unitednationsplaza: The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster


unitednationsplaza is pleased to present a seminar organized by Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic: The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster

Wedensday, January 31st through Monday, February 12th, 2007
All sessions will take place from 7- 9 PM.

All are welcome. Admission is free but space is limited. To secure a seat, please register in advance. For further information, please contact Magdalena Magiera:

Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a
Berlin 10249 Germany
T. 49 (0)30 700 89 0 90
F. 49 (0)30 700 89 0 85

Led by Walid Raad and Jalal Toufic, this seminar will explore Toufic’s concept of the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster, which he first advanced in Over-Sensitivity (1996) and then elaborated further in Forthcoming (2000). To detect this withdrawal, whether symptomatically or otherwise, one is well advised to look for it in messianic movements as well as in artistic and literary works: “With regard to the surpassing disaster, art acts like the mirror in vampire films: it reveals the withdrawal of what we think is still there. ‘You have seen nothing in Hiroshima’ [Hiroshima mon amour]. Does this entail that one should not record? No. One should record this ‘nothing,’ which only after the resurrection can be available.” We will ask if and how one can record this “nothing,” as well as how to contribute to the resurrection of the withdrawn tradition – without this resurrection tradition becomes a counterfeit of itself. The seminar will consist of a series of close readings of Toufic’s writings, to be complemented by screenings, and other presentations by invited writers, artists, and filmmakers whose works deal, directly or indirectly, with the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster, the counterfeit, and the resurrection of art and tradition.

The seminar will include a special presentation by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.

Suggested books and texts
Jorge Luis Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” Collected Fictions, trans. Andrew Hurley, New York: Viking, 1998, pp. 88-95
Lynn Gumpert, Christian Boltanski, Paris: Flammarion, 1994
András J. Riedlmayer (principal Investigator), “Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992-1996: A Post-war Survey of Selected Municipalities,” 2002 download available at http://www.savingantiquities.org/pdf/BosHeritageReport-AR.pdf
Andras Riedlmayer, “Libraries Are Not for Burning: International Librarianship and the Recovery of the Destroyed Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina” download available at http://forge.fh-potsdam.de/~IFLA/INSPEL/61-riea.htm
Jalal Toufic, “Credits Included,” Over-Sensitivity, Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1996
Jalal Toufic, “Forthcoming,” Forthcoming, Berkeley, CA: Atelos, 2000
Jalal Toufic, Distracted, 2nd ed., Berkeley, CA: Tuumba Press, 2003, pp. 82-92

Andrei Tarkovsky, The Sacrifice, 1986
Andrei Tarkovsky, Michael Leszczylowski, 1988
Chris Marker, La Jetée, 1962
F. W. Murnau, Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror, 1922
Werner Herzog, Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979; Lessons of Darkness, 1992
Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour, 1959, script by Marguerite Duras
Jean-Luc Godard, King Lear, 1987; Passion, 1982; and Histoire(s) du cinema
Akira Kurosawa, Dreams, 1990


Walid Raad grew up in Lebanon and now lives and works in the U.S. His works include textual analysis and video and photography projects, and concentrate on the Lebanese civil wars, the Arab-Israeli conflicts, and documentary theory and practice. His videoworks include Up To The South (with Jayce Salloum), and the recently completed collection of video shorts titled, The Dead Weight of Quarrel Hangs. His photography projects include The Beirut Archive – an ongoing documentary photography project of post-civil war Beirut. Walid is also a member of the Arab Image Foundation, started in 1996 to promote historical research of the visual culture of the Arab world, and to promote experimental video production in the region.

Jalal Toufic is the author of Distracted (1991; 2nd ed., 2003), (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film (1993; 2nd ed., 2003), Over-Sensitivity (1996), Forthcoming (2000), Undying Love, or Love Dies (2002), Two or Three Things I’m Dying to Tell You (Post-Apollo, 2005), and ‘Ashura’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins (Forthcoming Books, 2005). His videos and mixed-media works have been presented internationally, in such venues as Artists Space in New York; Witte de With in Rotterdam; Fundaci- Antoni Tapies in Barcelona; and the 16th International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) in a “Focus Jalal Toufic” program. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, California Institute of the Arts, USC, and, in Amsterdam, DasArts and the Rijksakademie.

unitednationsplaza is exhibition as school. Structured as a seminar/residency program in the city of Berlin, it will involve collaboration with approximately 60 artists, writers, theorists and a wide range of audiences for a period of one year. In the tradition of Free Universities, most of its events are open to all those interested to take part. unitednationsplaza is organized by Anton Vidokle in collaboration with Liam Gillick, Boris Groys, Martha Rosler, Walid Raad, Jalal Toufic, Nikolaus Hirsch, Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Tirdad Zolghadr.

unitednationsplaza is made possible with generous support by e-flux and the Ford Foundation.

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