Condition for Experience, or: ars activa

In the workshop “Condition for Experience,” conceived with the ZERO foundation in mind and taking place November 10–12, 2023, we will address some of today’s most pressing questions concerning the discourse on artistic action. To this end, moving from the post-war period to the preset day, we will draw on Hannah Arendt’s work The Human Condition, asking: Does art still have a place in the realm of work, as Arendt suggested? Or has it rather become an aspect of action, that is, of the political field and the public sphere? What does it mean for art when the central question of ethics as we know it from Kant, “What should I do?,” has moved closer an aesthetic concern, embodied by the question, as Judith Butler phrased it, “How ought I act?” That is, when the formulaic “what” has become a formal “how”? How might this shift of ‘formulaic’ to ‘formal’ be discursively grasped as a move from work to action and be critically examined as such? Is this the dissolution of the separation of art and life so often invoked by the avant-gardes? Are the body and the senses the pictorial means of this “how”? What role do the various configurations of the public sphere and its spaces play in the context of artistic action understood in this way? And how can bodies as ‘artistic beings’ be safeguarded?
Contributions and discussions will deal with approaches that arose from art historical discourses and political theories of the 1960s, moving from there to include contemporary debates concerning (artistic) production, fields of action and the experienceability of work and subject, as well as the concepts of “acting,” “action,” and “performativity” themselves.