Through several meetings, Sprocket syllabus will address the relationship between absence –in its political and aesthetic dimension– and “queer” negativity. Departing from art theory and practice, the program will examine proposals that employ non-signification, as well as formal strategies of vanishing, draining and emptying, in order to renegotiate the normative processes of recognition and legibility.During the first part of the program (April-June, 2023) we will discuss silence as rhetorical absence and the possibilities it offers for conceiving a negative politics and aesthetics, making use of theoretical tools such as "paraontology" (Marquis Bey) or "the oncology of ontology" (Thomas E. Yingling). The second part of the program (from September 2023) will focus on the ability of performance, dance and theater to conceive an aesthetics of disappearance and absence based on Peggy Phelan's theory of the “ontology of performance”.

Directed by Álvaro del Fresno


———RIZVANA BRADLEY. Book Talk and Study Session: On Anteaesthetics. Thursday January 25, 2024 at 8pm ———

Please join us for the culminating event in our public program Sprocketed Syllabus on negativity and absence, in which author Rizvana Bradley will discuss her book, Anteaesthetics: Black Aesthesis and the Critique of Form, published in 2023 by Stanford University Press in the new series, Inventions: Black Philosophy, Politics, Aesthetics. In Anteaesthetics, Bradley begins from the proposition that blackness cannot be represented in modernity's aesthetic regime, but is nevertheless foundational to every representation. Troubling the idea that the aesthetic is sheltered from the antiblack terror that lies just beyond its sanctuary, Bradley insists that the aesthetic works in concert with the antiblackness that underwrites the visual, sensual, and abstract logics of modernity, even as black existence can never be wholly subsumed by this violence. Moving across multiple histories, mediums, and forms, Bradley inaugurates a new method for interpretation—an ante-formalism which demonstrates how black art engages in the recursive deconstruction of the aesthetic forms that remain foundational to modernity. Drawing from black critical theory, Continental philosophy, film and media studies, art history, and black feminist thought, Anteaesthetics asks us to think philosophically with black art, and with the philosophical invention black art necessarily undertakes.

The session will be followed by a dinner provided by Courage collective

With this event we bring to a conclusion the Sprocketed Syllabus program, dedicated to the study of ontological negativity and the performativity of emptiness, silence and absence in minor aesthetics. The term sprocketed refers to the perforations in a surface caused by the protrusions of a sprocket wheel, allowing the rotation of the rim. In other words, it is the void, the negative space, that allows a mechanism to perform its function. Perhaps, the most pertinent example of such are the holes in an analog film that ensure the rotation of the reel and, ultimately, the capture of the image on the celluloid. Rizvana Bradley, in her book Anteaesthetics: Black Aesthesis and the Critique of Form, considers that blackness operates as such a negative space: incapable of being represented by the aesthetic regime of Modernity, but, paradoxically, constitutive of it. We end, then, with Bradley's commitment to mobilize negativity and absence in a powerful critique of the metaphysics of anti-blackness and its continuous reproduction of the world as an aesthetic project.

Rizvana Bradley is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies and Affiliated Faculty in the History of Art and the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley, and the 2023-24 Terra Foundation Visiting Professor for American Art at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. Bradley’s book, Anteaesthetics: Black Aesthesis and the Critique of Form, was published in 2023 by Stanford University Press. In addition to several peer-reviewed, scholarly publications, Bradley's art criticism has been published in Artforum, The Yale Review, Parkett, Art in America, and e-flux, as well as numerous exhibition catalogs, including for the Serpentine Galleries, the New Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, and the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. She has curated a number of academic arts symposia at the Serpentine Galleries, the British Film Institute, and most recently, the Stedelijk Museum of Art.

