and Anarchic Infrastructures

Academy of Failure, ACGS/IIAS/Institute for Provocation 25 - 27 May, 2018



Failure can be considered as an effect, or more precisely a side-effect. It is in a sense independent from the goal-origin of the action. It redefines the situation of the practice by producing an unexpected effect, next to the unattained goal. Failure, and even failing on purpose by taking impossible goals, has an-archic aspect. Every action, which has a goal, is calculated in such a way that it would achieve the goal. At the moment one decides to try to achieve an impossible goal, one dislodges their praxis or action from its orientation, thus situating the horizon of its meaning in the practice itself.

Academy of Failure

Our global, and some may say neoliberal, mindset has excluded the possibility of failure, in its constant validation and celebration of notions of progress, development, innovation, and improvement. In particular East Asia seems to be hooked to the idea of progress and development – more is better. But is it really? How can we rescue failure from its negative connotations? How can we bring it back into and beyond the classroom as a valuable tool for thinking, for knowledge production, and also for creative production as well as political activism? According to the late Marc Karlin, politics is a learning process about how to live with pessimism and how to work on yourself in relation to that pessimism. We may think the same of failure. This workshop aims to explore the possibilities and impossibilities of failure for three different domains: pedagogy, creativity, activism. All three domains are driven by a teleological idea of progress, newness and change; the notion of failure can be seen as a potential threat of this underpinning rationale, but in our view, failure can also be mobilized as an enabling technique, a tactic that resists the demand for more and better, a way to recuperate different forms of education, different modes of being creative, and a different kind of politics.