“At a pre-Manifesta 7 workshop on the notion of ‘lesser evil’, one of the themes of this summer’s forthcoming biennial, Mies van der Rohe’s High Modernist aphorism ‘less is more’ was charged with political meaning. On the first weekend of February an international ensemble of critics, writers, philosophers, scholars and curators convened at Bard to address the urgent question of what constitutes the ‘lesser evil’, a question that presents itself as the paradigm of our time.
In contrast to the popularity of the ‘metaphysics of evil’, ‘lesser evil’ is a political term. It has been invoked in a staggeringly diverse set of contexts – from individual situational ethics through parliamentary-political choices to international relations. As Eyal Weizman, one of the organizers, put it: ‘The lesser evil has recently been prominently invoked in the context of attempts to govern the economics of violence in the context of the “war on terror”, and to moderate the power of brutal regimes, but as well in manoeuvring through the paradoxes and complicities of human rights and humanitarian aid.’” –Frieze, April 2008
Joshua Simon is an art curator, writer and filmmaker born in Tel Aviv, Israel. In March 2012 he curated the exhibition Iran, in opposition to Israeli government plans to go to war with Iran in order to prevent war with Iran. Also in 2012 he was pointed chief curator of The Bat Yam art Museum in the city of Bat Yam, Israel.
Eyal Sivan is an Israeli filmmaker and critic noted for his criticisms of Israeli policies. His first film, Aqabat-Jaber, passing through, released in 1987 follows the daily life of Palestinian refugees at the Aqabat-Jaber camp in the West Bank. The film won numerous awards.
Eyal Weizman is a tough, smart, controversial Israeli architect and theorist whose work explores the political struggle in the Occupied Territories through design, urban planning, research, and map-making. Weizman has designed maps of the West Bank for the human rights group B’Tselem and co-authored their report “Land Grab” in 2002. The following year, he and fellow Israeli architect Rafi Segal organized the exhibition “A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture,” shown at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York and around the world.(The project was originally commissioned by the Israeli Association of Architects for the World Congress of the Union Internationale Des Architectes in Berlin in 2002, but was quickly cancelled for political reasons by the same organization.)
Renata Salecl is a Slovene philosopher, sociologist and legal theorist. She is a senior researcher at the Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law at the University of Ljubljana. She has been a visiting professor at London School of Economics and at Birkbeck College University of London, lecturing on the topic of emotions and law.
Simon J. Critchley is an English philosopher currently teaching at The New School, primarily writing on politics, religion, ethics, and aesthetics. Critchley works from within the tradition of continental philosophy. He argues that philosophy commences in disappointment, either religious or political. These two axes may be said largely to inform his published work: religious disappointment raises the question of meaning and has to, as he sees it, deal with the problem of nihilism; political disappointment provokes the question of justice and raises the need for a coherent ethics.
Adi Ophir is an Israeli philosopher. Professor Ophir teaches philosophy at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. He is also a fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute where he directs an interdisciplinary research project on “Humanitarian Action in Catastrophes: The Shaping of Contemporary Political Imagination and Moral Sensibilities.” Ophir’s recent book The Order of Evils offers a moral theory that emphasizes the socially structured existential and political nature of evil. He argues that evils, like pain, suffering, loss, and humiliation, are “superfluous evils” that can often be prevented but are not.
Ariella Azoulay is an Israeli art curator, filmmaker and theorist of photography and visual culture. She is Director of the Photo-Lexic Research Group at the Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University. An expert in visual culture and photography, Ariella Azoulay focuses her research on how history is told through visual mediums — photographs, film, drawings, and other visual elements — and how these provide a level of detail and context not provided solely by the written word. She comes to Brown from a rich career of teaching, writing, and curating in Tel Aviv.