Gerrit Wegener

RULES WITHOUT WORDS

An Interdisciplinary Seminar on Non-Verbal Normativity

Date and Venue: February 8, 2018 at Društvo arhitekata Rijeka (DAR)

Organization: CAS SEE & DAR

Non-verbal normativity surrounds us. In design and architecture practices, the visual communication and the built environment transmit rules and shape behaviour in a variety of, arguably, understudied ways. Signalization, political and lifestyle propaganda in various media, nudging images, technical drawings of city plans, ideologies articulated through architectural choices and propagated through artistic practices – are among the most prolific bearers of norms in the society.

This seminar gathers a number of Autumn 2017 CAS SEE Fellows investigating the non-verbal normativities in a variety of approaches and disciplines and the practitioners of design and architecture to open the discussion about the nature, relevance and effects of the “rules without words” in the contemporary normative landscape, where climate change is reframing the discussions on globalization, the illiberal governments are slowly and persistently changing the fundamentals of the discourse on governance and freedom, and the vast digital realm floods the international social life with innovations in social coordination as well as informational and affective strategies of uncontrollable quality and intent.


◌ PROGRAM ◌

17.00 | Olimpia Giuliana Loddo and Davide Pisu: The Architect’s Normative Drawings

17.30 | Carlo Burelli: Art, Power and Propaganda: Lessons from the Roman Empire

17.50 | Mónica Cano Abadía: The Non-Verbal Normativity of Gender Performativity

18.10 | Discussion

18.40 | Davide Pala: A Moral Framework for Assessing Hostile Architecture

19.00 | Milorad Kapetanović: Regulation of Informal Construction in Rijeka in the Anticipation of European Capital of Culture Rijeka

19.20 | Nataša Janković: Architectural terRI[s]tories: Mapping the Process of City Transformation.

19.40 | Gerrit Wegener: Johnnie meets Jackie in Rijeka. In between the lines of Normativity and Individuality

20.00 | Discussion

GERRIT WEGENER

How Long is Now?

“Thinking about architecture, we are confronted with the heritage of former generations as well the questions of how to understand, act on, act with and further develop these structures and how to create today a vision of and for the future. My vision of an interaction with the existing building stock may be summed up with a poetically formulation by Mark Wigley, who names preservation a “forward-thinking celebration of life”. But how can we think forward and celebrate life while respecting the memory as testimony inscribed both materially as well as immaterially into architecture – without creating a death archive? In my opinion, the key to find possible answers lies in a better understanding of the presence of and in architecture first. The objective of my current research work is to re-examine its different dimensions as there are Architecture as thing (“Ding”) in its material presence, the presence for the beholder and Architecture as (re-)presentation of a(n ideal) future.

Based on thoughts of the Ontology of Things, namely inspired by E. Husserl, M. Heidegger and G. Böhme, I want to name the forms of presence ecstasies and distinguish spatiality, eidos, physiognomy and sensation. With the help of this concept I aim to pave a possible path to overcome in a first step the thinking in polarities as inside / outside, essence / expression, the thing as such / aesthetic effect or rationality / affectivity.

The  fourth of the ecstasies bridges over from the material realism of architecture as thing to its reception by the subject, understood as being sensitive for its perceptible presence and emotional impact. To perceive a building is as well to take part on its past and possible future. Looking back, there are traces of testimony in social as well as in historical dimensions. Looking forward, the present stimulates the imagination of the beholder. Thus we are thinking of the relationship of building and beholder via the ecstasies as a double bind, that tries to solve the above named polarities and, at the same time, helps to overcome the division between subject and object. Furthermore there are as well the sensitive qualities of a thing as there are qualities, which has been given by an act of creation.

All three mentioned forms of presence take architecture as a spatial thing out of time. But I suggest to understand architecture as architecture insofar as it gets identity from the event which will have taken place in or as architecture. The event defines the now of architecture. It is not only a confrontation of the person(s) involved and architecture itself but an interaction in and with architecture which gives the opportunity of an active (re-)appropriation of the existing object. An event cannot be planned or be foreseen. It will only be known when it will have taken place. Architecture as framework for upcoming events exists in the tense of the past perfect progressive. This framework is given by the existence of ecstasies. They are created in a process of design and development and can be seen as result of the production aesthetic. The ecstasies are inscribed into the three-dimensional reality of the present building. And they are received in sensitive affection by a beholder who gets into interaction. In result, I aim to open up an understanding of the perception of architecture as a whole of sensitive (ecstasies) and rational (language and semiotics) reception.

The now is longer than any single point in time seems to be. is related to space and temporality, as every single moment in the history of a building seems linked with every other moment in the past, present and future. The further construction of the building stock results in a continuous architecture (Weiterbauen), that allows to understand, write and read “architecture as the most living act of memory” (Jacques Derrida).”


 
After studying Architecture (Diploma) and Art History (Master’s  of Art) at the Technische Universität Berlin, Gerrit Wegener has been conducting research projects at the crossroads of Philosophy, Art History and Theory of Architecture. His doctoral  thesis was on Jacques Derrida  and his  writings on architecture. While seeking to identify and assess the contribution  of  Derrida to the Theory of Architecture, he further explored  the possible contribution of mainly  20th century French philosophy to architectural discourse. In  parallel to his academic work, Gerrit Wegener has been working  as a freelance architect, art historian and professional project manager with a focus on design and construction within existing structures, taking into account aspects of heritage and historical preservation.

