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Artaud Academy. The impossibility of representing experience

Artaud Academy. The impossibility of representing experience

Experience demands acknowledgement but our means of representation, though often capable of explicit detail, seemingly can only work effectively when accepting at some level the very impossibility of the task.
From the beginning of his career Artaud was haunted by the idea of the unspeakable.
The Artaud Academy will explore a broader range of ideas and issues derived from, or resituated in relation to Artaud and the unspeakable.

Following in the wake of 'Artaud; or the body as a site of interdisciplinarity' (SG lecture series Autumn 2008), 'The Artaud Academy; or the impossibility of representing “experience”' will reach out to explore a broader range of ideas and issues derived from, or resituated in relation to Artaud. It will present the impossibility of representing experience not as a philosophical tautology but as a dynamic and decisive part of the history and consciousness of humans in general, that produces a wide range of interventions, strategies and tropes at all levels of daily life.
Experience demands acknowledgement but our means of representation, though often capable of explicit detail, seemingly can only work effectivelywhen accepting at some level the very impossibility of the task. From the beginning of his career Artaud was haunted by the idea of the unspeakable.
Distinct from the Freudian notion of the unconscious, the unspeakable was at the edge of surrealist research, championed by George Bataille, who characteristically approached the body as a text of flesh. However this idea of the unspeakable (we could also say impossible) seems to crystallize around Artauds cryptic image of the The Body without Organs. The BwO or at least the stages leading to and from it were a subject frequently represented by Artaud in his drawings. It was conceived in the theatre of cruelty in 1920 s Paris, the mountains of Mexico and the remote Island of Inishmore. It was born in the occupied zone of France at Rodez, in an asylum for the insane, ignored by the Nazis and run by a psychiatrist who was also a surrealist poet.
The Body without Organs is among his most proliferated concepts and yet it remains enigmatic; it provides both a frame and a mirror to the impossibility of representing experience. 

Simon Ferdinando is an artist-curator who lives and works in Amsterdam. Born in Mombassa, Kenya he studied fine art at Goldsmiths College from 1984 till 1988, but first encountered Artaud in the exhibition 'Aftermath 1945 -1954, new images of man' at the Barbican Gallery in London in 1982. He is currently preparing an academic study on Artaud, Bacon and Van Gogh.

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