Master’s Program in Aesthetics and Politics

West Hollywood Lecture Series

WHAP! stands for the West Hollywood Aesthetics and Politics lecture series. Launched in the Fall of 2011, the series is co-hosted by the City of West Hollywood and the MA program. 


The series' year-long line-up ranges from political debates to film screenings and performances, as well as conversations about art, architecture, and philosophy.

All events are free and open to the public. Please consult the page below for more information about the time, location, and topic of the events we have lined up.

Most events will take place either in the Council Chambers (street level) or in the Community Room (upstairs) at the West Hollywood library, located on 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069. 

Pay parking is available in the library parking structure, which you can enter on San Vicente or Robertson, just north of Melrose.


Literature and the Political

Friday, October 4th

West Hollywood Public Library, Common Room, 3-6pm and 8pm

This event continues the MA Aesthetics and Politics program’s ongoing investigation of literature’s relation to the political with a workshop and an evening reading. 

3-6pm: MA Aesthetics and Politics faculty Arne De Boever and Martín Plot present their ongoing research into literature’s relation to the political. 

8pm: MA Aesthetics and Politics faculty Douglas Kearney and MFA Creative Writing faculty Janet Sarbanes read from their work in poetry and fiction.

Arne De Boever is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where he also directs the MA Aesthetics and Politics program. He has written two books: States of Exception in the Contemporary Novel (Continuum, 2012) and Narrative Care: Biopolitics and the Novel (Bloomsbury, 2013). He is co-editor of Gilbert Simondon: Being and Technology (Edinburgh UP, 2012) and The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism (Archive Press, 2013). He also edits Parrhesia: A Journal for Critical Philosophy and the Critical Theory/Philosophy section of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Martín Plot is Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies, California Institute of the Arts. He is the author of Indivisible (2011), La Carne de lo Social (2008), and El Kitsch Político (2003). He has also edited and co-edited several books, most recently Claude Lefort. Thinker of the Political (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Critical Theory and Democracy (Routledge, 2012, with Enrique Peruzzotti) and has published in Continental Philosophy Review, Constellations, Theory and Event, Umbrales, International Journal of Communication, Le monde diplomatique, Punto de vista, among other journals and reviews.


Douglas Kearney’s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, hit the shelves in 2006 (Red Hen Press). His second manuscript, The Black Automaton, was chosen by Catherine Wagner for the National Poetry Series and published by Fence Books in 2009. The Black Automaton was also a finalist for the Pen Center USA Award in 2010. The CD, There Are Sharks in this Poem (Fence Records 2011), features a live reading from his second collection. His chapbook-as-LP-as-broadsides, Quantum Spit, was published by Corollary Press (2010). His new chapbook, SkinMag, is now available (A5/Deadly Chaps, 2012). His poetry has appeared in journals including Callaloo, nocturnes, jubilat, Ninth Letter, Washington Square,, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, Fence and others; as well as in several anthologies, including The Ringing Ear, Black Nature, the World Fantasy Award-Winning Dark Matter: Reading the Bones and Saints of Hysteria which features a collaboration between Kearney and Harryette Mullen.

Janet Sarbanes is the author of the short story collection Army of One, and has published fiction and scholarly writing in journals such as Black Clock, Luvina, Zyzzyva, Afterall, East of Borneo, Journal of American Woman Writers, Utopian Studies and Popular Music and Society, as well as various anthologies and artist monographs. Her current project is a study of art and music in utopian, subcultural and countercultural settings, entitled Another Time, Another Space: The Role of Aesthetic Practice in Alternative Social Formations. A related journal article, “The Shaker ‘Gift’: Charisma, Aesthetic Practice and Utopian Communalism,” was awarded the Battisti Prize by the Society of Utopian Studies. Her chapter on radical pedagogy in the early history of CalArts will appear in East of Borneo in two installments. Janet presently serves as Chair of the CalArts MFA Creative Writing Program and on the board of Les Figues Press.

Bernard Stiegler: On Abbas Kiarostami's Close Up 

Monday, October 28th

West Hollywood Public Library, Common Room, 3-6pm

This event marks Bernard Stiegler’s second visit to the MA program. One of France’s foremost contemporary philosophers, and the author of many books, Bernard will run a workshop about themes that are central to his writings.

In collaboration with UCLA, and with the support of the French Consulate of Los Angeles.


