Classroom: The Dividual

Classroom: The Dividual

e-flux Education

July 9, 2021
Classroom: The Dividual
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The Dividual
Curated by Joshua Simon

“The Dividual” explores an emergent subjectivity divided from itself and always-already a part of something. Since antiquity, the Individual (άτομο or átomo in Greek, individuum in Latin) has been defined philosophically, legally, and psychologically as an entity that is distinctively separate from the rest and indivisible from itself. In many societies, the individual is perceived as an objective subjectivity. As the relations and social institutions that constitute the individual and those that are formed around it change, there have been throughout history struggles around the gender, class, race, age, ethnicity, and species of those recognized as individuals.

While the long history of individuation is well documented in philosophy, literature, law, and social sciences, it is in the history of the arts that we find iterations and examples of the dividual and its proposition. Within the realization of individual-based structures collapsing all around us before, during, and after the pandemic, various recent cultural products, such as Laeta Kalogridis’s Netflix cyberpunk series Altered Carbon (2018–2020), based on the 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan, and Adam Curtis’s BBC documentary series Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World (2021), describe the rise and fall of individualism and invite conversations on other forms of being in the world. The dividual denotes a broad set of subjectivities that are divided and at the same time always in relation to others. Through a multidisciplinary approach, these contingent subjectivities provide for us other forms of self.

The term “dividual” appears at different points when anthropologists, artists, and philosophers have tried to describe an emergent subjectivity that does not comply with the logic of the individual. Six different perspectives provide entry points to this incipient subjectivity: In anthropological literature of South Asia and Melanesia (McKim Marriott, Marilyn Strathern) and of the Andean and Amazonia (Eduardo Viveiros de Castro), the dividual appears as a form of kinship. In the critique of the society of control and the rise of digital and financial networks (Gilles Deleuze, Gerald Raunig, Arjun Appadurai, Michaela Ott, John Cheney-Lippold), it is presented as a distributed subjectivity. In Black study (Frantz Fanon, Robin D. G. Kelley, Cedric Robinson, MLK, Marronage, Octavia E. Butler, Sylvia Wynter, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney), it is experienced as a presence that expands historically and by that generates the solidarity of the undercommons. Within the shock of modernity, it emerges as a form of being that both expands and divides the individual (in digressive modernities such as psychoanalysis, feminism, Marxism, and surrealism). In relation to the Soviet science of management and shock work (Platon Kerzhenetsev, Andrei Platonov, Sergei Eisenstein, El Lissitzky, Evald Ilyenkov, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin), it is perceived through new divisions of labor that provide measures or scales between individual and mass, or person and collective. And in the philosophy of symbiogenesis (Lynn Margulis, Boris Kozo-Polyansky, Bruno Latour, Alexander Tarakhovsky), it is perceived as a holobiont—a unit that is an assembly of elements folded into one another. “The Dividual” is informed by the persistence of these social imaginaries, their histories and futures, and provides a proposition for living, thinking, and organizing.

Featuring interviews, films, music, and lectures from Luce Irigaray, Ruth Patir, Lynn Margulis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Drexciya, Aimee BangEmanuel Almborg, Devin Fore, Marilyn Strathern, Sylvère Lotringer, and Woody Guthrie.⁠ 

Read more and view the full series on Classroom.

Classroom is a series of video programs curated by art schools, educators, artists, and writers. Each program assembles films, interviews, lectures, panel discussions, and documentaries from a variety of sources to engage with themes relevant to contemporary art and cultural production.

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July 9, 2021

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