THESES ON HOPE
An ongoing series by Between Bridges curated by Viktor Neumann
Between Bridges is devoting the opening programme of its new exhibition space at Adalbertstraße 43 to THESES ON HOPE. This ongoing series runs since July 2022.
THESES ON HOPE starts from a reimagining of the politics, poetics and performative potential of hope, as it was conceived by performance studies scholar José Esteban Muñoz (1967–2013) in his seminal Cruising Utopia (2009). The programme acknowledges the book’s profound impact on a generation of artists and thinkers as a catalyst for a queer-of-colour critique and affect theory. In doing so, it embraces a new relation between queerness and temporality, one which seeks sociability and belonging beyond the limitations of time.
In Cruising Utopia, Muñoz orbits around a critical reading of Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch’s expansive treatise The Principle of Hope (1938–47), which established concrete utopias as a productive figure of thought. Connected with historically situated struggles, such utopias provide the stage on which to perform a future so as to deal with a devastating present. While expanding the Blochian concept of art’s anticipatory potential to illuminate the not-yet-conscious, Muñoz reintroduces hope as both a critical affect and methodology with which to tackle a climate of political pessimism. He persistently emphasizes the role the aesthetic (and particularly the queer aesthetic) can play, as it dreams of roadmaps for a forward-dawning futurity as a viscerally felt necessity to cope with the bleakness of the everyday. In this light, the scholar’s feeling utopia is a future-oriented practice and ethics, one which counters a regressive present by insisting on the possibility of another world.
More than a decade after the publication of Cruising Utopia, and amidst another devastating present, the series starts from several questions: How do we rethink and re-enact the political and social dimensions of hope? How do we articulate and show hope? How do we once again set the stage to perform hope?
Conceptually and poetically, the programme is indebted to theorist Hypatia Vourloumis’s Ten Theses on Touch, or, Writing Touch (2015) – which she, in turn, dedicated to Muñoz. Vourloumis employs theses in their musical and haptic sense, as a “conducted downward stroke […] a compositional makeup of material, affective, spatial, temporal, contingent impingements and multiplicities” that reverberate in series (1). Separate – but even louder in nearness and togetherness as a result – they welcome practices and languages from different times, spaces, aesthetics and ethics.
In this spirit, THESES ON HOPE unfolds symphonically through myriad theses: these might take the form of exhibitions, conversations, performances, neighbourhood events, reading groups, printed matter, and more. It will provide an infrastructure for insistent questioning and searching, for proposing and rehearsing, for additive and process-driven formats. Above all, it welcomes practices that are engaged with past and present struggles, and emancipatory movements near and far; that long for proximity and affinity with peers across space and time; that give a platform to a “mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the presents” (2); and that provide glimpses of another world.
1 Hypatia Vourloumis, “Ten Theses on Touch, or, Writing Touch,” Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, accessed July 3, 2022
2 José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York and London: New York University Press, 2009), 1.