Peter Asaro

The ability of biological life forms to procreate and reproduce their species is often considered a characteristic of life. In contrast, the “undead” may seem to be alive but they do not practice traditional reproduction. However, for some time now human kind has been producing mechanical creatures, automata and robots which have changed our very notion of “life”. Recently speculation has grown that machines themselves could soon in fact be able to lead a self-reproducing existence. According to the aforementioned criterion, they would then be “living beings”. The robotic researcher Hans Moravec even takes the view that these robots, as our true “brainchild”, represent the next stage of evolution. The media theorist Peter Asaro showed sections of his documentary Love Machine, a film that takes up these theses.


Peter Asaro & Nicole C. Karafyllis

Both robotics as well as biotechnology deal with artificially created life and strive to achieve a better future by optimizing customary vital life functions. This raises three questions. Firstly: for whom is this better future envisioned? Secondly: is life as it currently is actually that bad? And thirdly: is the future life being striven for still my life? – Biological identity is no longer concerned with species but the creation of a single organism that can develop autonomously and reproduce itself. The biotechnological ideal figure of the undead is therefore a lonesome creature, at once a dream vision and horror idea. For it makes a great difference if we perceive death as something functional or as bound with the subject: death gives life meaning.


Aya Ben Ron
Film (15'45'') and Presentation

Shift focuses on the work done at two hospital wards for vegetative-state patients at the Reut Medical Center in Tel Aviv. The film accompanied two working shifts for 18 months. The artist Aya Ben Ron repeatedly visited the hospital, filmed the long phases of waiting in the rooms of the patients and the interaction with the hospital staff: the patients being examined, fed and moved by doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, animal-assisted and music therapists. The film observes life in this in-between state as well as the simple and at the same time complex relationship between personnel and patient: simple because it revolves around basic needs; complex due to the fact that there are no channels of “normal” communication.


Marijs Boulogne

In her performance “The Anatomy Lesson” the Belgian artist described the decay and reparation processes of the body in an unusual way. Her patient was a baby made of stitches. Crocheted and stitched together, the homunculus lies on the dissecting table, fitted with intestines, muscles and bones. With the aid of an endoscope Boulogne traveled through the human dummy, ever deeper into questions of life and death, beauty and liberation, searching for the divine in the material. Her role in this forensic fairytale switches from distanced surgeon to loving mother. Viewers of this interactive anatomy theatre witnessed a mythical cycle of death, birth and dying and a philosophical-artistic transgression of the most bizarre kind.


Oron Catts
BioArt Presentation and Discussion with Karin Harrasser

How far can a body be fragmented until it is no longer a body? How long can life be stretched out until it is no longer life? Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr’s Tissue Culture and Art Project has been exploring such questions concerning the “semi-living” since 1996. The project details life forms in an intermediate state, the outcome of cultivating body parts under artificial conditions. The “undead” of synthetic biology is long an integral component of what we generally define as life. In a certain way alive and most certainly not dead, these “entities” are no longer part of the body they originally belonged to. Definitions are rendered even more complicated by the idea that, like a slime fungus, they could constitute a new body or even migrate and join other bodies.


Sander L. Gilman

In a world in which people are judged by their exterior, changing outward appearance seems to have a liberating effect. This was thesis Sander L. Gilman postulated to introduce his standard work Making the Body Beautiful. A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery. In Hamburg the humanities scholar and professor for psychiatry, who also researches in the areas of Judaism, racism and physiognomy, will speak about the fascination of face transplants. Long a motif in literature and film, the history of modern facial surgery – from the “nose job” through to the full face transplant – demands that we re-question the notion that the face reflects our sense of identity. Are “we” our faces? Does the face show our authentic self, even beyond death? What do we see in the mirror – ourselves or the image we have of ourselves?


