Contact: miglemigloj@gmail.com

Today’s public debates seem to revolve more around the assumed universality of the Internet impact than on situated production and maintenance practices of its physical infrastructure.
With my research, I explore the Internet production and maintenance in post-socialist Lithua-nia through multi-sited fieldwork. I thus perceive the Internet not only as a media technology that produces global democratic, manipulative or other type of effects, but also as a situated phenomenon that needs constant maintenance. Inspired by infrastructural inversion (Susan Leigh Star, Geoffrey Bowker), media ethnography (Lisa Parks), but also telecom geopolitics (Wayne Winseck), I am interested in the ramification of infrastructuring practices that constitute and maintain the Internet in Lithuania by exploring them through open-ended and reflexive fieldwork with the focus on telecom industry.
Lithuania was re-established as an independent state in March 11, 1990. Here, the emergence of the new nation state coincided with the development of its first Internet connection. It was both symbolic and useful, because new network connectivity allowed from Moscow-indepen-dent communication with the world. On the 1st of January 1992 the biggest telecommunicati-on company “Lietuvos Telekomas” was established as a state enterprise, with more than 200 000 people waiting for a telephone line. Fast forward to 2017, and 75% of the households in Lithuania had access to the Internet1. Currently, the Internet in Lithuania is of exceptional quality, and its public Wi-Fi is one of the fastest in the world.2
How is the Internet maintained in the telecom industry in Lithuania nowadays? What kind of everyday geopolitics do current local telecom industry stakeholders practice by prescribing particular roles to both foreign and local telecom industry participants that have maintained the industry since the 1990s? What everyday remembrances and material legacies emerge in the telecom field during fieldwork that help situate and shift established historical narratives about industry’s development in the country?
Although with this research I situate the Internet production in Lithuania, situating is not a goal in itself. Instead, I hope to contribute to the field of media research by showing how “the Internet” is a complex material infrastructure both universal and particular that emerges through practice. Researching media technologies for me thus means analyzing it from diffe-rent practice layers: political, historical, cultural and labor.
1 Informacinės visuomenės plėtros komitetas prie susisiekimo ministerijos. Namų ūkiai, turinys interneto prieigą. In: Informacinės visuomenės plėtros komitetas prie Susisiekimo ministerijos. Online: statistika.ivpk.lt/temos/55 . Retrieved on: 5. June, 2018.
2 Zaliauskiene, L. The top 20 countries with the fastest public WiFi in 2016. In: Rotten Wifi. Online: blog.rottenwifi.com/top-20-countries-fastest-public-wifi-2016-infographic/ . Retrie-ved on: 1. June, 2018


Contact: elisabeth.heymer@leuphana.de


Contact: anna.koenigshofer@leuphana.de



Contact: Boaz.levin@gmail.com

In my PhD I explore the work of Allan Sekula, Martha Rosler, Fred Lonidier and Phel Steinmetz—known as the San Diego group—during the 1970s when they all studied, and later taught, at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Through a contextual survey of group’s work, I aim to show how they offered a critique and a reinvention of documentary practices in relation to the advent of neoliberalism. My work questions prevalent art-historical narratives concerning post-modern art as the cultural logic of neoliberalism, asking why the work of the group and their mode of critical documentary has long been overlooked. As I show, their critique-and-reinvention of the documentary—in releasing it from its dependency on the ‘myth of photographic truth’, in their
expansive use of media, exploration of the archive, notions of performativity, and photomontage—prefigures recent debates and artistic practices.


Ying Sze Pek

Con­tact: ypek@princeton.edu

As exemplary instances of developments in video and media art of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in Germany, the works of Munich-born artist, filmmaker, and author Hito Steyerl (b. 1966) have modeled key strategies for engaged art in the age of globalized art production and exhibition. Focusing on Steyerl’s films and videos as its central objects of analysis, while also attending to the artist’s large body of theoretical and critical writing, my dissertation provides the first monographic account of Steyerl’s oeuvre. Fundamental to the dissertation’s account of Steyerl’s work is the historicization of the field of video and media art in Germany. The dissertation analyzes the failure of video art as an avant-garde medium, before going on to trace its domination of global art exhibitions in the 1990s to 2010s. In this setting, the conventions of video art merged with cinematic codes and took on spatial aspects of installation art. The dissertation also examines how these developments in the forms and mediums of art are related to the art biennial’s emergence as the preeminent site for the exhibition of contemporary art in Europe since the 1990s.

