Assembly with Keti Chukhrov. Moderated by Dmitry Vilensky 
The School of Mutation within the framework of the iteration  We have a situation here holds this online meeting on Tuesday November 3rd at 19:00 CET. Join us on Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86795986726 Meeting ID: 867 9598 6726

This urgent question in the name of the gathering could be considered at the core of many debates on what were those changes in human life that were brought (or accelerated) by a pandemic. 

Epidemics, through the declaration of a state of exception, are great laboratories of social innovation, the occasion for the large-scale reconfiguration of body procedures and technologies of power”

Paul B. Preciado, The losers conspiracy

A shift from an anthropocentric society gives shape to the new subjectivities. Never before the mass application of bio-politics was so present in our daily life. We could simplify and see that the voices have split into two general positions – those ones who defend from different perspective the traditional approach to human beings whose bodies are sacred as the bodies of subjects and whose personal and collective meaning of existence stands exceeds the limitations of their physical life. And those who (quite in the vein with Donna Haraway) consider the body to be similar to “any other component or subsystem, that can be localized in a system architecture whose basic modes of operation are probabilistic, statistical”.  

This transformation which is rather common observation of many scholars can be celebrated or could be resisted and together with Keti Chukhrov we focus on one specific human activity – the possibility of mourning and how these key social rituals could be performed during pandemic and why they are not reclaimed either by artists or by societies. 

On the Libidinal Motives of the Denied Mourning.

The first days of the pandemic brought about the dimension of eschatology – the abnormality intervening into the daily life of speculative capitalism. This eschatological abnormality oscillated between regrets about inability to commit the acts of sacrifice or mourning in the conditions of self-isolation (Agamben) and the global lock-down consensus. Quarantine had the effect of the uncanny inevitability, yet it evoked the moods and attitudes that could have evolved into experiencing temporality eschatologically; it could as well reveal the necessity of the radical suspension of capitalist circulation in terms of consumption, and its reconsideration in terms of distribution and production. This suspension of capitalism’s libidinal elements, nevertheless, did not happen: moreover, the civic moods proved to be even more prone to the capitalist condition than the governing institutions. It is interesting in this connection to see how the reluctance to heed the death toll and inability to mourn are tied with the libidinal regimes of desire. Freud, Butler and Derrida will help us to unwind this paradox. (K.C.)

Recommended materials: 

Political Action beyond co presence (a panel discussion with participation of Keti Chukhrov, Judith Butler, Alexander Bikbov and Greg Judin) 

David Cayley, 2Questions About the Current Pandemic From the Point of View of Ivan Illich”, Published on April 8, 2020 http://www.davidcayley.com/blog/2020/4/8/questions-about-the-current-pandemic-from-the-point-of-view-of-ivan-illich-1

Paul B. Preciado, “Learning from the virus”, May/June 2020 https://www.artforum.com/print/202005/paul-b-preciado-82823


Keti Chukhrov is ScD in philosophy, an associate professor at the School of Philosophy and Сultural Studies at the Higher School of Economics (Moscow).  In 2017-2019 she has been a Marie Sklodowska Curie fellow in UK, Wolverhampton University. She has authored numerous texts on art theory and philosophy. Her full-length books include: To Be—To Perform. ‘Theatre’ in Philosophic Critique of Art (European Un-ty, 2011), Pound &£ (Logos, 1999),  and a volume of dramatic writing: Merely Humans (2010). Her latest book Practicing the Good. Desire and Boredom in Soviet Socialism (University of Minnesota Press/e-flux 2020) deals with the aspects of non-libidinal socialist political economy. She authored the video plays “Afghan-Kuzminki” (2013), “Love-machines” (2013), “Communion”(2016), which were featured at the Bergen Assembly (2013), the Specters of Communism (James Gallery, NY, 2015), the Ljubljana Triennial U-3 (2016, cur. B. Groys), etc. Her latest play “Global Congress of Post-Prostitution” premiered at the Steirischer Herbst festival, (Graz, 2019).