Fares Chalabi: aesthetical politics

Fares Chalabi

October 18, 2012 6:00 pm

As part of its educational and outreach program, Beirut art center is holding a series of seminars that will introduce students, amateurs, and art professionals to philosophical concepts that enhance understanding of contemporary art. The seminars, held every two weeks in order that participants have time to read and digest texts, will be held by fares Chalabi and other invited speakers. The seminars will be interactive working sessions: an opportunity to engage with philosophical tools outlined by post-modern philosophers.

General introduction the aim of this series of talks is twofold: – first, to present the aesthetic system of Deleuze as exposed in his books cinema 1 and cinema 2, and other writings such as the logic of sensation. Through reading of a number of texts and the uncovering of the conceptual system presented by Deleuze will allow us to extract a conceptual tool in order to assess local thought, or the thought of locality. In fact, or as a choice, we can read Deleuze’s books on cinema as an essay, maybe one of the first, in conceptual geo-politics, or the attempt to understand a specific place, such as a country, in terms of its sensori-motor organization. One of the topics Deleuze confronts is the specificity of an Italian, French, Canadian, or Russian cinema. The specificity of such a cinema helps reflect on the aesthetic organization of these places, and the aesthetic organization is in itself necessarily related to the politics and forces governing these places.

– Second, to displace Deleuze’s conceptual tools in order to grasp the specificity of Lebanon: how would we define the aesthetic organization of Lebanon; and how does this relate to its political system? To achieve this, we will confront a number of Lebanese artists, cinematographers, architects, philosophers, and theoreticians in order to build a reading grid, which takes into account the elements specific to this place. In other words, this will be an attempt to open and expand the theoretical space required to connect and enrich the actual space/entity we call Lebanon.

Seminar 1: political and poetical readings Thursday, October 18, 2012, at 6 pm in this first session I will discuss three positions that are not Deleuzian but that can be later contrasted with Deleuze: Barthes, Simondon, and Foucault. We will see how Barthes states an impossible relation between mythical and technological description; how Simondon’s reading of technology allows introducing a link through the concept of ‘associated milieu’, and at last the concept of power technologies by Foucault assigning a role for art as anti-power and a role for technology as power actualization.

Seminar 2: aesthetics and ontology Thursday, November 1, 2012, what is the conception of the real that grounds Deleuze’s writings on aesthetics? In this session, we will explore in detail logic of sensation in order to extract the ontological basis of the cinema books. We will see how Deleuze conceives perceptions, actions, and affections in relation to painting. The correlation of this ontology will be the description of an aesthetical anatomy, meaning the effects of the living flesh on reality.

Seminar 3: politics of the image Thursday, November 15, 2012 “the relations between the parts of an artwork are what determine its political dimension.” this is how we can enunciate one of rancière’s theses on art and politics as mentioned in the emancipated spectator. The goal of this session is to extract political typologies in the art field and expand the political reading to contemporary art practices.

Seminar 4: national identities Thursday, November 29, 2012, in this session we will start our journey in the cinema books by Deleuze. The first step will focus on relating cinema techniques on the one hand, to the sensory-motor organization on the other hand. We will see how Deleuze’s aesthetics is able to describe national identities as a specific montage of perceptive, affective, and active images. This session will cover chapters 1 to 3 in cinema 1, the movement-image.

Seminar 5: genesis of images Thursday, December 13, 2012, there is a process constituting images – perceptions, affections, and actions are images that are born from the interaction between living images and the field of force. This session will explore perceptions, affections, and drive images evoking filmmakers such as Vigo, Vertov, Bergman, Bresson, and Bunuel. (Cinema 1, chapters 4-8)

Seminar 6: forms and figures Thursday, January 10, 2013, the small and the big are the two forms that govern the action image. These forms are the actualization of the big narrations – westerns and the American dream. The progressive decline of big narrations inflicts distortions on cinematic forms. These distortions are called figures and express the sensory-motor organizations when the belief in big narrations is being shattered. In this session, we will evoke moviemakers such as Kazan, Hawks, Chaplin, Herzog, Cassavetes, and Altman. (Cinema 1, chapters 8-12).

