Radical Naming Strategies In Art And Politics

Radical Naming Strategies In Art And Politics

Talk @ No-Space, March 13, 7 pm

67 West St, #304
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Please join us for an evening with Slovenian artist Janez Janša and media theorist Marco Deseriis on the subversion of the proper name in art and politics.

In 2007, three artists joined the conservative Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and legally changed their names into the name of the party leader, the Prime Minister of Slovenia at the time, Janez Janša. Was this an act of support for the leader or a subtle attack on his brand? Whenever asked for the reasons for the name change, the artists simply answered that they did it “for personal reasons.” Since the change of their legal status, the boundaries between their lives and their art has blurred in numerous unforeseen ways.

Janša’s presentation will include excerpts from My Name Is Janez Janša (Slovenia, 2012), a film that is a journey through different stages and aspects of the name changing and its consequences–including public, relational and intimate ones. Drawing from history, popular culture, and personal experiences, the movie takes the Janša experience as a departure point for a wider reflection on how the legal name may coincide with (or differ from) notions of personal identity in a Western society.

Following Janša’s presentation, Northeastern University professor Marco Deseriis will present a brief genealogy and theory of the improper name, which he defines as the adoption of the same pseudonym by organized collectives, affinity groups, and individual authors. Linking the pseudonyms shared by nineteenth-century English textile workers (Ned Ludd), Hollywood film directors (Alan Smithee), North American and European mail artists (Monty Cantsin and Karen Eliot), European anti-copyright activists (Luther Blissett), and the global “hacktivist” network Anonymous, Deseriis argues that improper names are assemblages of enunciation that are neither collective nor individual, but rather “condividual” or “transindividual.” In thinking the subject as an unfinished project, the theory of the improper also calls for a new theory of media.

Janez Janša is a conceptual artist, performer and producer. He is co-founder and artistic director of Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana.

Marco Deseriis is an Assistant Professor in the Program in Media and Screen Studies at Northeastern University. His manuscript Improper Names: Collective Pseudonyms from the Luddites to Anonymous is currently under contract at the University of Minnesota Press.

Janez Janša, Janez Janša, Janez Janša

My Name is Janez Janša

Marco Deseriis


March 13, 2014


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