deutsche version
grafisches Element

Widersprüche! Critical Agency and the Difference within

4th May - 14th June 2011

OPENING: 3rd May, 7 PM - 9.30 PM

PROJECT CURATOR: Nora Sternfeld »

With artistic and discursive contributions by:

bini adamczak
Eduard Freudmann
Oliver Marchart
Raqs Media Collective

Exhibition Design: Toledo i Dertschei

Lectures and Conversation (language: English/German):
Bini Adamczak, Eduard Freudmann, Oliver Marchart, Nora Sternfeld

Location: Open Space, Open Systems

Date: 3 May, 19.30 pm

Bini Adamczak: (at least) 13 WAYS NOT TO BE MEANT
Eduard Freudmann: Talking back Among us and beyond us: recognizing anti-semitism, disrupting anti-semites
Oliver Marchart: Democracy as a practice of self-alienation
Nora Sternfeld: Widersprüche! Critical agency and the Difference within

Widersprüche! Critical Agency and the Difference within is based on a conversation. This conversation is devoted to artistic and activist strategies that take up a perspective while at the same time analytically investigating their own perspective. Contradictions are thus meant in a double sense: as forms of opposition against the existing conditions and as reflexive discussions of the critical position within discourses and institutions as well as within society.

A perspective of critical agency defies the dichotomy of “good” and “bad” and rather asks for “the difference within” and what it could mean to still remain able to act. In this process spaces of action open up that have not been previously codified: discourses and practices take on the apparatus of value-coding and thus transform whatever can be said, thought or seen. So forms of talking back emerge: contradictions against the existing power of interpretation.
Three slide shows result in a fragmentary “ContraDictionary” challenging the categories and techniques of truth production. The contributions examine forms of critical agency in art, theory and activism.

bini adamczak

bini adamczak Link

(at least) 13 WAYS NOT TO BE MEANT, 2011

A Slide Show

Big theory (most likely in general, maybe even per definition) tends to belittle the little. it plays its big game while casting aside what it generally originates in and most often aims for: the concrete, here: the example. this is best seen on the level of form: the example is treated as pure illustration, fully exchangeable while at the same time – s t r a n g el y – repeated stupidly over and over again. (what if the general was an example itself? or – even funnier – what if the theory was valid only for this single, lonely example?). in marxist theory – which claims to be materialist – this tendency has some cruel, some amusing consequences. this work will focus on one of ‘em (not as an example of course, but because this is what i am really interested in ;-) : althusser’s exemplification of interpellation: “hey you – yes.” taking this example seriously, this work will try to give some answers to the police (be it statepolice or genderpolice) – without answering their interpellating call. it wishes to mobilize a big amount of political anger towards the contemporary modes of subjectivation (e.g by mocking them) and will result in a slogan which only seems to be paradox: do not be meant!



Not Doing Everything, 2008


A question mark held up on one of the demonstrations in Buenos Aires 2004 marks contradictions in a double sense. As an act of disobedience expressing solidarity and as an urban-social performance the work transfers the side we take into a reflexive position. The question mark may be added to the demands of the demonstration and makes it (the same effect is created by adding the name of the artists’ group etc. to any list of artists) incomplete and negotiable.

However, the precondition for this form of reflexivity is the fact that the artists are right in the middle of the demonstration. This form of criticism and of the question can only be formulated from the “thick of” the demonstration.

Eduard Freudmann

Eduard Freudmann Link


Documentation of police investigations against unknown

Talking Back
Among us and beyond us: recognizing anti-semitism, disrupting anti-semites

Illustrations of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in emancipatory theories and practices and illustrations of political action of the third generation of Shoah survivors in post-Nazi spaces.

Exemplification #3
[…] Within the [education] protests [2009/2010], it was alarming, for example, to see redundant anti-Semitic stereotypes reproduced by a group of students from Weimar’s Bauhaus University without being called out and contested. While travelling past international university occupations, they spread thousands of flyers of fake dollar bills, replaced with a picture of Milton Friedman and a claim criticizing Bologna on the back, identifying a Jewish economist as the root of all evil, reproducing one of the most dangerous anti-Semitic myths of the Jews and their economic dominance. As the only personified supplement for all possible claims against the commodification of knowledge, the banknote can be downloaded as a template to fill in ANY claim,(58) therefore ANY claim criticizing the commodification of knowledge is supplemented with “the Jew” as the universal scapegoat. It is also remarkable that this action came from a university just 10 km (approximately 6 miles) away from the Buchenwald concentration camp, censoring an art project dealing with the Shoah(56) and concealing its own cruel history of anti-Semitism.(57) No matter what the protestors intended, the reproduction of sexist, racist, anti-Semitic and other exclusionist elements must be critically confronted with uncompromising rejection regardless of any wrongly intended restrictive thoughts “for the sake of the protests.” […]

Lina Dokuzović and Eduard Freudmann, Fortified Knowledge: From Supranational Governance to Translocal Resistance, Duke University 2010
(56) See Ronen Eidelman, “The Neues Museum saga,”
(57) See the “history” section of the university’s website:

Oliver Marchart

Oliver Marchart Link, 2007


Compared with classic forms of identity politics, some recent social movements have developed new forms of politics. It is not the “empowerment of the self” that they aim at, but the permanent questioning of one’s own position and identity. This has a democratic effect in a narrower sense, since democracy is nothing but the instituted and instituting practice of self-alienation. At the same time, this development causes problems, since it could be linked with a loss of political power. Or maybe not?

Raqs Media Collective

Raqs Media Collective Link

Collective Forces, 2007


The photographic work by Raqs Media Collective was developed in winter 2007 for Bildpunkt – the magazine of the Austrian art association IG Bildende Kunst – with the thematic focus on “collective forces”. In a text on this subject, the artists conceptually define collectivity as the shadow of all things. They write: “Just as contours of the shadow merge, distinctive borders blur, too. And just as light prolongs and shortens the shadow, collectivity also changes its dimension.” Maybe, as is well known, those who are in the light and are seen still have to expect a lot from the collective forces that develop in the shadow, where they are not so visible at all.

Supported by:

Interkulturelle und internationale Aktivitäten

Exhibition Design, Short bio:

TOLEDO i DERTSCHEI (Vienna) has been an office for design and graphic design since 1996 ( Both Eva Dertschei and Carlos Toledo studied at the University of Applied Art and are members of Design Austria as well as of the artists’ association IG Bildende Kunst. Since 2006 they have been editors of Bildpunkt – the magazine of IG Bildende Kunst.

grafisches Element