School of Art, Media, and Technology

Dictionary of the Possible – RESPOND at Smack Mellon, February 07

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Dictionary of the Possible

Over the course of a year SHIFTER, in collaboration with Avi Alpert, is hosting a series of public discussions, each concentrated on unraveling a keyword – a term that carries with it both a sense of urgency and agency in our present climate. By inviting artists, writers, activists and philosophers to propose terms and lead discussions, we have opened up our editorial process to the motivations of others.

In conjunction with the exhibition RESPOND at Smack Mellon, Shifter’s 7th meeting will focus on the hybrid term “Non/Violence.” Discussion leaders Avi Alpert, Arlen Austin, Jason Boughton, and Molly Dilworth will help lead a collective discussion on the question of political violence, and what the meaning and purpose is of nonviolent activity in the face of state repression. We are particularly concerned to provide an opportunity to reflect on the often hardened positions against or in favor of reactive violence in today’s political context. It is often the case today that while many support a political framework of “nonviolence,” few have stopped to unpack the logic by which they have come to this position. Equally, those who support violence do not always pause to consider how their means relate to their political ends. This public presentation and conversation will enable a collective reflection on our positions at this crucial political juncture.

The format of these discussions is central to the project. We do not use the standard mode of lecture or presentation. Rather, we invite two speakers to prepare brief remarks of around 10-15 minutes around the chosen term and pose critical questions for all those present. The conversation is immediately opened up for all. The purpose of the short readings recommended by the discussion leaders is to help stimulate ideas and discussion.

The yearlong series will culminate in SHIFTER’s 22nd issue Dictionary of the Possible. This dictionary will catalog the many keywords taken up for discussion, accompanied by a list of questions provoked during each discussion. Rather than providing static definitions we envision a dictionary that continually incites discussion.


Discussion Leaders:
Avi Alpert
Arlen Austin
Jason Boughton
Molly Dilworth


Saturday, February 7, 2014
3-6 pm

Smack Mellon
92 Plymouth Street at Washington
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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