Forum Lectures: Cecilia Sjöholm

A sense of the real; Arendt on Kant and aesthetics


Following Trump’s election in 2016, copies of Hanna Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism sold out fast I the US. Given the outcome of political events, Arendt’s analysis of the power of political lies and propaganda had taken on a new urgency. Since then, her impact on politico-philosophical discussions of the current political climate has continued to grow.

However, the Origins, as well as many other of Arendt’s works, such as her political reading of Kant’s third critique, pertains not only to politics, but also to aesthetics and questions of art, although not always explicitly. In my book Doing Aesthetics with Arendt I argue that Arendt forwards the notion of a “sense of realness” which can be read both as an aesthetic quality, and as a condition for political life and action. How are we to understand Arendt’s notion of “realness” and how can it be actualized today in relation to the scene of art?

About Cecilia Sjöholm

Cecilia Sjöholm is professor of Aesthetics at Södertörn University. Her research is particularly focused on the relation between art and politics in contemporary culture. She has published extensively on art, psychoanalysis and critical theory. Her books include Regionality/Mondiality , ed. with Charlotte Bydler  (Södertörn University Press 2014), Translatability, ed with Sara Arrhenius and Magnus Bergh (Albert Bonniers Publisher 2011), Kristeva and the Political (Routledge 2005), The Antigone Complex; Ethics and the Invention of Feminine Desire (Stanford University Press 2004). Doing Aesthetics with Arendt; How to See Things (Columbia University Press, 2015) looks at the way in which Hannah Arendt's reflections on art and aesthetics invite us to rethink her political concepts.

Forum Lectures

FORUM LECTURES is a series of lectures by Danish and international thinkers and cultural workers reflecting on how art co-forms communality. FORUM LECTURES brings thinking and shared study back to the university and invites for public lectures the last Tuesday every month at 17:00 - 19:00.

The initiative is hosted by the research group of the New Carlsberg Foundation research center Art as Forum. Our researchers are occupied by a.o. the infrastructures of the arts, collective modes of production, the entanglement of political theory and aesthetic theory, assembling strategies of curation, dematerialized art, acts of strategic separatism and temporality in digital art.

We hope to accommodate live lectures in a near future.

The lecture is by Cecilia Sjöholm (50 min., a bread + Q&A) is open for everyone interested and takes place on Zoom.

The conversation is moderated by Frederik Tygstrup.

For participation, please email to receive a Zoom password. Only participants with password can enter.

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