March 10, 2011

Palimpsest 2

“Palimpsest i.e. a parchment from which one writing has been erased to make room for another.” H.D.

“Romantic as it is, I still believe it’s the role of the artist — to question and redefine.” Aaron Levy

“Indecidability of the Sign: Frame”

I first met Aaron Levy because of Marjorie Welish. The Slought Foundation in Philadelphia was organizing an event around her work as a poet and painter, and she—or he—or they invited me to present something, so I did. As I recall, the venue felt cozy, like an old college classroom. Maybe it was an old college classroom, I don’t remember exactly. But I do recall meeting Aaron, who seemed remarkably young but a young titan. The Slought Foundation is a cultural space close to the University of Pennsylvania. Aaron Levy is its Executive Director and Chief Curator. He co-founded the Foundation with Argentine artist Osvaldo Romberg and philosopher Jean-Michel Rabaté. Slought’s project is an amazement of philosophical questioning, serious discussion, and art from around the world.

Last week in Palimpsest 1, I wrote about an exchange between poets Alli Warren and David Brazil. David writes in his letter about “the strange self” and “the sociability of artists.” In the artblog Aaron Levy talks about how we are all implicated in each other’s works/worlds. And theory. “I am interested in the theory of implication. I tell my students about Theodor Adorno and his writings on the culture industry. We see more than 1,000 ads a day and are incredibly implicated by the world around us. Theory could help us contextualize.”

As well as having solo exhibitions in Slought’s gallery, producing books and working collaboratively on large projects such as Into the Open: Positioning Practice, Slought is a part of The Perpetual Peace Project. Other partners are European Union National Institutes of Culture, United Nations University, Syracuse University Humanities Center, International Peace Institute.

“The Perpetual Peace Project is predicated on the belief that no one institution or individual can clearly claim or guarantee a mastery of the concept of peace.”

“The Perpetual Peace Project brings various communities and disciplines together to revisit Immanuel Kant‘s provocative essay with reference to 21st century international priorities: non-state actors on the international scene, new concepts of asymmetric warfare and complex battlefields, post-9/11 security concerns, the fate of international norms governing war and peace, and the prospects for international community and world governance to reduce geopolitical conflict.

“Immanuel Kant’s foundational essay Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795), which takes the form of an international treaty, serves as the starting point for these considerations. Kant’s essay anticipated the original League of Nations as well as subsequent multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union, and has inspired modern democratic peace theory.


“Since Kant’s essay takes the form of an international treaty, participants to the project will be encouraged to rewrite each article of the essay, revisiting Kant’s founding manifesto for a new world order. Interdisciplinary scholars, leading artists and thinkers, humanitarian activists and development practitioners, political leaders and policy-makers will expand and extend the original text through several modules including international round tables, artistic commissions and exhibitions, and multimedia offerings.”

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