The Twenty-First Century: The Event, the Subject and the Artwork



University of the South Pacific

September 21st, 22nd, & 23rd, 2012


Please send any enquiries, to both of the following addresses: Ann.McCulloch@deakin.edu.au; maebh.long@usp.ac.fj

Guided by the coverage of 20th century events, ethics, and art found in Alain Badiou's Century, this conference opens up debates on art and philosophy in the twenty-first century. Badiou saw the last hundred years as evincing a 'passion for the real', but in acknowledging its terror, horror and genocides he nevertheless asks his readers to acknowledge also its 'emancipatory politics'. This conference asks for a response to this plea, and works to examine both the extent to which it can be applied to the first decade of the twenty-first century, and the extent to which the analyses of 'events' in the twentieth century can be re-thought from our current perspective.

Gilles Deleuze sees the event as a synthesis of forces; not a happening, but something that has become actual. An event, therefore, is always there in potentiality but may not be recognized at the time of its 'occurrence'. An event has no goal, it is pure effect; it is not based on any prior model but is a creative and original production which emerges as a rupture of the times from new forces immanent but not determinate. An event may carry a momentary productive intensity; it will signal new creative possibilities but will be about 'becoming' rather than being.

The focus, therefore, is on:


  • 1. 'The Event' as it might be interpreted through the lens of the philosophies of Badiou, Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard and others;
  • 2. 'The Event' as it might be interpreted from many perspectives. It may focus on
  • i. A major or minor historical event such as '9/11'; a war; or even a sporting event;
  • ii. Lyotard's insight that to capture the moment of an event's happening is to fall into the chaos of not knowing that an event is happening;
  • iii. Movements in history: e.g. Realisms; Romanticisms; Modernisms; Postmodernisms as 'EVENTS;'
  • iv. Trauma, Tragedy, Depression as events understood psychologically and retrospectively: e.g. PTSD; World War I and II, Vietnam War.


Referring to

i. A person (artist, thinker, activist) who might designate an 'event' or contribute to an event by presenting the rupture without being its cause or its result;

ii. A practitioner who mediates the significance of event within his or her own discipline;

ii. A militant of 'truth'—i.e. one who opens new theoretical fields, fights for the emancipation of the down-trodden or a lover who enters enchanted worlds.


Artworks that designate or announce an 'event'- e.g. Picasso's Guernica or Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.

Participants are invited to consider the event's relation to subjectivity and art with reference to modernism as an unfinished event; avant-garde moments as heralding events; socio-political events as mediated in artworks; cultural, literary, religious and artistic responses to environmental and psychological events; popular or sub-cultural spaces of minor public events such as street art, carnivals and flash mobs; historical happenings that do not count as events, life and death events concerning celebrities; economic or political events that come to represent temporal ruptures and rifts; cinematic and musical events and their impact on the real; the comic genre as an event in the twenty-first century, and events as harbingers of an indescribable future.

Groups wishing to perform theatrical responses to the theme are welcomed.

There will also be an art exhibition, and images or pieces can be submitted in response to the call for papers.

Professor Ann McCulloch; Dr. R. A. Goodrich; Dr. Paul Monaghan; Dr. Tony Hood; Adrian Bruch (Editorial Board of Double Dialogues and Coordinators of Double Dialogues international conferences)

In conjunction with University of the South Pacific

Prof. Sudesh Mishra & Dr. Maebh Long
(Guest Editors and conveners, USP)




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