Aubrey de Grey
Lecture and Discussion with Cornelius Borck

To exclude the aging process as a cause of death seems to be a dream cherished by humans that is as old as it is unrealizable. And yet there are two facts that indicate it is indeed possible: firstly, we age continuously, but only suffer under this process in the second half of our lives. This means that we do not have to prevent aging as such but solely arrest physical deterioration with molecular and cellular renewal. Secondly, technological advancements take place mostly exponentially, so that they can change completely within a lifespan. Aubrey de Grey presented therapies which shall soon extend life expectancy by up to 30 years and explained how the progression of these therapies will allow us to profit endlessly from their progress – and eventually exclude age-related dying. Following the lecture the theoretical bio-gerontologist discussed these aspects with the medical ethics expert Cornelius Borck.


Aubrey de Grey & Andy Miah

What would it mean for human kind when we could slow down the natural aging process to the point where death would be avoidable? If death itself were to die out, would we then lose an important part of what it means to be human? Or would rather a part of our life be brought to an end that we rightly regard with indignation? Would some people consciously decide to die and thus lend the idea of suicide a new meaning? The theoretical bio-gerontologist Aubrey de Grey and the bio-ethics expert Andy Miah discussed the consequences of eternal life and the preconditions modern science is currently producing.


Floris Kaayk
Film Presentation

The insect world, a fascination with technology and erratic evolution processes are the inspiration and recurring motifs in the works of the Dutch artist Floris Kaayk. Computer-generated creatures move about in the realistic visual aesthetics of nature films, professional voices from the off comment on an evolution spinning out of control in fictive documentaries. For example: Metalosis Maligna (7'23'') is about a proliferation of implants that has developed a momentum of its own, spreads like a disease and eventually replaces the natural human body; The Origin of Creatures (12') shows a post-human world in which disparate body parts flock together into intelligent swarms over deserted cities. Kaayk presented the short films and his work on animated worlds oscillating between fiction and reality.


Jacob Kirkegaard
Sound and Video Presentation

Jacob Kirkegaard looks into the scientific and aesthetic aspects of resonance phenomena, which normally lie below the threshold of perception. In 2005, almost 20 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe, the Danish artist travelled to the former exclusion zone around the nuclear plant for his sound and video project Aion. The sound of deserted rooms were recorded and then played back into the rooms, and this was in turn recorded. This process was repeated ten times, on the visual level as well. Once layered, specific images and sounds of these rooms emerge, pervaded with overtones. Aion reflects changes in an area which even today is still haunted by an invisible und inaudible threat, right in the middle of a decaying relict of human civilization.


Zoe Laughlin
Lecture Performance

Saw, drill, cut, sew, enjoy – all that and more can be done with flesh, bones, skin and hair, and in her performance “Flesh” Zoe Laughlin invited the public to actually do it in practice. In Hamburg the English artist presented a new lecture performance that is once again a “celebration of materiality”. This time the focus was on substances that blur the differences between the living and the lifeless, the material and the immaterial. From bone implantations to synthetic skin, those materials taking centre stage enter into an intimate relationship to the body. The “wonder of the flesh” and the “brilliance of blood” also played a role. And as if in passing, the director of the “Institute of Making” brought the audience to completely rethink the connection between humans, medicine and culture.


Jae Rhim Lee
Lecture Performance

The visual artist and designer develops and articulates her works by analyzing social forms of denying death. Her “Infinity Burial Project” propagates a radically alternative approach to the dead body and furnishes ecological models of decomposing corpses for individual use. The method of “Corpse Decompiculture” cultivates mushrooms and other organisms which putrefy human tissue like ptomaine. Other key components of the presented project are a kit containing the necessary decomposition substances and self-designed burial suits with bio-activators. Lee is currently Research Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


Andy Miah

Transhumanism starts from the premise that human evolution is determined by a symbiotic relationship between nature and technology. The synthesis is becoming increasingly important because the human species has to prepare for the worsening poisoning of the earth and quite possible entertain the possibility of colonizing other planets. Andy Miah, director of the Creative Futures Research in Scotland, presents the foundations of transhumanism and demonstrates how humans are increasingly gearing their biology towards achieving perfection. The promises and dangers of creating perfect humans are a theme as are the new definitions of human nature formulated by science, technology and medicine. The logical consequences of this conditio posthumana would be eternal life and superhuman abilities.

