Jan 2020 16 – 18

The New Alphabet School is an initiative of Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Germany. The edition on coding is co-curated by Rahul Gudipudi, and organised in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi, in association with The Common Room and in partnership with The Story Of. Dr. Anja Kovacs is giving a lecture on ‘The Fact or the Matter? On Returning Bodies to Data Governance’ at the opening night of the School. The lectures at the opening night will be followed by a short panel conversation and open discussion.

India is one of the largest digital economies’. Confronted with state and corporate control of digital infrastructures, it is seeing an abundance of gig work’ (temporary employment) and platform-based economies that promise new opportunities for entrepreneurship and labor. Meanwhile, AI based solutions are already being tested to replace human interaction and labor for repetitive and predictable work across industries. Over a billion identities in India are digitized today and over a 100 million amongst these participate in digital economies as consumers every day, with the government’s vocal intentions to bridge this disparity with socio-technical imaginaries of urgent last mile connectivity. However, technology based solutions still have mostly reestablished and expanded existing inequities and power relations of capital, gender and human exceptionalism. Instead of offering accountability, accessibility and opportunity, these socio-technical imaginaries act as tools for resource and customer acquisition for power and capital. As countries and economies accelerate further and compete to become attractive global marketplaces, they leave key ethical, social and ecological concerns behind. How do we encode and inscribe sustainability, ethics and care within our techno-social relations and digitopian imaginaries of the future? What role can governance and citizens play in enabling these imaginaries?

The opening night of New Alphabet School #3: Coding features lectures on these issues by Felix Stalder and Anja Kovacs, followed by a discussion lead and moderated by Rahul Gudipudi.

A more detailed program for the opening night is available here and for the following day of public events here.

About New Alphabet School: 

Is it possible to imagine an overabundance of multifarious fields of languages, knowledge production and learning practices beyond one universal matrix? Can common reference points and collective action be enabled without monopolistic force? How can knowledge be both situated and globally relevant?

The New Alphabet School is a collaborative self-organized school for artistic, curatorial, archival, poetic, activist, critical and affirmative research practices. Out of the conviction that theory can only be developed through localized ethical practices, the School probes solidarity between different forms of knowledge production. Over the course of two years, it offers a space for research approaches outside of academic, disciplinary or genre constraints, seeking different methods of learning and unlearning in order to rethink the idea of criticism as a practice of shared responsibility and care.

From Berlin to Dakar, from Gaza City to Bubaque and Havana: The New Alphabet School combines HKW-based editions and site-specific events with partner institutions worldwide, such as Goethe-Institut /​Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi, INSTAR – Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt in Havana or Redes da Maré in Rio de Janeiro. These cooperations will analyze taxonomies, categories, but also legislations or institutional frameworks in order to understand the logics of current structures of knowledge production. The project focuses on vernacular, opaque or highly differentiated ways of knowing which are in danger of being increasingly subsumed into simplified universalizing structures. In a spirit of solidarity, the school develops strategies of de- and reconstructing processes of learning.

The New Alphabet School is a participatory format, which invites artists, scholars and activists worldwide to attend the public programs as well as the corresponding workshops. Participants of any New Alphabet School workshop session become part of the School network and can propose and facilitate workshops in the upcoming editions.