IV Workshop Internacional. Krisis & Katastrophe

Contemporary Art and New Narrative Structures

October 6-8, 2022

Permanent crisis? Periodic catastrophes?

According to the opinions of experts as well as journalists, our societies seem to be immersed in a “permanent crisis”: economic crisis, refugee crisis, environmental crisis, political crisis, the crisis in humanities… However, the expression “permanent crisis” itself is a contradiction in terms: the word “crisis” refers to an isolated moment of a certain process. In its original medical use, the term used to indicate the interval of time when an illness, after the intervention of the doctor, either changes its direction for better or gets worse. Subsequently, the concept of crisis refers to very occasional, transitory states of profound change in the psychic or social dimension. Κρίσις comes from the verb “krinein”, which means to pull apart and decide. It is also the etymological root of the term “criticism”, which means analysis or study of something with the goal of making a judgement. Considering the semantic core of the term, the continuous mentions of the expression “periodic crisis” during the recent years are surprising, as well as the wide acceptance of the concept of “permanent crisis”. Perhaps, in all this, there is a profound lack of criteria, or perhaps we can find the real indicators of a structural change taking place in our societies.

Something similar is happening with catastrophes. Kαταστρoφέ was used to indicate very exceptional situations, in which an event turned everything upside down -as the term expresses etymologically, ‘kata’ and ‘strophe’-. Currently, human catastrophes are overlapping non-stop and natural catastrophe has become an enduring state of existence on this planet.

Without underestimating the existence and depth of current crises and catastrophes, we wonder to which extent they are being used as threats, articulated in order to maintain power relations and restrain certain rights and freedoms. Is it possible that the logic of crisis and catastrophes, under the disguise of precariousness, serves contemporary society as a tool for the consolidation of certain dominant structures?

Proposals: We want to investigate the nature of contemporary crises and catastrophes, in the humanistic and social field as well as in the realm of nature. The concepts of crisis and catastrophe also has special relevance in psychology and philosophy, but also in mathematics and physics, in economics, in the theory and practice of political communication, in art and cinema, among many other areas of knowledge and creativity. We invite specialists from the scientific, social, humanistic, and creative disciplines to argue about the particular interest the terms crisis and catastrophe have today in their research areas. It is essential for a contemporary understanding of crisis and catastrophe that non-Western views come into play too. We welcome insights originated in other traditions, whose experts we strongly invite.

Non-linear narratives and contemporary arts: This research project has a special interest in searching for and analysing narratives that offer new perspectives on the future. Although not exclusively, those lines of work that configure non-linear or non-chronological narratives, as well as those that articulate past and present with new futures, are of special interest. Art, literature, cinema, and other creative practices are especially prolific in shaping imaginaries that rescue forgotten potentials to give them a new life in the future. We are also interested in viewpoints working from the paradigm of complexity. Proposals from this area will be received with special interest.

The research project runs parallel with the filmic creative project Krakatoa by artist Carlos Casas. The film is about the eruption of the volcano in 1883 and functions as a point of intersection for research related to diverse areas: the physical sciences, history, and geopolitics of the late nineteenth century, climate change, stories of the end of history, aesthetics of nature -especially of the sublime-, postcolonialism and theory of visual and sound perception. See the appendix for more information about the project. We plan to organize an exhibition and/or a book related to this film’s contents and a series of screenings with a special sound equipment. The exhibition and the book will discursively unfold and illustrate the main research topics implicit in the film.

Conference informations:
The workshop will be hybrid. Participants can both attend and present either in-person or online. Participants are expected to attend the whole workshop.

Place: Pompeu Fabra University (Ciutadella Campus).

Zoom link:


Dr Gerard Vilar, catedrático de estética de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Departament d’Humanitats de la Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Institut de Cultura de la Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Proyecto de investigación: MINECO PGC2018-093502-B-I00


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