ICI Projects
VERSUS @ van Eyck

Versus Laboratory
a research project initiated by Bruno Besana and Ozren Pupovac, is a theoretical laboratory set to explore, and experiment upon the problem of the polemical genesis of thought in contemporary philosophy. Our inquiry is twofold. On the one hand, we want to understand how philosophy shapes its interiority – the production of concepts – through the capture but also the conflictual interference of political, aesthetical, and more widely extraphilosophical acts and discourses. On the other hand, we want to understand how this seizure of the extraphilosophical within philosophy is also a point of an irreducible disagreement, in which philosophy is divided and transformed. Dissensus, for us, is not simply a reactive, but a productive procedure that generates thought.

OBJECT-SUBJECT: Mapping 20th Century Subversions in Materialism

If one of the pinnacles of 19th century idealism consisted in the establishment of the subject-object couplet and its dialectic, the materialist ‘turn’ of the late 19th and the 20th centuries questioned this relationship by subtracting the primacy of the subject or reason as origin and goal. From Marx’s attempt to put Hegelian dialectics on ‘its feet’ in human practical activity, through Nietzsche’s anti-metaphysics, and to Freud’s transformation of the subject into an object (of the psychoanalytic science), the materialist advance consisted in the subversion of the subject and a tentative move towards the primacy of the object.

In this year's seminar, we would like to trace the moments of subversion in these gestures of subversion: moments in which the very attempt to subtract one term and establish the primacy of the other ends up producing the real excess of the subtracted element. In other words, if 20th century materialism thus starts with the establishment of the primacy of the object, it soon encounters the problem of the subject as an immanent excess of objectivity. Instead of constituting the exclusive reign of one term over the other, materialist philosophy revolves around a constant subversion and displacement of object and subject: their irreducible tension.

In order to map these turns and tensions, this year's seminar meetings will pass from different formulations of the primacy of the object in philosophy (in Marxism, psychoanalysis and epistemology), through attempts at revisiting the dialectic of subjectivity and objectivity (via the notions of repetiton, alienation, contradiction and subtraction), and finally to debates which multiply and make more complex the meanings of "subject" and "object" (haecceitas, Ding/Sache, subject of/subject to).

The seminar will take place monthly within the ICI-Berlin pavillion: Christinenstrasse 18-19, 10119 Berlin.

If you are interested in participating, or have any other queries, please send an email to versuslaboratory [at] ici-berlin.org

For the previous Versus Laboratory activities, see versuslaboratory.janvaneyck.nl





Saturday, July 10th 2 – 7 pm

Ray Brassier (American University, Beirut),
Patrice Maniglier
(University of Essex),
Felix Ensslin
(Kunstakademie Stuttgart),
Frieder-Otto Wolf
(Freie Universität, Berlin)

Hegel remarked somewhere that ‘philosophy is its own time captured in thought’. Philosophy thus relates to the world by taking it as the condition for its own operation, whose aim is to develop the rationality of the real. The theme of conditions emerging in recent thought maintains Hegel’s idea, but reverses its direction. Philosophy stands under the injunction of its temporal horizon, but not anymore to seize the rationality of its whole, but to capture singular excesses emerging in it. The present confronts philosophy not with the necessity to confirm its maturity, but with the difficult task of capturing nascent novelties, which emerge as radical exceptions to the given state of affairs. Within the framework of a one-day workshop, we have invited our guests to explore the contemporary problem of conditions, by examining ways in which philosophy encounters revolutionary political actions, psychoanalytic practice and inventions in the fields of the sciences, as irreducible fields which reorient its own activity.

Organized in collaboration with Frank Ruda and Jan Völker (Freie Universität)