Nina Hoss: ‘The left is in a state of absolute chaos – we have lost our way’ (2017)

Nina Hoss: ‘The left is in a state of absolute chaos – we have lost our way’
Philip Oltermann in Berlin, The Guardian
Tuesday 4 July 2017 01.16 AEST

 Returning to Reims is at Home, Manchester, 5-14 July, part of the international festival. Michael Lucey’s translation of Didier Eribon’s book is published by Semiotext(e).

When she was a little girl, the German actor used to sit in on her father’s union meetings. Now she’s directing her political fervour into Returning to Reims, a new play by Thomas Ostermeier seeking to explain Trump, Brexit and Le Pen

When Nina Hoss agreed to perform a Manic Street Preachers song with the Welsh alt-rockers at Glastonbury in 2014, she had no idea that the track – Europa Geht Durch Mich (Europe Passes Through Me) – would soon come to sound like a requiem. “It felt like such an optimistic song at the time,” she recalls, “and the crowds were going absolutely wild.”


For this month’s Manchester international festival, the 41-year-old German actor and her collaborators – Berlin Schaubühne director Thomas Ostermeier and Bush Moukarzel, an Irish actor, writer and director – have devised an English-language dramatisation of the memoirs of a French sociologist. The show is a sort of group therapy for liberal Europeans discombobulated by the events of the last 12 months.

Ostermeier told her he was reading Returning to Reims by Didier Eribon, a French sociologist and the celebrated biographer of Michel Foucault. Get hold of a copy as soon as possible, he said. “Reading it opened floodgates inside me,” she recalls, sitting in a shady corner outside the converted 1920s cinema that is now home to the Schaubühne. “It tried to address all the questions we are grappling with. What is going on with this generation of ours? Do we still believe in democracy? If we do, is that belief reawakening or dying? Do we still know how to organise ourselves to have influence on a political scale? And are we really interested and patient enough to get involved – or did we unlearn that in the 90s because we believed our parents had paved us a path to prosperity?”

Originally published in France in 2009, Retour à Reims became a bestseller in Germany last year, partly because it hinted at an explanation for the Brexit vote and Trump earthquakes, as well as the then looming nightmare of a far-right French presidency. It tells the story of the author returning to his hometown for the first time in decades, following the death of his father, only to find that his once staunchly communist family is now more or less openly supportive of the Front National.

Books Performance

Wishing Magnum Photos a happy 70th birthday (2017)

Mark Feeney, Wishing Magnum Photos a happy 70th birthday, Boston Globe, 21 July 2017

NEW YORK — The Psalmist allows threescore and 10 as the years for a human life. So when a person turns 70, that’s an occasion. Institutions seem to prefer three-quarter intervals. Seventy just starts the countdown to 75. Yet it makes sense that Magnum Photos, a very distinguished institution indeed, would find its 70th birthday observed. The greatness of Magnum, the most celebrated name in the history of photojournalism, has always been inseparable from that of Magnum’s photographers. The human element, both behind the camera and in front of it, has been the essence of Magnum.

The photographers who’ve made up the collective include a pair of the most famous of the last century, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa (two of Magnum’s five founders), and several of the finest of that century and this one: W. Eugene Smith, Elliott Erwitt, Eve Arnold, Burt Glinn, the list goes on. All have work in “Magnum Manifesto,” which runs at the International Center of Photography through Sept. 3.

The ICP has always had a special relationship with Magnum. Its founder, Cornell Capa, was Robert’s brother and himself a Magnum photographer. So there’s a family-reunion feel to “Magnum Manifesto,” and the reunion is big. Seventy-six photographers have work here, with more than 250 images hanging on the walls and more than 300 projected as slides.


There was also a sense of social responsibility. Magnum photographers would be as interested in theme and issue as event and personality. That’s not to say the latter were shortchanged. The show includes, for example, Mark Power’s photographs of the fall of the Berlin Wall or a 1978 Martine Franck portrait of the French thinker Michel Foucault that’s a knockout.

Link to photos of Foucault for sale on the Magnum site

Exhibitions Photos of Foucault

Portrait(s) Foucault—Letzlove by Pierre Maillet (2017)

(PRINCETON, NJ) — Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of French and Italian, and L’Avant-Scène will present the sixth annual Seuls en Scène French Theater Festival, which will take place from September 15 to 30 2017 at venues across the University’s campus. Some performances will be in English, while others will be in French with English subtitles; all are free and open to the public.

Seuls en Scène ushers in the 17th season of L’Avant-Scène, a French theater troupe of Princeton students. It also celebrates professional theatrical achievements from the past year: many of the invited artists to Seuls en Scène are prominent contributors to contemporary theater in France. The festival is organized by Florent Masse, Senior Lecturer in the Department of French and Italian and director of L’Avant-Scène.

