This event is part of the opening chapter for Home Workspace Program 2013-14, led by resident professors Jalal Toufic and Anton Vidokle. For more information on the opening chapter and the year’s schedule and curriculum, please see HWP 2013-14.

"Once Upon a Time in Damascus"

A talk with Adam Curtis

8pm at Home Workspace

The strange and forgotten story of America's involvement in Syria back in the 1950s and 60s. How that was wiped from the memory - and replaced by a dream-vision of a world populated by goodies and baddies.


PROGRAM 1 | Mon, Nov 11 | Thurs, Nov 21 | Wed, Dec 4 | Mon, Dec 16

5 pm Pandora's Box—Six Fables from the Age of Science (1992): The Engineer's Plot (part 1/6), 44'03"

6 pm Pandora's Box—Six Fables from the Age of Science(1992): To the Brink of Eternity (part 2/6), 45'55"

7 pm Pandora's Box—Six Fables from the Age of Science (1992): The League of Gentlemen (part 3/6), 45'45"

8 pm It Felt Like a Kiss (2009), 54'

PROGRAM 2 | Tue, Nov 12 | Mon, Nov 25 | Thurs, Dec 5 | Tues, Dec 17

5 pm Pandora's Box—Six Fables from the Age of Science (1992): Goodbye Mrs Ant (part 4/6), 45'06"

6 pm Pandora's Box—Six Fables from the Age of Science (1992): Black Power (part 5/6), 45'48"

7 pm Pandora's Box—Six Fables from the Age of Science (1992): A is for Atome (part 6/6), 45'50"

8 pm The Road to Terror (1989), 53'17"

PROGRAM 3 | Wed, Nov 13 | Tues, Nov 26 | Fri, Dec 6 | Wed, Dec 18

5 pm The Mayfair Set—Four Films About the Rise of Business and the Decline of Political Power (1999): Who Pays Wins (part1/4), 44'17"

6 pm The Mayfair Set—Four Films About the Rise of Business and the Decline of Political Power (1999): Entrepeneur Spelt S.P.I.V (part 2/4), 58'34"

7 pmThe Mayfair Set—Four Films About the Rise of Business and the Decline of Political Power (1999): Destroy the Technostructure (part 3/4), 59'18"

8 pm The Mayfair Set—Four Films About the Rise of Business and the Decline of Political Power (1999): Twilight of the Dogs (Part 4/4), 59'

PROGRAM 4 | Thurs, Nov 14 | Wed, Nov 27 | Mon, Dec 9 | Thurs, Dec 19

5 pm The Century of the Self (2002): Happiness Machine (part 1/4), 58'26"

6 pm The Century of the Self (2002): The Engineering of Consent (part 2/4), 58'33"

7 pm The Century of the Self (2002): There is a Policeman Inside Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed (part 3/4), 58'34"

8 pm The Century of the Self (2002): Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering (part 4/4), 59'

PROGRAM 5 | Fri, Nov 15 | Thurs, Nov 28 | Mon, Tues 10 | Fri, Dec 20

5 pm The Living Dead (1995): On the Desperate Edge of Now (part 1/3), 58'

6 pm The Living Dead (1995): You Have Used Me as a Fish Long Enough (part 2/3), 58'32"

7 pm The Living Dead (1995): The Attic (part 3/3), 58'52"

8 pm The Way of All Flesh ― The Story of the Undead Henrietta Lacks and Her Immortal Cells (1997), 59'30"

PROGRAM 6 | Mon, Nov 18 | Fri, Nov 29 | Wed, Dec 11

5 pm The Power of Nightmares (2004): Baby It's Cold Outside (part 1/3), 59'

6 pm The Power of Nightmares (2004): The Phantom Victory (part 2/3), 58'

7 pm The Power of Nightmares (2004): The Shadows in the Cave (part 3/3), 59'43"

8 pm It Felt Like a Kiss (2009), 54'

PROGRAM 7 | Tues, Nov 19 | Mon, Dec 2 | Thurs, Dec 12

5 pm The Trap—What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007): Fuck You Buddy (part 1/3), 59'36"

6 pm The Trap—What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007): The Lonely Robot (part 2/3), 59,02"

7 pm The Trap—What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007): We Will Force You to Be Free (part 3/3), 59'15"

8 pm The Way of All Flesh ― The Story of the Undead Henrietta Lacks and Her Immortal Cells (1997), 59'30"

PROGRAM 8 | Wed, Nov 20 | Tues, Dec 3 | Fri, Dec 13

5 pm All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011): Love and Power (part 1/3), 59'32"

6 pm All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011): The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts (part 2/3), 59'21"

7 pm All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011): The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey (part 3/3), 59'06"

8 pm The Road to Terror (1989), 53'17"

Adam Curtis: The Desperate Edge of Now

Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist

Exhibition design by Liam Gillick

Adam Curtis is not an artist, but a television journalist. Over the last decade, many artists have become interested in his work. Because of this, e-flux and Hans Ulrich Obrist decided to create a solo show of Adam Curtis' films that included most of his work from 1989 to the present day, and that was shown in New York in 2012. Adam Curtis: The Desperate Edge of Now is presented here in an educational format adapted especially for the Home Workspace Program.

