Pharmakon: Whitch culture?


Kaai Theater
performative conference

‘Pharmakon: whitch culture?’ is a 72 hour long experiential event, combining lectures, body practices, discussions and meetings. The doors are open day and night to allow for a gradual merging of the philosophical and the physical, the political and the social, the economic and the tantric. A shared experiment in rethinking the boundaries of our thoughts, bodies and transindividual potential.

In the Pharmakon conference artists, theoreticians and the public engage with the notion of ‘pharmakon’ as coined by the contemporary philosopher Bernard Stiegler. In ancient Greece, ‘pharmakon’ was understood both as ‘poison’ and ‘medicine’, and in some cases also as ‘scapegoat’. The word might mean either the one or the other depending on the context, which implies a certain knowledge, or ‘knowledge-ability’. A skill of dosage and use, witchcraft involving insight and imaginative contextualization. As Stiegler suggests, there is a great need for a ‘pharmacology’ in today’s society to counter the poisonous fumes of economic, ethical and cultural impoverishment; it is clear that the fabrication of our culture(s) has urgently to be (re)questioned:
What are the categories we use to produce and develop the culture in which we ‘individuate’ ourselves? What is the change in ‘technics’ that is needed to re-imagine our desires, stepping out of ourselves, as ex-isting in the public sphere? What sort of witchcraft is demanded from us, as artists, citizens and thinkers, to come up with the right spells and potions, and to dose our practices to transform poison into medicine.

The ‘Pharmakon: whitch culture’ conference is part of the Thematics two-month research residency project, organized by Bains Connective, which brings together artists and theorists to work on, share and perform their concerns on this matter. They experiment on developing artistic remedies and toxic fumes, in search of a reformulation of the agency of the artist in contemporary society. In this way the Pharmakon project inserts itself into a growing movement of artistic initiatives that engage more directly in the political sphere. That want to make the public, the other, the citizen, part of their researches. That question how the artistic relates to the world we live in. These artistic interests speak of the willingness to restate desire in its fullness as a societal driving force. A desire that is not reduced to economic drives, but that is structured and transformed in accordance with the practices and thoughts of its members. Or more simply: we speak about set-ups that could inform and produce knowledge, and which could question the drives and urgencies that produce our social agencies.

Day One 28. 11
Savoir Faire / Savoir Vivre
Around the notion of ‘pharmakon’ in the thinking of Bernard Stiegler

In this first day, we open up the notion of ‘pharmakon’ through dialogues, discussions and bodywork. Bernard Stiegler addresses his notions of ‘savoir faire’ and ‘savoir vivre’ out of a contemporary understanding of how we ‘technologize’ our lives. Pierre-Yves Defosse responds through his engagement with Ars Industrialis: an international association that investigates an industrial politics for the development of ‘technologies of the spirit’. In the tantric and Feldenkrais practices the body opens up to different ways of relating to itself and the other. Relating all this to a contemporary context of crisis, exploitation and the need for a public response.

10:00-11:30:How to  re-articulate our abilities to change? Based on Feldenkrais Awarness
    through movement classes, Nevenka Koprivsek (workshop)
11:30-13:00: Tantra Magics, the redistribution of desire, Elke Van Campenhout                 (workshop)
12:00-16:00: “1 place and 14400 seconds”, Maria Lucia Cruz Correia (performance)

14:00 - 18:00

  • Bernard Stiegler – Skype (lecture) in dicussion with Judith Wambacq and Bart Buseyne
  • Pierre- Yves Defosse – Ars Industrialis (lecture)
  • “Let's     first get things done! On division of labor and practices of delegation in times of mediated politics and politicized technologies”* written by the Darmstadt Delegation ** (lecture)

19:00 “10 journeys to a place where nothing happens”, Maika Lond (performance)
20:30 “The myth of the great transition'” Pieter De Buysser (performance)
22:00 "The Ghost Seminar" Brandon Labelle (lecture performance)

22:00 onwards - “The Cabinet (mouse trap)”, Alexandre Le Petit (one-on-one performance)
00:00 “Notes on blindness”, Eric Thielemans (lecture performance with live music)
01:00- 03:00 - Tantra Magics (shared practice)

After midnight Film program

Day two 29.11
(re)thinking economies
This second day we look into practices, developed in Brussels and elsewhere that propose another economy of values and desire. We confront the current movements of speculation on imagination and utopia, and the subsequent proposals for the reorganization of work and solidarities.

