Writing Art History Since 2002

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A project by “To Whom It May Concern”* & Anna Jäger. 
You are cordially invited to join SAVVY Contemporary this Friday, 22nd Aug. and Saturday, 23rd Aug. (10am – 7pm) at SAVVY Contemporary to deliberate on the “State of Refugeness” in our present times. Together with ‘refugees’, activists, philosophers, psychologists, artists, architects, lawyers and even the police we will try to scrutinze issues of humanitarianism, politics of space, crafting, law/lawlessness, D-/Remonstration and love! We are in the age of refugeeness and we need to understand what that concept, space and time could be…

22nd of August 2014
SESSION III 10.00 – 13.00
On Welfare, Histories of Entanglement and the Ethical Dilemmas of Humanitarianism
Panelists: Napuli Langa (Activist), Joshua Kwesi Aikins (Activist, Researcher/ Universität Bielefeld), Adam Bahar (Activist), Kamal Aljafari (film maker)
While affective politics of fear of refugees and their dehumanization are often used in political discourse to restrict movement, humanitarian and “leftist” discourses often depict immigrants as tremendously human and in need of care and help, in order to enable their movement (Papastergiadis, 2006).
This panel aims to investigate the interrelation of the two approaches in order to take a critical stance on the appropriation of refugees in humanitarian (“care”) discourse and practice and the complicated history and ethical dilemmas of contemporary humanitarianism. While the altruistic efforts of famous personalities or major development organizations have been under scrutiny for a while, the critical stance on humanitarianism in the realm of refugee issues seems to be lacking.
Drawing on both Foucault and Agamben’s notion of “biopower” the panel will contextualize the unintended consequences of compassion in the world of immigration politics and the ways in which liberal and humanitarian ideas risk to gain acknowledgement on behalf of others, while perpetuating a paternalistic logic. The panel will look into the ways in which regimes of care risk to “end up reproducing inequalities and racial, gendered, and geopolitical hierarchies” (Ticktin 2013) in order to think of a critical and revised approach towards the issue of care and refugees.
The notion of welfare will also serve as a starting point to think about the entangled histories that are at the core of many – especially economic – refugee movements in order to question the ahistorical un(self)critical discourse surrounding the cause of refugee and immigration movements.
SESSION IV 13.00 – 15.00
D/Remonstrare – On the right to empathize
Panelists: Berenice Böhlo (Lawyer/ RAV), Thomas Wüppesahl, (BAG Kritische PolizistInnen), Alexander Bosch (Amnesty Polizei), Stefan Redlich (Spokesman/ Police Berlin)
“I am on their side, I completely understand the problems of refugees, but I am just doing my job. I am not allowed to take a position in such issues,” remarked an almost frustrated police officer – one of the 1720 police officers who built a human wall around the Gerhart-Hauptmann Schule in the Ohlauerstraße Berlin – in their efforts to evict the 40 refugees that sought refuge in the school.
In the heat of such events, a lot of legal realities are either unknown, ignored or purposefully glossed over on various camps. According to §63 Bundesbeamtengesetz and §36 Beamtenstatusgesetz each civil servant has the right to remonstrate. A civil servant like the police is even obliged to scrutinize orders not only on legal, but also on ethical bases.
Another § that became famous in the last weeks was §23. The supreme federal authority may – for legal and humanitarian reasons or to safeguard the political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany – issue foreigners/ refugees from specific countries a residency permit.
This session will bring together legal specialists and activists to shed a light on the German judicial system with regards to the situation of refugees. The session will grant the possibility of informing various camps, i.e. the police, refugees, protesters, sympathisers, and co. about one’s own rights within a civil society. The participants of this session will, metaphorically speaking, facilitate the sweeping out of important legal paragraphs that might have been willingly or unwillingly swept under the carpet.
SESSION V 15.30 – 17.30
Workshop I – Legal Questions
Participants: Berenice Böhlo (Lawyer/ RAV), Thomas Wüppesahl (BAG Kritische Polizisten)
After the theoretical session on the rights to remonstrate, the ‘Bleiberecht’, and other ‘hidden’ paragraphs in the judicial jungle, a practical session will be held. In this session, lawyers, legal specialists and activists will be available for question and answers. Invited specialists will cover the areas of deportation, working permit, accommodation, residency permit, etc. A focal point of this session will be to explore the possibilities of civic empowerment for refugees and their supporters. Where can one get support if one comes to Germany as a refugee? Whom can one consult if one gets into racial or other unpleasant scuffles? What does one need to do to resist deportation as a refugee? What can one do as a ‘legal’ citizen to support the so-called ‘illegal’? How can one contribute financially, morally and legally towards the refugee-course?
