WHAP! lecture series poster

WHAP!—the West Hollywood Aesthetics and Politics lecture series—was launched in the Fall of 2011, by John D’Amico, Martín Plot, and Arne De Boever. WHAP! is co-hosted by the city of West Hollywood and the MA Program in Aesthetics & Politics. 

The series' lineup ranges from political debates to film screenings and performances, as well as conversations about art, architecture and philosophy. Events will be streamed via the Aesthetics and Politics Youtube channel, at tiny.cc/2020whap. All events are free and open to the public. Visit the CalArts Calendar for full event listings.


Upcoming WHAP! Events


WHAP! Lecture Series Fall 2020

Recent MA Alums

Fall WHAP! Series 'Black Out'

Thesis research presentations by graduates of the MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics program in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institutes of the Arts.

Michael Gardner: Excavating the Question: Creative Curiosity and Critical Theory
Nicholas Nauman: Chef Prep: Capital, Race, and Cooking
Cory Warren: Lateral Radicals: Passionate Thought in Boym, Lispector, and Lemebel
Jessica Wawra: Phantasmagoria Nova: Meta-Friction in/of Post-Millennial Horror Cinema

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Nicholas Mirzoeff: Whiteness, White Seeing, White Space and Their Fall with respondent Aria Dean

Fall WHAP! Series 'Black Out'

Nicholas Mirzoeff is a visual activist, working at the intersection of politics, race and global/visual culture. In 2020-21, he is the Mellon/ACLS Scholar & Society fellow in residence at the Magnum Foundation, New York. He is the author or editor of eleven books. His most recent, The Appearance of Black Lives Matter, was first published in 2017 as a free e-book, and again in 2018 as a limited edition print book with Carl Pope’s art project The Bad Air Smelled Of Roses. Both editions were published by NAME Publications, Miami.

Aria Dean is the Editor and Curator at Rhizome. She helped launch and program the online-only “Net Art Anthology,” which also resulted in the catalogue The Art Happens Here: Net Art Anthology (Rhizome, 2019). Working as both a writer and artist, she has published with Artforum, Art in America, e-flux, The New Inquiry, and Texte zur Kunst.

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Stop LAPD Spying Coalition: Abolishing the Stalker State

Fall WHAP! Series 'Black Out'

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition is a Skid Row-based community alliance. It was created in response to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Order 11, which authorizes LAPD officers to gather intelligence on non-criminal behavior. The coalition has since launched campaigns against LAPD’s various surveillance programs including mathwashing crime data, digital tools that aid gentrification, the use of drones, its war on youth, and faux-oversight bureaucracy. The coalition recently helped defeat LASER Zones, which deemed black and brown areas and communities criminal because of patterns in data, and its Predictive Policing program (PredPol), which further targeted communities before crimes even occurred. They are part of the recent wave of abolitionist groups that reject all forms of police oppression and any policy that marks whole communities as suspect in the eyes of the State.

Jose Rosales is a researcher based in Queens, NY.

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Brian Jordan Jefferson: Information Capitalism Meets Racial Capitalism

Fall WHAP! Series 'Black Out'

Brian Jordan Jefferson: Information Capitalism Meets Racial Capitalism: Surveillance and Racial Criminalization in the Digital Age

Brian Jordan Jefferson is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Illinois. Jefferson’s work explores digital technology, racial capitalism, and the State in urban contexts. His publications include the recent book Digitize and Punish: Racial Criminalization in the Digital Age (Minnesota, 2020) which looks at the application of digital technology in criminal justice in New York City and Chicago.

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Calvin Warren: Being Blacked Out/Blacking Out Being: Nihilistic Considerations

Fall WHAP! Series 'Black Out'

Calvin Warren is an Associate Professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Warren’s research interests are in Continental Philosophy (particularly post-Heideggerian and nihilistic philosophy), Lacanian psychoanalysis, queer theory, Afro-pessimism, and theology. Duke University Press published his first book, Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation (2018). He is currently working on a second project, Onticide: Essays on Black Nihilism and Sexuality, which unravels the metaphysical foundations of black sexuality and argues for a rethinking of sexuality without the human, sexual difference, or coherent bodies.

Linette Park is a postdoctoral fellow in the African American Studies Department at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining Penn State, she was the Thurgood Marshall Fellow in the African and African American Studies Program at Dartmouth College. She received her Ph.D. in the Culture and Theory Program from the University of California, Irvine and holds an MA from the Aesthetics and Politics Program at CalArts. She is a fellow at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, a member of the Emerging Scholars in Political Theology Network, and the editor of a special issue on Black resistance that is forthcoming with the journal, Diacritics: A Review of Contemporary Criticism.

