Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog
Tag "Activism"
on the Bard College Berlin Student Blog

“If desire [in a society] is repressed, it is because every position of desire…is capable of calling into question the established order of society…it is revolutionary in its essence…It is therefore of vital importance for a society to repress desire, and even to find something more efficient than repression, so that repression, hierarchy, exploitation, and servitude are themselves desired…that does not at all mean that desire is something other than sexuality, but that sexuality and love do not live in the bedroom of Oedipus, they dream instead of wide-open spaces, and…do not let themselves be stocked within an established order.”

— Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Stencil graffiti depicting Elmahdy, in the form of the nude blog photo of herself. Its text also refers to the case of Samira Ibrahim. (Credit: Women in the Revolution)

In his essay Arab Porn (2017), the Egyptian author and journalist Youssef Rakha deconstructs an aspect of Egypt’s cultural history of the new millennium. He makes a case for how and why amateur Arab pornography acts as a political tool against the sexually repressive status quo. He attempts to account for the failures of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 by connecting the activists’ shortcomings and ultimately frustration to the nature of Arab porn, which is reflective of the Egyptian society’s approach to sexuality, culture, politics and change. Sharing Rakha’s views, I see the Egyptian Revolution as a failed one: It replaced a military dictator with a misogynistic Islamic fundamentalist one, turning the country into a theocracy that was later overthrown in a military coup to have Egypt return once more to military dictatorship.

While Egypt does not have an official porn industry, if one searches for Arab Porn, plenty of home-made, low-quality videos can be found. Through a voyeuristic gaze, Rakha analyses various porn videos (links to which are included in his book), and draws what I perceive as far-fetched connections between the amateur porn industry, the Arab Spring in general, and Egypt specifically.

Read more

This article originally appeared on The Point and has been republished here with their kind permission. David Kretz is a German-born Austrian and a BA 2016 alumnus.

Philipp Ruch (front left) in the action Center for Political Beauty’s action “Lethe Bombs” in front of the Reichstag, 2009. (Credit: Lara Wilde via Wikipedia)

The most compelling political performance artists in Germany do not like to be called “artists.” Nor do they prefer the label of “activists”—a term they reserve for gradualists, clicktivists, and the letter-writers of Amnesty International. Founded in 2009 by the philosopher Philipp Ruch, the Center for Political Beauty makes its base of “operations” (Aktionen in German) in Berlin, with changing groups of volunteers and partners throughout Europe. Its members, who wear suits and charcoal war paint, are organized into “assault teams” aiming to establish “moral beauty, political poetry and human greatness [Großgesinntheit].” They call themselves “aggressive humanists.”

The Center initially made a name for itself when it launched a campaign in the style of “Wanted” posters promising a reward of twenty-five thousand Euros for information leading to the arrest of the von Braunbehrens and Bode families, who share ownership of the arms corporation Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Controversially, the company had proposed exporting several hundred Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi Arabia. One member of the board stepped down from his post after the exposure, and eventually the deal was abandoned on account of public pressure.

The Center has risen to new national prominence during the recent refugee crisis. In May 2014 the German Ministry for Family Affairs, headed by center-left secretary Manuela Schwesig, announced on a new website that it would offer asylum to fifty-five thousand Syrian children—1 percent of the five million who would need it according to UNICEF. This was in the build-up to the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015, months before Merkel’s exhortation “We can do it.”

The website, which offered online forms for Germans to register as host families, went viral on social media. A video showed happy, grateful children in Aleppo thanking Secretary Schwesig for her initiative. Large crowds spontaneously assembled in front of the offices of the Ministry for Family Affairs in Berlin, celebrating and leaving an ocean of flowers and teddy bears. Such is the political beauty that the Center imagines. It was they who had created the website, as well as a complete Federal Emergency Program, including IT infrastructure, a ready-to-implement legislative framework, extensive PR materials, active hotlines with actors answering questions about the program, and contacts with schools and other organizations inside Syria—a hyper-real theater performance. The Ministry could have played along but chose not to. Embarrassedly and awkwardly, they declared a day later that, no, they would not save the children.

