Thuistezien 185 — 22.02.2021

Frans-Willem Korsten
Critical Making 2019

The initial plan for his talk is to examine what the conditions are under which we can critically make, and what happens if these conditions are critical in themselves. First, he aims to clarify what making to him means. Coming from the field of humanities, Korsten regards himself as a maker. As he points out, humanities have always been about making, although the field, since the entrance of the last decade, has come to be seen predominantly as a site for reflection. According to him, it seems crucial to turn humanities away from this position. The reasons for Korsten’s interest in making appeared as a result of a project he was working on, which concerned the role of art and literature on the limits of the law. It was at this point, he found himself more interested in the forces of procedures than the talk about rights, based on the fact that you cannot make rights but you can make procedures.

Based on a life-long interest in self organizing communities, Korsten aims to make change although he acknowledges that changing the status quo of the way our lives are conditioned is a highly complex process. It cannot simply start with people having a desire to change. It must be a need that is highly visible in society. Much of the social, cultural and political mechanisms that are visible today dates back to the 19th century and were caused by forms of collective mass suffering and despair that affected several generations of people. Hence, this fundamental change did not happen due to idealist experiments but rather due to a vast number of people who could no longer bear to live in their circumstances.

In length of this, Korsten proposes that critical conditions should be considered with the issues under critical conditions. And, as he states, conditions are in fact critical, if we try to look at the dutch citizens as intensive care patients — entirely dependent on higher destructive forces to continue their lives. He suggests to look back to times where small scale initiatives would grow out to a larger scale such as the polderboards or the farmers banks — they occurred based on a need for a large group of people. However, it is not easy as it would require new laws of protection to protect forces of commercial parties to destroy it and legal authorities to grant the permission. Frans-Willem Korsten, Senior University Lecturer and professor at Leiden University, was invited to give a talk at the symposium ‘Making Matters’ (2019). Organised by the group ‘Critical Making’, a collaboration between PhDArts / ACPA, Willem de Kooning Academy, Waag, Het Nieuwe Instituut and West The Hague.

Image: Eco-Cathedral by Louis Le Roy (1924 — 2012), Built 1983 to 2000, Mildam, Friesland, The Netherlandsnds

Text: Rosa Zangenberg