Juliane Rahn

Con­tact: juliane.rahn@posteo.de

Theatrical Yugospheres in Transition

What approaches to freedom and acts of citizenship do practices and dramaturgies of emancipatory theater and performance in late socialist Yugoslavia after Titoʼs death (1980) articulate? How do they perform and thus encourage a yugosphere yet to come? The dissertation examines these questions on the example of performative arts in the city of Sarajevo, the capital of the Yugoslav constituent republic Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in the 1980s.


Valerija Kuzema

  • Oona Lochner

      When the feminist movement—with its slogan "the personal is political"—reached the arts in the late 60s and 70s, the female body, identity, everyday life and experience became a possible point of departure and frame of reference for artistic work. This tendency was quickly supported by female art critics. However, it was not merely in terms of content that they connected with feminist or female artists’ issues, esthetics and modes of address. Involved in feminist discourses on sexuality, ways of life and authorship, female authors also developed new modes of writing that went beyond the established formats of art criticism. Their texts could include autobiographical, fictional or dialogical elements, they were collaged of existing material, or were read in a performative manner. They often have an emphatic subjective tone that thematizes the author's esthetic, corporeal and affective experience. Many of the female art critics were firmly rooted in feminist art scenes, where they created collaborative projects as well as professional and personal networks as a basis for their work.

      Like the female artists, the female authors considered their efforts as a critique of the patriarchal conditions in art and society. Starting from three protagonists of the 60s and 70s—Jill Johnston, Lucy Lippard and Arlene Raven—I deal with the question as to which strategies feminist art critics developed in order to mesh esthetic and political agendas in their writings, what effect this had on following generations of female authors and how the dynamics of esthetic and political critique change when they are subject to processes of historicization and institutionalization.

      My attention will focus on performative aspects and on the apparent contradiction in, on the one hand, an emphatically subjective style of writing, and, on the other, collective working methods that would seem to undermine individual authorship. This twofold strategy works towards the constitution of the subject—the authors reflecting on their position as speakers and on their possibilities of criticism—while also permitting an inquiry, more generally, into the possibilities and conditions of critical subjectivity. The field of tension between subjective voice and collectivity may turn out to be the locus where esthetics encounter the political, such that discussions about art can also become debates about the body, identity and authorship.

            Working title: The drifter Madame Realism and the function of fiction for art criticism
            or: an art critic cast in doubt


            US-American writer Lynne Tillman created the fictional art critic in 1986. Her friend, Craig Owens, the art theorist and editor of Art in America at the time, invited her to participate in a written symposium on the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Art prompted the writing of all 17 Madame Realism texts published to date, and the art context formed their initial frame of reception. The texts were published in exhibition catalogues, artist’s books or art magazines. Later they often appeared without visual accompaniment or outside of the art context, for instance, in Tillman’s anthology “The Complete Madame Realism and Other Stories” (2016).
            Employing a figure in art criticism first addresses the reader’s imagination, unlike a theoretical text that is primarily concerned with comprehension. Madame Realism engenders a world that in the very next moment is exposed as her own creation. Thus, by interposing a figure, the register changes for the reader as well: it is not so much about “understanding” art than about developing a perspective on art – as exemplarily demonstrated by Madame Realism. Madame Realism gives Tillman the opportunity to stage the text by means of selective perception and frees her from the pressure of legitimization through academic, art-historical knowledge.
            But Madame Realism is by no means an amateur, she offers a comprehensive network of references, from Sigmund Freud, to Virginia Woolf, to Andy Warhol. She cites literature, refers to films, pop culture, social discourses, and contemporary events.
            Madame Realism drifts in the spaces between – between fiction and non-fiction, criticism and literature, cipher and her dissolution – the only permanent characteristic of hers is a political stance of doubt, a questioning of what we think, see and encounter, and why. Madame Realism does not settle on a poetic argument, not even an art critical one, but examines how starting off from the subjectivity of a fictional critic something like “truth” can be constructed at all, and how it can be read.


