Intercessors, ventriloquists, thieves, anon. On Art’s Divestment of the Self *** SpringMeeting 2021 continued *** Part 2: April 15 - 20, 2022

For this edition, SpringMeeting continues its inquiry into de-individualised and collective modes of acting, making and being together in, through, and past the arts. For this gathering we ask: how is labour displaced in the name of the artist? If we know art is so much more than the ‘I’ of authorship, how do we act on this knowledge? What happens when we engage in artistic creation and cultural production from the place of translators, performers, assistants, dramaturgs, audiences, activists, cultural workers, and all others who make the work but often remain in the shadow of (single) authors? How can we then collectively intervene, and re-appropriate the contexts and infrastructures of our work?

Today, Mladen Stilinović’s artwork stating “an artist who cannot speak English is no artist” could just as easily be rephrased as: “an artist who cannot speak about their own work is no artist”. Is there a more exploited genre and pronoun among artists than speaking in first person singular?
We would like to approach what is singular as already multiple, to reimagine the individual through mediation. We would like to question origin, identity and ownership in the act of directing attention instead to intercesseurs, mediators and intermediaries, to true and falsifying personae and to collective or common agencies.
Against two decisive factors of the art market today – the compulsion to speak of one’s own work, and performance of one’s own brand-name – we would like to inquire into other possible articulations of personhood, authorship, ownership, agency, milieu, transindividuation and production that do not begin with nominal identity, that do not start with or return to “I/Me”.

An example. “Intercesseurs” (mediators) was the word Gilles Deleuze used to portray his collaboration with Félix Guattari:
Mediators are fundamental. Creation’s all about mediators. Without them nothing happens. They can be people ... but things too, even plants or animals ... Whether they’re real or imaginary, animate or inanimate, you have to form your mediators. It’s a series. If you’re not in some series, even a completely imaginary one, you’re lost. I need my mediators to express myself, and they’d never express themselves without me: you’re always working in a group, even when you seem to be on your own… There’s no truth that doesn’t ‘falsify’ established ideas. To say that ‘truth is created’ implies ... a series of falsifications.

There are many more terms that could apply apart from intercession: intervention, interlocution, translation, appropriation, forgery, ventriloquy, bastardization, theft. There is an abundance of modes in which artists produce, collaborate, distribute subjectivities, and present work. Collectivity or group work might also be an opaque façade that conceals and protects political strategies and undercover operations.

If our point of departure is not the individual but the common, then we must look into what we share at a level prior to or beyond the personal – language, modes of production and cooperation, sensory apparatuses and habits, and history. While we do not want to affirm dehistoricization, we recognize good reasons for its contestation that point to canons and canonization. In a canonical culture relations between artists serve to cement significance. Canonical artists are often those who are centers of influence or those whose networks include other canonical figures. What ways are there to be in dialogue with and through others, which do not further secure the position of the self in the canon?

Art occurs, regardless of whether it resembles the canon of autonomous, functionless, exceptional, single-authored, manifestations of the artist’s will. Some occurrences might be found in invisibility, refusal, collectivity, name changes, shifting the locus of art making and thus its legibility as such. In a time of over-investment in the self as commodity and an aggressive disinvestment in collective resources and services – so that we can all have the privilege of loneliness – how to choose the group every time, above and beyond the impoverished and impoverishing path of atomization?
The problems posed here seem ill-suited to individual inquiry. The world is neither neat nor kind. One’s interiority cannot present an innocent starting point or refuge of the beautiful soul. For SM 2021 we do not want to think only about single author-artists, but also to dedicate time to those who make the work possible but remain in the shadow: performers, assistants, translators, and so on. The author has long been declared dead, but shared authorship remains rare. Theaters, museums and other institutions demand unequivocally delineated individuals who guarantee for their products.

For SM 2021, we want to devote time to the dependent, non-sovereign, subjected forms of making art and thought. We are specifically interested in working methods that say no to “working alone”. And we are also interested in artists speaking about the work of others in which they recognize something they themselves could not do. This is not about denying individual responsibility: one’s individual actions matter as they materialize the world. So, we ask: what can we learn from art’s investment in the divestment of the self?

