Room Freedom — Séminaire en appartement


Architecture, installation, mixed media

Room Freedom
Séminaire en appartement

Past: April 6 → 7, 2012

Room, Freedom — An appartment-based seminar.

A proposition by Simone Frangi.

The Room, Freedom project investigates private and intimate space as both a site of cultural, political and social practice and a displacement territory for the reception of artistic and theoretical forms. The programme will take shape as a series of apartment-based seminars, with various guest speakers. The seminars will attempt to approach private space ’otherwise’, as a truly critical counter-site, like the “localised utopias” that Foucault discussed — i.e., spaces outside the norm, occupied by singular experiences. However, these experiences are in no way cut off from wider society, and can ultimately provide a way of establishing active connections between private and public space, and of exploring the kinds of norms structuring public space in order to consider them ’otherwise’.

The project title, “Room, Freedom”, is an elliptical rendering of Emily Dickinson’s phrase “This is the room of my freedom”. The phrase suggests an activity at once protected and vertiginously open to public space. The dual nature of space thus emerges — appearing as both physical reality and a virtual field of action.

Friday April 6th: Roman Schmidt at 6 pm and Jean Clam at 7.30 pm Saturday April 7th: Emmanuel Alloa at 4.30 pm and Simone Frangi at 6 pm Free entrance. Booking required:


Friday April 6th 2012

6pm: Roman Schmidt — Private Space, Dissidence and Internationalism

In 1942, Marguerite Duras moved into a large apartment at 5, rue Saint-Benoît. For many years this private space was a site for friendship and solidarity — a meeting place for a host of anti-Stalinian and anti-colonial Saint-Germain-des-Près writers. Much later on, Duras described it as being “like an initiatory house”“Even if only as a type of premonition, it gave us a glimpse of what communism, and the common goal, could look like”. Taking Hölderlin’s phrase die Psyche unter Freunden (“psyche among friends”) as a point of departure, Roman Schmidt attends to the possibility of a ’being-together’ — glimpsed at from within the intimacy of the apartment by the rue Saint-Benoît circle, and later explored and experienced, on the outside. Drawing on letters, manifestos, interviews and journals linked to the historical rue Saint-Benoît experience, Roman Schmidt will articulate a conception of private space as a space of “anticipation” of events yet to arise in the public sphere.

Roman Schmidt is a journalist at Courrier international. He is currently pursuing a PhD (in French -German co-tutelage) on “La Lettre internationale et Liber”. His work on Blanchot’s Revue internationale was published in German under the title Die unmögliche Germeinschaft (Berlin, Kadmos Kultuverlag, 2009).

7.30 pm: Jean Clam — "Apartmentation" — The Intimisation of Space

Taking as his point of departure one of the central concepts in his book L’Intime. Genèses, régimes, nouages, Jean Clam will develop a reflection on the spatial conformation of intimacy in the contemporary moment, and its close ties with private space:

“What emerges from the spatial enclosures intimacy establishes, is its very trajectory through Western culture. Each of these enclosures is tied to a kind of interiority and relational experience. Exploring spaces of intimacy leads to a reconstruction of the fastasmatic dimension of the intimate as “a being apart”, in an apartment — in the literal sense of the term".

His inquiry will consider private space as a site of communication, using this perspective to pursue a reflection on the sociological and political import of the movement towards intimisation which characterises the apartment.

Jean Clam is a philosopher, sociologist, psychologist and CNRS researcher (CERSES: “Sens, Éthique, Société” research centre). His French-language publications include: Trajectoires de l’immatériel. Contributions à une théorie de la valeur et de sa dématérialisation, Paris, CNRS Éditions, 2004; L’Intime : genèses, régimes, nouages, Paris, Ganse Arts et Lettres, 2007 ; Aperceptions du présent. Théorie d’un aujourd’hui par-delà la détresse, Paris, Ganse Arts et Lettres, 2010.

Saturday April 7th 2012

4.30 pm: Emmanuel Alloa — Out of the corner of the eye. Aesthetics of the inapparent

Does public space have a reverse side, a kind of reserve area or storeroom, a private or intimate space into which one may retreat? Emmanuel Alloa will use this interrogation to advance the idea that intimacy is not a question of space, but of gaze: intimacy occurs when one does not feel one is being observed. Yet this does not mean one is not exposed to another kind of gaze, for the intimate and the private surely both create their own kind of visibility. The seminar will explore the hypothesis that what is too close does not become invisible, but inapparent. Can there be an aesthetics of the inapparent which attends to the fringes and margins of objects, to everything which eludes objectification, to everything which remains unseen yet constitutes the tacit backstage or wings from which objects emerge?

Emmanuel Alloa is Assistant Professor in the philosophy department at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) and Eikones Senior Research Fellow / NCCR Iconic Criticism. His publications include: Le contemporain, l’intempestif et l’imminent, in Pylône Magazine, No. 8 (special issue: Qu’est-ce que le contemporain ?, 2012).

6 pm: Simone Frangi — Topology of private space

Grounding her reflection on the work of Gaston Bachelard, Ernst Bloch, Gilles Deleuze and on art and architectural theory (Brian O’Doherty’s critical analysis of the ’White Cube’ and Mark Wigley’s critical analysis of the ’White Wall’), Simone Frangi explores the “materiality of private space” and its topological structure, in order to grasp the structural changes of forms of representation and communication, in a non-neutral environment marked by a practical and symbolic overload. This analysis of private space as a parallel structure to public space will occasion a novel articulation between our constructions of “outside” and “inside”, and the political, cultural and social notions attached to them.

Simone Frangi holds a PhD in Aesthetics and Art Theory and is a researcher in contemporary philosophy and an art critic. In May and June 2012 he will be resident theoretician at Viafarini-DOCVA — Documentation Center for Visual Arts. His recent publications include: “The athlete is the artist, the artist is the athlete. A reading of Matthew Barney’s Hypertrophy”, Rheinsprung 11, No. 3, Basel, 2012 ; “Phénoménologie de l’espace et théorie de la forme. L’influence de Maurice Merleau-Ponty dans l’esthétique de Robert Morris et Robert Barry”, in Maurice Merleau-Ponty et l’esthétique aujourd’hui, Paris: Mimesis, 2012.

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3, square Maubeuge

75009 Paris

T. +33 1 75 50 05 80


Opening hours

Thursday – Saturday, noon – 6 PM
Other times by appointment by phone or email :

The artists

  • Jean Clam
  • Simone Frangi
  • Emmanuel Alloa
  • Roman Schmidt