Having for the most part abandoned any coherent sense of political programme, critical practices now position themselves in relation to - or avoidance of - power, authority, etc on a contingent basis. More overtly political practices seek to expose a pragmatics of power without resolution, destruction or revalidation. In any case, the avoidance of 'closure' is a political proposal taught by a generation of political theory wary of the disasters of mid-twentieth century dictatorships sometimes under the name of a 'post-foundational' philosophy or critique.

This denial of the identifications that could firm up a foundational politics has been allied to a wariness of the image as in itself a form of closure, such as in prevailing theories of the spectacle. This has led to a theoretical and artistic crisis of the image as central to dominant power yet incapable of transforming it. Such a perceived crisis affects the received operations of representationalism, realism and rationalism in that the defining feature of radical or critical practices has turned to non-teleological, anti-schematic operations that celebrate eventhood and finitude as a condition of politics.

That is, contemporary formations of critique are contingent through and through: they are only occasional and dependent on the operating conditions in which they take place and which they seek to expose. The prevalence of contingency as a condition for critique – not least for a diversity of arts practices that privilege the local, the specific and material or social processes - make it increasingly urgent to reconsider the assertions of critique in relation to power now.

Our guiding questions are: How is this contingency to be understood when it cannot be secured in terms of a larger ambition? What are its politics? What political formation - if any - arises in its wake? If contingency cannot be programmed can it be schematized or even comprehended as such? Can power be schematised without denying contingency's exacting demand? Without cause, programme, destination or fate, what if contingency as a condition of politics is absolute?

In Part One we examine arguments from the European philosophical tradition. In Part Two we will examine arguments from the Anglophone-liberal tradition. Specific reference will be made to contemporary art and other cultural production throughout.

Meetings 6-9pm in Curating Space, Laurie Grove Baths, Goldsmiths. (unless otherwise stated)

Tuesday 10 Feb
Quentin Meillassoux 'TIme Without Becoming' (introduced by Amanda Beech and Suhail Malik)

Tuesday 10 March *[NB - 6.30 start] *- VI Lenin 'Materialism and Empirio-criticism'
(Chapters One and Four), excerpts available here

Mon 18th May, 6pm-9pm
Althusser: The Contingency of the Encounter as Political Condition
- 'the underground current of the materialism of the encounter' from "philosophy of the encounter', verso, 2007, pp.163-207 (details for distribution tba)
- for an overview/review of althusser's thinking see: www.borderlands.net.au/vol4no2_2005/morfino_lexicon.htm

Card Room Chelsea College of Art
16 John Islip Sreet (opposite Tate Britain's Manton Entrance)
nearest tube - Pimlico http://www.chelsea.arts.ac.uk/location.htm

we will meet at the reception/canteen area Block A just before 6pm

Weds 17 June 6-9pm
Badiou: The Contingency of the Event - with Bruno Besana (tbc)

texts: tba

venue: Curating Space
Laurie Grove Baths, Lewisham Way
SE14 6NW

meet in Loafers, Goldsmiths at 5.45

All queries to: s.malik@gold.ac.uk