Professor Ken Gemes in conversation with Joanna Rajkowska and Performance by Anna Perach, 28 October at 7pm, létrangère
A conversation between Joanna Rajkowska and Ken Gemes, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. Monday 28 October.
The conversation will be preceded by a performance prepared by Anna Perach in response to Joanna Rajkowska’s solo exhibition, The Failure of Mankind, that was inspired by a wide range of reflections on the power of empathy and humans’ ability to feel and understand other species. It signals the fundamental importance of and our dependence on the survival of the natural world.
The performance will start at 7pm.
Professor Ken Gemes is a philosopher with a current primary interest in Nietzsche. Prior to joining Birkbeck, Prof Gemes taught for 11 years at Yale University in the US. His work has covered a wide range of philosophical issues, from technical concerns of logical content to Nietzsche’s account of philosophy as the “last manifestation of the ascetic ideal”. His recent work deals with Nihilism and the Death of God, Nietzsche on The Value of Truth, and Biology of Evil which investigates the transition from a religious/moral notion of evil (having the wrong kind of thoughts) to a more bodily biological notion of evil (having the wrong blood or the wrong genes). His most recent talk Nihilism, Trump and Brexit argues that the political right have been more successful in responding to the vacuum of meaning that characterizes the post-modern world, where the political left (Clinton/Blair) mistakenly abandoned narratives of meaning offering only the cold comfort of more equitable distribution of wealth and services. His writing has appeared in various books and professional journals. He is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche.
Anna Perach was born in the Ukraine in 1985. She lives and works in London, UK and Israel. Perach’s practice is informed by the dynamics between personal and cultural myths. She synthesises female mythic characters to retell their stories while placing them in the current climate. By doing so Perach creates an experience of eeriness, evoking a sense of both familiarity and distress. Perach’s main medium of work is wearable sculpture and performance. She works in a technique called tufting, making hand-made textile which she transforms into wearable sculptures. The pieces function as both a performance garments as well as independent sculptures. Through this choice of medium Perach is interested in exploring how elements associated with the domestic sphere operate as an extension of the self and reflect on one’s heritage and gender roles.
Joanna Rajkowska was born in Poland in 1968, she lives and works in Warsaw, Poland. Rajkowska works with objects, films, photography, installations, ephemeral actions and widely discussed interventions in public space. Her unique artistic vision and methodology combines subjective narratives and critical discourses with a deeply felt concern for the spaces in which her works appear and the people they touch. Instead of simply invading or occupying public spaces, she blurs the identities and hidden tensions associated with them, navigating around communal dreams and fears. Historical trauma, cultural discourse, aesthetic relevance and geopolitical references all blend in her works in ways which both distress and heal, challenge and resolve, attack and absolve. Rajkowska deals with all these issues an intuitive level, digging for desires and myths in ways which are not spoken of directly, far from a discursive level which would disrupt the physical and emotional realms involved. Her works resist interpretations which could offer simple solutions to complex problems. Instead, they are conceived of as social utopias to be tested in practice and frameworks for individuals or communities to experience, discuss and give meaning to.