———Reading Group. Thursday 26 October from 7pm to 9pm ———
We will consider the topology of sex, which in Alenka Zupančič's words conjures both an absence and an excess. From this ambivalence, we will reflect on the narrative inadequacies that characterise sexual narratives and representations, paying particular attention to their extra-textual articulations. Through the viewing and listening of musical, dance and performance pieces, we will attend to the rhythmic, choreographic and gestural dimensions of the experiences of jouissance, with the aim of offering further conceptual tools to negotiate in narrative terms the structural impasse of sex.

Some of the authors we will read will be: Avgi Saketopoulou, Brontez Purnell, Carmelita Tropicana, Mlondolozi Zondi, Justin Chin, Rizvana Bradley and Kadji Amin.

This session will be facilitated by Álvaro del Fresno and Andrea Acosta.
All texts in the reading group will be translated into Spanish.

To secure your place and access to the materials please send a DM to Juf with your e-mail or write to alvarxdelfresno@gmail.com. At the meeting we will have some drinks and food to enjoy together.

Álvarx del Fresno is an artist and researcher based in Madrid. In their work they explore the performativity of absence and silence in the constitution of identities marked by experiences of negativity. Currently their research aims to elaborate an aesthetics of fading, to account for the limits of signification and to attend to strategies of illegibility and opacity.

Andrea Acosta is a researcher in the field of philosophy and currently lives in Madrid. She has worked making use of embodied epistemology to explore the theatrical possibilities of the body in queer subjectivation practices. She currently focuses her studies in political philosophy, investigating the relationships between community, representation and agency. She explores how the identitarian configuration of collectivity abject to the margins the unassimilable subjectivities in search of the interstices and vanishing points that can propitiate other dissident assemblages.


———Reading Group. Thursday, April 13 from 7pm to 9pm ———
Departing from Lee Edelman's recent "Bad Education", we will expose the Lacanian concept of "absens" to inquire into the political and aesthetic possibilities of non-signification. We will then present the various conversations that are established as responses and critiques of Edelman's project, exploring the relationship between racialization and negativity, and attending to other models that do employ signification through its saturation, such as Luce de Lire’s proposal. Finally, we will consider the aesthetic strategies mobilized by silence as a rhetorical absence to think a negative aesthetic.

We will read the work of Chew Wei Li, Lee Edelman, J. Logan Smilges, Mlondi Zondi, Rizvana Bradley, Andrea Long Chu, Monique Wittig, Linette Park, Édouard Glissant or Bobby Benedicto, among others, will be discussed.

This session will be facilitated by Álvaro del Fresno and Andrea Acosta.

All texts in the reading group will be translated into Spanish.

*To secure your place and access to the materials please send us a DM with your email or write to alvarxdelfresno@gmail.com. At the meeting we will have some drinks and food to enjoy together.

———Performed Lecture: Pink Show Trials - Guilty Until Proven Innocent by Luce deLire Thursday 20th of April from from 7pm to 9pm———

Who's afraid of cancel culture? Not us! Those who seek the causes of “cancel culture” in a pseudototalitarianism and the wickedness of individual characters misunderstand it. Cancel culture is a symptom and not a cause of injustice. In the absence of functional means of social negotiation, people revert to public shaming. The “Pink Show Trials” dramatize this predicament. Show trials should be a stock performance at every queer event in order to channel repressed aggression, train collective reasoning, and terrify the political right. So let's get on stage and sue some counter-revolutionaries ...

Note: The pink show trials belong to the larger project of Pink Totaliterianism. To find out more here: e-flux.com/journal/117/386679/full-queerocracy-now-pink-totaliterianism-and-the-industrialization-of-libidinal-agriculture

Luce deLire is a ship with eight sails and lies down by the quay. In her performances she embodies figures of the collective imaginary. On her website, she offers "existential coaching and consulting". As a philosopher, her interests range from the metaphysics of infinity all the way to queer theory, Media theory, anti-racism, postcolonialism, and political theory. As an editor, she recently collaborated with art journal Texte zur Kunst on a volume titled "trans perspectives". As a person, she likes to [fill the blank]. For more, see getaphilosopher.com