Fellows at the “TESTIMONY. POETRY. LANGUAGE.” Conference

The conference investigated the concept of testimony, notably war testimony, from different perspectives, i.e., literature, philosophy, sociology and political activism.

The first day of the conference and a roundtable on the third day were entirely devoted to the analysis of the holocaust poet Paul Celan through the contributions of Sue Vice, Pajari Räsänen, Matthew Boswell and Nina Čolović. A philosophical analysis of Celan’s poetry was provided by Petar Bojanić, while Bertrand Badiou was a key figure, providing testimony of Paul Celan’s poetry and biography.

The second day, with panels chaired by CAS Fellows Mónica Cano Abadía and Olimpia Loddo, focused on the role played by poetry in the testimony of the Yugoslav war. A first-hand testimony was offered by the Bosnian writer Asmir Kujović, while Lidija Dimkovska, a Macedonian writer based in Slovenia, paid a moving tribute to a long list of writers that are the voice of a post-Yugoslav languages. Andrijana Kos-Lajtman analyzed the influence of Dadaism on Manifest Mlade Bosne by Darko Cvijetić. Senadin Musabegović described the role played by poetry in testifying the real face of nationalism.

In the panel “Rhetoric, Politics and Poetry after Yugoslav Wars,” Jay Surdukowski showed how Radovan Karadžić used poetry to justify his war crimes. In her presentation To War or to Write, Elizabeta Šeleva described poetry as a means to redesign reality through the creation of an alternative “literary ought.” Goran Lazičić described the rhetoric and politics of testimony in the novels of the Serbian writers Svetislav Basara and David Albahari.

During the third day of the conference, with panels chaired by CAS Fellow Davide Pala, Olivera Marković-Savić showed the use and misuse of the term ‘veteran’ after the end of the Yugoslavian war, and she stressed the legal misrecognition of veterans by the Serbian state. Šeherzada Džafić talked about poetry focussing on war as a powerful form of both testimony and ethical learning, while Selma Zilić Šiljak presented the clash between dominant narratives of war and the horizontal and private accounts of it in Velika Kladuša.

In the first panel of the fourth and last day, chaired by CAS Fellow Mišo Kapetanović, Cornelia Grabner gave voice to the Movement for Peace in Mexico, while Robert von Hallberg focused on the relationship between testimony and poetry in the US. Danijela Majstorović shared her research on the construction of the Yugoslav new woman and the role of the Women’s Antifascist Front (AFŽ). Marzuq Al Halabi talked about Mahmoud Darwish, the prophet of the Palestinian revolution who created a bridge between Palestine and other international movements.

The last panel, chaired by Marco Abram (Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso), revolved around memorial sites in Rwanda (Matthew Boswell) and the role of women poets in the peace process in Colombia (Cherilyn Elston). Afterwards, Djurdja Trajković moderated a roundtable in which the role of poetry as a form of testimony was discussed. A poetry reading about conflicts in peripheral capitalism closed the conference.

After the conference, the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory of Belgrade hosted one workshop and two lectures. The workshop consisted in a critical discussion of the important book “Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities” by Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein. Fourteen commentators highlighted different aspects of it, e.g., the relation between race and nation (e.g., Carlo Burelli, Davide Pala), on the one hand, and the link between race and gender, on the other hand (e.g., Mónica Cano Abadía). Djurdja Trajković closed the workshop by stressing the strict historical connections between nationalism, racism, and classism. The first lecture, given by Manuela Bojadžijev and entitled “Is (neo-)racism a form of violence of the past?”, provided a conceptualization of the distinctive features of racism and a great overview of the main literature analyzing racism from the 50’s onwards. The second lecture, given by Sanja Milutinović Bojanić and entitled “Rhetoric of Emancipation vs. Rhetoric of Misogyny”, showed the central traits of the rhetoric of both emancipation and misogyny and illustrated them through the analysis of several historical occurrences of both emancipation and misogyny.

– CAS SEE Fellows

AUTUMN 2017 CAS SEE FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS

The Center for Advanced Studies – Southeast Europe (CAS SEE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Autumn 2017 CAS SEE Fellowship Awards at the University of Rijeka. The purpose of the CAS SEE Fellowship Programme is to further the research and creative work in the fields of the humanities and humanistic social sciences in the Balkans. Fellows will present their work within the CAS Collegium, creating an intellectually heterogeneous atmosphere and fostering a productive self-examination or even friction, which may lead to new and unexpected ideas and innovation.

Please join us in congratulating the following Autumn 2017 CAS SEE Fellowship Awards, University of Rijeka recipients:

Mónica Cano Abadía (Zaragoza, Spain) The Re-Radicalization of Critical Thinking: Toward a Global Social Justice.

Gerrit Wegener (Berlin, Germany) Continuous architecture. The most living act of memory.

Olimpia Giuliana Loddo (Cagliari, Italy) Investigation on the Ontology of Normative Pictures.

Nataša Janković (Belgrade, Serbia) Architectural terRI[s]tories: Mapping the process of city transformation.

Davide Pala (Torino, Italy) World Poverty, Radical Inequalities and Neo-Republicanism.

Carlo Burelli (Milano, Italy) A Theory of Order.