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Artefact Festival 15

You Must Change Your Life

11 - 22 February 2015

STUK Arts Centre, Leuven

You Must Change Your Life refers to the book of the same name by the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. In this book, Sloterdijk draws our attention to the ethics of human existence. Man isn’t simply satisfied with life as it is given to him. He is continuously working to change it. Sloterdijk sees man as an acrobatic being capable of superhuman feats due to his anthropotechnical qualities (= the art of being human). He is constantly balanced between falling and standing upright and endeavours to transcend his natural condition through rituals, exercise and training. Through all this Sloterdijk sees a way of strengthening one’s ‘immunity’: external dangers can in fact be averted.

In line with Sloterdijk’s analysis, the neuroscientist Israel Rosenfield emphasises similar, yet more material (physiological/bodily), qualities of human existence. Rosenfield studies the behaviour of the brain and memory. He stresses that both have made evolutionary changes in order to aid the body’s movement in space. The world as we know it is a three-dimensional construction of space ‘invented’ by our brain that we are continuously scanning with our senses. This idea has many similarities with Sloterdijk’s vision of the anthropotechnical capabilities of humans. The urge for immunity, change, and the invention of space also play an important role for Rosenfield in understanding the behaviour of the brain and memory. According to Rosenfield our memory doesn’t store anything, but rather our brain creates a dynamic network of associations that are evoked by external triggers (situations).

Taking Rosenfield and Sloterdijk’s argument for change and adaptation as a point of departure, Artefact poses questions about the human capacity to transcend itself. Where are the boundaries of human plasticity and how do we bring about a genuinely new relationship with the external world? Is this set into motion by a self-initiated change (Sloterdijk) or by external circumstances (Rosenfield)?

Contrary to what one might expect, You Must Change Your Life is not an imperative for how you should change your life. It is an appeal for the plasticity of humanity. Man’s need to continually change in order to survive, but also man’s desire to change in order to transcend himself. Nothing stands still, everything is in constant flux, and man moves with it.

Participating artists:

Younes Baba-Ali, Wolfgang Bittner, Eglé Budvytyté, Okin Collective, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Mariska de Groot, Roel Heremans, Hedwig Houben, Lyndsey Housden, Matteo Marangoni, Quayola, Anna Raimondo, Mokhallad Rasem, Jonathan Reus, Oscar Santillan, Yoko Seyama, Jacob Tonski, Jeroen Uyttendaele, Dieter Vandoren, Dewi de Vree, Emily Wardill, Emily Whitebread, Artur ?mijewski

With a video-lecture by John M. Hull

& the graphic novel DNA, A Graphic Guide to the Molecule that Shook the World by 

Israel Rosenfield, Edward Ziff, Borin van Loon

Additional events:

The Evening of the Voice: 19 February 2015, 20:00

With: Siri Landgren, Alma Söderberg & Hendrik Willekens, Anna Raimondo

Music Festival: 20 - 22 February 2015

With: Walls/Oram, Oaktree, Avondlicht, Andy Stott, Miles, Millie&Andrea, Shackleton (live), Kangding Ray (live), Grey Branches (live), Mouse On Mars, Lydia Ainsworth, Mittland och Leo, Roly Porter, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Thomas Ankersmit, Illuminine, Prairie

Post-publication with: Daniel Blanga-Gubbay, Israel Rosenfield, Catherine Malabou a.o.