Monday, January 26, 2009

How to Care?

On Support Lecture Series

Jan Verwoert: How to care?

Friday, January 30, 2009, 6.30 pm

Ottoman Bank Museum Conference Hall,
Bankalar Caddesi, 11, Karaköy

In this talk Jan Verwoert will explore how care can be the most particular form of support, the one which makes us return to the question of political ethics: "How can we know what is to be done to make a better life possible for ourselves and others, now and in the future?" To think through the link between indebtedness and empowerment we might recall the story of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova in which she describes how and why she became a writer. Standing outside a Leningrad prison in 1930 where her son was a political prisoner, a woman whose son was also imprisoned, addressed Akhmatova with the question: "Can you speak of this?" She realized that she had to respond yes— indeed she could—and in this moment found herself both indebted and empowered.

To practice a politics of dedication and recognize indebtedness to the other as the condition of your own ability to perform means to acknowledge the importance of care. You perform because you care for
someone or something. This care gives you the strength to act, not least because to not act is out of the question when someone or something you really care for or about requires that you should act. To address this we are faced with a two-fold challenge:
1. to understand the conditions of our agency in order to enable us to define them according to our own terms; and
2. to imagine another logic of agency, an ethos, which could help us defy the social pressure to perform and eschew the promise of the regimented options of consumption.


Jan Verwoert is an art critic based in Berlin. He is a member of the advisory board of the Munich Kunstverein and has been a guest professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at the Academy of Umeå, Sweden, and the Royal College of Art, London. Since 2005 he has been a tutor and leader of the Imagined Communities seminar at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. Verwoert is a contributing editor to Frieze magazine and also writes regularly about contemporary art for Afterall, Metropolis M, Springerin, and artists' catalogues. He is author of Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous (One Work) (2006) published by MIT Press/Afterall Books. Verwoert is fascinated by art that is hedonist, romantic, personal, emotional, melodramatic, or humorous; art that articulates desire, deals with the rites of identification or fandom, and explores all that is glamorous, trivial, weird, or perverse about pop culture.

'On Support' is organized by Celine Condorelli and hosted by Garanti Gallery and Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, and is supported by the British Council.

Jan Verwoert's Conference is supported by the Goethe Institute, Istanbul.