I’m collaborating with Anthony Graves on leading a seminar for SOMA Summer in Mexico City, looking at the appropriate theme of Authority, and focusing on issues of authorship, control, and the fictional institution.
Monday August 07
4:00 to 7:00 pm – Seminar with Anthony Graves and Lauren Haaften-Schick
Authority: In his infamous inquiry into “What is an author?” (1969) Michel Foucault defined the “author function” as linked to the “juridical and institutional system that encompasses, determines, and articulates the universe of discourses.” In this conception, the author’s name and signature circulates not with the purpose of promoting the free spread of ideas and texts, but rather, is symptomatic of a total system of assignation, which is capable of rendering the author visible within (and therefore vulnerable to) a juridical and institutional system. In this notion, the historical and cultural construction of the “author” operates to engender that subject’s subsumption under a system of power relations; a system self-validated or upheld by the specter of legal and institutional authority. But might the tools and techniques of the juridical and the institutional be re-scripted towards unanticipated, even emancipatory ends, thereby performing a reversal of the “author function” and the systems of control it enacts? This seminar will consider the foundations of authority in its material supports—exemplified in the language of the document—and the artistic re-authoring of legal and institutional forms. We will proceed from Foucault’s critical framing of the author function, J.L. Austin’s speech-act theory, and criticisms by Derrida, and will expand to artists’ writings and “documents” in order to consider just how and where sites and positions of authority may (or may not) be claimed.