Where we are right now
Summer School 2022
18.07.2022 — 22.07.2022
Where we are right now
Summer School 2022

18.07.2022 — 22.07.2022

For individuals & students in Arts and Sciences (ages 18-75) & KABK Students: Individual Study Track (IST) 2 Credits

With: Fiona Kumari Campbell (UK), Steph Holl-Trieu (DE), Kamai Freire & Suelen Calonga (Obará) (BR), Julia Vandehof (AU) and Baruch Gottlieb (CA).

Learning goals: Theory and practice / Feminist politics, Ecology, Media theory, Political economy, Trauma, Disability, Humanity, Techno-mechanics and Synthetic thinking.

Vision: A radically transdisciplinary School where we address the health crisis as the failure of late-patriarchy. In theory and praxis, with insights from art, science, theater, philosophy and more, we will dive deep in to the urgent struggles of our time and prototype methods which can encourage and sustain us.

‘Plagues such as the 1918 influenza pandemic act as mysteries and eventually tests of human subjectivity in its full range of hopelessness and potential. As we anticipate what new pandemics might soon emerge, we can only predict they will be filled with both apocalyptic loss and unthinkable possibilities when we find the courage to look.’ Jane Elizabeth Fisher Envisioning Disease, Gender, and War_ Women’s Narratives of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic’ p.201

Apocalypse in Greek means ‘to reveal’, literally, to lift (apo) the cover (kaluptein), the implication being it is a momentous event which reveals hidden truths. In her history of the 1918 global influenza pandemic, Jane Elizabeth Fisher explores how, as it shook European notions of cultural and technical supremacy to its core, the apocalyptic coincidence of war and pandemic produced a permanent disruption of conventional gender identities opening up unexpected new freedoms,new autonomy, and new roles. Fisher’s book ‘Envisioning Disease, Gender, and War: Women’s Narratives of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic’ as well as some of its references will form the textual center of our study. Fisher’s fascinating history offers valuable insights not only to what we are going through right now, but how we got here.

Fisher explores the effect of overwhelming techno-mechanical force unleashed during the first world war on the male soldiers, infantilizing them and traumatizing them in a way many would never recover. Added to this trauma, the silent contagion which defied the confidence of science and medicine, shook techno-modernistic triumphalism to the ground. The result was masculinity and patriarchy outclassed on one hand by its own technical achievements, and rendered pathetic and at the mercy of nurses, mothers and other care-givers on the other.

The current convergence of global crises has also provided apocalyptic revelations, which shake the legitimacy of our democratic systems, our certainty in technological progress and our understanding of ourselves. Accompanying the hard-fought and still uncertain political and social gains for women, queer and other consitutencies formerly subjugated under patriarchy, we see a rising reactionary right, anti-modernist superstition and conservatism. The ‘legacy left’ in the Global North which used to put forward and protect these gains, has become split from the real international revolutionary monevemtns, it has become chauvinist, imperialist, and moralizing, unable to provide any compelling vision for a brighter future.

Author Katherine Anne Porter, who herself barely survived the 1918 pandemic, chronicled its radically disruptive social effects, which ironically availed her of a new confidence and autonomy. ‘The pandemic divided my life, cut across it like that. So that everything before that was just getting ready, and after that I was in some way altered, ready.’

Reading, discussing and exploring the present through fiction, philosophy, and performance, we will prototype new methods of synthetic thinking and engaged creativity. This Summer School provides space and time, structure and support to get radical with what is most troubling and most promising about our current situation, In individual and group work, we will prototype and test transdisciplinary performative techniques, methods and strategies which can help us all better understand where we are right now, and what is to be done. Participants can expect an encounter with invigorating theory, philosophy and discussion, to be synthesized into protoypes of theatrical, musical, performative excercises and presentations.

General Information
The West Summer School 2022 is limited to 25 participants. There is a participant fee of € 175,- incl. lunches (student € 95,-). The program will be held in English. We will gather in the garden and auditorium at West in The Hague. To apply, please e-mail Chloë van Diepen: chloe@westdenhaag.nl before July 7th with a short motivation. If successful, you will receive a confirmation within the week. The Summer School is for participants only and is convened by Baruch Gottlieb. For more info about the application process email: chloe@westdenhaag.nl


References: Stacy Alaimo, Angela Davis, Jane Elizabeth Fisher, Donna Haraway, GWF Hegel, Joy James, Silvia Federici, Alexandra Kollontai, Paul Robeson, Benedict Spinoza and Sylvia Wynter.