Study Circle: Uneasy Alliances
Study Circle: Uneasy Alliances
The social and political transformation starts with the small step, the daily call, the weekly demonstration, moving outside our zone of comfort where we all identify with one another toward the uneasy alliance that stands against injustice. — Judith Butler, “This Is What Resistance Looks Like” Lecture, 2017
The Study Circle Uneasy Alliances takes the question of how affect relates to social change as its starting point. It aims to investigate how new forms of acting in solidarity can be built by connecting artistic, tech, and activist approaches. Uneasy Alliances is one of two newly introduced Study Circles that frame the 2019 edition of transmediale and are part of the core program of the festival days. In response to the festival theme, the Study Circles bring together artists, researchers, and activists in working groups taking place before, during, and after transmediale 2019 to strengthen the festival as a site of knowledge exchange by involving participants at an early stage. The Study Circles take place in association with TIER.space, Spektrum, and Import Projects. Before transmediale 2019, the Berlin-based project spaces host a series of working meetings and, parallel to the festival, present their own program on the themes of the Study Circles.
The corrosion of social relations is intensifying within both civil society and the digital public sphere. Against this background, the participants of Uneasy Alliances will reflect on the invention of new political languages through socially engaged art, collective organization, counterpublics, and experimental technological frameworks. The goal of the Study Circle is to think through the affective conditions of solidarity—including the possible uneasiness caused by bringing together heterogeneous actors—and how this could productively inform new actions.
The wider context to Uneasy Alliances and its concerns are the problematic conditions produced by contemporary political and media landscapes. Within these, sudden emotional outbursts contrast with a generally disaffected civil society, making sustained cooperation across different social classes more and more difficult. This process of atomization, co-shaped by the dissolution effects of digital platform capitalism, impairs social cohesion and complicates attempts at collective organization. As an alternative to ever-increasing compartmentalization and hyper-individualist optimization and self-management, as well as impending tech gentrification of the urban environment, this Study Circle turns to the possibilities of building new affective bonds for solidarity, action, and care. These alliances may include—but not be limited to—intersectional activism across class, gender, and race in today’s hybrid urban and technological spaces as well as artistic re-imaginations of places, institutions, and forms of organization. Common to all of these approaches should be a demand for the immediate unlearning of privilege and oppression.