JBS 5 – 2017, Architheater
The fifth volume of the Journal of Badiou Studies, energized by the publication of Badiou’s Rhapsodie pour le théâtre (2014), seeks to knit together distinguished approaches to artistic production engaging with the work of Alain Badiou: ‘Engaging’ would mean for us articulated positions that include, imply or criticize the Badiouiesque corpus. We would not therefore seek to implement Badiou΄s philosophical insights in interpretations of art or of aesthetics, but rather to take Badiou’s philosophy as a center of convergence-nexus of a plethora of philosophical positions that include artistic production as a central element of their structure. Thematically, the volume limits its discussion to “a two” of architecture and theater, thinking their overlapping, juxtaposition and respective generative capacities.
JBS 5 suggests superimposing these two “media” and posing them at the center of the volume for several reasons: Politically, both theater and architecture actively engage in the life of the Polis, they effectually and factually demand the participation of collective and material actors. Poieticaly, both media manifest a comprehensive form of artistic production, that is to say they both include elements and organs (actors, designers, lighting-specialists, engineers, planners, executives, actors, dancers, etc.) that are required as collaborators in the realization of the piece. The Architect, on the one hand, and the Theater maker, on the other, both produce what could be defined as a world, or, in Badiou’s terms, a formation of a subject.
Moreover, JBS 5 explores the political aspect of the relationship between Badiou’s concept of “state” (l’état) and the architheatrical activity. Indeed in Thèses sur le théâtre (1995), Badiou writes: “La difficulté générale du théâtre, à toutes les époques, est son rapport à l’Etat” (Petit manuel d’inesthétique, 118). If one considers this paradigm with Badiou’s L’être et l’événement in mind, one could analyze the manner in which the arts work with and/or against ontology, as well as carry an ethical tenor, with their responsibility towards a Truth. Badiou, an active playwright himself, integrated into his thought from early-on dramatic and theatrical topoi. Already in Théorie du sujet, one finds the Greek theater as an active player in his architecture of the subject. The activities of construction, conditions, subtraction, installation, generation, modelling all being prominent terms in the philosophy of Badiou, should be conceived within an architheatrical framework. Present-day artistic manifestations: The art-fair, video art, installation art, site-specific arts, performance etc., could be viewed as re-generating an art “form,” the architheater in which ontology, that is to say space, is configured by reality (that is to say duration or history). Finally, the “Il y a de deux” of theater and architecture invites to rethink the role of the receptor (otherwise known as the “spectator” the “public” or the “inhabitant”) of art, an issue having to do with the Badiou-Rancière debate. Naturally, the volume tries to take advantage of Badiou’s philosophy in order to think beside rather than within the Aesthetic-regime to the best possible extent, adopting instead a generative, that is to say a poietical, productive approach to art.
The fourth volume of the Journal of Badiou Studies considers the potential that Badiou’s thinking harbors for both feminist and queer theories. Despite the fact that there has been very little feminist engagement with Badiou’s philosophy, and even less queer work on him, it is arguable that the lineaments of a queer Badiouian feminism can be discovered both in the work itself and its take-up by feminist and queer critics. Badiou’s own writings have a complicated relationship with and to queer feminism given that, as many feminist critics have pointed out, Badiou seems to lapse into positions, wittingly or not, which could be construed as heteronormative, phallocentric, transphobic or heterosexist. Yet, on the other hand, we have Badiou’s theories of the subject and his appeal in Being and Event to the female symbol (♀) as figuring a new world, ♀ figuring the situation that will have been, from the perspective of S, after the truth of ♀ has been forced. As well as this work on the generic, there are the essays on the scene of love, sexuality and the couple, which refer not only to heterosexual love. In terms of anti-identitarian queer theories, Badiou’s understanding of love suggests that there are a number of acts that any person can perform or positions that they can take up which do not solidify into identities.
JBS 4 seeks to address the potentials and pitfalls of Badiou’s work for feminist and queer theories. In staging such a mutually enriching encounter we suggest that feminist and queer political thought stands to gain something from this set of rapprochements with Badiou; feminist and queer thinking may be reoriented by the latter so as to escape the menace of reactionary identity politics and refuse any continuity with democratic materialism, without simply lapsing into the sort of false universalism that queer and feminist thought has done so much to dismantle. To paraphrase Badiou from Theory of the Subject, ‘Marxism is the discourse with which the proletarian sustains itself as subject. We must never let go of this idea’. The premise of this issue is that ‘it is by putting Badiou to work in this way that we can conceive feminism as the discourse with which woman sustains herself as subject. We must never let go of this idea’.
“Rather than link the word [‘ethics’] to abstract categories, it should be referred back to particular situations. Rather than reduce it to an aspect of pity for the victims, it should become the enduring maxim of singular processes. Rather than make it merely the province of conservatism with a good conscience, it should concern the destiny of truths, in the plural.” – Alain Badiou
The focus of the third issue of the Journal of Badiou Studies is Badiou’s ethics. Ethics is paramount to Badiou’s political theory and his materialist dialectics, and is evident throughout his philosophy. Moreover, Badiou’s small book on ethics remains one of the most important points of entry into Badiou’s thought since it is not only widely read across disciplines but is also one of the most widely translated of all of his works.
Badiou’s theory of ethics and his book on the subject are easily approachable. Yet, under this beguiling transparency, there lies an explosive and radical affront to popular ethics of mainstream society, media, academia and politics in the capitalist world. The articles of JBS 3 explore this complicated, confrontational and foundational aspect of Badiou’s thinking.
You could almost say my entire enterprise is one giant confrontation [démêlé] with the dialectic. – Alain Badiou
JBS 2 is dedicated to the dialectic. The contributors address a number of issues and problems including exploring, primarily, the consequences of the dialectic for Badiou’s thought and the consequences of Badiou’s thought on dialectics. The essays interrogate the dialectic in Badiou’s thought and the implications of this thinking to disciplines across the humanities and the sciences.
The inaugural issue of the JBS revolves around the idea of ‘Badiou Now!’ Why? Because Badiou’s philosophical interest is fundamentally contemporary and political. The notion of Badiou Now! captures the urgency that Badiou sees in combating the ‘Thermidorian’ spirit, reactive and obscurantist subjects that deny the necessity of rupture, events, acts, new truths, who replace action with political apathy, and radical democracy with a return to ‘pure’ transcendental notions. In contrast to the Evental-negating/-denying subject, Badiou is concerned with the question of how to maintain fidelity to the event, while remaining aware of competing subjective forces and of the materialist dialectical need for endless events, for perpetual breaks and splits, which promote the present as future. The first issue, then, addresses the role of Badiou’s thought in building a twenty-first century conception of human organization.