10:00 - 11:30 How to  re-articulate our abilities to change? Based on Feldenkrais Awarness
    through movement classes, Nevenka Koprivsek (workshop)
12:00 Magic Tantra, Elke Van Campenhout (workshop)
12:00 “1 place and 14400 seconds”, Maria Lucia Cruz Correia (performance)
12:00 - 12:00  'Spinoza Lector: On What Reading the Ethics Out Loud Brings to and Takes from the Text, §16 The Swerve of Freedom After Spinoza'. A 24-hour reading of a 24-hour reading of Spinoza's Ethics., Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield (reading)

14:00 - 18:00

  • Economic foundation (workshop)
  • Shop- Shop, Morpho, The Political Party (panel)
  • 'Cardboard Attention', Michiel Reynaert  (performance)

19:00 “10 journeys to a place where nothing happens”, Maika Lond (performance)
20:30 "Speculations on the lyrical imagination of the resistant, the lazy and the hopeful", Brandon Labelle (lecture/performance)
22:00 “The myth of the great transition”, Pieter De Buysser (Performance)

22:00 onwards -  “The Cabinet (mouse trap)”, Alexandre Le Petit (one-on-one performance)
00:00 – 2:00 Tantra Magics, Elke Van Campenhout (shared practice)

After midnight film program

Day three 30
Body Technologies
Shamanic, tantric, cannibalist and other body technologies break open the fields of what can be thought and experienced, and how knowledge can travel from the one to the other. A world appears in the connections and disconnections between bodies and their environments, through the practiced virtualization of what it is the body can do. On the other hand the self-understanding of the body is morphed through the transindividuation of digitalized memories and re-image-inations that transform our potential engagements and understandings.

10:00 - 11:30 How to  re-articulate our abilities to change? Based on Feldenkrais Awarness
    movement classes, Nevenka Koprivsek (workshop)
12:00 Tantra Magics, the redistribution of desire, Elke Van Campenhout (workshop)
12:00 '1 place and 14400 seconds', Maria Lucia Cruz Correia (performance)


14:00 -18:00

  • "Loving Memory: Digital Orphism", Mischa Twitchin (seminar discussion)
  • “Technoshamanism on the Rubbisland”, Fabiane Borges (workshop lecture)
  • “Antithesis”, Michiel Vandevelde (Performance-in-progress)

Over the days the spaces are charged by ongoing installations, discourse practices, (semi-)public interviews, and performance works.

*”Don’t eat the microphone”, Veridiana Zurita (shared practice)
*Ghost notes”, Alexandre Le Petit (installation)
*Investigation on desire”, Flora Pilet (installation)
*Animal whisper”, Lilia Mestre (object)
*'Loving Memory: the book of life', Mischa Twitchin (film)
* “Pharmakon: the performative library” Elke van Campenhout, Lilia Mestre (semi-public live interviews with participants)
* Libraries (The Political Party Library; Pharmakon research library, Lygia Clark interview archive)
*Food at 13:00 and at 18:00

** It is the assignment of the Darmstadt delegation to explore the techno-political and socio-emotional relationships between activist practice and tools. Currently
active delegates are Miriyam Aouragh (University of Westminister), Seda Gurses (NYU, New York), Jara Rocha (GReDiTS/Objetologias, Bau School of Design, Barcelona) and Femke Snelting (Constant, Brussels).