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Gesture — A Seminar and Workshop with Werner Hamacher

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1-2 December 2016 – A Workshop
9:30am-6pm, Lecture Room, The Warburg Institute

An interdisciplinary workshop on the philosophic, literary, art historical “language of gestures,” with special attention to the work of Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben.

Participants: Andrew Benjamin (London Graduate School / Kingston University / Monash University), Philipp Ekardt (Warburg Institute / Bilderfahrzeuge Project), Christopher Johnson (Warburg Institute / Bilderfahrzeuge Project), David Freedberg (Warburg Institute), Werner Hamacher (European Graduate School), Eckart Marchand (Warburg Institute / Bilderfahrzeuge Project), Julia Ng (Goldsmiths, University of London), Caroline van Eck (University of Cambridge).

The Workshop on Gesture addresses a truly interdisciplinary topic currently being explored by scholars from art history, dance studies, cinema studies, and philosophy. Drawing on research in ethnology, anthropology, psychology, and neuropsychology, art historians, like Aby Warburg, Rudolf Wittkower, Caroline van Eck, and David Freedberg, have variously redescribed and theorized gesture. Philosophers and literary theorists, like Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Werner Hamacher, and Andrew Benjamin, have plumbed gesture for its ability to mediate meaning(s). Given this, the Workshop will variously attempt to revaluate the corporeality, contingency, and temporality that enable gesture in the first place, even as it assesses the various ways gesture has been, for better or worse, abstracted. Its working premise is that nowadays we see a gradual fading of the symbol in the face of other forms of mediation, and that this lends urgency to the study of gesture. More particularly still, the Workshop will attempt to trace the lines that join gesture in life, on stage, and in the visual arts and the conceptions of gesture promoted by Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben.

This Workshop, then, affords an opportunity, then, to address questions such as: How might a history of gesture be written? What kinds of aesthetic, rhetorical, and/or truth claims does gesture make? In what sense is gesture an event, a sign, or a form of expression? What are the qualitative and conceptual differences between gestures that occur in the laboratory, a play, a painting, or on a page of philosophy? To address such questions, the Workshop will consider the dynamics of producing and receiving gesture as a historical, empirical, and philosophic problem.

If you wish to attend, please register at http://warburg.sas.ac.uk/events/gesture-workshop

Contact: johnson [at] bilderfahrzeuge.org