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.


March 16, 4–6pm
Deep Time
Bruce Robbins & Sally Frater
Art in General, Brooklyn

March 30, 4–6pm
Details Matter
Lise Soskolne & Laurel Ptak
Art in General, Brooklyn

Unknotting Trauma

Photograph: Fabian Silbert, from “Games for Actors and Non-Actors” by Augusto Boal

Photograph: Fabian Silbert, from “Games for Actors and Non-Actors” by Augusto Boal

Friday, November 2 2018, 4–6pm
“Unknotting Trauma” with Cecilia Rubino & Jerry Finkelstein

The New School
Theresa Lang Center
55 West 13 Street, 2nd Floor, New York

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Jerry Finkelstein and theater director Cecilia Rubino, lead a participatory discussion on the topic of mental wellbeing within the context of creative education. At a time when institutions of higher education in the United States are going through a mental health crisis we will ask whether mental wellbeing should be seen as central to education, rather than as a condition that is stigmatized and medicalized. Finkelstein and Rubino consider improvisation, humor and play as strategies to “unknot” trauma. Finkelstein will focus on strategies to open up avenues for understanding trauma and anxiety, while Rubino will conduct a group activity to guide us through an embodied way of addressing internalized emotions and social relations. They both consider improvisation, humor and play as strategies to “unknot” trauma.

Unlearning Learning

Saturday, October 20 2018, 4–6pm
“Unlearning Learning” with BFAMFAPHD and Maria Rosa Sossai

Art in General
145 Plymouth Street (Map)
Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Unlearning Learning, the first event of this season, will consider the relationship between art and education, which lies at the heart of the entire series. Artist collective BFAMFAPHD and researcher Maria Rosa Sossai will consider how art and pedagogy can become tools for understanding the relations of power that shape institutions and practices, but also allow us to imagine new approaches to art and education. As practitioners who have developed workshops, teaching tools, and artworks that blur the boundary between art and educational practices, they will use this event to not simply speak about this subject, but also to activate some of their ideas.

Unlearning Dystopia

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 2018, 4–6pm
“Ecotopias” with Terike Haapoja

Saturday, March 17 2018, 4–6pm
“Black Utopias” with Steffani Jemison

Saturday, April 14 2018, 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

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?

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

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.