3rd Kyoto University-Inamori Foundation Joint Kyoto Prize Symposium
July 9-10, 2016
Theme “Windows to the Future” - Looking Through the Eyes of Bio/Medical Technology, Mathematics, and Art - (Finished)

Marina Gržinić

Marina Gržinić

Research Advisor, The Institute of Philosophy of the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Professor, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna


Title of Presentation

“Humans, life, and death: Between science, philosophy and art ”

Both my artistic endeavors and my theoretical work are about life and death, about what it means to be a human being, about refugees; today, all of these notions and conditions are seized with persistently violent relations of power, management, etc., in the world around us. But, I approach them through theory, history, science, politics, and arts. The situation of the refugees and the statuses of their lives and bodies in the camps in Europe, at the borders of the European Union, or as corpses recovered from the Mediterranean Sea, cannot be described solely as unwanted death, or destiny. These situations of massive suffering, death and misery are also connected to certain historical situations that both differ from and are in continuity with what we have here and now. In other words, what we are seeing is a process of persistent dehumanization.

The basic relationship in these processes is the relationship between death and life. This is not only connected with immanently philosophical questions such as “What is life?” and “What is death?” but is also, increasingly, concerned with the ways of governmentality of life and death, of strategies and techniques through which life and death are managed, run, controlled by the State, by governments and by their institutions.

We are seeing a paradoxical situation that in contemporary capitalist societies that are promoting a politics of making life better—a process that is known in theory by the word “biopolitics”— this is not really the case today. Biopolitics is a term coined in the mid-1970s by noted French theoretician Michel Foucault (who died in 1980) that posited a link between LIFE (Latin: bio) and politics. Since 2001, we have been witnessing another condition which is antithetical to the so appreciated biopolitics; neoliberal global capitalism is actually producing value (profit, control) through management not of life but, rather, of death.

This process is called “necropolitics,” a term coined in 2003 by the African theoretician Achille Mbembe, and it posits a link between DEATH (Latin: necro) and politics. Necropolitics defines the transformation of regulation of life within the extreme conditions produced by capital; these are conditions of death. In necropolitics, life is regulated through the perspective of death, thus transforming life into a mere existence below every life minimum. Necropolitics is connected to the concept of “necrocapitalism,” i.e., contemporary capitalism, which is organized around forms of capital accumulation that involve dispossession and the subjugation of life to the power of death. Did not the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011 result in the kind of “necro-scape” (death space) that is so central to necrocapitalism?

All of these processes are also connected with history and with the ways in which we inscribe these events in history, or how we recontextualize history through archives and objects. This questioning is central not only to my videofilms (made in collaboration with Aina Šmid since the 1980s) but also in the work of the Japanese artist Ishiuchi Miyako and that of the Polish artist Zofia Kulik.

Therefore, I will discuss the following topics:

I. How to further expose the relations between biopolitics and necropolitics.
II. The consequences of these relations for conceptualization of humanity,
Human Beings, and refugees.
III. And, finally, the status of visibility and the body in these relationships.

In order to implicate art centrally within my talk, I will use a particular figuration: the diagram.

Presentation Movie


Web Site URL
A brief Biography

Marina Gržinić, Ph.D. (born 1958 in Rijeka, Croatia) is a university professor, philosopher and artist who lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Vienna, Austria. She is a Research Advisor in the Institute of Philosophy at the Scientific and Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts (short: FI ZRC SAZU), Ljubljana and Full Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna Austria.

International lecturing and teaching commitments include Center for Global Studies and the Humanities at Duke University, North Carolina, U.S.A.; UCLA, California, U.S.A. ; San Francisco College of Art, California, U.S.A.; IMI, Osaka, Japan; Merz Academy, Stuttgart, Germany; Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.A.; Haute école d’art et de design, Geneva, Switzerland; Roosevelt Academy, University of Utrecht, Middelburg, Netherlands; ASAB, Bogota, Columbia, etc.

