Subversive Affirmation. Kritik der Kritik revisited

Subversive Affirmation (Sylvia Sasse)

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Subversive affirmation, over-identification and mimicry were typical practices within Eastern European Performance Art during the dictatorship era. Through these devices, performance artists could investigate or question the official culture but also merge into it as under a cap of invisibility. Such practices were also raising a crucial question that has lost none of its relevance: is an affirmative critique possible? Can (over-) affirmative critique open up a space beyond irony, satire and parody – all of which were serving/operating as a negative foil to the ruling ideology? The planned publication will analyze these practices based on concrete performances and political actions on the one hand and, on the other hand, it will try to locate the question of affirmation as resistance within the context of other repetition practices in a broader cultural-theoretical and philosophical context, and compare it to the notions of simulacrum (Barthes), of re-enactment (Robin G. Collingwood), and of the affirmative (Nietzsche, Deleuze, Butler, and Brock). Moreover, an analysis of what theoretical concepts have resulted from the artistic devices themselves will be pursued (e.g., Slavoj Žižek’s theory of over-identification).


Publications to date

Sylvia Sasse, Caroline Schramm: “Totalitäre Ästhetik und subversive Affirmation,“ Welt der Slaven, LXII 1997, 306-327.

Sylvia Sasse: “Texte in Aktion. Sprech- und Sprachakte im Moskauer Konzeptualismus,“ München 2003.

Inke Arns, Sylvia Sasse: “Subverzivna afirmacija: o mimezisu kot strategiji upora (Subversive Affirmation. On Mimesis as Strategy of Resistance).“ Special issue of Slovene Journal Maska Letnik XIX/3-4 (98-99) 2006.

Sylvia Sasse: “Den Staat an seine Gesetze erinnern. Dissidenz als Wissen vom Recht,“ in: Wissen was Recht ist, hg. von Svenja Goltermann und Monika Dommann, Feierabend. Zürcher Jahrbuch für Wissensgeschichte 2015, 107-133.

Sylvia Sasse, Subversive Affirmation. Kritik der Kritik revisited, Zürich, Berlin (in Vorbereitung).