Learning and Unlearning

Following on our previous discussion-based project, the Dictionary of the Possible, Shifter invites you to join in a new kind of conversation. With the Dictionary, we worked to unpack the many meanings of the words we share. With our new series, Unlearning, we invite you to take a closer look at the worlds we share. The aim will be for all of us to unlearn our assumptions and prejudices about each other in a time when the urgency for new solidarities has never been greater. To this end, Unlearning will ask us to abandon our default ways of speaking and thinking, and embrace new ways of communicating that draw out each person’s innate capacity for both practice and reflection.

Unlearning Work

Events led by Rit Premnath, Avi Alpert and Danilo Correale as part of the exhibition Danilo Correale: At Work’s End
Art in General
145 Plymouth Street
Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Saturday, October 21 2017, 2–4pm
“On Pleasure” with Abou Farman

Saturday, October 28 2017, 2–4pm
“On Boredom” with Marina Van Zuylen

Saturday, November 4 2017, 2–4pm
“On Refusal” with Sandro Mezzadra

Unlearning Work is a public program series elaborating on the post-work themes present in Art in General’s New Commission by Danilo Correale, At Work’s End. The publication Shifter, together with the artist and special guests, present three participatory workshops that explore ideas of pleasure, boredom, and refusal.

Each gathering aims to challenge our assumptions and prejudices in relationship to work. Typical event formats are shifted and expanded in an effort to develop new habits for thinking and discussion.

Guest scholars help to facilitate each event: Abou Farman “On Pleasure,” Marina Van Zuylen “On Boredom,” and Sandro Mezzadra “On Refusal.” The organizers will identify key concepts that bind us to the governing regime of labor, and ask, what new relationships to these concepts might be possible in a post-work society?

Abou Farman is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research. Professor Farman is interested in secularization processes, especially in relation to technology and aesthetics. His ethnographic research has focused on technoscientific projects in the US attempting to achieve physical immortality. He is working on a book, Secular Immortal, examining three such ‘immortalist’ strategies: cryonics, biogerontology and artificial intelligence. His first book was Clerks of the Passage, an extended essay on movement and immigration. He has taught Anthropology at Bard College, SUNY Purchase, Hunter College and Princeton. As part of the artist duo caraballo-farman, he has exhibited internationally, including at the Tate Modern, London, and PS1, NY, and received several grants and awards, including Guggenheim and New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships.

Sandro Mezzadra is visiting faculty at The New School for Social Research and Associate Professor of Political Theory at the University of Bologna, where he teaches postcolonial studies and contemporary political theory. He has published widely on the areas of migration, postcolonial theory, contemporary capitalism, Italian operaismo and autonomist Marxism. He recently completed a book with Brett Neilson, Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (2013, Duke University Press). His writings have been translated into ten languages: Italian, French, German, Spanish, Finnish, Greek, Slovenian, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese. He is currently Visiting Research Fellow at the Berliner Institut für Empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung (BIM), Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and a partner researcher on two ARC Discovery projects based at Western Sydney University (“Logistics as Global Governance: Labour, Software and Infrastructure along the New Silk Road” and “Data Centres and the Governance of Labour and Territory”).

Marina van Zuylen is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Bard College. She received a B.A. in Russian Literature and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Harvard. She is the author of Difficulty as an Aesthetic Principle,​ Monomania: The Flight from Everyday Life in Literature and Art, and The Plenitude of Distraction. She has published articles in praise of some of the most beleaguered maladies of modernity—boredom, fatigue, idleness, obsession—and has written about snobbery, dissociative disorders, and obsessive compulsive aesthetics. She has taught at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and the University of Paris VII. She is the national academic director of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, a free college course for underserved adults, and has accepted on its behalf the White House National Humanities Medal from President Obama (2014). She is currently writing Good Enough, a book about the unsung virtues of mediocrity.

A Call to Gather

Saturday February 11 2017, 5pm
The New School, 63 5th Avenue, Room L206, New York, NY–10011

Over the course of the evening Musakhar Butt will lead us through a focused listening of two songs with which he begins each day. By framing religious prayer through his personal practice he will introduce us to songs that call people to gather and help them consider fundamental questions regarding their place in the universe.

Musakhar Butt was trained as a design engineer and worked on MRI, Ultrasound and Lithotrophy equipment for Toshiba America. He is currently engaged in post graduate studies at The New School, where he works as a safety officer.