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5 Regime des Visuellen | LVA: 264.097 | WHOSE IS THE CAPITAL, ANYWAY?

Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project's Demolition 1972 (credit: U.S. Department of Housing, public license)


LVA: 264.097, Regime des Visuellen VU 2,0h/2,5ECTS

Time: Mondays, 10-14h

Location: Institut für Kunst und Gestaltung, Karlsgasse 11, Hochparterre - Seminarraum 2, A-1040 Wien 

Die Lehrveranstaltung wird in englischer Sprache abgehalten. / This course will be held in English.


Cycles of Building Capital and Undoing Capitalism

The course Whose is the Capital, Anyway? will focus on different critical theoretical discussions and representations of the concept of building capital in art, architecture, visual culture and urban space. The main question from the title will be complemented by the questions about different existing concepts of access to common wealth and capital and about the problems with its distribution and redistribution.
The seminars and workshops will address the current contradictions of the cycles in capitalism and will look at the resistances to the dominant capitalist mode of production and reproduction in relevant historic and recent activist movements. Different sessions will offer a space for cross-disciplinary enquiry that will start from various theoretical and critical traditions (e.g. Frankfurt critical theory, post-Marxist, postcolonial, Italian autonomists, etc.) that positioned themselves counter the dominant capitalist mode of production of capital and the reproduction of human labour. Each of the individual sessions will use some of the basic Marxist concepts (e.g. use and exchange value, surplus, property, base and superstructure, et.) that are topical for understanding the contradictions between the means, forces, relations and modes of production, building, distributing and redistributing of the capital. Ultimately the main aim will be to unravel the complexities and contradictions of the general division between material and symbolic, immaterial capital and its different kinds: aspirational, socio-cultural, linguistic, navigational, familial and resistant capital and how they relate with financial and cognitive capitalism. The inner contradictions of reproduction and distribution of capital in communist, capitalist, transitional economic models and the resistant activist movements towards globalisation, unequal development, “accumulation with dispossession”, exploitation of human reproduction and gender inequality, anti-Semitic and other racial stereotypes related to imperialism, will be discussed through looking at different theoretical texts, art works, documentaries and feature films. The seminar discussions will also try to encompass the potentials of the historic and more recent attempts for alternative economies and modes of production and reproduction of common cultural wealth and community capital and to provoke the students to explore the potentials of the social resistant movements for undoing capitalism.



13 October, 10:00-14:00, Prof. Dr. Suzana Milevska

Penelope’s Web: Cycles and Contradictions in Capitalism

The introductory session will map various traditions and concepts of representation of cycles of developing capital and crisis in capitalism as they are addressed in theory, art and visual culture. The example of the demolition of the St. Louis's Pruitt-Igoe high-rise development housing project in 1972, arguably the most infamous public housing project ever built in the United States, will be referred to as a kind of metaphor of the capitalist cycles of rise and failure of building capital (only a few years after Pruitt-Igoe’s completion in 1956, rising disrepair, vandalism, and crime plagued this product of the postwar federal US public-housing program). Additionally presentations of examples of various work-refusal concepts and non-money based societies will be presented as capitalism-resisting projects in order to prepare the students for their assignment. The second half of the session will be reserved for introduction and preparation of the students for the group projects’ workshop: REDISTRIBUTION: Building Capital beyond Capitalism

  • You will receive the first sessions presentation via email / please ask if you're not on the list


20 October, 10:00-14:00, Prof. Dr. Suzana Milevska

Commoning: Access to Surplus Value, Public Spaces and other Common Resources            

This session will address the various hierarchies and levels of access to surplus value, resources, common wealth and capital depending on class, gender and race in different cultures. The main question that will be addressed is how surplus value is produced and who has the right to its use and ownership. 

The session will include watching clips from a few feature and documentary films (tbc) and on close reading of two texts:

  • David Harvey’s prologue to his book Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism (London: Profile Books, 2014), pp. 9-14. WEB-LINK (pdf)
  • George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici, “Commons Against and Beyond Capitalism”, Upping the Anti, Journal of Theory and Action, Issue 15 (September), pp. 83-91. WEB-LINK to the original publisher (Update: Full text web-link

27 October, 10:00-14:00, Prof. Dr. Suzana Milevska


The workshop is going to invite short individual or group presentations. The students will be expected to prepare visual presentations of various cases of either historic or more recent attempts for different economic models of community based production, building, sharing and distribution of common wealth. 

The main aim of the workshop REDISTRIBUTION: Building Capital beyond Capitalism is the preparation for the group projects – the students’ group assignments for evaluation that will need to propose an imaginary community based self-sustainable project that would try to operate outside of the existing frame of capitalist system of exploitation of human labour and inequality and would address some urgent issue dealing with common need and lack of access and sharing different resources. The main aim of the assignment is to provoke the students to discuss and challenge the propositions for different economies and modes of building capital.


3 November, 10:00-14:00, Eduard Freudmann

Self-Organization and Collectivity

The session will be entirely practice oriented aiming at forming one or more collectives that serve as a basis for working on the subsequent sessions. We will think about the pros and cons of individual and collective production processes and discuss about different modes of self-organisation and decision-making against the background of hierarchies and how to challenge them. Eventually we will come up with one or more frameworks for shaping collective production processes for the student projects. 


10 November, 10:00-14:00, Eduard Freudmann

„The Forms of Capital“

A close reading session and discussion of “The Forms of Capital” by Pierre Bourdieu (German: “Ökonomisches Kapital, kulturelles Kapital, soziales Kapital”) with a specific focus on the practice of contemporary artists and architects. Can the text be related to collective production processes in general and to our student projects in particular?


17 November, 10:00-14:00, Eduard Freudmann

Workshop: Collective Production

The last session will be an opportunity to present and discuss the first drafts of the student projects and to reflect on how self-organization and collectivity had functioned as a basis for their production. 


16 December, afternoon

Exam-presentation of the group projects