Leonhard Emmerling - "The Art of Diremption" - Dieter Roelstraete

Wednesday, September 13, 2023 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Leonhard Emmerling

Leonhard Emmerling will discuss The Art of Diremption: On The Powerlessness of Art. He will be joined in conversation by Dieter RoelstraeteA Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

This event will be held in person at The Seminary Co-op.


About the book: One of the most astonishing aspects of the discourse on contemporary art is the firm and unwavering belief that art has the power to transform society for the better. But as art historian Leonhard Emmerling contends in this timely volume, this presumptuous heroism shows willful blindness towards art’s subjugation to contradictions inherent in social relations. He argues that the narrative of the power of art has its specific history. In trying to reconstruct this history in Art of Diremption, he discovers instead art’s fundamental powerlessness as the foundation for art’s political relevance. Art is weak, argues Emmerling. It, therefore, requires an ethics of weakness, which rejects the discourse of impact and power to enable a politics of art containing the permanence of reflection, the unreliability of thought, and the emergence of form as the event of the new.

About the author: Leonhard Emmerling is a writer, curator and teacher. He currently serves as the director of the Goethe-Institut Chicago. He used to work as a curator in several institutions in Germany before taking up the position of the director of ST Paul St Gallery, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. In 2009 he served as the curator of the New Zealand Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennial.

About the interlocutor: Dieter Roelstraete is curator of the Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago. He previously worked as a curator for documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens in 2017. From 2012 until 2015 he served as the Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where he organized The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology (2013); The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now (2015); and Kerry James Marshall: Mastry (2016), among other projects. He has published extensively on contemporary art and related philosophical issues. Roelstraete is also active as a freelance curator; his most recent exhibition project is Everybody Talks About the Weather, currently on view at the Fondazione Prada in Venice.  

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637