A public conversation with Branka Arsic and Gregg Lambert about pain and fashion in contemporary art


Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Performance
  • Public culture


Aaron Levy

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19148


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought Foundation presents "Pain-Fashion," a public conversation with Branka Arsic and Gregg Lambert and moderated by Jean-Michel Rabaté on Thursday, March 17, 2005 from 6:30-8:00pm about pain and fashion in contemporary life.This discussion has been organized in conjunction with a concurrent retrospective at Slought Foundation featuring 40 years of performances by pioneering Viennese Actionist Hermann Nitsch in video format.

"Just as we do not believe that masochism is about pleasure or pain, but rather about the musical rearrangement of the body's drives, so too we are opposed to the idea that fashion is about hedonistic everydayness and simple-minded consumerism. We use the term "fashion" here in a very precise sense: as a form of the "ascetic" micro politics of pain. Rather than fashion being understood in terms of either conformity or "a sense of one's own particular style," we propose a different notion. Fashion is not about the clothes one wears but about the body that is fashioned and/or refashioned, so that it can emit its own signs. Fashion is thus about turning the body into a surface that is capable of bearing its own inscriptions. This public conversation will address different forms of experimental fashion (aesthetic practices, as well as the micro-politics of pain), including the new fashion statements of anorexia, drugs, alcohol and food. The discussion will engage work by theorists such as Deleuze and Foucault in analyzing the work of Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, David Bowie, Susan Vega and others. This conversation is part of a forthcoming book-length study on the micro-politics of pain." -- Arsic and Lambert

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Branka Arsic teaches critical theory and American literature at the University of Albany. Her book The Passive Eye, Gaze and Subjectivity in Berkeley, Via Beckett was published by Stanford University Press. She is currently completing The Passive Constitutions of 7 ½ Times Bartleby, a volume on Melville's Bartleby, The Scrivener, and has begun a project on Henry David Thoreau. In The Passive Eye, Arsic explores Berkeley's theory of vision as well as prior conceptions of vision including Decartes. Berkeley viewed the eye and the image as inseparable, leading, Arsic argues, to a problem of presentation rather than representation. "Branka Arsic... is arguably the most important Eastern European feminist philosopher to emerge since Julia Kristeva." -- Judith Butler

Gregg Lambert is professor of English at Syracuse University, and has written and published on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, contemporary literary theory, aesthetics, and the fate of the Humanities' disciplines in the contemporary university. His recent works include The Non-Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (2002), The Return of the Baroque in Modern Culture (2004), and Deleuze and Space (edited with Ian Buchanan, forthcoming)