Prices to attend the meeting are:
– individuals 18€ per night per bed if you stay more than 5 nights, otherwise, it is 20€ per night
– institutions 25€ per person

Other expenses include a 12€ annual membership and 12€ per day for three meals prepared in our exquisite kitchen. There will be an excellent team of cooks who will need help from all of us. We can only accept payments in cash or French cheques, so bring it along (there is an ATM in the village).
In order to allow people with little or no resources to attend the meeting (and following similar initiatives currently taking place at PAF), this year we will experiment with a differential pricing or sliding scale. So, we will (un)fix the cost of the whole event to an amount between 172€ and 250€ per person. Even if you can pay 20€ more than the baseline of 172€, it will help someone else. If you would like to participate and you do not have the financial conditions to do so, please let us know and we will try to make it possible for you.
For these dates PAF will be fully compliant with COVID-19 regulations and operate at a reduced capacity, so book early, we’d like you to be there.

From the organizers,
Bojana Cvejić, Nikhil Vettukattil, Stefa Govaart, Andrea Rodrigo
With special thanks to Eleanor Ivory Weber who was co-organiser of the first part of this meeting

Reservations at:


Tomislav Medak is a doctoral student at Coventry University’s Centre for Postdigital Cultures. His PhD is on the political economy of technology and the planetary ecological crisis. He is also a member of the theory and publishing team of the Multimedia Institute/MAMA in Zagreb, a co-initiator of the Pirate Care project, and an artist in the performing arts collective BADco.

Oxana Timofeeva is Sc.D., Professor at “Stasis” Center for Philosophy at the European University at St. Petersburg, leading researcher at Tyumen State University, member of the artistic collective "Chto Delat?" ("What is to be done?"), deputy editor of the journal "Stasis", and the author of books Solar Politics (Polity 2022), How to Love a Homeland (Kayfa ta, 2020), History of Animals (Bloomsbury, 2018; Jan van Eyck, 2012), Introduction to the Erotic Philosophy of Georges Bataille (2009), and other writings.

​​Christine De Smedt is a choreographer and dancer whose work pursues various forms of collaboration, dialogue and duration. Her research-based projects challenge result-driven modes of production. Finding forms of representation necessitates setting up a thorough study of the problem/question/material at hand. Residues from past projects emerge and leave their traces in this initial phase. Extending her research to invited collaborators, the work takes form in collaborative complexity, conflict, and the refusal of systematicity and functionality. Numerous collaborations include pieces she co-created with a.o. Eszter Salamon and Myriam van Imschoot, pieces by a.o. Mette Ingvartsen and Xavier Le Roy in which she performed as dancer, and pieces she was involved in as artistic assistant. De Smedt was a member of the collective les ballets C de la B (1991-2012) and pedagogical coordinator at PARTS (2013-2016). She remains active as a mentor, advisor and teacher in various educational contexts. Her current project L’inconnu, a collaboration with Liza Baliasnaja and Theo Livesey, examines low-intensity violence as it permeates contemporary social life. In her career––most notably through the works 9x9 (2000-2005) and 4 choreographic portraits/Untitled 4 (2012, that she will perform during SM)––De Smedt has questioned the status and reproduction of the single author.

Kate Briggs is a writer, educator and translator based in Rotterdam, NL. She is currently working on an English translation of Hélène Bessette's first novel Lili pleure and The Long Form, a novel about the novel-form, rhythm, co-living and duration. She is the author of This Little Art, a long essay about translation as a creative practice which draws on her experience of translating two volumes of lecture notes by Roland Barthes (How to Live Together and The Preparation of the Novel, both published by Columbia UP). A Table Made Again for the First Time: On Kate Briggs's This Little Art, edited by Francesco Pedraglio and Paul Becker, was published by Juan de la Cosa / John of the Thing in 2021. She is the recipient of a Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction and runs Short Piece That Move! an intermittent reading, writing and co-learning platform for artists.

Pirate Care ( is a transnational research project and a network of activists, scholars and practitioners who stand against the criminalization of solidarity & for a common care infrastructure. It was initiated in 2018 by Valeria Graziano, Marcell Mars and Tomislav Medak.