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RCA talks

RCA Visual Cultures Lecture Series: 'The Seventh Wonder of the ZAD' with Kristin Ross & Mark Hutchinson

9 May 2018 | 6.30pm – 8pm

Battersea, Gorvy Lecture Theatre


The Politicised Practice Research Group (PPRG) at the RCA introduces Kristin Ross, an eminent scholar of culture and politics and Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at New York University. PPRG have also invited artist and theorist Mark Hutchinson to respond to Ross’ lecture by considering the relevance of her work for contemporary art production now. 

The longest-lasting ongoing struggle in France today is the occupational attempt to block the construction of an international airport in farmland in western France, the ZAD, or 'zone à defendre', outside of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. This talk will consider a number of innovative practices reworked and lived by the inhabitants of the ZAD, in relation to historic examples such as the Commune de Paris of 1871. At the center of the presentation will be the notion of the territory and the logics of difference, possibility and autonomy it implies—the local, often rural construction of an autonomous zone, in secession from the state, which does not result in a closing in upon itself. What is a territory worth defending? What does it mean to defend a zone, or to work at creating—over time, and perhaps over a lifetime—a territory worthy of defense? How can a struggle whose particularity lies in being anchored in one place be extended to other territories?

Kristin Ross is professor emerita of comparative literature at New York University. The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, she is the author of a number of books about modern and contemporary French political culture, all of which have appeared in French translation, including The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune (1988); Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture (1995); and May ’68 and its Afterlives (2002). Communal Luxury (2015), was published first in France by La Fabrique. Her most recent book is entitled The Zad and NoTAV (Verso 2018).

Mark Hutchinson is an independent artist and theorist, who lives and works in London. Notable projects include: There is Always an Alternative: possibilities for art in the early nineties, organised with Dave Beech and Escape From Studio Voltaire, a solo exhibition at Studio Voltaire, London. Notable essays include: 'Dada Contra Art History' in Dada/Surrealism, Issue 20 and 'Four Stages of Public Art' in Third Text, Vol. 16, Issue 4. 'The Anti-Spectator', an essay arguing against the sociology of art of Pierre Bourdieu, will be published in the book The Persistence of Taste, to be released later this year. He is currently working on an essay, 'The Wrong Malevich: Art, Revolution and the Public Sphere' for Art and the Public Sphere and on a book on the Idea of the Avante-Garde.

This event has been organised by the RCA School of Arts & Humanities. If you have any queries, please contact Anne Duffau for more information.