Ambivalence as part of "Actions, Conversations, Intersections"

Every Sunday in February from 3-5pm

The Public School is a part of Actions, Conversations, Intersections, "an exhibition of participatory projects" at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, which runs from January 24 - April 18, 2010. Our involvement begins this Sunday, February 7th at 3pm, so we hope you'll come out!



Our course on "ambivalence" will be meeting simultaneously in two places - the Municipal Art Gallery (the site of the Actions, Conversations, and Intersections exhibition) and Telic Arts Exchange (where The Public School regularly holds classes). Each group will be able to see and hear the other through a commonplace video conference call (Skype, iChat, etc.). Teachers, speakers, and other guest presenters will go to whichever location seems more appealing that day and no one will be informed of their decision until the last minute.

We often wonder what happens when participatory art projects are brought into the gallery, particularly when they already regularly function without an exhibition space. This question is amplified when the project and exhibition are in the same city. Does the project migrate to the exhibition, leaving its "normal" site closed? Does it announce itself as nomadic, settling temporarily in exhibition space after residency after biennial? Does it produce an exhibitable double of itself to accommodate the requirements of the gallery? Does it refuse any mutation or compromise in order to preserve its singular authenticity?



This course will (maybe) explore different concepts and theories of ambivalence, typically defined as "simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action;" "continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite);" and "uncertainty as to which approach to follow."

In addition to researching and reading what various contemporary thinkers have to say about ambivalence, we will also attempt to debate the relative pros and cons of ambivalence as a state/position/strategy. What is dangerous, or, alternately, enchanting, about ambivalence? How might we theorize an ethics of uncertainty?

Readings will include excerpts from USC professor Karen Pinkus' new book on alchemy and ambivalence, as well as selections from psychoanalytic, queer, trans and other works relevant to the topic. Suggestions encouraged!

This class will be led by Sarah Kessler and others.


the first class:


- How might we define ambivalence (what does ambivalence seem to signify)?

- Is ambivalence an affect? An intellectual state? An ambiance? A process?

- In what ways is ambivalence represented?

Reading: Karen Pinkus, “Excursus: Ambivalence,” from Alchemical Mercury: A Theory of Ambivalence. Possible second reading: Judith Butler, "Ethical Ambivalence," in The Turn to Ethics.

Also: Please, if you like, bring various definitions/representations of ambivalence to class (textual excerpts, images, video clips, etc.) for group discussion.





Actions, Conversations, Intersections invite