“Even if modernism could certainly have taken a better course, it still would never have been a good one.” In Kerstin Stakemeier’s book Entgrenzter Formalismus. Verfahren einer antimodernen Ästhetik (A Debordered Formalism. Methods of Antimodernist Aesthetics) this polemic statement leads to a search for an anti-modernist (art) history that still affects the present. For Stakemeier, the autonomy of art is not an achievement under threat but rather a historical problem—the bourgeois “freedom of art” as a process of its increasing social (self-)incapacitation. It is in this context that the author looks for pioneering aesthetic endeavors that refuse to reproduce an art-immanent formalism and instead attempt to shed their own modernity. Entgrenzter Formalismus thus sketches out the basics of a contemporary art history of artistic self-abolition. The rise and fall of artistic forms is the focal point and the practical exemplar of an approach to aesthetics that proposes taking contemporary art seriously as the venue of social form, so that more can follow than just art itself. The evening at mumok cinema is opened by the screening of an excerpt from Anja Kirschner’s newest film Moderation (2016), which Stakemeier discusses in the last chapter of her book. Moderation tells the story of the preproduction phase of a horror film set in Greece, Egypt, and Italy. The preparation of this film itself increasingly becomes determined by the horrors of everyday reality (the ghosts of past and present) and by the protagonists’ delimitation.
Anja Kirschner, Moderation, 2016, 30 min (excerpt)
Followed by a conversation with Helmut Draxler, Anja Kirschner, and Kerstin Stakemeier, moderated by Manuela Ammer (curator, mumok)
Helmut Draxler lives in Berlin. He is professor of art theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Publications: Abdrift des Wollens. Eine Theorie der Vermittlung (2016); Gefährliche Substanzen. Zum Verhältnis von Kritik und Kunst (2007). Current research projects: a philosophy of Flemish painting and a cultural theory of division.
Anja Kirschner lives in London. Her films refer to factual, literary, and pop-cultural sources, addressing questions of materiality, digitality, and narrativity, and how these aspects contribute to the (de-)formation of subjectivity and the scope of political action. Her 2016 feature film Moderation has been shown at the Berlinale, BFI London Film Festival, and International Film Festival Thessaloniki, amongst other venues.
Kerstin Stakemeier is professor of art theory and education at the Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg. She edited the publications Painting – The Implicit Horizon (with Abigail Moss, 2002), Macht des Materials/Politik der Materialität (with Susanne Witzgall, 2014), and Klassensprachen (with Manuela Ammer, Eva Birkenstock, Jenny Nachtigall, and Stephanie Weber, 2017). In 2016 Reproducing Autonomy (with Marina Vishmidt) was published.