Mark Ravenhill & Joachim Dinse

In the 1980s the diagnosis of “HIV positive” turned those concerned into characters of a fatal narrative. Within the next ten years their immune system would collapse, the end of which was death through AIDS. Many gave up their professions, planned their own funerals. In the mid-1990s medical advances then turned the fatal illness into a chronic one. Today there is thus a whole generation of HIV positive persons who never counted on having a future and have yet survived. For all those who had made peace with their fate this meant a new but also difficult outlook on life. All of a sudden they were “undead”. The dramatist Mark Ravenhill, HIV positive himself, and the psychotherapist Joachim Dinse discussed the concrete menace of death and the difficulty of shaping a narrative out of the “non event” of life with AIDS. They were joined by Bruce LaBruce.


Sandy Stone
Lecture Performance

The activist, artist, theoretician and performer Sandy Stone improvises on questions revolving around the relationship between the medical-technological modification of the body and mortality. Themes broached are the feasibility of gender and the presence of the eerie in technological worlds. Her autobiographical performance led us into the transgender world of the 1990s and the possible futures and presents of the cyborg.
In January 1922 a revolutionary manifesto was published in the Soviet government organ Izvestia in Moscow. The title: “The bio-cosmic poetic”. Revealing a utopian-saturated impatience, its authors proclaimed the dawn of a new epoch in human history: “We declare”, so their bold expectations, “that the question of achieving immortality is now fully on the agenda. The time has come to eliminate the inescapability of natural death.” A second, barely less modest goal envisaged by the bio-cosmologists was interplanetary space travel. And a third: the raising of the dead. Wit respect to space travel, at least one of these utopias has become reality, albeit not on a mass scale. With immortality and the raising the dead humanity has chronic difficulties.


Dorothee Wenner & Husseini Shaibu

Living in Bondage is generally considered the film that got the Nollywood film industry going 20 years ago. Driven by nothing but lust and greed, the protagonist transforms into an evil spirit – a plot that triggers a wave of ghost films which turns Lagos into the capital of the one the largest film-making nations in the world. The Nollywood specialists Wenner and Shaibu, both jury members for the African Movie Academy Awards, present through several examples the success story generated by the connection between traditional beliefs and modern media in Nigeria. Titles such as Haunted or Mad Ghostpromise insights into the classical Nollywood world of entertainment, whereas newer productions like The Figurine and Aramotu show how ghosts and spiritual forces take up the challenges of contemporary life.



Vinciane Despret


Humans have always found new ways to remain in contact with their dead: through images, films and books, but also in individual forms of grief which, instead of articulating regret, directly invoke the deceased. The psychologist and philosophy professor Vinciane Despret has explored the construction of this relationship in great detail. One formidable challenge she has encountered is to find a language which does not assign too great a degree of activity to either the living (as if the contact with the dead is solely a product of the imagination), or the dead (as if they exist autonomously). Orienting her field research on various artistic practices, she also tries to trace the spirits of the dead in novels, television series or by visiting spiritualists. The “life of the dead”, says Despret, changes and enriches – by enhancing reality – the life of the living.


Christopher Coenen & Michael Liss


Under the banner of synthetic biology (synbio), life sciences and biotechnology are preparing to not only alter life through technology but to also imitatively recreate it and indeed create it anew. Biology is to become an engineering science, the utilizable artefacts of which are to be developed through rational design. This development goes hand in hand with a broad ethical discussion on the governmental level, and nationally as well as internationally civil society groups are mobilizing opposition to synbio. But what does synbio actually change? Which concepts of life is it based on? Are its products to be thought of as “undead”? How do synbio visions relate to the future of artificial life as portrayed in pop cultural mediums? Michael Liss from the firm Gene Art / Life Technologies discussed these aspects with Christopher Coenen from the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis.


Julia Peiffer

During and after the First World War artificial limbs played a key role in masking the human cost of the war and integrating the wounded veterans back into working life. These repaired male bodies were excessively reported on and exhibited as part of a patriotic propaganda campaign highlighting what this technology can achieve. At the same time however, these bodies point to a paradox, for they also expose the very loss, the lack they are compensating. Focusing on body design in her research, the cultural theorist Julia Peiffer describes the prosthesis-repaired bodies of the 20th and 21st centuries as a notorious flashpoint: a projection surface for nationalist phantasms and a place where issues of normality, health and naturalness are discussed and disputed.


