Mack Lecture: Sylvère Lotringer on Antonin Artaud

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Cultural theorist Sylvère Lotringer will speak on Antonin Artaud, one of the most influential thinkers of the modernist period. He will discuss his forthcoming book, Mad Like Artaud, and will screen a selection from his new film project, The Man Who Disappeared. As Lotringer describes, “Actor, dramaturge, poet, art critic, playwright and theorist, Antonin Artaud suffered early on from intense mental and physical dissociations. Arriving in Paris in 1922, he complained that something was destroying his thoughts and robbing him of the words that he had found. And yet these acute mental symptoms, which he controlled as best he could by using opiates, opened up the possibility of investigating ‘all the names of history’ (Nietzsche), ‘performing’ their works and predicament as if they were his own. In that way he managed to become, among others, Paolo Uccello, Pierre Abelard, Heliogabalus, Gérard de Nerval, Baudelaire, Edgar Allen Poe, and Vincent Van Gogh. And these names in turn became his own doubles. The black hole of his identity, from which he suffered so much—Susan Sontag said that Artaud offered the greatest quantity of suffering in the history of literature—also became an irresistible invitation for his readers to become Artaud clones.” Copresented with Midway Contemporary Art and Univocal Publishing. About the Speaker Sylvère Lotringer, a literary critic and cultural theorist, is professor emeritus of French literature and philosophy at Columbia University and Jean Baudrillard Chair at the European Graduate School. As the founder of the independent press Semiotext(e), he was instrumental in introducing French theory to the United States. Lotringer’s contributions range from philosophy, literature, and art to architecture, anthropology, and avant-garde movements. His publications include Antonin Artaud (Scribners & Sons, 1990), Nancy Spero (Phaidon Press, 1996); French Theory in America (Routledge, 2001); The Miserables (Semiotext(e), 2014); and Mad Like Artaud (Univocal, 2015), among many others. He has made three films: How to Shoot a Crime, with Chris Kraus (1985); Violent Femmes (1999), and The Man Who Disappeared (2015).

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