Radikale Passivität: Politiken des Fleisches Radical Passivity: Politics of the Flesh

12 September–1 November 2020

Event Series

A cooperation project of the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) and the Gesellschaft für künstlerische Forschung in Deutschland (gkfd)

nGbK, Oranienstraße 25, 10999 Berlin


Jimmy DeSana, Till Gathmann, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Jeroen Jacobs, KAYA, Jutta Koether, Sophia Eisenhut/ Christian Kölbl, Andreas Langfeld, Deana Lawson, Lee Lozano, Richard Kern/ Lydia Lunch, N.O. Madski, Henrik Olesen, Ovartaci, Vika Prokopaviciute, Protektorama (cared for by J.P. Raether), Eran Schaerf, Oliver Husain/ Kerstin Schroedinger, Alina Szapocznikow, Paul Thek, Wu Tsang, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Marianne Wex, Andrea Winkler


Beate Absalon, Martin Beck, Sophia Eisenhut, Cru Encarnação, Leonhard Fuest, Elena Vogman


Kathrin Busch, Ilse Lafer


Jonas von Lenthe, Carolin Schulz

In three ›scenes‹ the exhibition deals with new forms of sensibility and corporeality in the arts. The themes range from discussions of pain, addiction and arousal (scene 1), to the idea of a new digital corporeality (scene 2), to questions of the social shaping of a no-longer subject-centred sensitivity (scene 3).

The exhibition takes its cue from Paul B. Preciado’s biopolitical theory that the form of power in today’s society is ›pharmacopornographic‹: the way humans are subjectivized, he claims, operates on one level via pharmaceuticals (i.e. medicines, hormones, stimulants, tranquilizers, narcotics, etc.). On another level, today’s form of power functions via arousal, meaning not only the porn industry but also other social mechanisms that obey the masturbatory logic of ›arousal – frustration – arousal‹. These regulatory mechanisms are applied to the sensitive flesh in its nervous exposure, sensibility and vulnerability.

The artworks in the show highlight the links between power, illness, sex, excessive sensitivity and art. They focus attention on the involuntary and the obsolete, and question politics of affect-based address. As well as works from the 1960s and 1980s, the exhibition features mainly contemporary work addressing those areas in art and life that are not subject to choice, outside the individual’s scope for action. Frailty, ageing, exhaustion and mortality, but also birth, vulnerability and the capacity for arousal are understood here as phenomena of radical passivity, as an artistic critique of the supposedly governability of corporeal being.

Scene 1 »Aesthetics of Affect: Pain and Arousal«
from 11 Sept 2020

With: Jimmy DeSana, Sophia Eisenhut/ Christian Kölbl, Till Gathmann, Oliver Husain/ Kerstin Schroedinger, Jeroen Jacobs, KAYA, Richard Kern/ Lydia Lunch, Jutta Koether, Lee Lozano, N.O. Madski, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Henrik Olesen, Vika Prokopaviciute, Eran Schaerf, Alina Szapocznikow, Paul Thek, Andrea Winkler

Friday, 11 September 2020, 13:00-23:00
Opening day scene 1 in the exhibition space

20:00 (de)
nGbK events space, 1st floor
Lecture »Cosmopharmacode(x): on the use of drugs after science fiction« by Leonhard Fuest

This lecture aims to mix up a few sci-fi stimulants to situate the present and future subject (human/cyborg) in its pharmacological destiny. In this scenario, the Cosmopharmacode(x) can be read as the central symbol of a ›narconditio transhumana‹. This may sound rather overloaded (which it is), requiring it to be treated with a sober irony without fully relinquishing its claim to a tiny ethical dimension.

21:00 (de/en)
nGbK events space, 1st floor
Film screening »UNDER THE SKIN«, (Jonathan Glazer), with commentary by Marie-Luise Angerer

»The street is her home, the night her accomplice: in a delivery van, the mysterious Laura (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland alone – looking for prey. In garish clubs and dark alleyways, she finds her victims: lonely, bored men who are hoping for fast sex and who fall unsuspectingly into the trap of this unearthly beauty …« What this text announcing Jonathan Glazer’s alien-sci-fi movie doesn’t tell us is that the victims’ flesh is sucked out of their skin and fed into a blood-red energy current, so that the film is also a reflection on today’s media culture.

UNDER THE SKIN (GB 2013), dir.: Jonathan Glazer, 103 min. (FSK certified for age 16+)

Scene 2 »Digital Corporeality: Human-Machine-Sex«
from 2 Oct 2020

With: Jimmy DeSana, Oliver Husain/ Kerstin Schroedinger, Jeroen Jacobs, KAYA, Jutta Koether, Andreas Langfeld, Lee Lozano, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Henrik Olesen, Vika Prokopaviciute, Protektorama (cared for by J.P. Raether), Eran Schaerf, Paul Thek, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Andrea Winkler

Friday, 2 October 2020, 12:00-23:00
Opening day of scene 2 in the exhibition space

16:00 (de)
nGbK event space, 1st floor
Lecture »Intrusion of the Body – The Abject in (Post-)Digital Art« by Martin Beck

In recent years, digital technologies have rewired and reconfigured our physicality by penetrating ever further into its matrix and by producing new digital bodies both technical and visual. As noted by »Frieze« in 2016, an aesthetic of the abject, of rubbish and waste, that already played a central role in the art of the 1990s, is becoming relevant again in a new guise. The lecture traces this ‘90s revival via various options for an aesthetic of the digital abject in the work of artists including Ed Atkins and Jon Rafman. The concept of the abject raises not only the question of the relation between digital and analogue flesh, but also links it with individual and collective subjectivation processes and political options in the present.