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WHAP! Lecture Series Spring 2020

The Animist, The Terrorist and The Desert

WHAP! Lecture Series
Aesthetics and Politics WHAP! Lecture Series with presentations by: Hannah Meszaros Martin, Megan Dorame, Elizabeth Povinelli, Jerry Zee, Carolina Caycedo, Lisa Jackson, Roshanak Kheshti, Sara Mameni and Anna Luisa Petrisko. 

 

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Nan Z. Da: On King Lear and Contemporary China

WHAP! Lecture Series
Nan Da is assistant professor of English at the University of Notre Dame where she teaches comparative literature and literary theory. She is the author of Intransitive Encounter (Columbia University Press, 2018), a prehistory of Sino-US literary relations that theorizes non-verifiable, self-contained encounters. Her work can be found in American Literary History, Avidly, The Chronicle Review, Critical Inquiry, The Henry James Review, J19, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Books, Signs, Times Literary Supplement, The Threepenny Review, and The Yale Review. She also edits with Professor Anahid Nersessian Thinking Literature, a series dedicated to literary criticism sponsored by the University of Chicago Press. This talk is drawn from her work-in-progress, That No Harm Will Come to Harmless Things.

 

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Michael Nylan: 'Pleasure as Practice (Not as Goal)'

Michael Nylan (Ph.D. ‘83) began her teaching career at Bryn Mawr College, in the History Department, with an affiliation with the Growth and Structure of Cities program and Political Science. There she began to learn political philosophy from Steven Salkever, an Aristotle expert.  After more than a decade at Bryn Mawr, where she founded and led the major in East Asian Studies, in 2001 she moved on to the UC-Berkeley History Department, to work with graduate students in the company of one of the oldest and most distinguished of faculties of Chinese history. Now she writes in three main academic disciplines: the history of early China (roughly 300 BC-AD 300), early Chinese philosophy, and the art and archaeology of China.

 

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Robeson Taj Frazier: When the East Is in the House

Dr. Robeson Taj Frazier is a writer, cultural historian and professor of communication at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Through writing, education, and speaking/presentations, he explores the power of the arts, political and expressive cultures, and urban cultures in the United States, China, and elsewhere, with a specific focus on what these cultures communicate regarding histories and current-day dynamics of race, masculinities, creativity, and cultural traffic and exchange.

 

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WHAP! Lecture Series Fall 2019

Presentations by Recent MA Graduates

WHAP! Lecture Series

Claudia Grigg Edo, Eloy Neira, Josh Widera

Presentations by Recent MA Graduates
Thesis research presentations by graduates of the MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics program in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institutes of the Arts.
Presentations by Recent MA Graduates

Thesis research presentations by graduates of the MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics program in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institutes of the Arts.Presentations by Recent MA Graduates

Thesis research presentations by graduates of the MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics program in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institutes of the Arts.

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Nandita Biswas Mellamphy: 'Larval Warfare and Predatory Politics'

WHAP! Lecture Series

Dr. Nandita Biswas Mellamphy is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, affiliate member of the Department of Women's Studies and Feminist Research, Director of the Electro-Governance Group (EGG), President of Western's Caucus on Women's Issues, and core faculty in the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at Western University (Canada). She is also a research fellow of the Center for Transformative Media (Parsons: New School/USA) and the Centre for War and Technology (Bath University/UK). Her research is situated at the intersections of political science, continental philosophy, media/information studies and cultural studies. She is author and editor of several works of interdisciplinary theory including The Three Stigmata of Friedrich Nietzsche (2011), The Digital Dionysus: Nietzsche and the Networkcentric Condition (2016), and two forthcoming books, Larval Warfare and Predatory Politics, as well as Posthumanism and the Futures of Governance.


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Sarah Roberts, 'Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media'

WHAP! Lecture Series

Sarah T. Roberts is an Assistant Professor of Information Studies at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, specializing in Internet culture, social media and the intersection of media, technology and society. She is leading global authority on “commercial content moderation” and the information workers who do that work, culminating in the book Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media (Yale University Press, 2019). Her research has been recognized with a 2018 Carnegie Fellowship, the 2018 EFF Barlow Pioneer Award and is frequently asked to consult on related issues. With Dr. Safiya Noble, she is the founding co-director of the forthcoming UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry.



