with Lore Gablier, Nina Glockner, Roel Griffioen, Ola Hassanain, Vincent Hessling & the Berlin Coffeehouse Conversations, Thalia Hoffman, Winston Nanlohy, Alejandro Ramirez, Igor Sevcuk, Éric Stephany, Giorgi Tabatadze
Winter calls for slowing down the pace, allowing time for reflection. Therefore, La Cocina is inviting a group of artists and researchers to initiate a discursive situation in the form of a reading group. The reading group is conceived as a discursive space to explore the now familiar notion of agonism borrowed from Chantal Mouffe, through the lens of “incompleteness and the promises of progress”.
How to read today the hopes and will underlying the modernist project to improve society by designing it? How these broken narrations of progress have shaped our aesthetic and political reality? Can we imagine, could we propel different narratives, and most importantly, how relevant would that be?
Public presentations will be developed together with the group and held throughout the months. The visual, performative, and written notes elaborated by the participants will also articulate an exhibition later this year.
Saturday 4 February
Saturday 25 February
Wednesday 8 March
Session hosted by Roel Griffioen
For the third session of the “Incomplete reading group,” Roel Griffioen presents his ongoing research on the role of architecture magazines published between the two World Wars vis-à-vis the project of ‘modern architecture’. What precisely made the magazine the favored ‘laboratory’ or ‘production room’ for the modern movement, and more broadly speaking, for architecture in modernity? Did these magazines merely reflect what was modern, or do they somehow also embody, or perhaps even co-constitute modernity?
Saturday 25 March
Session hosted by Vincent Hessling
Who are the Means and What Sets the Ends?
“He required, said Tobler in a gruff tone, a head in the position of his employee. A machine could be of no service to him. […] He, Tobler, needed an intelligent mind, an autonomous work force. If Joseph believed that he did not fulfill these requirements, he should be so kind to, etc. And at this point, the inventor expressed himself in repetitions.” (Robert Walser, The Assistant, 1908)
Somewhere around 1900, the zip of progressive narration breaks down. The grand récit about our voyage to moral perfection, individual autonomy, technical mastery, and ever-greater wisdom suddenly loses traction. What is left is room for doubts that humanity’s relationship with science and technology may not be properly defined by a rationality of means and ends. Who are the means and what sets the ends? This is a question that becomes even more puzzling today, in times of ubiquitous technology, globalized exploitation, and supposedly nearing Singularity.
The classic narrative of modern progress still hinges on human subjects, as much as it relies on technological means. In my dissertation, I explore literary narratives that challenge assumptions of human agency and technological instrumentality. My proposal to the Incomplete Reading Group: that we re-think such assumptions with respect to current debates. Herbert Marcuse’s historic but groundbreaking essay about “Some Social Implications of Technology” (1941) will be the ideal launch pad for our enterprise.
Vincent Hessling is a researcher at the Department of Germanic Languages in Columbia University. He focuses his interest on the idea of progress, history of technology and science, narratology, and systems theory. Hassling is the founder of the Berlin Coffeehouse Conversations.
Saturday 1 April
Session hosted by Thalia Hoffman
Reading into the smell and taste of Guava’s