Portrait(s) Foucault—Letzlove by Pierre Maillet will play at the Matthews Acting Studio on September 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. 2017 Maillet uses a book of conversations between philosopher Michel Foucault and young hitchhiker Thierry Voetzel, who was at first unaware of his driver’s identity. Together, they discuss the main topics of summer 1975, namely new attitudes toward family, drugs, and music. What starts as a text about Thierry becomes a portrait of Foucault, and an innocuous narrative becomes a study of revolution. Maillet is currently supported by the Comédie de Caen and the Comédie de Saint-Étienne, and Portrait(s) Foucault—Letzlove debuted in the 2016-2017 theater season to critical acclaim.


Dark Times and the Powers of Dreaming (2017)

Kelly BulkeleyDark Times and the Powers of Dreaming, Huffpost, 24 August 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about a new book, Dreaming in Dark Times: Six Exercises in Political Thought, by Sharon Sliwinski, a professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Sliwinski approaches dreaming as a powerful resource for political theory and action, especially in times when basic human freedoms are most at risk. That we today are living in such times has become impossible to ignore.

But throughout history, in times of collective crisis, people’s dreams have often responded with a surge of imagery, emotion, and insight that help people respond more effectively and creatively to the pressing challenges facing their group in waking life. This is also true in the modern era, as Sliwinski’s fascinating and beautifully written book makes clear.

As she explores the political sociology of the dreaming imagination, Sliwinski’s main guides are Sigmund Freud (as interpreted by Michel Foucault) and Hannah Arendt. It is the deep dive into Arendt’s philosophy that gives Dreaming in Dark Times its inspiring vision and potent timeliness. Arendt was a twentieth-century political theorist born in Germany who fled the Holocaust in World War II and lived in the United States until her death in 1975. Her writings focused on such topics as totalitarianism, freedom, authority, and revolution.

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Books Reviews

A copy of Foucault and Rocher’s translation of Viktor von Weizsäcker’s Der Gestaltkreis

Progressive Geographies

IMG_2661I’ve been looking for a copy of Foucault and Daniel Rocher’s translation of Viktor von Weizsäcker’s Der Gestaltkreis as Le Cycle de la Structure for sometime, and now have a copy. While the German text is widely available, the translation was only printed once, in 1958, and relatively few libraries have a copy – even the BnF provided a microfiche instead of the physical book.

This copy is in good condition for a book of its age – the pages are still uncut. This is going to be valuable for my research for The Early Foucault, where I will make the claim that his role as a translator is an important but neglected part of his early career.

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Any Answers: Christian Caujolle (2017)

Any Answers: Christian Caujolle, Interview with Michael GrieveBritish Journal of Photography, 21 August 2017

The chief picture editor of Libération between 1981 and 1986, Christian Caujoulle left to co-found Agence Vu’ and, a decade later, Galerie Vu’. He has curated and edited countless photofestivals, exhibitions, and books, and is associate professor at the ENS Louis Lumière school


Roland Barthes was one of my professors. After my studies, when I was writing for Libération, he would often ask my advice on the photographers I was writing about at the time. He helped me understand that teaching is not about transmitting facts, it’s about method.

The philosopher Michel Foucault was another. We became close friends and I collaborated with him on different projects, including the movie, Moi, Pierre Rivière. During this radically political and creative time we had hours and days of discussion.

At each moment, Foucault was pushing you to be curious. The last dinner with him will always stay with me. A few days before he finally went to hospital, and weeks later passed away, I was at his home with friends and it was so much fun; a beautiful memory to be with this brilliant man.

Without money, with total freedom: this was the most exciting and creative moment of my professional life. That was my experience as chief picture editor of Libération!


Foucault’s inaugural lecture at the Collège de France – audio re-recording

Progressive Geographies

738_foucaultokLeçon inaugurale de Michel Foucault – L’ordre du discours

Quelle est cette volonté de vérité dans nos discours, qui a traversé tant de siècles de notre histoire ? demande Michel Foucault dans sa leçon inaugurale. Qu’est ce qui est en jeu, sinon le désir et le pouvoir? Quelles sont les procédures de contrôles et de délimitation du discours?
This isn’t nearly as interesting as I’d imagined when I found the link. Foucault’s inaugural lecture at the Collège de France from 2 December 1970 has been re-recorded by Léon Bonnaffé. As far as I am aware, there are no recordings of the original lecture, which is a shame for two reasons – first, obviously it would be nice to be able to hear Foucault give the talk; but also because the version published as L’ordre du discoursis not the text as actually delivered, as it includes some additional passages.

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