Avery F. Gordon

The remains of a prison: fugitive knowledge on the wings of red arrows

House of Literature, Bergen
Østre Skostredet 5, Bergen Map

At 18:00

How to tell the story of a very old place of confinement and punishment? What happens if all the pictures are wrong or missing and the people long gone? What traces and messages might they have left for us to find? Is it possible now, after such terrible treatment, to offer those confined in the prison a more hospitable welcome? This is the hope. In this lecture, Gordon will discuss The Workhouse: Room 2, a collaboration with Berlin artist Ines Schaber produced for documenta(13), which engages with the history of the former monastery, workhouse, and prison Breitenau.

Over time, Breitenau has confined many persons considered extraneous and disposable, subjecting them to a regime of punishment and “correction.” Consisting of photographs, curtain, text, and audio files, The Workhouse: Room 2 presents glimpses of fugitive knowledge that emerge in and around this prison in order to conjure historical alternatives that could have been taken but were not and to contribute to an ongoing archive of re-memory whose aims are not correction.

Photo: Detail of Ines Schraber ́s studio wall for "The Workhouse", 2011, dOCUMENTA (13).

Avery F. Gordon

Avery F. Gordon is a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. During 2013, she was the Writer in Residence at the Birbeck School of Law and Honorary Research Fellow in the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, University of London. She is the author of Notes for the Breitenau Room of The Workhouse (with Ines Schaber); Keeping Good Time: Reflections on Knowledge, Power and People and Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, among other publications. She is the co-host of No Alibis, a weekly public affairs radio program and the keeper of the Hawthorne Archives.


Volt is funded by the City of Bergen and the Arts Council Norway.

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