Earlier this month, Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean was a keynote speaker at a recent event held at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York City.
On July 8, Dean joined film director Astra Taylor, artist John Hawke, and activist art collective Not an Alternative in a panel discussion on Participationism and the Limits of Collaboration.
As explained by event organizers, “everyone today sings the praises of participation. Leading academics hail active audiences who remix commercial culture. Established curators wax poetic about relational aesthetics. Web 2.0 executives and marketing experts applaud openness and connectivity. Conservative economists have discovered the benefits of collaboration. Interactivity, access, engagement are the highest ideals of the new order, ideals taken by many to be synonymous with democracy. Participation is perceived as politics, and vice versa. The fantasy of participation is a powerful one, postulating, as it does, the invitation and inclusion of everyone, everywhere. The Internet, we are told, makes this dream a reality, erasing borders and distinctions, smoothing out differences and hierarchies. We are all equal now because we believe everyone’s voice can be heard.”
“Political theorist Jodi Dean calls this ‘communicative capitalism,’ an ideological formation that fetishizes speech, opinion, and participation. With participation now a dominant paradigm, structuring social interaction, art, activism, the architecture of the city, and the economy, we are all integrated into participatory structures whether we want to be or not.”
Presented in association with the exhibition Re:Group: Beyond Models of Consensus, curated and organized by Eyebeam, Not An Alternative, and Upgrade NY!, this panel discussion examined how artists and activists navigate the participation paradigm, map the limits of collaboration, and model participatory forms of critical engagement.
For the full list of related programming, including panels and workshops, click here.
In addition to her duties at HWS, Dean is Erasmus Professor of the Humanities in the Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She is the co-editor of the international journal, Theory and Event. Dean is a political theorist who is engaged with contemporary radical political thought and questions surrounding politics and emerging media technologies. She has written extensively on Slavoj Žižek (including her book, “Žižek’s Politics”) and has also published critical articles on Judith Butler, Hardt and Negri, Jacques Ranciere, Michel Foucault, Jurgen Habermas, Iris Marion Young and Giorgio Agamben, among others. Her most recent book is “Democracy and Other Neo-liberal Fantasies” (Duke University Press, 2009).