Hossein Solhdju & Katrin Solhdju

In December 1967 Christiaan Barnard completed the first heart transplant worldwide in Cape Town. In response, an ad-hoc commission at Harvard Medical School formulated the first definition of “brain death”. The hitherto definitive distinctions between life and death began to totter. Not only medical practitioners, but above all theologians and philosophers articulated questions which exerted a noticeable influence in hospitals and are still being controversially discussed today. Hossein Solhdju was anaesthetist at the first German heart transplant performed in Munich in 1968. The operation lasted over 24 hours and despite all efforts failed. Later the senior consultant of an intensive-care medicine unit, he discussed with his daughter, the cultural theorist Katrin Solhdju, whether brain death is a demonstrable fact or a bio-political assertion?


Jutta Brückner
Film and Installation

In 1973 Jutta Brückner shot a film about the life of her mother entitled Tue recht und scheue niemand. “You only know how you should live when it is over”, said the then 60 year old. Today she lives in a nursing home, suffers from Alzheimer’s and no longer recognizes her daughter. For a period of two years though her dementia was an existence on the threshold, a no-longer/not-yet that subverted the simple succession of life followed by death. An in-between realm of ghosts. The dissolution of boundaries which her mother practised at this time in her hallucinations was more akin with self-determination than much of what she had done in her life earlier, says Jutta Brückner today. In her presentation she reflected on the medium of film as a modern cemetery of images, which is simultaneously a medium of reincarnation.


Thomas Macho

In his Reflections on Sin, Suffering, Hope and the True Way Franz Kafka wrote: “Death confronts us not unlike the historical battle scene that hangs on the wall of the classroom. It is our task to obscure or fully obliterate the picture by our deeds while we are still in this world.” Whereas Martin Heidegger claimed that we could only be wholly ourselves in the “anticipation of death”, in “freedom unto death”, Kafka knew that in this “anticipation” – literally a “running-ahead-into” – we encounter an image. And he also knew that when observing the image or picture the task is to wrestle the freedom to live, and not accept some licence to suicide. Thomas Macho explores the cultural status and symbolic framing of acts of suicide in different cultures and historical epochs.


Joseph Vogl & Philipp Ekardt

Das Gespenst des Kapitals immediately suggests that when thinking about questions of a modern money economy we are regularly confronted with undead figures, indeed, that this thinking perhaps even spawns them. Following a critical revision of economics literature from the past three decades, the literary theorist demonstrates that finance economies have entered into an “earthly incessancy”. Perhaps then in a zombie-like state of undead life? How does the current finance-driven economy intervene in life as “vital policy”, where do the capital flows permeate the realm of the walking dead? In a discussion with the literary theorist Philipp Ekardt, Vogl told us of the spectres, the ghosts and the walking dead he came across in his readings and analyses of our present.


Drehli Robnik

A bouquet of brainless sound clips on the insistence of the undead beginning with Z in pop music since 1964 (long before Witch House and Zombie Rave). From The Zombies to Monochrome Set and Zombie Nation, from Roky Ericson and Georg Danzer through to the Tocotronic’s song “Tag der Toten”. The music zombie: at times levelling caustic eco-critique, at others standing emblematically on the kerb for those who don’t count, then staggers syncopated through swinging London or across the dance floor asserting that “sick is the new healthy”.


Andreas Zieger
Lecture and Discussion with Martina Keller

The bio-technological and medical definition of brain death as the criterion for death is so dominant that other perspectives are ignored. Doubts have been raised about this concept of death however – not least with respect to transplantation medicine which thanks to the brain death criterion can explant living organs. Human life cannot be exposed to the interpretative horizon of single lobby groups, demands Andreas Zieger, director of the Station for Severe Skull and Brain Damage at the Protestant Hospital in Oldenburg: instead of mechanistic objectifications, medicine should be concerned with searching for life in the presumed zones of death – such as the vegetative state – so as to restore a sense of value. Following an introduction, Prof. Dr. Zieger discussed such issues with Martina Keller, author of the book Ausgeschlachtet. Die menschliche Leiche als Rohstoff.


