Bookshop Situation Series: Release of Daniel Birnbaum & Sven-Olov Wallenstein "Spacing Philosophy: Lyotard and the Idea of the Exhibition"

18 November 2019, 18:00–20:00

Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olov Wallenstein, Spacing Philosophy: Lyotard and the Idea of the Exhibition, Sternberg Press, 2019.

Release of “Spacing Philosophy: Lyotard and the Idea of the Exhibition”.

-Daniel Birnbaum
-Sven-Olov Wallenstein

Daniel Birnbaum and Sven-Olof Wallenstein talk about their newly published book (Sternberg Press, 2019) related to Lyotard and exhibitional matters. We open the doors at 18:00 and the talk starts at 19:00.

In 1985, the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard curated Les Immatériaux at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Though widely misunderstood at the time, the exhibition marked a “curatorial turn” in critical theory. Through its experimental layout and hybrid presentation of objects, technologies, and ideas, this pioneering exploration of virtuality reflected on the exhibition as a medium of communication, and anticipated a deeper engagement with immersive and digital space in both art and theory. Spacing Philosophy analyzes the significance and logic of Lyotard’s exhibition while contextualizing it in the history of exhibition practices, the philosophical tradition, and Lyotard’s own work on aesthetics and phenomenology.

What would such a thing be as a philosophy of the exhibition, or even, more radically, a philosophy that itself takes on the form of an exhibition? Could there be a way to understand, or rather do, philosophy spatially, so that the exhibition medium—if the term “medium” is still useful here—would present a possible solution to the problems of conceptual articulations, which thereby would cease to be purely conceptual, and instead come to invest the field of the sensory, tactile, auditory, and visual? This question no doubt appears exorbitant in relation to normal philosophical discourse; why would thinking in a spatial and sensory fashion, and even more so in the mode of an exhibition, at all matter to philosophy?

For today’s artists and curators exploring the possibilities of virtual space and new immersive technologies, Lyotard’s pioneering curatorial project offers a rich theoretical toolbox. Co-author Daniel Birnbaum, director of the art and technology laboratory Acute Art in London, emphasizes the inspirational potential of Les Immatériaux for today’s artistic and theoretical experimentalism: “These were exciting times in continental philosophy, in which the ways to “do” philosophy were being challenged and re-considered. For me Lyotard’s exhibition has been a great source of inspiration. He stressed the need to render philosophy visual—not only by illustrating concepts with striking and sensuous images, but also through spatialization, in a way reminiscent of Mallarmé’s famous throw of the dice. It’s time for a new generation to through the dice and surprise us with entirely new constellations!”

The Bookshop Situation Series at Index is based on events to present books, magazines, records and other artistic formats. The bookshop situation is a way to test content, to share it, to distribute it, offering situations to be part of a community of experimental producers and users.