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The Illegality of Freedom

Termin Label
Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften
Ort, Adresse (1)
Schillerplatz 3
Ort, PLZ und/oder Ort (1)
1010 Wien
Ort, Raum (1)
Ort, Adresse (2)
Schillerplatz 3
Ort, PLZ und/oder Ort (2)
1010 Wien
Ort, Raum (2)

Participants | Milica Tomić, Marina Gržinić, Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, Lidija Krienzer-Radojević, Elke Krasny, Nenad Romić aka Marcell Mars, Jelena Vesić, Jelena Petrović, Karen Mirza, Brad Butler and Övül Ö. Durmusoglu.

Concept | Jelena Petrović

Assistant | Jana Zaharijević, Design | Marija Ratković, Proofreading | Manca Bajec

The symposium The Illegality of Freedom brings together political, theoretical and artistic insights and practices, in order to investigate the false dichotomy (choice) between legality and illegality when considering political, economic and any other socially constitutive element of today’s global (permanent) war. Freedom appears at this point as a fundamental and arbitrary notion of neoliberal society, the notion that justifies the state of war (consisting of all local/global social crises). The actual means of democratic defense of humanity, such as: military interventions, austerity measures, refugees’ policies, humanitarian aid, migration laws, human rights, etc., are discursively and ideologically based on the meaning of ‘freedom’. These means (co)produce the neoliberal mechanisms of global governmentality, as well as the permanent state of crisis, conflict and terror. Following art-theory practices, about the relation between il/legality and freedom, the symposium challenges the safe zone of ideological thinking and interrogates images, policies and interventions of the permanent war today in search of the political articulation of resistance beyond this false dichotomy. Departing from September 11 th , 2001 and the beginning of the war on terror, as declared by the Bush administration, the symposium will focus on common grounds between artistic practices and critical thinking about the urgent and difficult subjects of il/legality, resistance, and social utopia while considering the meaning of freedom in the context of the permanent war.

Milica Tomić, Container, 2004-present
Mount Victoria, NSW Blue Mountains, Australia, 2006

The Illegality of Freedom will open with Milica Tomić ’s lecture-performance, Container , on Friday, November 11 th 2016, at 18.00h. Container is an ongoing art project about the state and presence of the permanent war (on terror), which uses forensic means of reconstruction of crimes, to reveal existence of the global war and its il/legality within every particular context where it is possible to (re)construct conditions of the same war crime.

New World Summit – Utrecht, 2016
© Photo: Studio Jonas Staal

The symposium will continue with lectures, talks and discussions the following day, from 9.30 h to 17.00 h on Saturday, November 12 th 2016. The first session, What Does Freedom Stand for Today?, will be introduced by Marina Gržinić who will discuss the relation of freedom to necropolitics, waste, nation-state, sovereignty and subjectivities in order to question the contemporary idea of freedom. Lidija Krienzer-Radojević will problematize how the concept of ‘freedom’ creates the neoliberal state and shapes its political economy (through controlling, repressive mechanism of protecting, intervening, helping etc.), while Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei will talk about the idea of the statelessness and illegality focusing on the different editions of the project, New World Summit .

Marina Gržinić and Aina Šmid, Images of struggles , 2011, video still

Marcell Mars, Public Library: Memory of the World , 2014

Following this project, which explores the field of art as a space to re-imagine and act upon a fundamental practice of democracy, the next session, The Politics of Resistance by Other Means, interrogates the meaning and means of social resistance, critical way of thinking, doing, educating, and organizing outside the neoliberal concept of ‘legality’. Reflecting on the meaning of the commons and different forms of historical and contemporary violation, Elke Krasny will raise questions about unsettling resistance. The forms and formats of resistance will be further discussed by Jelena Vesić who will introduce the notion of political baffling and the state of bafflement as an act of freedom, as a right of the disprivileged, powerless and deprived in confronting the violence of power. Nenad Romić (aka Marcell Mars ) will close this session by presenting the project Public Library/The Memory of the World which uses art, Internet, and social webs as (infra)structures to create the universal space of free exchange of common/global knowledge.

Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, The Ectoplasm of Neoliberalism , 2015

The utopian hacker ethic of universal sharing, which is the trigger for a previous online book-sharing project, opens questions of possible social utopias and its limitations when it comes to the actual meaning of (being) illegal. The session, Art and Resistance Beyond the Social Utopia will be introduced by Jelena Petrović and will continue with a conversation between Karen Mirza and Brad Butler about their artistic practice of non-participation, which often implies the schizophrenic position around the question: What does it mean to be/to act illegally today? The symposium will conclude with reflections by Övül Ö. Durmusoglu on the common battleground against racist, misogynic and colonial conditions of everyday life under the state of permanent and global war. The day will end without final remarks, but rather with emergent questions about resisting acts of creating, doing and ultimately living.

The symposium is organized within the frame of the Endowed Professorship for Central and South-Eastern European Art Histories. A co-operation between ERSTE Foundation and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.


(The working language of the Symposium is English)

Friday , November 11 th (Aula, Main Building)

18.00 h – 18.30 h Welcome

Andrea B. Braidt (Vice-rector Art Research, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)
Heide Wihrheim (Programme Culture, ERSTE Foundation)

Andreas Spiegl (Head of the Institute for Art and Cultural Studies, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)

18.30 h – 20.00 h The Illegality of Freedom

Jelena Petrović (Univ.-Prof. PhD., Institute for Art and Cultural Studies, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna): Introduction to Symposium

Milica Tomić (artist and Univ.-Prof., IZK Institute for Contemporary Art Graz): CONTAINER, lecture performance

Saturday , November 12 th (Room M13)

9.30 h – 11.30 h What Does Freedom Stand for Today?

Marina Gržinić (artist, philosopher and Univ.-Prof. PhD., Institute of Fine Arts, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna): What Freedom?

Lidija Krienzer-Radojević (PhD candidate, The University of Art and Design Linz): Shifting the Locality of Neoliberalism

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (philologist, and director of The Department of Eagles Tirana, co-director of punctum books and editor/advisor of The New World Summit): New World Summit

11.30 h – 12.00 h Break

12.00 h – 14.00 h The Politics of Resistance by Other Means

Elke Krasny (curator, urban researcher and Univ.-Prof. PhD., Institute for Education in the Arts Academy of Fine Arts Vienna): Unsettling Resistance

Jelena Vesić (freelance curator and writer, researcher at Haus der Kunst, Munich): On Bafflement: The Universal Right To Baffle

Nenad Romić aka Marcell Mars (free software advocate, artist/hacker, Zagreb): Public Library Memory of the World

14.00h –  15.00h Lunch break

15.00h – 17.00h Art and Resistance Beyond the Social Utopia

Jelena Petrović (Univ.-Prof. PhD., Institute for Art and Cultural Studies, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna): Towards Another Singularity

Karen Mirza and Brad Butler (artists, filmmakers and co-founders of London): The Museum of Non Participation: Resisting The (Act)ual

Övül Ö. Durmusoglu (freelance curator and writer Berlin and Istanbul, director/curator of YAMA Public Screen, Istanbul): When the world needs togetherness