Part of the HOSTILE ENVIRONMENTS Spring Public Programme
The capacity to cage others, and cages in themselves as physical structures, might appear as a sign of immense power and a great capacity for domination. Yet think of a person who has a tiger in a cage, and a person who has tamed their tiger such that they sit next to them obediently without needing any separating border or restraint. Invisible domination, and invisible borders, are often sublimated in many social and cultural settings as the ultimate sign of power. Visible forms of caging, bordering and restraint on the other hand, from shackles to keep other beings within our reach, to prison bars, border walls and overtly exclusionary policies, to keep people away from us, while certainly reflecting a power over others, also reflect a certain weakness. Either we feel that our capacity of domination is still weak because we still have to grow more powerful physically and mentally or we feel that our capacity for domination is in a state of decline. It is the latter situation we find ourselves in today: the powerful are still powerful enough to dominate but are no longer confident of their capacity for domination. Their borders and caging technologies are becoming increasingly visible. They have what Nietzsche calls a weak sense of power. This does not make the powerful weak but it does make them cruel rather than magnanimous, stingy rather than generous, scared of the world rather than ready to embrace it. When borders are signs of a weakening power, the art of tunneling becomes a primary form of resistance.
HOSTILE ENVIRONMENTS Series organised by Lorenzo Pezzani and Nishat Awan Thursday 7 March 2019 Professor Stuart Hall Building LG02 18:30 - 20:00