The Power Plant

We, Ourselves and Us

Fri Jan 23 – Sat Jan 24 2009

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM


Combining perspectives from artists, philosophers and curators, this international symposium considers current ideas and re-conceptualizations of communities and collectivity. Taking its cue from Nina Möntmann’s guest-curated exhibition at The Power Plant, If We Can’t Get It Together, the symposium traces the creation of temporary social formations.

On Friday evening, Simon Critchley will present the keynote address – a presentation entitled ‘Mystical Anarchism’. Simon Critchley was born in Hertfordshire, England, in 1960, and currently lives and works in New York as Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, where he works in continental philosophy, history of philosophy, literature, ethics, and politics. He failed dramatically at school before failing in a large number of punk bands in the late 1970s and failing as a poet some time later. This was followed by failure as a radical political activist. He found a vocation in teaching philosophy, although his passions still lie in music, poetry and politics. His recent books include On Humour (2002), Things Merely Are (2005), Infinitely Demanding (2007) and The Book of Dead Philosophers (2008). His presentation will be followed by a response by Professor of English at York University, Ian Balfour.

The Saturday symposium is structured around a series of two-person presentations followed by discussion.

Speakers: Nina Möntmann (curator of If We Can’t Get It Together and editor of Art and its Institutions, 2006), Emily Roysdon (New York artist and member of the queer/feminist collective LTTR whose work is included in If We Can’t Get It Together), Luis Jacob (Toronto artist, curator, writer, educator, and activist whose work is included in If We Can’t Get It Together), Jon Davies (Assistant Curator of Public Programs at The Power Plant), Saara Liinamaa (PhD student in the Social and Political Thought program at York University), and Maria Lind (curator and director of the graduate program at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York).

The symposium will conclude with a short (40 minutes) screening of Nicoline Van Harskamp’s video To Live Outside the Law You Must Be Honest (2005–6). Inspired by her stay as a Researcher in Residence in Denmark’s Freetown of Christiania, Van Harskamp’s trilogy is comprised of three scripted video works, each performed by the same actor in different roles. Each draws very different conclusions through exploring issues of government, freedom and participatory democracy.

A book/special journal issue was published from the symposium proceedings, available in our Shop.