In our current age of uncertainty, both art and journalism are struggling in their different ways to make sense of the present time. This exhibition of Adam Curtis' works aims to try and break down the divide between art and modern political reportage, to open up a dialogue between the two.

Since the early 1990s Adam Curtis has made a number of serial documentaries and films for the BBC. They are linked through their interest in using the fragments of the past-recorded on film and video―and reassembling them to try and make sense of the chaotic events of the present.

The last twenty years has seen the collapse of many of the grand narratives that drove the world since the Second World War. TV journalism has changed as well, with reporting on events around the world now arriving to us as avalanches of recorded moments, yet carrying little comprehension of what the events mean. Reality slips in and out of focus, much as a fever grips the human mind. In response to that, Adam Curtis' films go back into the recent past to tell dramatic stories that lead the viewer to look again at the present day, to help make sense of it. The films are playful with images from the past, mixing journalism with a wide range of avant-garde filmmaking techniques. They also borrow from trash pop and are sometimes silly―but they are also deadly serious in their desire to break through some of the dangerous myths that today's "avalanche journalism" has created in the modern sensibility. These are myths that those in power attempt to exploit in order to maintain their status at a time when their influence is in decline. The old idea was that the heart of power was primarily located in the realm of politics. Adam Curtis' films challenge that notion head-on by demonstrating how power really works in today's complex society, how it also flows through all sorts of other areas: through science, public relations and advertising, psychology, computer networks, and finance and business.

The exhibition will screen a selection of ten works by Adam Curtis from 1989 to the present day:


An imaginative and playful film which tells the story of two revolutions nearly two hundred years apart―the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the French Revolution of 1789―and how and why they went in their different ways down the road to terror.


Six one-hour films that together tell the story of how the dream of science possessed politics in the twentieth century. From the RAND Corporation in America in the Cold War―which believed that scientific rationality could manage nuclear apocalypse, to the rise of modern economics―which believed that the rational management of the flows of money in the system could produce heaven on earth. The series shows how science was distorted and corrupted by those in power who asked it to do something it was incapable of doing―making the exercise of power rational.


This series tells three different stories that together examine how the powerful stories modern societies tell about themselves are constructed—and what is left out and why. The first film is very relevant to today because it tells how the myth of the Second World War that still possesses America and Europe was created—the belief that because it was a Good War it means we are good people. This is the simplistic vision of the world as divided between Goodies and Baddies, a vision that has been used to justify the interventions in Iraq and Libya. But we have forgotten the more complicated bits that had been left out of the story.


A documentary made in 1997 about the extraordinary story of Henrietta Lacks and the discovery of her cancerous, yet “immortal” cells. It is told with the help of her family.


Four one-hour films that tell the story of a group of men who met in a gambling club in London’s Mayfair in the 1950s, and how they ruthlessly set out to smash through the cozy partnership of the old British political establishment. In the process, they reawakened the markets, destroyed the traditional management of corporations in America and Britain, and helped create the modern global financial world.


Four films about how Sigmund Freud’s ideas about the human mind were taken and used to manage the world through advertising, public relations, and politics―in turn bringing us the modern world of hyper-consumerism. Out of this came the idea that would dominate politics in the age of the masses―that the dangerous desires and irrational impulses of individuals could be managed on a large scale by objects that reflected and fulfilled those desires: consumer goods.


Three films about the rise of the politics of fear. The films tell the parallel stories of two conservative but revolutionary movements―neoconservatism and modern Islamism. How over the past 50 years they grew up separately, but together, they have unwittingly created today’s climate of apocalyptic fear of the future. The films challenge the dark conspiracy theories of our time and show how politicians simply stumbled on that mood of fear, and then tried to use it to restore their declining power and influence. In the process they inflated that apocalyptic mood even further―and allowed it to run out of control.


Three films that tell the story of the rising belief over the past thirty years that the free market could be applied to all areas of human and social life―and how out of that would be born a new utopia of freedom. The films were made just before the present economic crisis, and argued that this vision of freedom is not only limiting, but had become a terrible trap.


An experimental film―all cut to music―that was at the center of an immersive theatre show made in collaboration with the theatre group Punchdrunk. It is about the years 1958 to 1967, the period of America’s rise to global power. It shows how the seeds of today’s uncertainty and lack of confidence about the future can be found hidden in the fragments of film from that period. The very thing that made America unique and powerful―the belief in free individualism―can, in an age of uncertainty, make you feel weak and powerless.


Three films that challenge the present utopian dreams about computers, and the prevalent belief that they can create an alternative networked world where all hierarchies and systems of power will die away. The films show through three different stories how that belief is an illusion―one that, in reality, helps create the very opposite. It reinforces the growing power of today’s unelected elites in the spheres of business, science, and finance.

