A Critical Autobiography & Spectral Colloquy: The History of My Unthought

A Lecture Performance after a concept and an idea by Sladja Blazan and a text by Avital Ronell

With Susan Bernstein, Greg Cohen, Judith Hopf, Chris Kondek, Tatjana Mesar, Orthographe, Laurence Rickels, Avital Ronell

Premiered in Berlin at Hebbal am Ufer, June 17, 2010

Susan Bernstein (performer) is professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies at Brown University. She taught at Technische Universität Berlin.

Her work in German, French, English and American literature of the 18th-20th centuries, literary theory, art, Romanticism, philosophy and poetry has been published widely. Susan has written on Nietzsche, Kant, Heine, and Shelley.

She is the author of Virtuosity of the Nineteenth Century: Performing Music and Language in Heine, Liszt and Baudelaire and Housing Problems: Language and Architecture in Goethe, Walpole, Freud and Heidegger (both published by Stanford University Press).

She is currently working on a book project: The Other Synaesthesia.

Sladja Blazan (concept and director) came to academia via theater. After working as a theater dramaturge for a couple of years, she got her Ph.D. in English and American Literature at Humboldt University and found her first academic post at New York University where she cooperated with Avital Ronell as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow. Her work moved from migration to spectrality, which turned out to be two sides of the same coin.

Publications include a monograph on post-socialist literature entitled American Fictionary: Postsocialist Migration in American Literature (Winter 2006), an edited collection, Ghost, Gender, History: Ghost Stories and Alternative Histories (Cambridge Scholars Press 2007), as well as various articles on migration, sexuality, death, ethnicity, race and gender in Anglo-American and German art and literature. She is currently working on a monograph on ghostly figurations in 19th century American literature and culture.

Greg Cohen (music) is a jazz bassist. He is perhaps best known for his work with John Zorn’s Masada quartet; more recently he has been touring with Ornette Coleman, and performed on Coleman’s much-praised Sound Grammar album. He has also often played traditional jazz, including work with Ken Peplowski, Kenny Davern and the filmmaker/clarinettist Woody Allen. He has worked with many musicians, including Tom Waits, David Byrne, and Elvis Costello. In August/September 2006 he was musical director of the Century of Song series at the German arts festival Ruhr Triennale. He invited songwriters and performers such as David Byrne, Holly Cole and Laurie Anderson. The film music for Ed Wood and Fried Green Tomatoes carries his signature.

Judith Hopf (stage design) is a visual artist based in Berlin, and currently a professor for visual art at the Art Academy Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main.  From 1996 until 1998 she organized “supersalons” at bbooks in Berlin, where she organized various performance and art events. Numerous individual and group exhibitions collect Judith’s work in diverse media such as drawing, film, installation, and performance.

Chris Kondek (video) is a theater video artist who began his work in 1990 with the Wooster Group on New York, where he worked on Brace up!, Fish Story and Emperor Jones.  In 1995 he worked with Laurie Anderson on her multi-media concert The Nerve Bible and in 1998 on her opera Songs and Stories from Moby Dick.  In 1999 he moved to Berlin where he worked with Meg Stuart, Stefan Pucher, Armin Petras, Wanda Golonka, Hans-Werner Kroesinger, René Pollesch, Michael Nyman, Trevis Preston, Marianne Weems/The Builder’s Association, Falk Richter, Jossi Wieler und Sebastian Baumgarten.

Chris also works as a theater director. His own work includes Loan Shark (Hebbel am Ufer and Rotterdamse Schouwburg), Stuff ( Zürcher Theater Neumarkt) and the price-winning play Dead Cat Bounce.

Tatjana Mesar (music) is a flautist who performs in improvisational settings, as well as classical, folkloric, jazz and multimedia ones. She collaborates with a wide range of artists encompassing music, dance as well as film, theatre and the visual arts. Collaborations include Vesna Ivanovic (Croatia), Vladimir Mlinaric, (Slovenia), Mirjana Petercol (Germany), band Eastrodeo (Italy), Greg Cohen (USA), Ikue Mori (Japan), Marco Capelli (Italy) Sylvia Courvoisier (Switzerland).

As a performer, Tatjana is intrigued by the role of a performer’s body as a medium for the sound. Studies in yoga and meditation have deeply influenced her perspective on music performance. Her vision is to create an environment where performance practices and the practice of mindfulness meet in harmony.

A native of Croatia, she currently resides between Berlin, Germany and New York, USA.


Orthographe (camera obscura) was created in 2004 around the research work of Alexander Panzavolta and Angela Longo on the optical chamber. The group’s name derives from their first show Orthographe de la physionomie en mouvement, a creation for the Venice Biennale 2005.

Panzavolta and Longo have developed a mechanism “starting” from “the dark room” of Gian Battista Della Porta, the Napoletan scientist and wizard who in his Magiae naturalis 1558 describes how to make use of the dark room to make a sort of artificial reality anticipating the art of cinema; appearance of sound images in movement, something that is no longer theatre, but not yet cinema.

Laurence Rickels (performer) is currently professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Santa Barbara and adjunct professor in the Art and the Film Studies Departments. He is the Sigmund Freud Professor of Media and Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

While his reputation and career seems to traverse a diverse group of interests and institutions, there is at the same time a “continuity shot” to follow throughout in his commitment to psychoanalysis and problems of mourning.

His numerous book titles include: I Think I Am: Philip K. DickThe Devil NotebooksUlrike Ottinger: The Autobiography of Art CinemaNazi Psychoanalysis (3 volumes)The Vampire LecturesThe Case of CaliforniaAberrations of Mourning: Writing on German Crypts.

SPOUT is a vampire short directed by Alex Munoz, based on Larry’s feature screenplay.

Avital Ronell (text and performer) is a University Professor of the Humanities and professor of German, Comparative Literature, and English at New York University . She is Jacques Derrida Professor of Media and Philosophy at the European Graduate School at Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

In 2009 she conducted a series of 8 performances at the Center George Pompidou in Paris, including events with Werner Herzog, Judith Butler, and Laurence Rickels. She conducted an annual seminar with Jacques Derrida at NYU.

The titles of her numerous publications such as The Telephone BookStupidity,Dictations: On Haunted WritingThe Test DriveCrack Wars cover a number of genres and contiguous disciplines.

The postfeminist and philosopher, Avital Ronell, developed her own specific language in order to address what could not be articulated before, and, thus, provided a form of expression for many of her friends and students.