Public Talk Wed May 22, 2024, 6 pm

The Commune of Nightmares: On Authority, Art and Waking Up in Necrocapitalism

Lecture by Dr. David Wallraf

Photo: Museum für hamburgische Geschichte, Jann Wilken

"What a nightmare!" - is a common response to unpleasant social situations.

But what if the metaphorical relationship between dream and reality has a more serious component, if waking up from sleep corresponds to waking up in a nightmarish reality?

The idea of the Commune of Nightmares arose from a musical work that deals with the mood and logic of nightmares and follows a simple experimental set-up: What if we treat nightmares not as a personal experience, but as a category of the political? In doing so, it touches on questions of community, alienation, power and aesthetics.

In his Passages, Walter Benjamin compared the 19th century with a collective dream state from which the 20th century should have awoken. By analogy, the 20th century can be understood as a nightmare from which we are unable to awaken.

What role can art play in this situation, can it provoke shock-like moments of awakening or does it deepen the state of sleep? And what contours of the political, what forms of authority, power and violence can be traced in which Hannah Arendt's theses are still valid for us?

The lecture refers to the exhibitions currently on display.

David Wallraf is a noise artist and theorist from Hamburg. In his audio works, he explores the acoustics of the uncanny: field recordings, electromagnetic waves and obsolete audio technology are woven into soundtracks for the nightmare of “capitalist realism”. His works are published internationally, the most recent album The Commune Of Nightmares was published by Karlrecords.

A residency at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg resulted in the dissertation Grenzen des Hörens - Noise und die Akustik des Politischen (the book was published by Transcript in 2021). He is working on a power theory of the auditory and more recently on Walter Benjamin's concept of the dialectical image as an awakening from real nightmares. In 2023, he was a guest lecturer and workshop leader at the Listening Biennial in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.

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