Home Workspace Program 2017-18 | Course of Seminars



Seminar | The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster

We live in a block universe of space-time, where nothing physically passes and vanishes, but where occasionally things immaterially withdraw due to surpassing disasters. To detect this withdrawal, whether symptomatically or otherwise, one is well advised to look for it in messianic movements as well as in artistic and literary works. With regard to the surpassing disaster, art acts like the mirror in vampire films; it reveals the withdrawal of what we consider is still there. Following the surpassing disaster, the duty of at least some artists is to disclose the withdrawal (Resnais’s/Duras’s Hiroshima mon amour, 1961; Godard’s King Lear, 1987) and/or to resurrect what became withdrawn (Godard’s King Lear). In normal times a nebulous entity despite the somewhat artificial process of canon formation, tradition becomes delineated and specified by the surpassing disaster: tradition is what conjointly materially survived the surpassing disaster, was immaterially withdrawn by it, and had the fortune of being subsequently resurrected by artists, writers, thinkers, and messianists. If they repeatedly prove unable to resurrect what was withdrawn by the surpassing disaster, tradition, then it can be argued that, at the end of the “season in hell,” thinkers, artists, writers, and messianists are to abolish tradition altogether: “absolutely modern” (Rimbaud). Jalal Toufic

Public talk | What is the Sum of a Son and a Son – In a Dream?
Date: December 14, 2017 at Ashkal Alwan | 8 PM

In Chapter VII of his The Interpretation of Dreams, titled “The Forgetting of Dreams,” Freud ignores or forgets one form of the forgetting of dreams: not forgetting a smaller or larger part of the content of the dream, but forgetting that a certain image, command, warning or request came to one in a dream. One of the most remarkable examples of such a forgetting of the dream is encountered in the Biblical version of God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son.

Jalal Toufic is a thinker and a mortal to death. He was born in 1962 in Beirut or Baghdad and died before dying in 1989 in Evanston, Illinois. His books, a number of which were published by Forthcoming Books, are available for download at his website: http://www.jalaltoufic.com/. And his videos are available for viewing at: https://vimeo.com/jalaltoufic. He, along with artists and pretend artists, was a participant in the Sharjah Biennials 6, 10, and 11, the 9th Shanghai Biennale, the 3rd Athens Biennale, and “A History: Art, Architecture, and Design, from the 1980s Until Today” (Centre Pompidou). In 2011, he was a guest of the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD; and in 2013–2014, he and Anton Vidokle led Ashkal Alwan’s third edition of Home Workspace Program. He has been the director of the School of Visual Arts at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (Alba) since September 2015.