Specters of Communism: A Festival on the Revolutionary Century

Festival, from 16.11.17 to 21.11.17

Practical information

Festival in English
Reservation required
7 EUR / 20 EUR (Haus der Kunst)

Event overview

-> Program

Keynote Speaker
Zhiyuan Cui 

Claudia von Alemann, Sean BonneyUlrich BrandIgor ChubarovAnthony CokesRaqs Media CollectiveDavid EllermanMelanie GilliganFriederike HabermannAnke HennigSidsel Meineche HansenDetlef HartmannMichael HirschMeena KandasamyTamara LevitzSajan ManiFumi OkijiJay PatherBenjamin PiekutAdrian RifkinKerstin StakemeierLantian XieHon-Lun YangQingmei YaoRaul Zelik and the Münchner Kammerspiele Ensemble.

On the occasion of the centenary of the October Revolution in Russia and nearly one hundred years after Kurt Eisner declared the Free State of Bavaria as a socialist republic at the Mathäser-Bräu in Munich, Haus der Kunst will convene Specters of Communism: A Festival on the Revolutionary Century, a festival that traces and illuminates the multifaceted genealogies, antinomies, and contingencies of global communism.

Conceived as a sequence of live events that have been convened by a group of contemporary thinkers, historians and artists, the festival will bring together participants from across the fields of art, philosophy, political theory, theater, performance, art history, film studies, and music, in order to unfold the historical legacies of Communism as a major feature of 20th century artistic, intellectual and political thought. 

Specters of Communism follows the opening of the landmark exhibition Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965. Acting as both a prologue to, and bridge between, the next two phases – Postcolonialism and Postcommunism – the Festival serves as a context for a wider analytical field of inquiry that will be developed over the next few years.

Organized in five sequences: “After all the Failures – Reinventing an Emancipatory Future” (Michael Hirsch, convenor); “Scenes for a Revolution” (Kerstin Stakemeier, convenor); “The Adventures of Will and Intelligence” (Raqs Media Collective, convenor); “Form, Mastery and Aural Disintegration” (Benjamin Piekut, convenor); and “Tableaux Vivants” (Münchner Kammerspiele, convenor), the reflection on communist legacies and its multiple manifestations in the 20th century is especially timely in view of the widely held belief that we live in post-ideological times, where politics is merely expected to facilitate the unimpeded acceleration of global capital circulation. Despite the repudiation of the “end of history”, the abysmal failure of the rhetoric of integration across Europe, alongside a string of global crises during the first two decades of the twenty-first century, have produced a resurgence of right-wing populist politics, neo-nationalism, Islamist radicalism, anti-immigration movements, suppression of organized labor, and resistance to globalization.

Proceeding from recent global events and projecting backwards across the past one hundred years, Specters of Communism will explore the relevance and the potential of the far-reaching critical models exacted by revolutions and Communism across the world, such as social solidarities, coalition politics, the eradication of inequality, and collective action. In so doing, it will ask how a reappraisal of the legacies, failures, and potentials of Communism can be reexamined against the resurgence of movements that call into question the ideological resilience of markets, the state, and ruling elites throughout the world.

Specters of Communism – A Festival on the Revolutionary Century is conceived and organized by Haus der Kunst in cooperation with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, as part of the HKW long-term project “100 Years of Now”, which is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media by resolution of the German Bundestag.

Concept: Okwui Enwezor
Program Curator: Dr. Damian Lentini
Program Organization: Andrea Saul
Research: Tim Roerig