To register, please email 6 pm: exhibition opening

8 pm: “Curating and Narrating Artworks that are Not”, with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Brian Kuan Wood, and Anton Vidokle

Why have so many artists taken an interest in the films of Adam Curtis? Perhaps it is because his films demonstrate how power really works in today’s complex society, how it flows out of traditional politics and into other areas, into science, public relations and advertising, psychology, computer networks, and finance and business. At the same time, many artists now move their work out of traditional museum contexts and many curators have expanded their methodology to include works falling outside the realm of art—or at least what we consider to be professional art—to include works of scientists, filmmakers, psychiatric patients, philosophers, etc. Artists often create their own institutional structures, while curators of the most recent editions of Documenta and Venice Biennale, for example, do not confine their exhibitions to works by professional artists. How can we imagine the future when flows of power have become so fluid? For Adam Curtis, it is all about making sense of the fragments of history. It is all about narration.

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Brian Kuan Wood, and Anton Vidokle will discuss curation and narration related to the exhibition of Adam Curtis and other projects.

9:30 pm: Party to celebrate the opening of Home Workspace Program 2013-14

Adam Curtis is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. He works for BBC television in London. His films have won many awards―including six BAFTAs. His series The Power of Nightmares was invited to the Cannes Film Festival in 2005. Curtis also writes multi-media political and cultural essays on a BBC website using longer sections of film from the archives―

Hans Ulrich Obrist is Co-director of the Serpentine Gallery in London. Prior to this, he was Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris from 2000 to 2006, as well as curator of Museum in progress, Vienna, from 1993 to 2000. Obrist has co-curated over 250 exhibitions since his first exhibition, the "Kitchen Show (World Soup)" in 1991, including "Cities on the Move", 1997; 1st Berlin Biennale, 1998; "Laboratorium", 1999; "Utopia Station", 2003; 1st & 2nd Moscow Biennale, 2005 and 2007; Lyon Biennale, 2007; and "Indian Highway", 2008-2012. Obrist is the editor of a series of conversation books published by Walther Koenig. He has also edited the writings of Gerhard Richter, Gilbert and George and Louise Bourgeois. He has contributed to over 200 book projects; his recent publications include A Brief History of Curating, dontstopdontstopdontstopdontstop, The future will be... with M/M (Paris), Interview with Hans-Peter Feldmann, and Ai Wei Wei Speaks, along with two volumes of his selected interviews (Interviews: Vol. 1 & 2). The Marathon series of public events was conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist in Stuttgart in 2005. The first in the Serpentine series, the "Interview Marathon" in 2006, involved interviews with leading figures in contemporary culture over 24 hours, conducted by Obrist and architect Rem Koolhaas. This was followed by the "Experiment Marathon", conceived by Obrist and artist Olafur Eliasson in 2007, the "Manifesto Marathon" in 2008, the "Poetry Marathon" in 2009, "Map Marathon" in 2010, and the "Garden Marathon" in 2011.In 2009, Obrist was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). In March 2011, he was awarded the Bard College Award for Curatorial Excellence.

Brian Kuan Wood is a writer based in New York. With Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle he is editor of e-flux journal.

Anton Vidokle is an artist and founder of e-flux. Born in 1965, Vidokle lives in New York and Berlin. His work has been exhibited in shows such as Documenta 13, Venice Biennale, Gwangju Biennial, Taipei Biennial, Lyon Biennial, Dakar Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, Liverpool Biennial and at Tate Modern, London; MoMA/P.S.1, New York, among many others. With Julieta Aranda, he organized e-flux video rental, which traveled to numerous institutions, including KW, Berlin; Portikus, Frankfurt; Extra City, Antwerp; Carpenter Center, Harvard University. As founder of e-flux, he has produced projects such as “The Next Documenta Should be Curated by an Artist” (curated by Jens Hoffmann) and “Do It” (curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist). In 2005, Vidokle initiated research into education as site for artistic practice as co-curator for Manifesta 6, which was cancelled. In response to the cancellation, he set up an independent project in Berlin called Unitednationsplaza (2006-2007): a twelve-month project involving more than a hundred artists, writers, philosophers, and diverse audiences, and which featured numerous public seminars, lectures, screenings, performances and various projects. In 2008 Unitednationsplaza travelled to Mexico City, and opened in New York’s New Museum for Contemporary Art under the name Nightschool (2008–2009). In 2008, with Brian Kuan Wood and Julieta Aranda, Vidokle founded the e-flux journal, a monthly online publication on art and critical theory. Jointly with the Sternberg Press, Berlin, e-flux journal started a new imprint that has put out a series of monographic publications and thematic compilations of essays. At e-flux space in New York, Vidokle directs a program of exhibitions that has included solo shows, as well as group exhibitions, such as “Agency of Unrealized Projects,” curated jointly with Hans Ulrich Obrist. Vidokle made several films and videos, most recently Two Suns (2012). He has contributed essays and texts to various journals, including October, Frieze and Aprior, as well as to numerous books and catalogues.