Borrowed from Lacan and applied to politics instead of psychoanalysis, Slavoy Zizek's defines the concept of overidentification as taking 'the system more seriously than it takes itself seriously'.

Overidentification seems to belong somewhere on the spectrum of parody, satire, sarcasm, irony and pastiche, but unlike these other distancing mechanisms deliberately obscures any clear lines between two systems of knowledge. Overidentification finds logical paradoxes within the system rather than imposing an external logic or ethic upon it to reveal its flaws.
At the same time, within a system that is defined by its supreme tolerance of resistance, privileging of the surface, acceptance of contradiction and absorbency towards critique, can pointing to internal paradoxes and repressions be an effective means of opposition that goes beyond irony, or does overidentification require totalitarianism, censorship and repression to work? Using the writing of Kierkegaard, Rorty, De Man and Zizek we will look at the various uses of irony and overidentification and interrogate their usefulness for the problems of contemporary art production.

Over four sessions running throughout the academic year, the 'Irony and Over-Identification' research strand will explore the political currency irony and overidentification in relation to the basis of critique in ideals of truth and strategies of exposing and revealing.

Questions addressed in this strand include: Can irony still be used as a meaningful artistic and political device when its rhetoric is appropriated by the language of late capitalism? Does the ironic gap between a private and public voice, between what is said and what is generally understood necessarily entail a position of passivity and can we critique a system which relies on irony without ourselves being ironic? Can we find a mode of irony which does not assume a double audience and hence a privileged sphere of knowledge?

1. Reading:
Soren Kierkegaard - The Concept of Irony'Introduction' and 'For Orientation' section in Part Two, 'Irony as a Mastered Moment: The 'truth of Irony".

2. Speakers:
Alexei Monroe (Interrogation Machine: Laibach and NSK, MIT 2005; pluralmachine.blogspot.com/)
Steve Klee (PhD, Art, Goldsmiths)