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Retrospect: "Salon for Slow Reading and Deep Looking"

Nov 08, 2018

From July 13 to 14, participants of the second "Salon for Slow Reading and Deep Looking" convened at the Château du Liebfrauenberg in Alsace, France. Organized by Profs. Monica Juneja and Sumathi Ramaswamy the salon addressed the theme "'A World Beyond Image Wars?' Looking at Art in the Age of Secular Rationality."

In an age where different – often contesting – visual regimes inhabit the same spaces, and where digitality has enabled the proliferation and endless manipulation of existing repositories of iconic forms and symbols, conflicts over images, often fought as clashes of cultures, have intensified. Taking Bruno Latour’s essay "What is Iconoclash?" (2002) and W.J.T. Mitchell’s "Offending Images" (2002) as a starting point, the discussions at the salon took on Latour’s question of whether we can move to a world beyond such image wars. Should we turn to law, ethics, or politics to guide us or do we want to transcend their language and logic altogether if we are to go beyond image wars? With these questions and concerns in mind, the salon readings and discussions turned around how offenses might be triggered by an image. In addition, it focused on the ethical labor of artists or creators of images and image events as well as the role of scholars in the face of such interventions.

Prof. Kenneth George, professor of anthropology at ANU College of Asia & the Pacific (Canberra), and Prof. Karin Zitzewitz, Humboldt Fellow 2017–2018 at the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies (HCTS), led the salon as expert interlocutors. The participants included guests from Germany and abroad together with several members of the HCTS: Dr. Annalisa Buttici (Utrecht University), Rich Freeman PhD (Duke University), Prof. Ute Hüsken (SAI, Heidelberg University), Prof. Monica Juneja, Dr. Banu Karaca (IPC, Sabancı University), Prof. Barbara Mittler, Aida Murtić, Prof. Margrit Pernau (MPI Berlin), Jennifer Pochodzalla, Prof. Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University), Dr. Moumita Sen (Oslo University), and Prof. Gennifer Weisenfeld (Duke University).

This is the second of a series of three annual salons planned by Profs. Monica Juneja and Sumathi Ramaswamy under the aegis of the Anneliese-Maier Research Award that Sumathi Ramaswamy received from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2016. The approach of these salons was partly inspired by the French philosopher Pierre Hadot, as well as by the "slow reading revolution" that is being proposed as an antidote to "the hurried age" of multi-tasking and information overload, at the expense of reflection.

For a report on the first salon in 2017 see here.

Find more information on Prof. Ramaswamy's work at the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies and the Anneliese-Maier Research Award here.

Find more information on the salon in the following files:


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  • Maurizio Cattelan / La Nona Ora / 1999 / polyester resin, natural hair, accessories, stone, carpeted floor / dimension variable / courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin / © Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris

  • Tintin in Congo. Broken Fetiche / Hergé / Tintin au Congo / image from the comic / ©Hergé/Moulinsart, Brussels, 2002