Evelyn Annuß
Zombie Theatre

In 1969, a year after the premiere of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and the boundary between life and death in biomedical discourse shifted, Elfriede Jelinek publishes her first undead text DER FREMDE!. Ever since, the work of the Austrian Nobel laureate is populated by pulp figurations of the afterlife who repeatedly point out questions concerning the historical and political conditions of our life form. It is in her plays in particular that Jelinek focuses on the life sciences and examines those medical measures which are today reconfiguring the relationship between creating-life and allowing-to-die. The drama scholar Evelyn Annuß described how theatre, from time immemorial a place of necromancy, is invoked in Jelinek’s work as a kind of “live” studies laboratory for bio-political self-understanding.


Georg Fülberth
Lecture and Discussion with Georg Seeßlen

According to Karl Marx, capitalism is a vampire who sucks the “last drops of blood” from out of “living” labour, turning it into “dead” labour. Dead labour enters the environment and society in various forms as waste, for instance as exploited raw materials or exhausted bodies. The accumulation of dead labour, beginning with the origins of civilization, has reached a hitherto unknown scale in capitalism. At the same time, more and more “objectified work” is invading humans: performance-enhancing technologies and substances, life-prolonging implants. But the increased biological life expectation does not exclude social death, emphasizes the political scientist Georg Fülberth, who following his lecture  discussed this theme with Georg Seeßlen.


Cornelius Borck
Toys are Us – Models of the human

The thesis that man is a machine has a long history. Technological innovations have always brought forth new theoretical models of what constitutes the human: the body runs like a clock and burns energy like a steam engine, nerves send signals like telegraph systems and a telephone exchange illustrates how the brain comes up with responses to stimuli of the senses. In the 20th century it was above all the computer that was declared to be both a replica of and prototype of man. This gave rise to a race between man and machine. Meanwhile humans have lost twice, first in 1997 as Deep Blue won a set of chess games against Garry Kasparov, and now again as the newer IBM computer Watson defeated its human opponents in the quiz show Jeopardy. Is the game over?


Oliver Tolmein
Lecture and Discussion with Beate Lakotta

In 1994 the Federal Court of Justice in Germany recognized for the first time that medically assisted dying covers not only active assistance but also the “passive aid” of letting someone die. Since then Germany has witnessed a legal mobilization against life in the state of extreme care dependency under the label of “strengthening the right of self-determination”, culminating in 2009 in a third law altering care and guardianship. Oliver Tolmein, a specialist in health care law and author of the book Keiner stirbt für sich allein, traced the development of patient rights. He then was joined by the journalist Beate Lakotta, who accompanied people in a hospice for 18 months for her book project Noch mal leben vor dem Tod, to discuss the difference between formal self-determination and actual autonomy.


Michi Knecht

Several procedures in assisted reproduction, for instance in-vitro fertilization, deep freeze “excess” early-stage embryos with a view to possibly implanting them later in uterus. Couples involved in reproduction medicine speak of “polar cubs”, “little Eskimos” or “snowflakes”. But what kind of relationships and constellations are developed and nurtured to these miniature embryos cryopreserved in nitrogen at a temperature of minus 196 degrees Celsius? Who or what decides whether they are seen as a potential child and sibling, as superfluous biological material, or precious raw material for research purposes? The ethnologist Michi Knecht, who studies kinship relations as representations of social order, probed the medical and everyday practices which determine the status of this “pro-life”.


Petra Gehring

We worry more about dying than death; death seems worth little today. In contrast, the end of life, the process of dying, has become a zone where economic value can be extracted through biotechnology. Since the 1960s the medical system has opened a number of options for accessing the dying body. In 1968 the brain death criterion allows organs to be removed from a still pulsing body after the cessation of cerebral activity; in Germany, it is permitted to cease artificial feeding since 1997. We are encouraged to plan our death and manage it with advance directives and burial insurance. But “patient autonomy” actually serves the interests of the “clinic business”. The policies formulated for dying are the darker side of a health system that is covertly rationalizing its services. Death is being supplanted by scenarios of a projected future dying that seems to be controllable and relieves the medical system of its responsibility.