Seminar 7: the crisis of the action-image Thursday, January 24, 2013, the limits of the movement-image are reached with Hitchcock and neo-realism. Pure optic images and thought images mark the crumbling of a world organized around meaningful actions, perceptions, and affections.  Yet this destruction opens up new possibilities for cinema, a new cinema detached from narration and movement. In this session, we will explore the transition from the movement-image towards the time-image by evoking directors such as Fellini, Ozu, Antonioni, Hitchcock, Goddard, and the Marx brothers. (Cinema 2: the time-image, chap 1-2)

Seminar 8: memory image Thursday, February 7, 2013 “a piece of time in itself” is what some of the post-WWII cinema is trying to capture. Not anymore an indirect image of time but time itself. Through Deleuze’s reading of Bergson’s theory of memory, we will explore the construction of the mnemonic image by evoking directors like Resnais, Tati, Renoir, Visconti, and Rossellini. (Chapters 3-5)

Seminar 9: thought-image Thursday, February 21, 2013 falsification is a power. Falsification can transform the real and oppose a power of the false to the judgment of the man of truth. We will consider this transformation of the real in the films of wells, and the documentaries of Perrault and Rauch. We will then expand this exploration to consider to what extent thought is a power of falsification and reaches its full intensity in cinema as an art of the masses. (Cinema 2, chapters 6-7)

Seminar 10: body-brain – image Thursday, March 7, 2013, the dissolution of the organic world and the disconnection of man from nature changes the paradigm of thought: not to produce knowledge of the world but to re-enable us to believe in this world. Through the works of Resnais, Garrel, Godard, or Kubrick we will see how this new paradigm calls for the construction of a body and of a brain. We will then explore the different relations between the components of the image when read through this new paradigm. (Chapters 8-10)

Seminar 11: table of signs Thursday, March 21, 2013, the last session on the cinema books by Deleuze we will deal with the hardest problem regarding the cinema image, i.e. Its relation to language. Is cinema a language, a universal language? Or, is it just a semi, a mode of expression that relies on human speech? While dealing with this question we will summarize the concepts that we covered in a general table of signs. (Cinema 2)

Seminar 12: confessional system Friday, April 5, 2013, a hybrid between the rational classical systems and the stochastic irrational systems can best describe the Lebanese confessional system. This means that it is neither based on the politics of representation nor on the politics of regulation and information. The aim of this session will be to produce a dynamic model of the interactions between the parts and the whole that shape the Lebanese politics. The reading will cover works by traboulsi, beydoune, Foucault and deleuze.

Seminar 13: the Lebanese aesthetical system Friday, April 19, 2013 (7 to 9 pm) after extracting and specifying the force – field operating in Lebanon the new task is to specify which type of esthetics, or sensory-motor organization correspond to this field. By keeping in mind Deleuze’s table of signs we will try to see if Lebanese esthetics fits under one of the given signs, or if the situation calls for the construction of a new specific sign. In order to achieve this determination, we will draw on a number of Lebanese artists, writers, and some aspects of the everyday life in Beirut.

Seminar 14: readings in Lebanese art Thursday, May 2, 2013 (6 to 8 pm) the last session will be devoted to reading a number of artworks and texts. The aim is to produce a map of the different possible positions in relation to the implicit matter of sectarianism. In other words, we will see how the aesthetical system can be intercut to produce different films and works of art.

Fares Chalabi was born in Beirut in 1977, where he studied philosophy and architecture. Admiring the French contemporary philosophers, such as Deleuze and Foucault, he decided to continue his studies in Paris 8. Chalabi left Beirut in 2003 to live in Paris until 2005 obtaining his master 1 degree. From 2005 until 2007 he lived in Indonesia and worked for the Red Cross on the post-tsunami relief program. Back in Paris in 2008 he finished his master’s 2 degrees and enrolled in a Ph.D. program. Today Chalabi lives in Beirut where he teaches philosophy (AUB) and art theory (Alba).