                  I am interested in relations – their modes, movements, and (im)materialities. I’m interested in their incomputability. How we relate, to each other, to any thing, living, dead, material or not, any structure or system, the world, is determined by media and technology. Their history of ideas of course has always been intimately intertwined with thinking race (and colonialism), that is racial thinking. Pushing the boundaries of what counts as technology in the first place, and subsequently, where to find the lineages and linkages between media, technology and race is essential work in the studies of media and technology today.
                  In this project I am tracing the technogenetic substances of the life work of Martinican theorist and poet Édouard Glissant to be able to understand the disruptive histories of race and technology that inform the organization of contemporary life. I am doing that by reading his work aligned to cybernetic texts, arguments and imaginaries. His poetics and poetic knowledge, words at play, were a means to create new imaginaries. My reading takes me to three very different settings with very different objectives, namely information travelling during the Haitian revolution (communication and control), which is inspired and theoretically informed by Glissants seemingly unusual thinking about the Middle Passage, secondly, to an episode in which Glissant describes a project where a Japanese Computer Company invested in the study of African oral languages to develop a computer language (weaving/coding, creole), which brings me from the question of poetics and epistemology and developing a glossary suited for today’s digitized world to a reconfiguration of how to make sense of relating in precisely this world. We will need to relate, in order to organize, to be critical subjects, to collectivize, to solidarize, to resist, to narrate, to inscribe, and to write. This project is historical as much as it is current, it is conceptual as much as it is empirical, and it oscillates between disciplines.

                  • Alia Rayyan


                      The subject of the dissertation concerns the participatory art interventions in the Old Town of Jerusalem by the Palestinian art organization Alhoash—of which the doctoral candidate Alia Rayyan was co-initiator in her former position as director and curator in 2013-2015—and the question to what extent participatory art interventions can be described as methods and forms of dissent able to activate socially relevant protest against the status quo.

                      The point of departure of the actions are the sociopolitical space and identity problems of Palestinians in Jerusalem as affected by Israel's policy of occupation. To be investigated is to what extent the program of participatory art interventions represent a critical potential to point at problems and foster the creation of counter publics demanding civil rights. The public space of Jerusalem is the stage for the hegemonic power relationships, and so an interesting starting point to see to what extent the assumption that participatory artistic interventions can stimulate a critical social discussion is tenable under these specific conditions.     

                      East Jerusalem was annexed to Israel in 1967 and, as the result of a "re-union," has become part of the territory of Israel under the name of "Greater Jerusalem"—even though this is contrary to international law. Palestinians who were born and who live in Jerusalem are subject to Israeli law, yet their status is subordinate to that of Israeli citizens. The resulting restrictions determine the everyday lives and mobility of the Palestinians, as well as their relationship to the state. The Palestinians of Jerusalem can be described as a minority within the State of Israel. According to Michael Warner, their continuous marginalization can lead to a "political depression" that can develop into a "blockage of activism and optimism," and end in "frustration, anomy and apathy."1 What role do participatory art interventions play, given this starting point? Can they act as catalyzers in helping to create counter publics and forestall the "blockage of activism and optimism"?

                      Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics, in: Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol 88, No 4, November 2002, pp 413-425, p 415.

                      Nadine Schiel

                            During her time at the Research Training Group Cultures of Critique Nadine Schiel worked on the project:

                            The Power of Experience in Art, or the Formation of Freedom.
                            On the experientially aesthetic relevance of aesthetic autonomy for a critical concept of aesthetic formation.


                            Despite the emphatic maintenance of art as a niche sector of the aesthetic, and as Theodor W. Adorno’s objectivist theory of an experiential art has become increasingly questionable, the aesthetic theories of Christoph Menke and Juliane Rebentisch have succeeded in continuing along the lines of Adorno through both a poststructuralist re-thinking of his work, as well as through determining to what extent the developments in contemporary art are able to accommodate his thinking.

