Masterclass Artistic Research 2021

The International Masterclass Artistic Research in Film and Philosophy "Fabulation for Future" is an invitation to Master, PhD or Postdoc level students to become part of a fictive “International Committee to Save the Earth through Speculative Fabulation”.

Date: 13 - 23 September 2021Language: English                                            
Location: Online 

The Masterclass Artistic Research is divided into two parts: a symposium and a workshop. During both participants will reflect on our changing perception of the earth caused by three interconnected factors: the global ecological crisis, the coronavirus and the new digital proximity among humans. We are increasingly operating through digital immersion and audiovisual processes while keeping physical distance. At the heart of the Masterclass, then, is the invitation to a collective critical rethinking of the human condition; the development of a post-anthropocentric worldview for a sustainable future on planet Earth, where human and non-human species coexist. The goal is to build on a worldwide network of thinkers and filmmakers. Participants will collectively develop artistic actions, fabulative concepts, speculative narratives and audiovisual projects involving and challenging the recently emerged digital platforms.

We welcome German and international participants at Master, PhD or Postdoc level from the humanities, film studies, philosophy, literature, media art and film;  they are invited to become part of a fictive “International Committee to Save the Earth through Speculative Fabulation”. Its deputies will meet during the symposium, exchange in form of (audiovisual) talks, and later work together in project groups. Interested in becoming a deputy?

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The global and interrelated pandemic, ecological and economical crises have shown the need of urgent change and critical rethinking for a sustainable future on planet Earth. This summer school invites to initiate collectively a post-anthropocentric world view through speculative fabulation! Based on a worldwide network of thinkers and filmmakers we will collectively develop artistic actions, fabulative concepts and audiovisual projects involving and challenging recently emerged digital platforms.

Prof. Dr. Christine Reeh-Peters
Head of "Fabulation for Future" - Masterclass Artistic Research in Film and Philosophy

Contents & Objective

We are living in a time of global ecological crisis causing waves of migration, the strengthening of national politics and social division, challenging us to adopt new ethical attitudes in order to question predominant systems. The new coronavirus has shaken our entire economic and socio-cultural order and demands from us urgent change. The sudden visibility of far-reaching interdependence has thereby not only led to a change in consciousness, but also to a shift of our physical lives into the digital: biosphere, ecosphere, and technosphere are entangled. During the successive corona confinements, audiovisual media have become the most important means of exchange and communication: the only possible gateway to the world and to our fellow human beings. This renewed shift within our techno-ontological condition makes the digital turn that has just happened an existential necessity for survival, which also affects the reception of art and culture. In this context, new platforms of audiovisual presentation and exchange have emerged in the online sphere. They situate themselves in an increasingly multi-relational, audiovisual present.

Regarding this backdrop we aim with this summer school to build a sympoietic network of international filmmakers, media artists, thinkers and curators as well as local activists in order to collaborate on the development of projects and concepts which will ideally culminate one year later into an exhibition (depending on financing) in a museum in Germany.

The summer school itself is divided into two parts:

  • First, an artistic-philosophical symposium on the theoretical-fictional foundations of "Fabulation for Future". This symposium is actually conceived as a fictional "International Committee to Save the Earth through Speculative Fabulation" and complemented by a range of keynote lectures.
  • Then, second, a subsequent 5-days workshop, the “Masterclass Artistic Research”, will be held to develop together new artistic, audiovisual and philosophical projects and concepts. In case that the exhibition is financed, a subsequent third phase will follow, in form of a one-year project work. This third part of “Fabulation for Future” in form of an exhibition is at the moment not yet confirmed. Please watch for updates on this call.

Part I - International Symposium

INTRAACTIVITY - The Posthuman, Fabulation and Matter
14-18 September 2021

The summer school kicks off with an international symposium entitled "Intraactivity: the Posthuman, Fabulation and Matter" composed of 12 philosophical or artistic keynotes and 24 presentations by international participants – artists and rearchers – in Master, PhD or Post-doc phase. These 24 participants from 18 countries and different continents form a fictive "International Committee to Save the Earth through Speculative Fabulation". They will explore the role of speculation, figuration, and fiction (in film, literature, and philosophy) for the shaping of social and political processes. The deputies are invited to report on the state of the Anthopocene and a speculative future in the respective area(s) they inhabit, as well as to present philosophical and/ or artistic approaches that address the entanglement of the biosphere, ecosphere, and technosphere, and between climate change and corona pandemic. Together with the group of selected keynotes, the committee's deputies enable a collective critical rethinking of the dominant discourse on migration, economics, climate change or ecology.