Read more

A few days before this year’s International Day for Women’s Rights, I came to the realization that I could not attend the annual Berlin Women’s Day demonstration as I had to give a presentation for my course on the 8th of March, Marx Yesterday and Today. Instead of marching for Women Workers’ Rights, I could only discuss theories of labour in an academic setting. Protests are one of the few things that I can say are “my thing,” so I found myself feeling very disappointed at not being able to take part in a demonstration that advocated for a matter with which I am so intimately concerned. 

Read more

New No’s” Poster (Credit: Paul Chan and Badlands Unlimited)

New No’s” Poster (Credit: Paul Chan and Badlands Unlimited)

I left New York City for Berlin on the 24th of January. The days before my departure were saturated with a dissociative pain that stemmed from their proximity to the inauguration of President Trump, which took place on January 20th. Mostly I was aware of a void-like sadness. This void enveloped my singular self, everyone I loved, communities experiencing oppressions that I as a cis white woman will never be subject to, and communities that I belong to as a queer person and survivor of sexual violence. The effect was tangible in the city, between and across neighborhoods, a dull reverberation. The fact that this collective mourning was distributed unequally due to the diverse lived experiences and levels of social privilege of those affected complicated the act of articulation. I found myself and my peers falling into spells of isolation, or, conversely, dispersing articles, posts, and personal rants at a frantic pace via the constantly replenishing outlets of social media. Neither of these tactics left me with any feeling of agency or productivity: The nature of voids is that they swallow and calcify anything dynamic, leaving their subjects in a state of vertigo.

Read more

► Monday: Not my Revolution, if …


Staged as a musical, the stories of a fictional anti-globalization activist unfold satirically. Angie O. is the kind of activist you would come across in every movement, from Occupy Wall Street, to anti neoliberalism in the Maxican jungle, to hugging trees, protests against banks, and the list goes on. The performance tackles issues of hypocrisy, economics and self-serving factors as a motivation for activism in today’s neoliberal world and how activism can be a productive force in challenging and redefining the status quo.  

  • When: 20:00
  • Where:  Stresemannstr. 29, 10963 Berlin
  • Admission: 11€
Read more
Comic Invasion Berlin

An impression from the opening of the 5th Comic Invasion Berlin (credit: Ronni Shalev).

We have come a long way from weekly superhero installments and 4-panel strips in the Sunday paper. Comics today are everywhere, and they can range from graphic novels to near-abstract illustrations. They are created using pencils, paint, collage, digital mediums and just about any other tool that can make an image.

Why do I think that comics are today’s most relevant art form? In an age of mass image sharing and self-published internet art, narrative illustrations are the natural successor to multimedia creativity. Existing alongside paper editions that make use of classical painting mediums, internet publications have .gif images for panels. Comics, one could argue, is the art form that is best suited for development in today’s internet age. The idea of combining simple text with narrative illustrations has been around since ancient times, but the past years have allowed digital art to integrate with classic drawing methods to create original and unique storytelling by blurring the borders between literature, illustration, and fine art.

Read more


Are you a feminist? In my opinion, this question is very difficult. The reason for this difficulty is somewhat simple: I don’t speak the ‘language of feminism’. I have noticed that if I say I am a feminist – or even when it is somehow naturally assumed by others given that I am an «aware» and educated woman, as long as I belong to the crowd of cosmopolitan college students learning to become critical – I am expected to know how to speak feminism. I should know what word to use in which context. What I can say and what I should not. Political correctness, I agree, is perhaps recommended in some social settings. Language policing appears sometimes to be a duty in certain contexts. And feminism sounds like a good idea. But when I read that we need to use the «F*» word meaning feminism, I get confused. Or when one says «I hate the word feminism» or «I am an anti-feminist» woman, I hesitate how to react for a minute or two. Why is «No, I’m not a feminist» such a horrific answer? Without the knowledge and in lack of the “proper” words, I hesitate to identify with the « ism » of feminism. 

Read more