                            In these theoretical renewals, however, the aesthetic continues to be defended in its negative difference to the political or ethical, and is considered to be a constitutive prerequisite of the critical character of the autonomy of art.  This theoretical actualization is accomplished through the shifting of aesthetic autonomy onto (the structure of) aesthetic experience. It is this shift during the simultaneous actualization of a traditional aesthetics that is taken as a productive theory of aesthetics in this work, which is at the one hand examined in the subject of contemporary art, and which on the other hand should be thought further with regards to its theoretical implications concerning the concept of Formation (as German Bildung), as well as explaining the therein contained critical understanding of its aesthetic formation.

                            The aim in this Dissertation is to work out the significance of aesthetic autonomy in its systematic relation to experience and critique for the understanding of aesthetic (subject) formation, in order to expand the (necessary) aesthetic dimension of the pedagogical discussion of autonomy.  In other words, it is not only that the theoretical shifts and practical-based ruptures in Adorno’s aesthetic will be traced in their renewals, but the work will also illuminate the critical potential of a negative experienced based aesthetic theory for a contemporary concept of aesthetic formation with regards to the understanding of artistic objects and with particular regards to the unfolding of processual subjectivation in the context of the constellation of autonomy, experience and critique"

                            • Judith Sieber

                                Working title: The Invention of the Timeline: Quantifying Vision in Eighteenth-century Diagrams


                                My dissertation investigates the emergence of time-based diagrams in the second half of the eighteenth century. Based on arithmetic temporality, that is, on mathematical principles of quantification and computability, these diagrams not only represent time itself, in the form of a directed timeline, but also establish a foundation for a comprehensive visual quantification that can be traced around the invention of visual statistics at the end of the century. This transformation concerns not only the form in which time is represented—moving from tables to timelines—but also introduces a new way of seeing, as vision becomes  a sense with which information is to be captured at a glance.
                                Diagrams bring out the way in which non-objective relationships are bound to representation. Domains such as time, life, or debt are introduced as timelines, life-spans, or balances. With the help of accompanying pamphlets, this is accomplished not least of all by arguing the self-evident nature of visual quantification and by drawing analogies with cartography, which was widely established at the time.
                                Discussing examples from France, England, and Scotland, my project studies this visual development as it normalizes quantification via arguments for its efficiency, as well as by argumentatively interweaving representation and imagination. This development toward a linear, uniform, and mathematical time is to be questioned as a Western construct of normative order that in presuming identical conditions levels out difference in experiencing underneath the same plane .


                                • Heiko Stubenrauch
                                    • Lotte Warnsholdt

                                        Working title: Edited Fashions—Critique under the Conditions of Predictive Media (Editierte Moden – Kritik unter den Bedingungen prädiktiver Medien).


                                        "The thought of every age is reflected in its technique." (Norbert Wiener) 

                                        Digital cultures cause a shift in the social construction of time. How are temporal concepts of the past, present and future constructed and perceived through digital conditions? To what extent has there also been a shift in the positions from which critique draws its authority within (post)structural modernity?

                                        An inquiry into how technological conditions are inscribed into modern structural patterns can be conducted through the object of fashion, which serves as a space for cultural and social modes of representation. For fashion displays both a temporal-theoretical component and functional references to forms of critique. Fashion and its media are particularly well suited to illustrate the shifting dynamics in the negotiation of structural principles of modernity, which includes a modern understanding of critique.

                                        Fashion operates through constant novelty, while also taking up the tendencies of the past, thereby forming representational temporal cycles. Fashion also has the characteristic of transcending hegemonic structures, surpassing and reproducing them, thereby revealing their contingency.

                                        Predictive media are implemented today in retail technology companies and transfer the claims of certain steering mechanisms to the field of fashion and its industries. How do these models of prediction act upon the temporal cycles of fashion? Does fashion—which in its social form is concerned with the “stability of transition” and the “conformity with deviance” (Esposito)—show whether the stages for the negotiation of cultural circumstances are being relocated under the conditions of digital culture? What is the role of critique within an order of increasing redundancy and variety under the conditions of digital cultures?