Thomas Macho & Maja Falckenberg

Preventing or delaying death was long considered to the primary task of medicine. The nurse and physician Cicely Saunders initiated a reassessment of dying after the end of the Second World War. The pioneer of the hospice movement and palliative care sought to improve the physical, psychological, social and spiritual quality of life of patients. Palliative care takes a holistic approach to the process of dying. There are currently more than 300 palliative care units and residential hospices in Germany, which is nowhere enough to cover what is needed. The cultural theorist Thomas Macho and the palliative care physician Maja Falckenberg – “not-yet-dead” – discussed dying and the experience of death.


Roberto Rotondo

Per definitionem “brain dead” is supposed to be dead. According to transplantation laws, its dignity is not violated by explanting organs. Transplantation physicians tend to focus on the receivers and emphasize the life-saving aspect of organ donation. Hartmut Schmidt, director of the Polyclinic for Transplantation Medicine at Münster University Clinic, even goes so far to claim that liver cancer can “often be cured by a transplant”. Can transplants cure? How are organs explanted in a dignified way during an operation? How dead is a brain-dead person from the nursing viewpoint? What kinds of psychological strain are caused by transplantation medicine? The psychologist, supervisor and former nurse Roberto Rotondo presented for discussion reports from physicians and carers.


Max Andersson
Side Lecture

It has to be admitted that when reading Max Andersson’s comics such as Pixy and Container even the most open-minded reader asks from where on earth he gets his weird ideas. There are gold-breeding farms, life time-dealing, death turns out to be a friend of children and aborted foetuses take revenge on their parents – if need be with guns. So from where does the Swede get his ideas? Weary of being asked this question, he now answers it in a slide lecture. And calling on documentary evidence demonstrates that reality – just like art, film, literature and the Bible – is substantially weirder than his own stories. Along with countless visual examples, the audience could look forward to a clever and comical introduction to the language of comics, both mainstream and underground.


Hans Werner Ingensiep

The modern undead “vegetate” on the edge of a way of life and being that determines if society, the media and ethics concede them their existence. Starting from comments on the spectacular case of the American Terri Schiavo, who was in a persistent vegetative state from 1990 to her death in 2005, the bio-philosophical and bio-ethical dimensions of the “human vegetables” are presented. What are we to understand by the term “vegetate”? What value judgements are made and for what reasons? The biologist and philosopher Hans Werner Ingensiep sketches the classical philosophical positions from Aristotle, Kant, Nietzsche, Jonas and Levinas through to Singer. Drawing on his studies on the history of the anima vegetativa and synthetic borderline organisms, he analyses the “vegetative terminology” circulating in everyday and scientific language.


Drehli Robnik

The zombies who are currently staggering again though the cinema in great masses may be brainless, but they certainly know a thing or two. At least they seem to know that today that they are almost routinely seen as political symbols. In this respect it is worthwhile to take a look at the political range of visual logics discernible in zombie films. The Austrian film theorist Drehli Robnik promised a lecture that will be a “staggering course through apocalyptic invocations of producer sovereignty, imminent uprisings and ghostly dealings; through mass gatherings of public things, the community of immunity and the infection as affect”. The focus was on how they carry on staggering under the conditions of afterlife and post-democracy in zombie cinema and thus heads in the direction of Zombieland rather than Land of the Dead. Basically, the watchword is: don’t live again!


Karin Harrasser & Aino Korvensyrjä

The two curators present their “Museum of Undead Labour”, in planning for a long time and soon to be completed. The museum documents, analyzes and displays the transition from dead labour in the epoch of industrialization to undead labour in the era of post-Fordism. This process has many names: immaterialization, neo-colonialism, zombification. The exhibits are drawn from a range of sources, factories and artist studios, the medical branch and psycho techniques, film and cabaret, the past and the future. Visitors to the museum will be invited to stagger and stumble into the prehistory of their current physicality and subjectivity.


