The We That is Not I: Communities as Operative Fictions

Communities and collectives are deeply ambivalent structures. They can come to signify either the restriction and oppression of individuals or a site for emancipatory politics and new forms of existence. If communities are neither natural nor given, what can be said of their geographies, their form, their (re-)production, and plasticity? Considering them as mutually maintained fictions does not imply they do not act. Rather, their mode of inscription (in bodies, subjects, and practices) invites us to re-think the agency of communities in relation to the brittleness and contingency they carry entwined with politics and history.

The philosophical problem the concept of community raises is often evaded by regressions to supposed givens: nation-states, ‘native’ languages, simple origins, or abstract ideas of ‘society’. All of these are part-fiction, part-epistemic-tools, and part-hindrances to ethical questions arising around the concept of community. What are we to make of the ambivalent resistance to fusion inherent in individuality without forgetting that it is granted through the incompleteness of communities?

This five-day intensive workshop welcomes artists and theorists thinking through problems of the collective to investigate and problematize the process of creation, formation, and constitution of collectives and communities via philosophical texts and artistic works. No special knowledge is required. We will incorporate participants’ practices into our discussion. Provisional readings include, but are not limited to Banu Bargu, Melinda Cooper, Nancy Fraser, Paul Gilroy, Asad Haider, MC Hyland, Claudia Rankine, Srikanth Reddy.



Day 1: Communities as given/constructed
Day 2: Project, vision, and utopia
Day 3: Workshopping participants’ projects + exhibition visit in Berlin
Day 4: Violence, discrimination, and reproduction
Day 5: Current discussion on identity politics 

Marcus Quent is a philosopher and writer. He is a research associate at the Department of Art History, Art Theory and Aesthetics at the Berlin University of the Arts and holds teaching appointments at the University of Leipzig. He has published extensively on the question of contemporary and philosophical aesthetics in monographs and collected volumes in both German and English. In 2018, he was a visiting scholar at the New School for Social Research. 

Pierre Schwarzer is a philosopher and writer. He teaches at the Department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture at New York University, where he is a Ph.D. candidate. His writing concerns questions of the subject, poetics, psychoanalysis, and concepts of the limit. He is trained in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research and has taught at Parson’s School of Design in New York. Before his academic engagements, he worked in contemporary art.

Run period:
09.08.2021 – 13.08.2021
Course time:
10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Application Deadline:

Course fee:
EUR 550

Min. number of participants:
Max. number of participants:

For further information please contact: