The central theme of the Read-In Series 2015-2016 is ‘collapsology,’ a neologism which literally means ‘the study of collapse’. The term refers to the title of the book by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens, Comment tout peut s’effondrer: Petit manuel de collapsologie à l’usage des generations présentes [How everything can collapse: Short guide to collapsology for present generations] recently published by Antropocène (2015). In this work, Servigne and Stevens study the current state of unsustainable growth in all aspects of human life and culture, and give practical advices about how to turn the future after the unavoidable fall of our current system into a chance for real change. Closely related to the notion of ‘crisis’, ‘collapse’ is central to the tradition of critical theory, its history and some of its present-day adaptations. The texts of this year’s Read-In Series have been specially selected to highlight different forms and perspectives on the subject of collapse understood as a necessary historical, socio-psychological, critical and political phenomenon.

Following the close-reading sessions, students will be invited to submit ideas for speakers who represent their vision of the texts studied during the close-reading sessions. Potential speakers will be approached to contribute to Collapsology, the final symposium held on Saturday, the 16th of January 2016. The speakers can be as much artists as designers, as well as experts from other disciplines. During the closing symposium, the four speakers will give their views on the subject of collapse, and go into debate with the students and the audience.

The final symposium is free for students of the Willem de Kooning Academy. Students from other schools and other interested are welcome after registration. For more information please contact [email protected].

Read-In #1 – Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Manifest of the Communist Party (1848)

Wednesday, the 23th of September 2015, 15:00 – 17:00

Location: Witte de With, Witte de Withstraat 50, Rotterdam.

The first close-reading session will focus on the first chapter of Karl Marx’s 1848 (in)famous manifest of the communist party entitled ‘Bourgeois and proletarians’. In this political pamphlet, Marx and Engels proceed to an analysis of class struggle as the motor behind historical development, and future changes in the society of their own time. The fall of the bourgeoisie is unavoidable, they predict. Just as the bourgeoisie had once defeated its own political adversaries, the proletariat will prevail in the future. With their triumph, however, class struggle, and hence History itself, will have to come to an end.

Read-In #2 – 
Georges Bataille, The Tears of Eros (1961)

Wednesday, the 14th of October 2015, 15:00 – 17:00

Location: Witte de With, Witte de Withstraat 50, Rotterdam.

The second close-reading session will focus on the foreword and the final chapter of The Tears of Eros by Georges Bataille . In his last published book, the French writer traces the conjunction of the sacred and eroticism throughout history. Just as in previous works, Bataille breaks down boundaries between binary opposites to reveal the arbitrary nature of their culturally upheld antinomy. Just as excess and play, eroticism constitutes in Bataille’s writing a taboo-breaking strategy that may defeat the limited understanding of the fundamental identity between life and death inherited from Christianity.

Read-In #3 – 
Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Capitalism and Schizophrenia 2: A Thousand Plateaus (1980)

Wednesday, the 28th of October 2015, 15:00 – 17:00

Location: Witte de With, Witte de Withstraat 50, Rotterdam.

The third close-reading session will focus on the first chapter of A Thousand Plateaus, ‘Introduction: Rhizome’. In this seminal text, Deleuze and Guattari develop their concept of ‘rhizome,’ a descriptive and epistemological model that can be used for many purposes among which data analysis, visualization, and resistance to oppressive hierarchical social structures. The rhizome also functions to challenge the dualist categories that structure prevalent modes of understanding the world, including those that hold academic and artistic work apart. The rhizome makes epistemological boundaries collapse and opens new perspectives on creative labour.

Read-In #4 –Alex Williams & Nick Srnicek, ‘#ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics’ (2013)

Wednesday, the 11th of November 2015, 15:00 – 17:00

Location: Witte de With, Witte de Withstraat 50, Rotterdam.

The fourth and last close-reading session will be dedicated to the controversial manifesto by Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek written partly in reaction to Nick Land’s concept of ‘accelerationism’. Unlike Land, Williams and Srnicek argue that capitalism itself –accelerated or not—does not have the potential to cancel itself and create an alternative future. According to the authors of #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist neoliberal capitalism needs to be abolished once and for all in order for unleashing technology’s hampered capacity to foster definite and positive social change. Only this way, will the collapse of the future be prevented.

Symposium – Collapsology

Saturday, the 16th of January, 2016

For more information on the symposium pleas click here.