Petra Gehring

So threatening death is, so harmless – restful and promoting our health – is sleep. And yet sleep resembles death in many ways. We lose consciousness; we no longer respond when spoken to, we “leave” this world. It is not without reason that sleep has been termed “death’s little brother”, and Plato has Socrates formulate the thesis that the state of death resembles a long dreamless sleep. Is sleep a particular kind of an undead state? Why do we sleep in the first place? The lecture by the philosopher Petra Gehring casted light on the puzzling phenomenon of sleep and focused on the astounding ease that lets us live with sleep but fear death.


Klaus Theweleit

The dominant cultural principles of Eurasian humankind are the establishing of farming (seed selection) and the domestication of animals (selection of animals). The history of our development, so the cultural theorist Klaus Theweleit, is a process of artistry, connected with leaps made in the brain. The general rule is: all technology structures become bodily structures, become psychological structures. Segment, sequence…our very physicality is determined by this down to the present day. Microbiology, nuclear fission, digitalization, nano; the segments get ever smaller, the sequences extend their endlessness. In the predominant structure of our character we are functionalities of such splitting. Not shizo, but multifunctional. From the fragmented to the multiple person. Our cultural task in everyday life: to balance these splits, to switch smoothly from one state to another. The technologized split-off undead: very much alive.


Vinciane Despret & Katrin Solhdju

In her research on the diverse relations people maintain with their dead Vinciane Despret has decided to leave behind the basic rules of academic practice. She employs instead research strategies resembling those of the French artist Sophie Calle. She pursued every lead, read every book and looked at every film recommended to her. Often she only understood months later why someone had recommended precisely this work. In the process the psychologist and philosopher learned that the meaning or sense – at least in the field between the living and the deceased – does not open to explanation but is given, is a gift. Rather than explanations and interpretations other instruments and forms of communication needed to be explored here and these were discussed with the cultural theorist Katrin Solhdju.


Jörg Buttgereit & Marcus Stiglegger
A Film Discussion

A young woman leans against a wall asleep. Suddenly a hand grabs her shoulder. We are in a television studio and doom is in full swing. Dead Americans have arisen out of their graves and pounce on the living. These are the opening images from George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), a film that elevated the cannibalistic undead to an icon like no other work of popular culture. It was a long way from the apathetic voodoo zombie to the animalistic-bloodthirsty undead of our times, but the links are manifold and reveal an inner logic. Zombie films always mirror the age in which they are created. The arthouse horror film director Jörg Buttgereit and the film theorist Marcus Stiglegger presented the living dead as contemporary political, social and satirical metaphors.


Christiane Voss

The effect the dead have on the living is not only spiritual but the material effect the dead have on our lifeworld is traceable. The whole system of service providers involved with death ensues from it, from the transportation of corpses to the techniques, machines and vehicles employed in their recovery, through to their clothing and packaging. With the notion of piety a sense of duty towards the faded personhood and intellectual of corpses is shown, one in which devoutness paradoxically merges with mercantile interests. The media philosopher Christiane Voss showed a section from her film Endlich, which documents modern cremation practices and reflects upon our perplexed helplessness in the face of death, a negative superior force that structurally eludes any definition.


Thomas Meinecke & Ekkehard Ehlers
Theory and Entertainment

Turntable is an event regularly staged in Berlin’s HAU where the musician and author Thomas Meinecke is joined by different guests to play music and discuss styles and attitudes. Together they chat, ruminate and discuss the music, the covers and any associated themes that pop up. For the congress Meinecke was joined by the composer, musician and DJ Ekkehard Ehlers to embark together on field research moving between ethnography and clubbing, Haitian field recordings, Brazilian Candomblé recordings and Nuyorican house music – the undead in club & cult. And Claude Vivier was also played. In Thomas Meinecke’s novel Lookalikes, to be published in autumn in Suhrkamp, a character named Thomas says: “The Candomblé religion is literally based, like a house club, architecturally on music. Rhythms serve as supporting elements, as pillars of a temporary social space. (When they fall silent, then it’s all over)”.