Coils of Politics and Aesthetics (Deleuze Reading Group Conference, Amsterdam)

On July 4, 2015, ASCA will host International Conference of Deleuze Reading Group in Amsterdam. The event, composed of a keynote lecture by Professor Patricia Pisters and a one-day workshop, will bring together international academics and artists whom work with Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy. This year the focus lies on Deleuze’s thought in combination with politics and it medial aesthetics.

If, to follow Canadian philosopher Brian Massumi, there has been a kind of convergence between the dynamic of capitalist power and the dynamic of resistance, what is left for political action? The coils of politics seem to strangle us. Since the current flows of capital are subsuming us as subjects, perpetually modulating and appropriating us, the question is whether there is space left for any sort of transgression or resistance. A corporate way of thinking is suppressing the spaces that were still offering some form of resistance and turning everything into subjects of neoliberal logic. As Deleuze already noted in 1992, we have even delivered the school to the corporatization. Yet, there are forms of resistance emerging within this dense field. From Occupy to the current uprisings in universities, there is something stirring within the confines of neoliberal space and challenging its borders.

Part and parcel of this environment is the politics of image and the image of politics. Deleuze, in his cinema books, wrote extensively on the relation of the image to politics, and a people to come. Patricia Pisters states that within the current aesthetic regime, the neuro-image, there is a flow from micropolitics, through affective-aesthetic principles, to macropolitics creating possibilities for political action. How does it work? And what ways of resistance do the contemporary media and their images evoke?

We invite Deleuzian inspired thinkers and artists to confront the issues of politics in relation to the mediated and fluid space we live in: to think from within a new image of thought and a new aesthetic regime.


10.00 – 10.15     Welcome coffees  (Vondelzaal*)

10.15- 10.30      Welcome talk

10.30 – 12.00    Session 1 (Vondelzaal*) 

  • Ozgun Eylul Iscen – Affective Methodologies For Digital Aesthetics and Resistance: Deleuzian Philosophy and Media Arts in the Middle East 
  • Halbe Kuipers – The Amnesiac Witness in Renzo Martens’ Episode III.
  • Thijs Witty – A thinker of the rootstock against the new accelerationists: Hito Steyerl’s circulationism

12.00 – 13.30    Lunch (Bijzondere Collecties*)

13.30 – 15.00    Session 2 (Vondelzaal*) 

  • Sybrandt van Keulen – Aesthetics of Power
  • Nur Ozgenalp – Jon Snow and Daenerys Targeryan vote for the HDP: Micro- and macro-politics of becoming-other
  • Arash Ghajarjazi & Divya Nadkarni – Un Untidy Renitence (performance)

15.00 – 15.30    Coffee break and change of rooms (Nina van Leerzaal*)

15.30 – 16.45    Keynote: Patricia Pisters (Nina van Leerzaal*)

16.45 – 17.00    Coffee (Nina van Leerzaal*)

17.00 – 18.30    Keynote: Gregory Flaxman (Nina van Leerzaal*)

18.30 – 19.30    Borrel (Bijzondere Collecties cafe*)


Patricia Pisters: ‘The Filmmaker as Metallurgist: Politics and Aesthetics of Radical Contingency’
Nina van Leerzaal, Bijzondere Collecties, Oude Turfmarkt, 4 July, 15:30-16:45 hrs.

This lecture will look at the ways in which contemporary artists and filmmakers are committed to the radical contingency of the audio-visual archive, and reveal hidden dimensions of history to revive new perspectives and reveal new versions of the past that seem necessary for the future of ‘a people to come.’

Filmmakers become ‘metallurgists’ who follow the matter-flows in the archive, bending it in concrete forms that can escape from the mnemonic depths and get a new life, an afterlife. Politics and cinema aesthetics as a never-ending story of ‘trying again, failing again, failing better’ with a radical commitment to the contingencies of history and collective memory. This lecture is part of a work in progress on metallurgy, media and minds that I have started recently and hope to develop in the near future.

Patricia Pisters is professor of film studies at the department of Media Studies of the University of Amsterdam and director of the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA). She is one of the founding editors of the Open Access journal Necsus: European Journal of Media Studies. Her publications include: The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory (Stanford University Press, 2003) and The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture (Stanford University Press, 2012).

Gregory Flaxman ‘The Bressonian Touch: Gilles Deleuze and the Cinema of Faith’

Nina van Leerzaal, Bijzondere Collecties, Oude Turfmarkt, 4 July, 17:00-18:30 hrs.

Robert Bresson has long been celebrated by cinephiles, scholars, and auteurs as an intellectual and even philosophical filmmaker. Above all, Gilles Deleuze has suggested that Bresson belongs to a tradition, at once cinematic and philosophical, of “Christian inspiration,” and in this talk I want to consider the singular relationship between image and thought, style and idea, which Bresson elaborates.
More to the point, this lecture argues that Bresson’s three films of the 1950s — Diary of a Country Priest (1950), A Man Escaped (1956), and Pickpocket (1959) — constitute a kind of inverted Kierkegaardianism. In contrast to the latter’s dialectical stages, Bresson’s loose trilogy passes from religion (the priest) to ethics (the resistance fighter) to aesthetics (the pickpocket). In so doing, I contend, Bresson elaborates “affect-images” (Deleuze) that aspire to grasp in the most concrete terms the most ineffable questions of faith.

Gregory Flaxman is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and director of Global Cinema Studies at the University of North Carolina. He is editor of the Brain is the Screen (Minnesota 2000), the author of Gilles Deleuze and the Fabulation of Philosophy (Minnesota 2010), and the co-author of a forthcoming book, Thinking Cinematically (Edinburgh 2016). Currently, he is at work on a book about contemporary American bio-politics.