Rabih Mroué, Sniper, 2012
Courtesy of Sternberg Press

“The Space of Agonism”
published by Sternberg Press

January 22 2013
4:32 PM

In September 2012, Nikolaus Hirsch and Markus Miessen launched the book series “Critical Spatial Practice,” published by Sternberg Press in Berlin and developed alongside the Städelschule program of the same name. In light of popular uprisings taking place worldwide, the series is framed as a reflection on links between architecture and the physical environment. “The Space of Agonism,” the freshly-pressed second book in the series, presents a selection of conversations between Markus Miessen and political philosopher Chantal Mouffe. The book unites Mouffe’s interest in “conflictual consensus” with Miessen’s interest in conflict-based forms of participation; the term “demoicracy” is coined therein to refer to democratic forms that maintain the pluralism of individual constituents. In the work, both intellectuals attempt to unveil the positive effects of a certain form of political conflict (agonism) in order to counter post-political claims that lead to extremism and antagonism. Accessible and informal, the series of discussions are a captivating point of view on the current worldwide economic and political turmoil. The book also contains “Sniper,” a visual essay by Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué featuring videos created by Syrian protesters. The project —disconcerting and fascinating— focuses on the moment of eye contact between sniper and dissident, when the gun’s line of sight and the cell-phone camera lens meet. (Natalie Esteve)