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08 May 2012

Hannah Arendt's Crisis in Culture 50th Anniversary: Reflections, Implications, Speculations

October 15, 2011 reading session, Goleb. Photo by Taf Hassam.

Hannah Arendt's Crisis in Culture 50th Anniversary: Reflections, Implications, Speculations
Jeremiah Day / VU University Amsterdam / Goleb


With contributions from: Jeremiah Day, Fred Dewey, Susannah Young-ah Gottlieb, Taf Hassam, Wolfgang Heuer, Elena Loizidou, Gertrud Sandqvist, and Michael Schulze
For full schedule please go to

Jeremiah Day / Taf Hassam

Burg. De Vlugtlaan
1063 BJ Amsterdam

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More of a working session than a conference, this gathering will break open new lines of thought in the relatively under-researched terrain connecting Hannah Arendt's work and contemporary cultural practice.

'The Crisis in Culture: Its Social and Its Political Significance' published in 1961, was Arendt's contribution to the debates of her time concerning avant-garde and kitsch, high and low culture. The 2011 fiftieth anniversary served as an occasion to take up this text and elaborate upon it through a series of reading-sessions and talks held last year in London, Berlin and Amsterdam. This commemorative jubileum culminates in May with a gathering of participants and speakers from the previous sessions, presented by VU University Amsterdam and co-hosted with the artist's initiative Goleb.

The central structure will be three reading sessions in which Arendt's 'Crisis in Culture' essay will be read aloud and opened up for discussion, with each morning introduced by key authorities in the field. Accompanying the reading sessions will be two roundtable discussions - first focusing on clarifying Arendt's work on culture and the second bringing those insights to bear upon our own present day debates. Additionally, VU Research Masters students will present some of their ongoing work around the subject and the event will be launched with a reception and introductory presentation on Arendt by Jeremiah Day.

All events are open to the public, with no advance preparation required for participating in the reading sessions.

Wednesday May 16th: (Hosted by VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, Amsterdam-South)

• 17:30 - Tour #1 - The Former Van Heutsz Monument - Svea Juergenson (VU) - to avoid the common disconnection between symposium and their situ, and to share in the ongoing projects by VU Research Master's students, two short walking tours will be offered parallel to the program. The first is a case study of art's capacity to both reflect and obscure
history. Meeting point: VU main entrance.
• 19:00 - Launch Reception and Introductory Presentation - VU Kerksaal - 16th floor. Held in the University Chapel, with a panoramic view of the whole city, this informal reception will be hosted by Jeremiah Day, including a presentation of Ines Schaber's 'Revolution, Violence and Power: A Correspondence - Hannah Arendt and Hans Jurgen Benedict.'

Thursday May 17: (Hosted by Goleb)

• 11:00 AM - Reading Session 1, introduced by Jeremiah Day: 'Pop Culture, Kitsch Criticism'
• 16:00 - Forum on Arendt and Culture - with Fred Dewey, Susannah Young-ah Gottlieb, Wolfgang Heuer, and Gertrud Sandqvuist - Arendt is known as the thinker of revolution - how are we to understand her work on culture and its relation to her broader project?

Friday May 18: (Hosted by Goleb)
• 11:00 AM - Reading Session 2, with an introductory dialogue between Fred Dewey and Wolfgang Heuer: 'The Importance of Culture for Hannah Arendt'
• 15:00 - Tour #2 Amsterdam New-West - Roel Griffioen (VU) and Taf Hassam (co-founder of Goleb) take up the landscape surrounding Goleb as an artefact of utopian urban planning and contemporary cultural struggle.

Saturday May 19: (Hosted by Goleb)

• 11:00 AM - Reading Session 3, introduced by Susannah Gottlieb and Getrud Sandqvist
• 16:00 - Forum II - the title of Arendt's text - 'crisis in culture' - might apply well to our own time: what implications, speculations and points of departure can be made from Arendt's work to our contemporary debates and practical problems? This final session serves not to conclude, but rather to open up new questions and lines of thought. Responses by Jeremiah Day, Fred Dewey, Susannah Young-ah Gottlieb, Wolfgang Heuer, Elena Loizidou, Gertrud Sandqvuist, and Michael Schulze.

Post-script event: Monday May 21: (Hosted by the Cultural Embassy at the Lloyd Hotel)

• 20:00 - Benefit to Save the Arts - a project by Angela Bartholomew (VU) along with launch party for VU Research Master's publications.