23rd August 2014
SESSION VI 10.00 – 12.00
Space politics and Spatial Justice: appropriating and constructing spaces
Panellists: Noa Ha (Researcher/ Center for Metropolitan Studies TU Berlin), Hazem Alnamla (Researcher, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies), Volkmar Nickol (Architect, GHS), Natasha Kelly (Anti-racist activist, spokesperson GHS), Raumlabor Berlin (tbc – Architects)
“Today, more than ever, the class struggle is inscribed in space”[1]. There is a politics of space because space is political. Making a distinction between espace perçu, espace vécu, espace rêvé Henri Lefebvre in his La production de l’espace – and later in Espace et Politique – explained how space is a social and a political product, how it is historically configured as a social formation and a mental construction[2]. Justice philosophers as John Rowls and Iris Marion Young have introduced the concept of “Spatial Justice”, pointing at the need for an equal geographical distribution of society’s wants and needs.
Space is inclusive and exclusive, and practises of marginalization can be seen as spatial politics: since the ancient tradition of scapegoating, or the medieval use of keeping out of the walls of the town the sick and “dangerous” people, the outsiders and the non-homogenized persons have always been relegated to a space pushed out of the public gaze, a space of darkness. On the other hand, it is interesting to note how the rhetorics of colonialism were reclaiming the need for a “Platz an der Sonne”.
Within this session the speakers are invited to focus on spatial politics and on the spatial struggles of refugees, understanding them in the light of a social and historical perspective. Refugees’ life is too often relegated in a limbo, in a temporary state of souls awaiting entrance into the Western society, a timeless condition in which they may feel to be trapped indefinitely. Anointed persons, not “illuminated by the blessing” of European citizenship, they are relegated to non spaces, to territories of forgetfulness or of ghettoization.
SESSION VII 13.00 – 15.00
Crafting Worlds. Autoprogettazione and Making Things Happen
Participants: Raumlabor Berlin (tbc- Architects), Le Van Bo-Mentzel (Architect, Hartz-IV design furniture), Sebastian Daeschle (Cucula), Maiga Chamseddine (Cucula), Malik Agachi (Cucula) , Saidou Moussa (Cucula), Ali Maiga Nouhou (Cucula) , Moussa Usuman (Cucula)
The meaning of space and the practise of the commons is adapted and transformed as it is perceived and lived by social actors and groups. When space is not given, everyday Voyages of Exploration into the territory of heterotopias are necessary. Crafting is a fundamental ingredient for the building of an own environment and the plotting of own worlds: projecting is the only way to avoid to be projected![3] In 1974 Enzo Mari was publishing Autoprogettazione 1974, a manual offering nineteen designs using readymade cuts of timber, to build tables, chairs, bookshelves, and even beds, radically criticizing and open-sourcing the home furnishings industry. His designs usually required nothing more than a hammer and nails, following the principle that “by thinking with your own hands, by [making] your own thoughts you make them clearer”, that “the task of transforming is the only course through which knowledge may be obtained.”
This panel is an occasion to reflect on the necessity of self-initiative, participation and autonomy as a tool of resistance for marginalized communities and for asylum seekers, but also – more in general – on critical design practices as strategies of thinking against the omnivorous market system; on design as critique, following the Italian Radical Design’s lesson of the 1960s and 70s, highly critical of prevailing social values and design ideologies. Together with Cucula, the Berlin based Refugees Company for Crafts and Design that has provided some former refugees from Oranienplatz an occasion to escape the vicious circle of not getting a working contract because not having the right to stay in Germany, we are dialoguing with Enzo Mari 40 years after the publication of Autoprogettazione and inviting speakers, practitioners and theoreticians to delve into the process of making (rather impossible) things happen.
SESSION VIII 15.30 – 17.30
Workshop II – Thinking With Our Hands. (Practical design/ construction session)
Participants: Sebastian Daeschle (Cucula), Maiga Chamseddine (Cucula) , Malik Agachi (Cucula , Saidou Moussa (Cucula), Ali Maiga Nouhou (Cucula) , Moussa Usuman (Cucula), Raumlabor Berlin (tbc- Architects), Philipp Misselwitz (Architect, City planner/ Urban Catalyst)
The theoretical session Crafting Worlds. Autoprogettazione and Making Things Happen will be followed by a practical design and construction session. In accordance with Enzo Mari’s concept of using few tools like hammer and nail to create new worlds, this session will invite designers, architects, town planners, refugees and their supporters, etc to exchange some basic construction tips. Building, transformation, creating with one’s own hands is hereby not only a “course through which knowledge may be obtained”, but also a course through which knowledge can be shared.
Dance Improvisation by Ahmed Soura
SAVVY Contemporary
Richardstr. 20 I 12043 Berlin

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