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 Dystopia

Steffani Jemison, Black Utopia (Sol 2), 2017, UV inkjet print on acrylic, mounted to clear plexiglass, with cleats,
Unique 59.5 x 59.5 inches.

From February–April 2018 three events led by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert as part of the exhibition Zach Blas: Contra-Internet at Art in General

Saturday, February 10, 4–6pm
“Ecotopias” with Terike Haapoja

Saturday, March 17, 4–6pm
“Black Utopias” with Steffani Jemison

Saturday, April 14, 4–6pm
“Queer Utopias” with Zach Blas

Unlearning Dystopia is a public program series elaborating on the utopian ideals present in Art in General’s New Commission, Zach Blas: Contra-Internet. The publication Shifter has invited the artist and special guests to present three participatory workshops that explore ideas of ecotopias, black utopias, and queer utopias.

Unlearning Dystopia is the second installment of Learning and Unlearning, an experimental discussion series organized by Shifter. Shifter’s aim is to use shared gatherings to unlearn the assumptions and prejudices we hold about each other. In Unlearning Dystopia, we will focus on how we can unlearn the projected dystopias associated with ecology, blackness and queerness, and ask what possible futures can emerge through this process of unlearning. The series will unfold as three events that think beyond the academic lecture or seminar as a format.

Artists facilitate each event, featuring: Terike Haapoja on Ecotopias, Steffani Jemison on Black Utopias, and Zach Blas on Queer Utopias. The organizers Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert will guide us to ask, what other possible futures might emerge merely by unlearning dystopia?”

Note that during these events the exhibition Zach Blas: Contra-Internet will be on limited view. Visitors are welcome to experience the full exhibition directly before each event.

Unlearning Work

Events led by Rit Premnath, Avi Alpert and Danilo Correale as part of the exhibition Danilo Correale: At Work’s End at Art in General

Sit-down strikers read newspapers at General Motors’ Fisher Body plant in Flint, Mich., in 1937. Their sit-down strike, which lasted six weeks, began on Dec. 30, 1936. (Photo: Library of Congress/Associated Press)

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?

Beside Learning

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.