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Dominic Pettman, 'Peak Libido: Sex, Ecology, and the Collapse of Desire'

Dominic Pettman is Professor of Culture & Media at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College. He is the author of a dozen books on technology, humans, and other animals; including the recent Creaturely Love (Minnesota University Press, 2017), Sonic Intimacy (Stanford University Press, 2017) and Metagestures (Punctum Books, 2019; with Carla Nappi).

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WHAP! Lecture Series Spring 2019

Rita Raley "The Next Twenty Years"

WHAP! Lecture Series
Rita Raley teaches in the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Tactical Media (University of Minnesota, 2009), co-editor of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2 (2011), and has more recently published on subjects ranging from Global English and universal alphabets to tactical media, dataveillance, machine translation and electronic literature.

 

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Jasbir Puar "Existence is Resistance: Carceral Capitalism in/of Palestine"

WHAP! Lecture Series
Jasbir K. Puar is Professor of Women's & Gender Studies at Rutgers University. She is the author of the award-winning Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Duke University Press 2007), which has been translated into French and Spanish and re-issued as an expanded edition for its 10th anniversary (Duke University Press, 2017).

Puar’s recently published book, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability (Duke University Press, 2017) was awarded the Alison Piepmeier best book prize in feminist disability studies from the National Women’s Studies Association and the Alan Bray Memorial Award from the Modern Languages Association’s G/LQ Caucus. It takes up the relations between biopolitics, disability, and forms of active debilitation pivotal to the operations of war machines and racial capitalism. The book appears in a new series, ANIMA, which she co-edits with Mel Chen.

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Jack Bratich: 'The Aesthetics of Decline: Necro-Populism, Downsurgency, and Wars of Restoration'

WHAP! Lecture Series
Jack Z. Bratich is an associate professor in the Journalism and Media Studies Department at Rutgers University. His research takes a critical approach to the intersection of popular culture and political culture. His work applies autonomist social theory to such topics as craft media, reality television, social movement media, and the cultural politics of secrecy. He is the author of Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Popular Culture (2008) and coeditor of Foucault, Cultural Studies, and Governmentality (2003). His most recent publications include “Up All Night, Down for the Count? A Compositionist Approach to Nuit Debout” in International Journal of Communication. He is currently writing about cultural forms emerging from the failure of neoliberalism and the mobilization of communications warfare. He is a zine librarian at ABC No Rio in New York City.

 

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WHAP! Lecture Series Fall 2018

Gabrielle Civil

WHAP! Lecture Series
Gabrielle Civil is a black feminist performance artist and writer, originally from Detroit, MI. She has premiered fifty original performance art works around the world. Since May 2014, she has been performing Say My Name (an action for 270 abducted Nigerian girls) as an act of embodied remembering. Her art writing has appeared in The Third Rail, Art21, Small Axe, and Obsidian. Her essays and translations have appeared in Something on PaperAster(ix), and Two Lines. Her memoir in performance art Swallow the Fish was named by Entropy a “Best Non-Fiction Book of 2017.” Her forthcoming book Experiments in Joy engages race, performance, and collaboration. She teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing and the BFA program in Critical Studies courses at CalArts. The aim of her work is to open up space.

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Ronak Kapadia, “Scaling Empire: Security, Sensation, and the Queer Life of the Forever War”

WHAP! Lecture Series
Ronak K. Kapadia is assistant professor of gender and women’s studies and affiliated faculty in Global Asian Studies and Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is author of the forthcoming Insurgent Aesthetics: Security and the Queer Life of the Forever War (Duke UP, 2019), which examines the visionary, world-making potential of contemporary art and aesthetics in the context of ongoing US war and empire in the Greater Middle East. With Katherine McKittrick and Simone Browne, he is co-editor of the 2017 special issue of Surveillance & Society on race and surveillance. His writings appear in Asian American Literary ReviewJournal of Popular Music StudiesFeminist Formations, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, and edited volumes including: Shifting Borders: America and the Middle East/North AfricaCritical Ethnic Studies: A Reader, and With Stones in Our Hands: Reflections on Racism, Muslims and US Empire. Kapadia has begun research toward his second book project, The Downward Redistribution of Breath, which develops a critical feminist theory of healing/justice in the wilds of imperial decline.

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Kara Keeling, “I Feel Love”: Race, Gender, Technē, and the (Im)Proper Sonic Habitus

WHAP! Lecture Series
Kara Keeling is Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Keeling is author of The Witch's Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Duke University Press, 2007) and co-editor (with Josh Kun) of a selection of writings about sound and American Studies entitled Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), and (with Colin MacCabe and Cornel West) a selection of writings by the late James A. Snead entitled European Pedigrees/African Contagions: Racist Traces and Other Writing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). A second monograph, Queer Times, Black Futures, will be published in the spring of 2019 by New York University Press.

