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Wednesday, January 24 2018 since 1997 Winter Semester 2017/2018
FOTOS: Jennifer Walshe + Georges Didi-Huberman + Ulrich Peltzer + Barbara Naumann + Peter Geimer


Next Lecture: January 11th, 2018, 19 c.t. with Jennifer Walshe: "Never Ending. Reimagining the Musical History of Ireland


Jennifer Walshe:

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Previous Guests

These speakers visited Humboldt-University in order to be guest of the Mosse-Lectures.

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non finito. unfinished. unfertig.

Vanishing Lines of the Creative in the Arts, Literature, Media, and Scientific Theory”

“To complete a work means to kill it.” Manifestos of modern art have their center of energy in such sayings. The non finito – the idea of a work not to be completed – has fascinated artists since the Renaissance. The prospective design of Leonardo’s work acknowledges prescienza: the provisional and unfinished nature of creative work. In modernity process becomes dominant, thus emphasizing the genetic production of texts and images, all the way to the dissolution of the medium of representation itself. The scandal of the unfinished – the sheer impossibility to reproduce and surpass living nature in a work of art – erupts in Balzac’s “Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu”, published in 1830. The impossibility to fully materialize the artist’s vision can further be traced in the concept of aesthetic autonomy as it leads to modernist abstraction. In literature, too, we can observe how the original concept of the work as a whole is revised, when Deleuze states retrospectively: “writing is a thing of becoming, always unfinished, always in the making.” Valéry has noted that “by necessity, the work can never be completed”; the writer thus “gains a means to destroy it and make it anew.” Kafka’s narrative world is shaped by a permanent deferral in time and space; it ‘consumes’ itself in its modes of iteration, seriality, and supplementation. In his “Opera aperta” of 1962, canonical by now in literature, literary criticism and art studies, Umberto Eco has questioned the paradigms of authorship and the work as a whole, though still accepting them as an inevitable frame of reference. As the visual arts renounce the finality of the creative process, energies are set free to deal with materiality differently: the cross media experiments of overpainting and superimposing. In their experiments of extending, supplementing and revising the musical material, composers have dismissed the previous validity of completion. In recent times, software supported computer art has explored new ways of unlimited. Since the nineties, the theory of science, creatively inspired by art and literature, has privileged so called “experimental cultures”, where the notion of the unfinished is front and center. This set of Mosse-Lectures will review the past history of the non finito, and search for marks and signs of the unfinished in present day cultural production. We hope to trace and probe the creative energies of this configuration in practical artistic work and in theory. 

The MOSSE-LECTURES at the Humboldt University in Berlin are a cooperation of:


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Mosse Almanach 2017. Berlin, 2017

Elisabeth Wagner (Hrsg.)

Summarizes and documents the scientific and public activity of the Mosse-Lectures with over 170 lectures in twenty years.

Konversionen. Berlin, 2016

Ulrike Vedder, Elisabeth Wagner (Hrsg.)

Contributors Sarah Stroumsa, Stefan Weidner, Christoph Peters, Klaus Briegleb, Thomas Macho, Eric Porath, Hans Joas and Stephen Greenblatt. Illustrations by James Turell.

Literarische Nachbarschaften. Berlin, 2016

Lothar Müller, Klaus R. Scherpe (Hrsg.)

Contributors Brigitte Kronauer, Reinhard Jirgl, Lutz Seiler, Colm Toibin, and Vladimir Sorokin, commented by Lothar Müller und Klaus Scherpe.

Europa in anderen Kulturen. Berlin, 2015

Klaus R. Scherpe, Elisabeth Wagner (Hrsg.)

Contributors Sebastian Conrad, Dan Diner, Wang Hui, Andreas Huyssen, William Kentridge, Jürgen Osterhammel, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Elisabeth Wagner and Georg Witte.

Staatsbürgerschaft. Berlin, 2012

Klaus R. Scherpe, Elisabeth Wagner (Hrsg.)

Contributors Étienne Balibar, Norbert Lammert, Philip D. Murphy, Dieter Gosewinkel, Ayelet Shachar, Samantha Besson, Aaron Ezrahi, Moshe Zimmermann, Anja Streiter, Guillermo Kuitca, commented by Elisabeth Wagner.

Korruption. Berlin, 2011

Elisabeth Wagner, Burkhardt Wolf (Hrsg.)

Contributors Maria Eichhorn, Stephan A. Jansen, Herfried Münkler, Ivan Krastev, Susan Rose-Ackerman, Johann Graf Lambsdorff, Gunter Gebauer, Ines Geipel and Wolfgang Schild.

VerWertungen von Vergangenheit. Berlin, 2009

Elisabeth Wagner, Burkhardt Wolf (Hrsg.)

Contributors Elena Esposito, Harun Farocki, Andreas Huyssen, Anselm Kiefer, Christoph Ransmayr, Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler (†) and Elisabeth Wagner.

Odyssen. Berlin, 2008

Elisabeth Wagner, Burkhardt Wolf (Hrsg.)

Contributors: Walter Burkert, Piero Boitani, Klaus Reichert, Friedrich Kittler, Elisabeth Wagner and Burkhardt Wolf.

Kontinent Kafka. Berlin, 2005

Klaus R. Scherpe, Elisabeth Wagner (Hrsg.)

Contributors: Walter H. Sokel, Elizabeth Boa, Gerhard Neumann, Detlef Kremer, Joseph Vogl, Klaus R. Scherpe, Benno Wagner, Elisabeth Wagner and Burkhardt Wolf

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