Hostile Takeovers. On Violence and Media (2006)


23 July to 5 August, 2006

A hostile takeover is a company’s attempt to acquire another company against the wishes of target company’s management, shareholders, and board of directors. To describe this action, very often metaphors that concern excessive consumption are used: the aggressor devours its prey and finds satisfaction in digesting all financial gains involved. But, at a closer look, the success of the takeover is foremost based on rather sublime mechanisms that lure the shareholders into selling or exchanging their shares and therefore giving away their means of control. The hostile takeover operates with soft persuasion, seduction, bribery and it rather resembles a subvertive infiltration of enemy territory than an open attack. The single shareholder is a tiny particle within powerful dynamics that he himself cannot fully understand or completely overlook. Due to his share possession, he has the choice to follow the aggressive offer or to counteract. However, this choice seems to be irrelevant in consideration of the takeover at large. Yet, the shareholder’s decision can initiate massive stock exchange and therefore lead to the successful completion of the takeover. How can we transfer this vocabulary to the field of media and performance? Even though the media is usually highly involved in shaping public opinion about hostile takeovers, here we do not consider media as journalistic means of control but rather as socially important cultural practice. Thus, hostile takeovers can be understood and described as media and performative mechanisms that shape and reshape a society and culture while heavily relying on the instruments of soft persuasion, seduction, bribery. Media users, viewers, audiences are drawn into the hidden dynamics of media takeovers. The aggressive aspect of these mechanisms points to a certain implication of ‚violence’ and can be traced on different levels of analysis. This year’s IPP Summer School is interested in the powerful and violent impact of systems of representation that can take control of what is to be seen and what is forced to remain invisible. This approach leads to the question of how performance and media art can mark and indicate these power structures by way of a critical “mise en scène” that involves intermediality and media clash. Furthermore, the IPP Summer School investigatescultural constructions of violent spectacle and representation. What mutual influences do we find in the interplay of cultural epistemes and the representation of violence in historical and modern media? How can a historical and historiographical perspective pin down the cultural construction of the imagery of violence? Thirdly, the IPP Summer School will come back to the capitalistic echo of the term ‚hostile takeover’:
Commercialization and globalization of media systems invade cultures and impact the political realities of a society. The tense opposition between the workings of capitalism and the conservative tendencies of repressive political systems expresses its dynamics on media and performance playgrounds: Filmic representations of violence can, on one hand, become marketing factors; on the other hand, the global factor of media enterprises and the free circulation of their products may counter political repression and create global public response.
The IPP Summer School „Hostile Takeovers. On Media and Violence“ follows an explicitly political perspective. The seminars and projects focus on the interrelations between economic-political power and the cultural negotiations of media and performance as they are expressed in meaningful representations of violence. 




Seminar 1
Making (In)Visible. Representation as Violent Act

The crossing of different media can result in a Media Clash that violently marks ruptures and gaps in the representational
mechanisms. The same counts for intercultural encounters that intertwine medial levels and sign systems of a cultural archive. These visible clashes lead to an understanding of representation as an operative unit that powerfully designs aesthetic and medial performances. Intentionally or non-intentionally, the representational act that determines the elements that are to be excluded or included creates the politics of representation. The act of representation as such always contains political momentum and can therefore become an act of violence in the sense of oppressing certain issues and forcefully making visible others.

Seminar 2
Martin Puchner and Freddie Rokem
Unfriendly Take-Overs. Commercialization and Culture
Global marketing strategies of picture based industries fuel one’s desire to consume media and to adapt to its representational patterns. Yet globalized marketing strategies of media also put pressure on repressive political systems and may thus lead to a consciousness of systemic violence. What kind of images do we see when this medial industry is embedded in a repressive political system? This seminar will rely on theories and methodology of cultural studies and tackle such questions as: Which medial strategies are behind the mechanisms of commercialization? How do globalization and its ‚collateral damages’ actually impact on a culture and society? What relationships can we find between the representation of violence and the real violence of a political system?

Seminar 3
Joachim Fiebach and Friedemann Kreuder
Flesh for Fantasy. Historical Constructions of Violence

In the past, violence permeated western societies in different forms of cultural heritage, either of the official institutionalised kind (e.g. war, judicial system, rhetoric) or as part of the popular culture (folk-festivals, carnival, entertainment, sports etc.). Many artists took/ take a particular interest in adopting and transposing established traditions of violence for their work. The seminar title may be understood from two different points of view: Firstly, as an aesthetic strategy pursued in the theatre and the media, and secondly, on the basis of a critical approach to such instances of stage violence in theatre and media history.



Workshop 1
Markus Kiefer
Violent Media
The Mainz based media artist Markus Kiefer will involve all workshop participants in producing and re-producing medial
frames and formats that are suspected to transmit violent messages. In co-operation with the Electronic Media Center at Mainz University the workshop will introduce into different techniques and concepts of media production and media art.

Workshop 2
Dominique Henz
Violent Spaces
The workshop will combine concepts of site specific performance and live art to explore different spaces inscribed with violent events and structures as for example the state prison as a space of criminal and disciplinary violence. The students will elaborate performative concepts to understand and re-shape these strange and estranging spaces.



International Academic and Professional Staff:


Joachim Fiebach (Berlin, D)
Baz Kershaw (Bristol, UK)
Markus Kiefer (Mainz, D)
Friedemann Kreuder (Mainz, D)
Peter Marx (Mainz, D)
Martin Puchner (New York, USA)
Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv, IL)
Kati Röttger (Amsterdam, NL)
Constanze Schuler (Mainz, D)
Malgorzata Sugiera (Krakow, POL)
Meike Wagner (Mainz, D)

Fees: 70 Euro for course programme/ 200 for course programme and accommodation
Location: Alte Mensa (Forum universitatis), on campus