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Aimee Bahng, “Toward a Transpacific Undercommons”

WHAP! Lecture Series
Aimee Bahng is an assistant professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Pomona College. She is the author of Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times (Duke UP, 2018), which examines narrations of futurity across various platforms—from speculative fiction by writers of color to the financial speculations of the 1%. With teaching and research interests at the conjuncture of transnational Asian/American cultural studies and feminist-queer science and technology studies, she has published a range of articles on techno-Orientalism and Asian/American speculative fiction. She is currently working on another book manuscript, tentatively titled “Transpacific Ecologies,” which reroutes discussions about the new materialisms through feminist, decolonial science studies, focusing on transpacific contexts of nuclear fallout and ecological disaster.

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Lisa Nakamura, “Automating Racial Empathy: Virtual Reality and the Undercommons”

WHAP! Lecture Series
Lisa Nakamura is the Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American Cultures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and coordinator of its Digital Studies Institute.  She is the author of four books on racism, sexism, and the Internet.  Her areas of interest include histories of indigenous electronic manufacture in post-war America, content moderation by women of color on social media, and virtual reality’s claims to produce racial and gender empathy.

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WHAP! Lecture Series Spring 2018

Contemporary Art/Contemporary Globalization

WHAP! Lecture Series
Jan Nederveen Pieterse will explore how Art and globalization as well as art and architecture spread, whom does art serve and art patronage over time. Modern times brought accelerations of globalization, of art forms and their international radius. 

 

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How to Travel in a Digital Age : Geek Globalisms and the Digital Divide by Kavita Philip

WHAP! Lecture Series
This talk sketches a political /psychic economy of informational capitalism, seeking to understand the shifting ontologies implicit in the gendered, sexualized, and racialized landscapes of the “age of information” and the rise of “emerging” economies.

 

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Human Trafficking in Global Perspective

WHAP! Lecture Series
In this presentation Pardis Mahdavi will examine the suturing of the two wars. The “war on terror” and the “war on trafficking”, two seemingly separate initiatives, have become interwoven in recent years and conspire to castigate Muslim majority countries as sites of depravity, difference and danger, fueling Islamophobic rhetoric about the “clash of civilizations” (Huntington 1993).

 

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WHAP! Lecture Series Fall 2017

Art and the Long Downturn

WHAP! Lecture Series

Cultural Policy and Ungovernability, 1967-1982

Sarah Brouillette is Professor of English at Carleton University, where she teaches contemporary literature, the history of the book, and social and cultural theory. She is the author of Postcolonial Writers in the Global Literary Marketplace (2007), Literature and the Creative Economy (2014), and a forthcoming study of the history of cultural policy.

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'The Cold World and the Collective Subject'

WHAP! Lecture Series
How can artists, activists, and citizens in general engage the increasing complexity of the global system, and the veritable explosion of a new type of capitalism with its production of data, control, and rampant inequities. Patricia Reed analyzes this emergent configuration from a perspective of ‘optimist realism,’ proposing the dynamics of a perspectival shift utilizing the forces of alienation to construct innovative models of collective agency generated by the interface of the concretely situated and the abstractly conceptual. Her talk will investigate some of these issues with regard to the advent of a/the Cold World.

 

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'Pattern Recognition c. 1947'

WHAP! Lecture Series
Having in recent work addressed the processes of globalization through the lens of contemporary art—both as object and as agent—Pamela M. Lee’s new work analyzes key elements of the very dense history of the Cold War, and the increasing intensity of visual culture.

 

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'in/ibid./form'

WHAP! Lecture Series
This past year’s MA students in the Program of Aesthetics and Politics at California Institute of the Arts will present some of their current work dealing with aspects of their theses, as well as ongoing research, including artistic and critical endeavors. As a showcase for the program, and as an opportunity for presenting innovative work, this event will offer a number of unique and compelling approaches to the questions of politics and art in the contemporary moment.

 

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'Flicker time: liquid bodies and cosmic states'

WHAP! Lecture Series
Drawing upon extensive experience as a curator, a critical thinker and practitioner, Bridget Crone focuses on the intersection of the moving image and performance practices in conjunction with an interrogation of the body, visuality, and temporality. In this talk she will address questions of contemporary art and critical philosophy as they are manifest in art processes today, but also in terms of challenging spaces of reception and the institutional and political contexts for current exhibitions.

 

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