17:00 (de)
nGbK events space, 1st floor
Lecture Performance »Three Billion Perverts, or: The Desire of Machines« with Elena Vogman and Cru Encarnação

»Trois Milliardes de Pervers. La Grande Encyclopédie des Homosexualités« (Paris, 1973) is the title of a special issue of the magazine Recherches that was associated with the La Borde psychiatric clinic. Collectively signed by authors including Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Jean Genet and Félix Guattari, the publication presented a complex montage of theoretical statements, pictures, interviews and caricatures. From the foreword: »The homosexuals speak in the name of all – in the name of the silent majority – and call the production of desire in all its forms into question.« The reading is based on the anonymous fragments and pictures from this publication, transferring them to a new visual and acoustic level. Besides the work of Deleuze and Guattari – especially their concept of desiring machines – the point of departure for this performative rereading is the political and psychiatric context of institutional psychotherapy.

21:00 (de/en)
nGbK events space, 1st floor
Film screening »eXistenZ« (David Cronenberg), with commentary by Bettina Papenburg

eXistenZ (Canada 1999), dir.: David Cronenberg, 97 min. (certified for age 16+)

The idea of ›the new flesh‹ developed by the Canadian director David Cronenberg in many of his films from the 1970s to the 1990s is inseparably linked to practices of shaping, deforming and reconfiguring the human body by entertainment technologies, drug-taking and medical interventions. The film »eXistenZ« deals with the media construction of reality in computer games and probes the consequences of the way digital media appeal to affect and expand perception. Cronenberg stages this media-induced expansion and confusion of perception as a grotesque of the networked collective body subjected to controlled sensitization, arousal and passivization.

Saturday, 10 October 2020, 18:00-21:00
»Databody – Screenbody – aLifveForm []«

Author: Protektorama (fed and cared for by J.P. Raether)
Format: Encounter with the aLifveform Protektorama toxicae in small and relational data driven formations.

Protektorama [5.0 - 5.4.X] was crystallized in 2011 as an identity subset and SelfSister of J.P. Raether. She is the root vessel of the lifeline of Protektoramae, a herd of WorldWideWitches. Since then they have worked as a Smartphone Sangoma and an Unholdenschar. They were forked in 2014 to become a travelling witch [globalis] and again in 2016 to be developed into a Rare Earth Occultist [toxicae] [5.5.5.X]. In their symbolic terrain at »Radical Passivity«, they will encounter particles as their coven with a small set of constructed bodies, identities, devices, data and screens in order to re-calibrate our relations to them according to the protocols of the New Normality.

Scene 3 »Politics of the Flesh: Forming the Body«
from 16 Oct

With: Jimmy DeSana, Jeroen Jacobs, KAYA, Richard Kern/ Lydia Lunch, Deana Lawson, Lee Lozano, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Ovartaci, Protektorama (cared for by J.P. Raether), Eran Schaerf, Alina Szapocznikow, Wu Tsang, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Marianne Wex, Andrea Winkler

Friday, 16 October 2020, 12:00-23:00
Opening day scene 3 in the exhibition space

17:00 (de)
nGbK events space, 1st floor
Lecture Performance »Anorexia and Theocracy. Materials on Catharine of Manresa’s ›Exercises‹« by Sophia Eisenhut

»Anorexia and Theocracy. Materials on Catharine of Manresa’s ›Exercises‹« is intended as an unfinished text work on the flesh becoming word. A fictionalization of intertextualities opens up the search for a female ›écriture‹ to the pseudohistorical as a utopian space. In this process, the potential modernity of a Jesuit concept of sensualism is activated by (xeno-) feminist body references. The resulting sensibility is no longer centred on the subject and its collective political context is examined against the aesthetic background of the counter-reformation.

18:00 (de)
nGbK events space, 1st floor
Lecture »I’m good enough to eat myself!« by Beate Absalon

»Kissing, biting, where is the difference? When we truly love it’s easy to do one when we mean the other,« says Penthesilea in Heinrich von Kleist’s play. Symbolic, real and phantasmatic forms of cannibalism are closer to us than we might like, but they seem to be fundamental to the formation of intersubjectivity. The lecture asks how artistic approaches to anthropophagy articulate a special form of this relationship: devouring one’s own body.

Part of the exhibition will travel to the HGB gallery, Leipzig.

Financed by joint venture funds from the Senate Department for Culture and Europe.

Financed by