Since 1982, Dr. Marina Gržinić has worked as a video artist in collaboration with Aina Šmid. They have participated in a number of exhibitions and festivals, including International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2003; “100 years Lacan, Sigmund-Freud-Museum, Vienna 2001. After the Wall, Moderna Museet, Stockholm 1999, Europa, Europa, 100 avant-garde in Central Europe, 1999, etc.

She received her Ph.D. in 1995 from the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, becoming one of the first, if not the first, in Slovenia and perhaps all of the former Yugoslavia to gain a doctorate in Philosophy and Virtual Reality, Cyberspace, Cyberfeminism (Haraway), Postcolonial Theory (Trinh T. Minh-ha), French Structuralism, and Media Theory (Baudrillard, Couchot, Klonaris/Thomadaki, Virilio, etc.). In the period 1997 through 1998, she completed her postdoctoral academic training in Japan, at the Tokyo Kogei University (on a JSPS grant from the Japan government grant) and spent a year studying and working with Professor Machiko Kusahara. In 2001, she was accepted into the apexart Residency Program in New York, U.S.A.

In Slovenia, Marina Gržinić was engaged in the constitution of what is today known as the “Ljubljana Alternative,” a subcultural movement which, in the 1980s, developed new artistic practices (such as video production and performance art), politically engaged movements such as the gay and lesbian scene, and a number of other processes that were constitutive for discussion of the positions of art and culture in Slovenia.

Gržinić’s theoretical work focuses on contemporary philosophy and aesthetics after modernism. Her energies are directed toward a theory of ideology, theory of technology, biopolitics/necropolitics, video technology, and transfeminism in connection with decoloniality. This means that, rather than operating in a disengaged area of interpretation that derives from theoretical and philosophical contemplation, her work in philosophy, theory and the arts derives from concrete theoretical practice and interventions, and from related cultures.

Details of selected Awards and Honors
A list of selected Publications

Marina Gržinić, Fiction reconstructed: Eastern Europe, post-socialism & the retro-avant-garde. Vienna: Selene, 2000.

Marina Gržinić, Situated contemporary art practices: art, theory and activism from (the east of) Europe. Ljubljana: ZRC Publishing; Frankfurt on Main: Revolver – Archiv für aktuelle Kunst, 2004.

Marina Gržinić, Une fiction reconstruite : Europe de l’Est, post-socialisme et rétro-avant-garde, (Ouverture philosophique). Paris, Budapest, Torino: Harmattan, 2005.

Marina Gržinić, Re-politicizing art, theory, representation and new media technology, (Schriften der Akademie der bildenden Künste Vienna, Vol. 6). Vienna: Schlebrügge.Editor, 2008.

Marina Gržinić, “A political intervention in the digital realm.” In: RUSSEGGER, Georg (ed.), TARASIEWICZ, Matthias (ed.), WLODKOWSKI, Michal (ed.). Coded cultures: new creative practices out of diversity. Vienna, New York: Springer, 2011, pp. 116-134.

Marina Gržinić, “A patiently constructed genealogy.” In: KELLY, Karen (ed.), SCHRÖDER, Barbara (ed.), VANDECAVEYE, Giel (ed.). Dara Birnbaum: the dark matter of media light. Ghent: Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst; Porto: Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves; Prestel etc.: DelMonico Books, 2011, pp. 137-151

Marina Gržinić and Šefik Tatlić, Necropolitics, Racialization, and Global Capitalism. Historicization of Biopolitics and Forensics of Politics, Art, and Life. Lanham, MD: Lexington books, 2014.

Marina Gržinić, “Europe’s colonialism, decoloniality, and racism.” In: BROECK, Sabine (ed.), JUNKER, Carsten (ed.). Postcoloniality – decoloniality – black critique: joints and fissures. Frankfurt on Main, New York: Campus, 2014, pp. 129-144

Marina Gržinić, “The question of the militant image.” In: The militant image reader. 1st edition. Graz, Austria: Camera Austria, 2015, pp. 21-26.

Marina Gržinić, “1977-1984: A time that lives on – just differently.” In: GRŽINIĆ, Marina, et al. Was ist Kunst?: resuming fragmented histories, Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst & Medien. [Nürnberg]: Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2015, pp. 20-45.