Conference: How to do Politics with Aesthetics

23 October 2016, 15:00–19:00

Still from Tiefenschärfe (Depth of Field), directors: Alex Gerbaulet, Mareike Bernien, Germany 2016, 15 mins.
Still from Tiefenschärfe (Depth of Field), directors: Alex Gerbaulet, Mareike Bernien, Germany 2016, 15 mins.

The event How to do Politics with Aesthetics. Rethinking 100 Years of Peter Weiss examines from a German-Swedish perspective how the works and ideas of Peter Weiss might be continued and actualized today. What is the status of the relationship between art and politics in today’s political and social context?

Works by Weiss negotiate the tension between art and politics, and investigate the history of resistance. Underneath their narrative surface, they question the role of language and the dilemma of exile, torn between escape and the search for communality. How can we act in times of political repression? How to live in a world where millions of people are displaced by war and destruction? The works by Peter Weiss do not provide easy answers and this is why his works and the questions they ask are more important than ever.

The event will present contributions from international experts about the legacy of Peter Weiss and the current relationship of aesthetics and politics, together with a program of short films.

During the first part, How to work with Peter Weiss today? filmmakers Alex Gerbaulet and Mareike Bernien will speak with stage director Nadja Weiss and film curator Florian Wüst about the relevance of Weiss’ ideas in their own work. Nadja Weiss is the director of the stage production of Weiss’ Die Ermittlung, which premiers November at Orionteatern in Stockholm. Alex Gerbaulet and Mareike Bernien reference Weiss’ aesthetics explicitly in their newest film Tiefenschärfe (Depth of Field, 2016), which investigates racist violence in Germany. Florian Wüst has dealt in his work repeatedly with Peter Weiss and curated the film program for this event.

For the second part artist Petra Bauer, writer and researcher Stefan Jonsson, and critic Kim West will discuss How to do Politics with Aesthetics? Petra Bauer has extensively dealt with the political potential of art, such as in her new publication Sisters! Making Films, Doing Politics (2016), a topic, which is also important in several of Stefan Jonsson’s books. Kim West is currently researching presentation formats of art as documentation techniques.


23 October 2016, 15:00-19:00
The bar is open during breaks
Location: Orionteatern, Katarina Bangata 77, 116 42 Stockholm

15:00-16:00 Film program I, German with English subtitles
16:15-17:00 Alex Gerbaulet, Mareike Bernien, Nadja Weiss, Florian Wüst: How to work with Peter Weiss today?


17:30-18:15 Petra Bauer, Kim West, Stefan Jonsson: How to do Politics with Aesthetics?
18:15-19:00 Film program II, German with English subtitle

The talks will be in English.
The event is free, please register here.

Film program

The film program presents a selection of short films by contemporary artists and film makers which reflect on Weiss’ political aesthetics from a contemporary perspective. They touch on art, politics and resistance, especially in relation to current right wing-populist and nationalist movements in Germany and Europe. The films are selected by Florian Wüst.

Program I:
Bodenproben, Riki Kalbe, West Germany 1987, 31 mins.
Semra Ertan, Cana Bilir-Meier, Germany / Austria 2013, 7 mins.
Tiefenschärfe (Depth of Field), Alex Gerbaulet, Mareike Bernien, Germany 2016, 15 mins.

Program II:
The Right, Assaf Gruber, Germany 2015, 12 mins.
The Cast (Procession), Clemens von Wedemeyer, Italy 2013, 15 mins.
Symbolic Threats, Mischa Leinkauf, Lutz Henke, Matthias Wermke, Germany 2015, 15 mins.


Petra Bauer is an artist and researcher, who works with moving images. She recently published her dissertation Sisters! Making Films, Doing Politics (2016), in which she deals with the collective and political potentials of the medium of film, as proposed once by Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht, and how (film) art can play an active role in public discourse without being instrumentalized.

Kim West is an art critique and researcher. He is currently finishing his dissertation about The Exhibitionary Complex: Critical Theory of the Exhibition from the Culture Center Project to the Centre Pompidou.

Stefan Jonsson is a literary scholar and professor at the Institute for research on migration, ethnicity and society (REMESO) at the University of Linköping. His research is multi-disciplinary and investigates the historical and social structure of collective identities. Jonsson works as a critic for Dagens Nyheter and has published the books Crowds and Democracy, A Brief History of the Masses: Three Revolutions and the anthology Samtida politisk teori, among other titles.

Alex Gerbaulet and Mareike Bernien are filmmakers. Their current film Tiefenschärfe (Depth of Field, 2016) uses formats of Peter Weiss’ aesthetics, such as the tribunal, to discuss the German extremist right-wing group NSU. In 2015 Alex Gerbauelt won the prize of the short film festival in Oberhausen with the film Schicht.

Nadja Weiss is an actor and stage director. In 2015, she directed Angst essen Seele auf for Stockholm Stadsteater and Der Mann ohne Vergangenheit at Dramaten. She is currently working on a new staging of Die Ermitlung for Orionteatern in Stockholm, which will premiere in November 2016.

Florian Wüst is an artist and film curator. He recently organized the film series Die Ästhetik des Widerstands – Peter Weiss 100 at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, and published last year, together with Ralph Eue, the last film by Weiss, Bag de ens facader (1961), on DVD.

How to do Politics with Aesthetics. Rethinking 100 Years of Peter Weiss is a collaboration of Goethe-Institut Schweden with Orionteatern and Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation.