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Symposium: Individuality/Dividuation: An Epistemological Perspective

As today's critical epistemologies teach us, the contemporary becoming-world needs to be understood by an expanded »principle of relativity« which constrains us to adopt perspectives of different scales and to observe shifts on the biological, sociological, cultural and artistic level. While microscopic instruments report that non-human organisms contribute to our psycho-physical constitution, on the macroscopic level, we participate as intensely as possible in technological and social media and inevitably intersect with composite-cultural societies. These are some of the reasons why we want to reflect on the question if we can still consider ourselves as individuals, as undivided entities. Wouldn't it make more sense to conceive of ourselves as intersections of different sorts of participation, i.e. as specific dividuations? Dividuation then means an ambivalent concept pointing at our voluntary participation as well as our unvolontary captures and asking for new modes of moderation of ourselves. In our symposium, we want to reflect on these twofold processes from the points of view of cultural studies, media anthropology, human rights and art issues.

Tuesday, 11. July 2017

11.00 h
Michaela Ott (Professor of Aesthetic Theories, HFBK Hamburg)

11.15 h
Foucault, Race, and Racism
Keynote lecture by Rey Chow (Professor of Literature, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University, Durham)

When it comes to Foucault and questions of race, the challenge is the ready charge of Eurocentrism—that is, that Foucault’s perspectives, bound as they are to European cultures, are negligent of other parts of the world. This lecture proposes ways of coming to terms with Foucault’s relevance to race studies without following the geopolitically overdetermined direction of this familiar line of criticism. Instead, an attempt will be made to address Foucault’s important question »What in fact is racism?«
Moderation: Ulrike Bergermann (Professor of Media Science, Hochschule für bildende Künste Braunschweig)

12.30 h
I Is Another. The End of the Individual
Lecture by Martin Burckhardt (Author and Cultural Theorist, Berlin)

The project of individuality that goes back to central perspective, has come – together with the dominating code of Representation - to an end. Based on a formula that the creator of binary logic, George Boole, has emitted in the midst of 19th century, Martin Burckhardt analyzes the metempsychosis the contemporary self-conception passes through.
Moderation: Michaela Ott

13.15 h

14.30 h
To name and to claim: human rights beyond the individual
Lecture by Thomas Keenan (Director of the Human Rights Project, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Bard College, New York)

Human rights are better thought of as claims we make than as things we have. Any critical account of rights therefore must begin with the act of claiming, which is to say, of naming and comparison. When we declare our rights, we name not just ourselves but who we are together, and what we have in common. Like you, I am a human being; or, Aren't we human? Obviously, this does not go without saying, and so evidence always needs to be presented -- to others, for their counter-signature. This allows for a different approach to the contested notions of »individualism« and of »universality.« When I claim a right, I cannot claim it only for myself — human rights are always shared with others too, which is also to say, always divided and without guarantee.
Moderation: Peter Müller (Scientific Assistant at the postgraduate study program Aesthetics oft he Virtual, HFBK Hamburg)

15.30 h
SFAI – from inside out. Art, education, individual experience, collective adaptation
Lecture by Gordon Knox (Social anthropologist, President, San Francisco Art Institute)

This conversation takes a concrete and historically specific sociological object and disassembles its core values, purposes and perceptions as they relate to the tension between concepts of individuality and the reality of our species-wide reliance on the collective. The object is a 146-year-old art school in California. As a sociological object it serves to deliver the generational transmission of knowledge, the empowerment of individual ways of knowing, and the collective impact of communicating complex understandings. Participants in such institutions must recognize that we are suspended in, and generators of, the webs of meaning that define us individually and allow us collectively to adapt to a changing planet. We are our future, and art schools are central to that.
Moderation: Michaela Melián (Professor of Mixed Media / Akustik, HFBK Hamburg)

Venue: HFBK Hamburg, Lerchenfeld 2, Aula

Idea + Concept: Michaela Ott

Presentations in English

Annette Wehrmann, photography from the series Blumensprengungen, 1991-95; photo: Ort des Gegen e.V.

Conference: Counter-Monuments and Para-Monuments.

The international conference at HFBK Hamburg on December 2-4, 2021 – jointly conceived by Nora Sternfeld and Michaela Melián –, is dedicated to the history of artistic counter-monuments and forms of protest, discusses aesthetics of memory and historical manifestations in public space, and asks about para-monuments for the present.

23 Fragen des Institutional Questionaire, grafisch umgesetzt von Ran Altamirano auf den Türgläsern der HFBK Hamburg zur Jahresausstellung 2021; photo: Charlotte Spiegelfeld


Who speaks? Who paints which motif? Who is shown, who is not? Questions of identity politics play an important role in art and thus also at the HFBK Hamburg. In the current issue, the university's own Lerchenfeld magazine highlights university structures as well as student initiatives that deal with diversity and identity.

Grafik: Tim Ballaschke

Start of semester

After three semesters of hybrid teaching under pandemic conditions, we are finally about to start another semester of presence. We welcome all new students and teachers at the HFBK Hamburg and cordially invite you to the opening of the academic year 2020/21, which this year will be accompanied by a guest lecture by ruangrupa.

Graphic design: Sam Kim, picture in the background: Sofia Mascate, photo: Marie-Theres Böhmker

Graduate Show 2021: All Good Things Come to an End

From September 24 to 26, the more than 150 Bachelor's and Master's graduates of the class of 2020/21 will present their final projects as part of the Graduate Show at the HFBK Hamburg. We would like to thank all visitors and participants.

photo: Klaus Frahm

Summer Break

The HFBK Hamburg is in the lecture-free period, many students and teachers are on summer vacation, art institutions have summer break. This is a good opportunity to read and see a variety of things:

ASA Open Studio 2019, Karolinenstraße 2a, Haus 5; photo: Matthew Muir

Live und in Farbe: die ASA Open Studios im Juni 2021

Since 2010, the HFBK has organised the international exchange programme Art School Alliance. It enables HFBK students to spend a semester abroad at renowned partner universities and, vice versa, invites international art students to the HFBK. At the end of their stay in Hamburg, the students exhibit their work in the Open Studios in Karolinenstraße, which are now open again to the art-interested public.

Studiengruppe Prof. Dr. Anja Steidinger, Was animiert uns?, 2021, Mediathek der HFBK Hamburg, Filmstill

Unlearning: Wartenau Assemblies

The art education professors Nora Sternfeld and Anja Steidinger initiated the format "Wartenau Assemblies". It oscillates between art, education, research and activism. Complementing this open space for action, there is now a dedicated website that accompanies the discourses, conversations and events.

Ausstellungsansicht "Schule der Folgenlosigkeit. Übungen für ein anderes Leben" im Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; photo: Maximilian Schwarzmann

School of No Consequences

Everyone is talking about consequences: The consequences of climate change, the Corona pandemic or digitalization. Friedrich von Borries (professor of design theory), on the other hand, is dedicated to consequence-free design. In “School of No Consequences. Exercises for a New Life” at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, he links collection objects with a "self-learning room" set up especially for the exhibition in such a way that a new perspective on "sustainability" emerges and supposedly universally valid ideas of a "proper life" are questioned.

Annual Exhibition 2021 at the HFBK

Annual exhibition a bit different: From February 12- 14, 2021 students at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, together with their professors, had developed a variety of presentations on different communication channels. The formats ranged from streamed live performances to video programs, radio broadcasts, a telephone hotline, online conferences, and a web store for editions. In addition, isolated interventions could be discovered in the outdoor space of the HFBK and in the city.

Public Information Day 2021

How do I become an art student? How does the application process work? Can I also study to become a teacher at the HFBK? These and other questions about studying art were answered by professors, students and staff at the HFBK during the Public Information Day on February 13, 2021. In addition, there will be an appointment specifically for English-speaking prospective students on February 23 at 2 pm.

Katja Pilipenko

Semestereröffnung und Hiscox-Preisverleihung 2020

On the evening of November 4, the HFBK celebrated the opening of the academic year 2020/21 as well as the awarding of the Hiscox Art Prize in a livestream - offline with enough distance and yet together online.

Exhibition Transparencies with works by Elena Crijnen, Annika Faescke, Svenja Frank, Francis Kussatz, Anne Meerpohl, Elisa Nessler, Julia Nordholz, Florentine Pahl, Cristina Rüesch, Janka Schubert, Wiebke Schwarzhans, Rosa Thiemer, Lea van Hall. Organized by Prof. Verena Issel and Fabian Hesse; photo: Screenshot

Teaching Art Online at the HFBK

How the university brings together its artistic interdisciplinary study structure with digital formats and their possibilities.

Alltagsrealität oder Klischee?; photo: Tim Albrecht

HFBK Graduate Survey

Studying art - and what comes next? The clichéd images stand their ground: Those who have studied art either become taxi drivers, work in a bar or marry rich. But only very few people could really live from art – especially in times of global crises. The HFBK Hamburg wanted to know more about this and commissioned the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg to conduct a broad-based survey of its graduates from the last 15 years.

Ausstellung Social Design, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Teilansicht; photo: MKG Hamburg

How political is Social Design?

Social Design, as its own claim is often formulated, wants to address social grievances and ideally change them. Therefore, it sees itself as critical of society – and at the same time optimizes the existing. So what is the political dimension of Social Design – is it a motor for change or does it contribute to stabilizing and normalizing existing injustices?