Secular Criticism & Science and Its Fictions

Friday, November 22nd

West Hollywood Public Library, Community Room

3-6pm: Poet and literary theorist Stathis Gourgouris will discuss his new book Lessons in Secular Criticism.

8pm: Armen Avanessian, Amanda Beech, and Reza Negarestani discuss how and why aesthetic adventures in literature and art capture the scientific and aspire to the status of scientific inquiry—and how, in turn, philosophical theory and cultural practices often run the risk of aestheticizing science.

Amanda Beech is an artist and writer. Her work takes up the dynamic of image-force by entangling narratives of power from philosophical theory, literature, and real political events. Beech has exhibited her artwork internationally. Recent publications include: Final Machine (Urbanomic, 2013) and Sanity Assassin, (Urbanomic, 2010). She is Dean of Critical Studies at CalArts. 

Armen Avanessian studied philosophy, literature, and political science and is currently affiliated with the Peter Szondi Institute for Comparative Literature at the Free University Berlin. He has been a Visiting Fellow in the German Department at Columbia University and Yale University. Avanessian has edited (with Luke Skrebowski) Aesthetics and Contemporary Art (Sternberg, 2011) and Realismus Jetzt! Spekulative Philosophie und Metaphysik für das 21. Jahrhundert (Merve, 2013). His publications include: Phänomenologie des ironischen Geistes: Ethik, Poetik und Politik der Moderne (Fink, 2010) and (together with Anke Hennig) Präsens: Poetik eines Tempus (Diaphanes, 2012). In 2012 he founded a research platform on Speculative Poetics: He is also the editor of the book series SPEKULATIONEN (Merve). 

Reza Negarestani is a philosopher. He has contributed extensively to journals and anthologies and lectured at numerous international universities and institutes. His current philosophical project is focused on rationalist universalism beginning with the evolution of the modern system of knowledge and advancing toward contemporary philosophies of rationalism, their procedures as well as their demands for special forms of human conduct.  

What Is Political Art?

Friday, January 31st 

West Hollywood Public Library, Common Room, 8pm

This event inaugurates a two-year research collaboration between Birkbeck (University of London), CONICET/Belgrano University (Buenos Aires, Argentina), and the MA Aesthetics and Politics Program. This project provides a platform for the encounter between academics and artists working on issues of memory, violence, the post-colonial condition, current democratic struggles, and other forms of contemporary aesthetico-politico interventions in a variety of contexts, specifically in Latin America and the US. With Margarita Palacios, Livia Marin, Charles Gaines, and Felipe Müller; hosted by Martín Plot.


Margarita Palacios, "Aesthetics as Infinite Criticality"

In this paper I explore ways in which the notion of the 'void' -as theorized by a number of authors in both continental philosophy and psychoanalytic theory- can inform practices and experiences of disobedience and criticality.   Different from thinking of critique as a method, in my research I put forward the notion of criticality as an  aesthetic experience of distanciation and desidentification,  which not only destabilises established hegemonies,  but also the 'body' and the 'thing' are granted with a type of resistance which immediately counteracts the effects of language and power".

Livia Marin, "Partial Encounters"

This presentation looks into art practices that employ everyday objects by means of estranging the relation we normally hold with them and suggests that such mode of address opens a space of resistance against determinations of use and meaning that are generally taken by granted.

Margarita Palacios and Livia Marin, "Ghosts from Chacabuco"

In this short presentation we show some of the collaborative work we are doing in ex concentration camps in Chile, where we are aiming at registering the materiality of violence and its 'unsayability".

Speaker bios:

Charles Gaines received his BA from Jersey City State University and his MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has had over 65 one-person shows and several hundred group exhibitions in the US and Europe. Charles's most recent solo exhibition, Notes on Social Justice, opened in September 2013 at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, NY. The exhibition includes earlier works, “Night/Crimes” (1994/1995) and “Skybox I” (2011), as well as a new body of work, “Notes on Social Justice,” and “Manifestos 2.” It has since been reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Artforum, and Art in America. Gaines’s work has also been included in State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970 at theSmart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL (October 3 – January 12, 2014); Body Language, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (July 18 – October 27, 2013); and Selections from the Permanent Collections, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (March 3, 2013 – Ongoing);Blues for Smoke, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (October 21 – January 2013), travelling to Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (September 21 – December 29, 2013).  In July 2013, he performed as the Charles Gaines Ensemble featuring Wadada Leo Smith at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Upcoming exhibitions include Prospect .3 New Orleans, Frieze New York, and a solo exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem in 2014. Charles is currently a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow.

