form of circulation for these images? If so, what sort of collective outcome can it generate?” (Marianna Losi)

Every Thursday evening events:

2nd June, 7pm
Opening : Between Broadcast, An event curated by Marianna Liosi & Between Bridges

9th June, 7pm
Between Broadcast, An event curated by Marianna Liosi & Between Bridges
Film screening : Passagen (2005) by Stefan Constantinescu (62 min, OV with English subtitles)

Passagen follows uprooted lives of three Chileans who were forced to leave Chile in the aftermath of the coup d’état led by Pinochet in 1973. All three ended up living under Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist dictatorship, and in time, two of them decided to emigrate to Sweden, while one managed finally to return to his homeland. Through the protagonists’ shared experiences, the film touches on the distinct social structures in Chile, Romania and Sweden. A film about refugees, expectations, estrangement, prejudices and loneliness, as well as about the ways in which the past reflects into the present.

16th June, 7pm
Between Broadcast, An event curated by Marianna Liosi & Between Bridges
Film screening: Prime Time in the Camps (1993) by Chris Marker (28 min, OV with English subtitles)

In Roska Camp in Slovenia, Bosnian refugees, deprived of everything they owned, decide, with the technical help of a N.G.O., to put together a way to retrieve information. They create a television programme, equipped with all the elements to make it appear like actual Television: with anchorpersons, jingles, and pirating of shows that talks about them. Reflecting on spectatorship and self-representation, the film reflects on the attempt of refugees to emerge from the forced invisibility and anonymity and to enter the official chronicle

23rd June, 7pm
The EU referendum in the UK: Public screening at Between Bridges of the referendum results as they come in.

30th June, 7pm
Film screening curated by Yusuf Etiman. (Details to be announced)

Marianna Liosi (b. 1982, Italy, is an independent curator living in Berlin. Through her research she explores the aesthetics of social, economic and political dynamics, with specific attention to media, technology and the question of spectatorship in relation to engagement. She has curated exhibitions, film programmes, and workshops. Among them: Regarding Spectatorship: Revolt and the Distant Observer, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin (2015); Leisure Complex, Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, Germany (2014); When spectators work, workers observe, Kunsthuis SYB, Beetsterzwaag, The Netherlands (2014). She has recently published on the text: Human rights and the internet from a curatorial perspective: reflections on the show Regarding Spectatorship: Revolt and the Distant Observer.

Meeting Place
Workshop: Saturday, 11th June, 3pm – 6pm
Craftworkshop with 1+all

1+all is an initiative intended to integrate Refugees into networks through individual crafting techniques. Everybody is welcome to join and no experience is required. The aim is to collectively develop a shirt collection for a fashion show. 1+all provides it’s knowhow, techniques, materials and tools. In this workshop we’ll knit, stitch, crochet, cut out, braid, knot, talk and laugh.

Technology for Life: Media Workshop with Orangi School Children

Exhibition and Certificate Ceremony Friday March 11, 2016 at 3.00 pm sharp  

Venue: Orangi Pilot Project Office

A Project of Karachi Biennale 2017 in collaboration with Orangi Pilot Project (OPPOCT) and Goethe-Institut, Karachi.

In the three-day workshop Berlin-based media, art and open culture advocates Stephen Kovats and Wolfgang Spahn will help de-mystify digital technology, introducing youths to skills and knowledge based on the Open Source model. Both have worked internationally on projects aimed at community development and education based on the concepts of open culture, linking artistic methodologies with hands-on approaches to understanding technology.

This Media Workshop is a part of Karachi Biennale’s public outreach initiatives that hopes to engage a larger audience for art by reaching 20% of the city in next two years.

Orangi Pilot Project is a socially innovative project carried out in the late 1980s in the squatter settlement of Orangi Town, Karachi. Since Orangi was a squatter settlement, it did not qualify for government aid due to its “unofficial” status.  Because of this, people were left to tend for themselves. In 1987, OPP decided to start a microcredit program. For this they established a new institution, Orangi Pilot Project- Orangi Charitable Trust (OPP- OCT). Since then, OPP- OCT has been running a microcredit program, which has expanded its reach all over Sindh and South Punjab.

Workshop conductors Stephen Kovats and Wolfgang Spahn, skype session by Timm Wille.

Intermediale Aesthetik_174349

Stephen Kovats is a Berlin-based researcher and digital culture activist. In his community development and education work he promotes the extension of the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math combined in Learning) agenda to include Art, supporting the notion of STEAM. Here the application of art, DIY culture and critical design play crucial roles in education, linking these to the sciences in order to support increased creativity in the realm of open innovation. Events such as the South Sudan #peacehackcamp ( and learning networks such as hackidemia ( for example, use these approaches worldwide to bring a new understanding of science and technology to students and creative innovators of all ages.

Wolfgang Spahn is a visual artist living in Berlin. His work includes interactive installations, videos, projections, and miniature-slide-paintings. He participates in numerous international exhibitions and is teaching interaction and interface design at the BBK-Berlin and the Universität Paderborn.

Timm Daniell Wille is an Open Source Hardware Activist, Mechanical Engineer for renewable energies, organizer & part of the Open Source Ecology* network, based in Berlin Germany.