Such an approach draws on thinkers such as Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, and Rosi Braidotti who are assigned to critical posthumanism. This current offers conceptual tools for developing new modes of thought, narrative, speculation, knowledge, and subject formation as well as of their creative exploration in artistic audiovisual practice. In critical posthumanism, the traditional order between humans, other living beings and things is revoked and prevailing structures opposed. Instead of hierarchical gradations and dualisms, this philosophical stance thinks beyond the previous human-centred self-understanding. No longer is the human alone the central bearer of intelligence, but matter and other beings surrounding him as well.

Based on the insights of quantum physics, the relationships between beings and things, mind and matter, are thought of as interdependent, interpenetrating, influencing, and shaping - precisely as "intraactive" rather than interactive. This concept of intraactivity, introduced by Karen Barad, has become a key concept in speculative thought. Established models of domination and thinking are critically questioned and unmasked as narratives: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantagocene. Donna Haraway, for example, opposes these dominant narratives with the fabulative "Chthulucene", an age of learning and rethinking. Of particular importance in this context is the collective character of the summer school: the rethinking for the future on earth can only happen together and with the inclusion of different perspectives, ethics and agencies.

Marie-Luise Angerer (D, Universität Potsdam), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (CM, Yaoundé, Kamerun, Rosi Braidotti (I/AUS, Universität Utrecht), Prudence Gibson (AUS, UNSW Sydney), Gustáv Hámos/ Katja Pratschke (D/HU Berlin), Mara-Johanna Kölmel (UK, London/ Leuphana Universität Lüneburg), Marie-Eve Levasseur (CAN, Montreal), Madhuja Mukherjee (IN, Jadavpur University, Kolkata), Kika Nicolela (BR, São Paulo/ Brüssel), Christine Reeh-Peters (D, Filmuniversität Potsdam), Stefan Winter (D, Filmuniversität Potsdam / Witwatersrand-Universität Johannesburg)

Part II - Workshop

FABULATION FOR FUTURE - Artistic Research in Film and Philosophy
19-23 September 2021

How can we meet the current ethical and ecological challenges with artistic and philosophical means? During the 5-day workshop, the participants will collectively develop their project proposals and give each other feedback. Therefore, they are divided into five work groups and are accompanied by international filmmakers as mentors: Madhuja Mukherjee, Kika Nicolela, Jyoti Mistry, Gusztáv Hámos/ Katja Pratschke and Jean-Pierre Bekolo. Participants and mentors will furthermore undertake joint excursions to the cultural region of Berlin-Potsdam and try out their first artistic or philosophical actions in the productive field of tension between "local" and "global".

Audiovisual exchange has nowadays become a basic condition of interpersonal proximity and operative encounters in all areas of life. Like the people in Plato's cave, we are in the process of being completely immersed in the digital worlds of images and sounds, which are changing our understanding of reality and existence: the new form of experiencing reality is based on images, sounds and signs. In the artistic and philosophical practice of the summer school we will therefore concentrate on audiovisual results of the workshop’s projects, speculative concepts and fabulations.

At the end, the workshop collects the first (interim) results through a documented feedback round, which is made visible online as a first fabulative trace; as well the audiovisually recorded reports of the deputies of the fictive "International Committee to Save the Earth through Speculative Fabulation” will be published.

Registration and participation

Please submit by sending a letter of motivation (max. 3 pages or 6 min. video) including a short bio, an abstract (150 words) for a 20-min. talk during the symposium and a project idea (200 words) to develop collectively during the workshop.

1. Call for Abstracts: 20 min. talk as a deputy of the fictive "International Committee to Save the Earth through Speculative Fabulation" – 150 words

You are invited to collectively initiate a post-anthropocentric worldview through speculative fabulation!

Due to the interrelated pandemic, ecological and economical crises we perceive humanity and its ways of living on the wounded planet Earth as subjected to the need of urgent change. Therefore, the goal of this call is to critically engage with the endangered present to imagine a fabulative-speculative future in which humans and other species may coexist. Ways of tentacular thinking, speculative fabulation and string figure games are welcome as methods. We want to encourage proposals that are departing from fundamental questions about a multispecies world, and our role in it, as well as about the predominant narratives: What is the state of the Anthropocene / Capitalocene in the area(s) I live in? How to build a new relationship with nature and society? Which future forms of life and mutations –human, non-human and more-than-human– are sustainable for the Earth?

2. Call for Projects: to develop during the five days workshop – 200 words

The project proposals are bound to the urgent call for action. During these workshop days project groups will be formed and first collective traces will be left. We welcome fabulative-speculative projects based on political, philosophical or artistic actions: it can be reading a manifesto in a forest, talking to plants as well as talking to people in the centre of the city; proposals might be realist or fabulative, like for example dreaming about becoming a tentacular intelligence; they shall be documented in audiovisual formats or rely on the filmic expression as an artistic medium; the projects can be individual or collective yet always audiovisual in its final presentation format.