monthly lectures
Kunst & Kunsttheorie


Care has become the watchword for institutional accountability in a post-pandemic era. Biological precariousness coupled with socio-political uncertainty have demanded institutional care in several forms. The demand for care has seen the emergence of the ‘affective institution’ which appropriates the language and policy of care and positions itself as a care-giver to its communities. In this talk I look at how care is being weaponised in this emergence of ‘affective institutions’ and lay out the mechanics and consequences of buying into these new politics of disaffection that are being couched as care. In identifying the problem, I also offer touchstones that draw from feminist theory, critical media studies, and institutional structures to resist and reframe the need for care.

We live in polarised worlds. The digital distancing and pandemic alienation of the last years seem to have produced seemingly insurmountable conversations. Ossification of positions, opaqueness of politics, and the blackbox of misinformation seem to have foreclosed the possibility of dialogue and respectful debate. Through filter-bubbles and echo chambers constructed by networked algorithms and computational cultures, we seem to either only talk to people like us, or shout at people who disagree with us.

Empathy is often given as a solution to these situations. If only we think like the other, feel like the other, put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes, it seems, we will resolve this virulent deadlock that has become the status quo of our times. I propose that while empathy is an affective state, it needs materiality, labour, and intention that has to go beyond ‘ feeling like the other’.

In this workshop, we explore what ‘embodied empathy’ looks like, by producing a gallery of paranoid objects, and learning through collective care, to diffuse and take care of these objects and subjects of paranoia. Through the articulation of our paranoias, and acceptance of critique without dismissing it as paranoid, we might be able to find new forms of generating, holding, and expanding the scope of empathy as an antidote to the condition of only speaking to ourselves.



Nishant Shah forscht derzeit zu Künstlicher Intelligenz, digitaler Subjektivität sowie zu Konstitution und Effekten von Falsch-Information. Zu diesem Thema erschien auch im Frühjahr 2021 sein jüngstes Buch „Really Fake“ (University of Minnesota Press).

Anliegen seiner wissenschaftlichen sowie praktisch- ästhetischen Forschung ist es, zur Bildung von „inclusive, diverse, resilient, and equitable societies“ beizutragen. In seiner Doktorarbeit mit dem Titel „The Technosocial Subject: Cities, Cyborgs and Cyberspace“ erforschte er techno-soziale Identitäten, die an der Schnittstelle zwischen Justiz, digitalen Technologien und alltäglichen kulturellen Praktiken in aufstrebenden Gesellschaften wie Indien entstehen. Nishant Shah war Asia Research-Stipendiat und untersuchte im Rahmen seines Stipendiums Kosten und Infrastruktur für den Bau von IT- Städten wie Shanghai. Er ist außerdem Autor des Artikels „Whose Change is it Anyway? – Towards a future of digital technologies and citizen action in emerging information societies“, in dem er versucht die Debatte über digitalen Aktivismus und die Veränderungen im globalen Kontext wieder aufzugreifen. Zudem interessiert er sich für die kritische Intervention in Diskussionen zu Digital Humanities und zu den Bedingungen des technologischen Wandels.

Nishant Shah ist Professor für Aesthetics and Culture of Technologies an der ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem (NL). Er ist Mitgründer und Forschungsleiter am Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, Indien. Nishant Shah ist im Führungsausschuss des MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Project (USA) sowie im Media Art Histories collective (Lettland). Er ist außerdem am Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Consortium (Taiwan/Südkorea/Hong Kong) beteiligt und einer der Schlüsselpartner des globalen Network of Centers for Internet and Society am Berkman Centre for Internet & Society, Cambridge, MA/USA.