Parliament of Bodies

Introducing the parliament of bodies

Originally conceived as the Public Programs of documenta 14, but having failed to transform documenta’s economy and institution, the PoB mutated into an apatride institution-in-becoming and without constitution, that parasites other institutions to provoke critical metamorphosis and repolitization.

The parliament is considered to be one of the oldest political techniques of government based on democratic representation. Although the name Parliament comes from the French “paler”—referring to the act of discussing matters of public government, the functions of representation, legislation and parliamentary control—the term can be traced back to the Greek Assembly (εκκλεσια). Developed in the 5th century BC in Athens, the Assembly was an institution of direct democracy where each citizen had one vote to decide on the key questions of the city: war, taxes, economy, education, laws… In ancient Athens, the citizen (politikos) was the inhabitant of the polis. Nevertheless, the status of citizen was highly restricted (only granted for 15% of the population), excluding women, children, metics, slaves, sick people, and men from the lower classes. As feminist and political scholars have pointed out, the Athenian assembly was a paradoxical device, at the same time framing the conditions of political representation and limiting access to the political domain. Since the Haiti revolution, the anti-colonial movements, the workers movements, the development of the feminist, gay, lesbian and trans movements, amongst others, the limits and functions of the Parliament have been constantly redefined, and its alleged forms of political representation radically questioned.

Born in 2016 in Athens, the Parliament of Bodies took its name and its vocation from the experience of the failure of representative democracy in Greece during the “OXI” referendum of July 2015. When the Greek government refused to accept the citizens’ decision to reject the conditions of the bailout, the national Greek parliament appeared as an institution in ruins, unable of representing the people. At the same time, for many days, Syntagma Square and the streets of Athens were filled with voices and bodies of thousands of Athenians and Greeks. But also thousands of migrants and refugees that were arriving every day to the Piraeus port. We needed a counter-Parliament of living bodies beyond markets and nations, as it also became obvious in the city of Kassel and its entanglements with the military industry and its weaponry export to many sites of world conflicts.

Acknowledging the crisis of the modern utopia of “public space” within the framework of the European Community—in which d14 was institutionally inscribed—but also the unprecedented proliferation of counter-power movements within art, culture and society, the d14 public programs refused to be either a discursive side-event attached to the exhibition program or yet another marathon of 100 hundred lectures. Instead, documenta 14 addressed the challenge to imagine the Parliament of Bodies, an abstract machine that unpacks the form from within the frame of the public programs, while extending itself to the exhibition and the education programs alike. These are some of its working questions: What does it mean to be public? How does a body become public? What are the political conditions of representation? Is representation the only form of political democratic action? Can the social contract be re-written? Can an exhibition be thought as a parliament of bodies, as an ensemble of relationships between animate and inanimate beings producing agency through cooperation?

The idea of the Parliament of Bodies finds its inspiration in the micropolitical of self-organization, collaborative practices and radical pedagogic experiments of a large array of historical, utopian and art insurgent movements, but also in the most recent experiments of “new institutionality” and counter-govermentality taking place within the Occupy Movement, 15M in Spain, the transfeminist and queer movements, the indigenous and first peoples movements, the hackers, pirates and Anonymous movements, the disability and crip struggles, the anti-prison, anti-psychiatric movements worldwide…Pointing to its constitutive outside, the Greek notion of “métoikos” (meaning “those who change home”—from “méto,” to changer, and “oikos,” dwelling place, and including both slaves and foreigners) becomes relevant to the Parliament of Bodies, since it is made of visitors and migrants, travellers and refugees…occasionally or permanently lacking full political recognition in National and existing governmental parliaments.

As an institutional building, democracy has not been finished and yet it is already in ruins. Growing within ruins and fakes, the Parliament of Bodies is a productive parody, a queering of traditional political institutions, and the occasion for building a state-less post-neoclassic heterotopia.

The PoB is made of those who lack full political recognition within the framework of the nation-state. It does neither provide a single discourse on identity, nor a homogeneous space of race, gender or sexual representation. On the contrary, it aims to create a new forum for artist and activist, an open arena of experimentation, performativity, media production and debate, essential for new planetary somatic democracy to arouse.

Nicole Loraux, Les Enfants d’Athéna. Idées athéniennes sur la citoyenneté et la division des sexes, Paris, Maspero, 1981 ; Sarah B. Porneroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves. Women in Classical Antiquity, London, 1976 ; Giorgio Agamben, L’uso dei corpi. Homo Sacer IV, 2., Neri Pozza, Roma, 2014.

Starship 19: Apokolypse of the praktikal moment - Cover Nora Schultz
  1. Whales Nora Schultz
  2. John Boskovich John Boskovich
  3. Anonymus Place Nong Shoahua
  4. Plants and Fruits Rosa Aiello
  5. Freedom and control of others (including myself) Cornelia Herfurtner
  6. Art Crust of Spiritual Oasis in 5 chapters Jack Smith
  7. Talking with Elizabeth Ravn Julia Jung
  8. Entropic Delusional Culture Eric D. Clark
  9. How to tell a story? Francesca Drechsler
  10. A Visit from the Left Robert M. Ochshorn
  11. Lies don’t fact. On voices and fake news Mihaela Chiriac
  12. Unwirklichkeit und Wirklichkeit von sozialem Sadismus Stephan Janitzky
  13. things are scattered Max Schmidtlein
  14. Inferius Sorbilis Tinctura Elijah Burgher
  15. Looking like a human cat Stephanie Fezer, Vera Tollmann
  16. María Galindo Maria Galindo
  17. Introducing the parliament of bodies Paul B. Preciado
  18. Spukken trippen 2 Lars Bang Larsen
  19. Pieces and Masterpieces Jakob Kolding
  20. Still Lifes Vera Palme
  21. Nullerjahre Tenzing Barshee
  22. No Dandy, No Fun Hans-Christian Dany, Valérie Knoll
  23. Triplets Mark von Schlegell
  24. Kontaktlos ist nicht der Standard Ulla Rossek
  25. The Mythology of Modern Law David Bussel
  26. Another Fish Story Jay Chung
  27. A biographical interview with Huang Rui Ariane Müller, Huang Rui, Bei Dao, Mang Ke, Gu Cheng
  28. dp how many times Karl Holmqvist
  29. Save digital tech Mercedes Bunz
  30. Two dark patches Haytham El-Wardany
  31. Reflecting in Sizes Yuki Kimura
  32. Amazon Worker Cage Simon Denny
  33. La Escuela Nueva Florian Zeyfang, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, Alexander Schmoeger
  34. I hope you keep in mind you and I are left behind Michèle Graf, Selina Grüter
  35. da ich nichts weiter tue als mich in mir umzutun Elisa R. Linn
  36. Basketcase part 1 Gerry Bibby
  37. A conversation between Daniel Herleth and Samuel Jeffery Daniel Herleth, Samuel Jeffery
  38. Dear Starship Julian Göthe
  39. The Boulders Amelie von Wulffen
  40. Other people's clothes Carter Frasier
  41. Damn Forest Mark van Yetter
  42. Imprint 19 Starship
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