How Can Art Help Our Ailing World? A lecture by Gayatri Spivak


From 16 April 2019




Garage Auditorium
How Can Art Help Our Ailing World? A lecture by Gayatri Spivak How Can Art Help Our Ailing World? A lecture by Gayatri Spivak


Rasheed Araeen and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak have been partners in the same struggle for many decades, although her name is spectacularly absent, until now, in considerations of Araeen's work. 

The first part of the lecture will be a commentary on Araeen’s trajectory as an artist through the years: through the unconditionality of symmetry, the abstraction of Eurocentric modernism, and the concrete conditionality of global violence to the robust (im)possibility of autobiotextuality in Homecoming.  The second part will open up into a consideration of how the intellectual can supplement activist art by trying to expand the gender/race/class constitution of subjects who can resonate with “art” for imaginative activism.  How might this effort relate to (a) “national” arts in globality and (b) art as investment?  In order to expand the focus of art in the production of the will to social justice, Spivak’s work over the last forty years has inevitably turned to the largest sector of the electorate on the Tricontinent, Araeen's "Third World," without the diasporic. This sector, representing democracy as a body count of votes, can be called “subaltern” by expanding only slightly Antonio Gramsci’s definition, “small groups on the fringes of history.” And the subaltern is ungeneralizable, therefore work done on it has to “supplement.” The lecture will dwell on the specificities of Spivak’s use of the word “supplement,” since it describes the new intellectuals mentioned, the globality of “art”, as well as, one hopes, the circuit of art as investment. 


Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.  She has a first class B.A. (English Honors) from the University of Calcutta (1959) and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Cornell University (1967).  She is the chief trainer and teacher at five elementary schools on the border of Birbhum and Jharkhand and promotes ecological agriculture in this general area.  She is engaged in activism critical of Development in Africa.  Her books are Myself Must I Remake (1974), Of Grammatologie (1976; translation with critical introduction of Derrida’s De la grammatologie), In Other Worlds (1987), Outside in the Teaching Machine (1993), A Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999), Other Asias (2003), An Aesthetic Education (2013), and Readings (2014).  Spivak has been awarded the Kyoto Prize (2012) and the Padma Bhushan (2013).  She holds twelve honorary doctorates.  “Can the Subaltern Speak?” has become a worldwide classic.  She is on the experts list of the World Economic Forum.

how to take part

Free admission with advance registration.

The lecture will be in English with simultaneous translation to Russian.

The lecture is accessible for deaf and hard of hearing visitors, as there will be simultaneous translation to Russian Sign Language.