Livia Marin is a visual artist.

Felipe Muller is a researcher at the University of Belgrano and CONICET (Argentine National Council for Scientific and Technical Research) and a psychoanalyst. His current interests include the exploration of the theoretical and technical consequences of a dialogical conception of the subject in psychoanalysis and the socio-psychological approach to the formation and development of collective memories. He is the co-editor (with Martín Plot) of Entre-Nos. Ensayos sobre reconocimiento e intersubjetividad (Teseo, 2009) and published in Intersubjetivo, Acta psiquiátrica y psicológica de América Latina, Revista argentina de psicoanálisis, Interdisciplinaria, Revista argentina de clínica psicológica, Applied Cognitive Psychology, and The Journal for Psychotherapy Integration, among other journals.

 Margarita Palacios is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. Her research interests include the study of the intersections of politics, gender, culture and psychoanalysis, continental philosophy and social theory, post-colonialism and Latin American studies. She is the author of Fantasy and Political Violence: The Meaning of Anti-Communism in Chile (2009) and Radical Sociality: On Disobedience, Violence and Belonging (2013).

Martín Plot is Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies, California Institute of the Arts. 

Emergency Aesthetics

Friday, February 28th 

West Hollywood Public Library, Common Room, 3-6pm and 8pm

3-6pm, Common Room: Workshop with philosopher Santiago Zabala on critical theory and Eurocentrism. 

8pm, Common Room: Lecture by Santiago Zabala about “Emergency Aesthetics”, with Ashley Hunt as respondent. 

For the workshop, please read the
following short texts in advance:

These short texts are related to Santiago’s
evening talk:

Santiago Zabala is ICREA Research Professor (with tenure) in the Department of History of Philosophy, Aesthetics and Cultural Philosophy at the University of Barcelona. He is the author of The Remains of Being (2009), The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy (2008), and co-author with G. Vattimo of Hermeneutic Communism (2011). He edited G. Vattimo’s Art’s Claim to Truth (2008) and Nihilism and Emancipation (2004), Richard Rorty and G. Vattimo's The Future of Religion (2005), and Weakening Philosophy (2007). With Jeff Malpas he has co-edited Consequences of Hermeneutics: Fifty Years after Truth and Method (2010). His forthcoming books are Being Shaken: Ontology and the Event (Palgrave, 2013), co-edited with Michael Marder (2012), and Only Art Can Save Us: The Emergency of Aesthetics (2014).

Ashley Hunt is an artist and activist who uses video, photography, mapping and writing to engage social movements, modes of learning and public discourse. His work has been screened and exhibited at the P.S.1/MoMA, the New Museum, Project Row Houses, Documenta 12, the Gallery at REDCAT, Nottingham Contemporary, the 3rd Bucharest Biennial, the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, as well as numerous grassroots and community based venues throughout the US. 

Creativity and Other Fundamentalisms

Friday, April 25th 

West Hollywood Public Library

3-6pm, Common Room: Workshop with sociologist Pascal Gielen about “the ethics of art”. 

8pm, Common Room: Lecture by Pascal Gielen about “Creativity and Other Fundamentalisms”, with Matias Viegener as respondent.


Pascal Gielen is professor of sociology of the arts at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) and directs the research group Arts in Society. In 2009, he co-edited Being an Artist in Post-Fordist Times and published his influential The Murmuring of the Artistic Multitude: Global Art, Memory and Post-Fordism. In 2010, he co-edited Community Art and Beyond: The Political Potency of Trespassing. His WHAP! workshop and lecture are linked to his most recent books: the edited collection The Ethics of Art and Creativity and Other Fundamentalisms

Matias Viegener is the author of 2500 Random Things About Me Too, a book of experimental non-fiction that was hailed as the first book composed on and through Facebook. With Christine Wertheim, he has edited two anthologies: The Noulipian Analects and Séance in Experimental Writing. He is the editor and co-translator of Georges Bataille’s The Trial of Gilles de Rais. His fiction, art criticism, and academic criticism, have been widely published. He is the literary executor for the writer Kathy Acker and a co-founder of Fallen Fruit, a participatory art practice focusing on fruit, urban space and public life whose work has been exhibited worldwide.

Last edited by rsdavid on Apr 16, 2014
Close Menu
Open Menu