[iDC] life beyond utility

Ksenija Berk ksenija.berk at siol.net
Sun Aug 5 11:12:07 UTC 2007

Hi, Trebor and all,

I do not have an answer to Trebor's question if life beyond utility is possible today. 
Thinking about this particular issue has brougt me to the theories on bare life
and their use within contemporary art practices. Perhaps one way of seeing life 
beyond utility could be found in artistic strategies that focus on theories of bare 
life as a way of critical engagement with contemporary society... as the way of 
exlproring capsularity of the world we live in...

There are two projects I'd like to stress attention:
The Documenta 12 Magazine project around a theme bare life

The main topic of the project was described as follows:
"What is bare life?
This question underscores the sheer vulnerability and complete  
exposure of being. Bare life deals with that part of our existence  
from which no measure of security will ever protect us. But as in  
sexuality, absolute exposure is intricately connected with infinite  
pleasure. There is an apocalyptic and obviously political dimension  
to bare life (brought out by torture and the concentration camp).  
There is, however, also a lyrical or even ecstatic dimension to it -  
a freedom for new and unexpected possibilities (in human relations as  
well as in our relationship to nature or, more generally, the world  
in which we live). Here and there, art dissolves the radical  
separation between painful subjection and joyous liberation. But what  
does that mean for its audiences?"

The second project, focused on Agamben's conception of bare life,
which opens some postcolonial and gender theories as well is called 
FWC First Wolrd Camp, by Slovene artists Emil Hrvatin and Peter Senk:

The objective of the FWC platform is artistic research in the demilitarisation 
of isolated communities. FWC research is focusing on refugee camps, military 
bases, gated communities and other modes of capsularity. The question is: 
can a concept of a "camp" serve as a role model for any kind of capsularity we 
are looking at?

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