Archived News Post: Introduction
The Interregnum: Making this Moment Count
Workshop by Robert Sember
16—19 November 2020

This week educator, community organizer, public health researcher and artist Robert Sember will facilitate the weeklong online workshop ‘The Interregnum: Making this Moment Count’ within the context of the Community Engagement II aspect of the program.


The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” – Antonio Gramsci


We are in a time of crisis when the habits of ordinary life are either suspended or shadowed with uncertainty. In ancient Greek, the word krisis names the point in an illness when a patient either begins to recover or their condition worsens. It is a wait-and-see time: we wait for a fever to break, breathing to ease, pain to subside. Krisis ends when we are able to answer the question: Are we moving closer to life or closer to death? Until then, we live a paradox: we must act urgently and we must be patient.


We come together to compare experiences, deepen our understanding, and create ways to be together differently. We strive to end habits of destruction—over- consumption, over-extraction, hyper-individualism, fracturing rather than unifying, war rather than justice—and cultivate habits of life—inter-dependence, take just-enough, celebrate difference, and prepare constitutions for life, all life, rather than profit.


  • The workshop is divided into four sessions:⁣
    Session I. Place | Gathering ⁣
    Session II. Inquire | Resist⁣
    Session III. Trauma | Recovery ⁣
    Session IV. Hope | Love⁣


During the workshop the participants will read and make together and sketch out frameworks for understanding and imagining in this time of trauma, resistance, and hope. Our task is to connect to rather than avoid the possibilities of crisis.


Robert Sember works at the intersection of art, public health, and social justice. He is a member of the sound art collective, Ultra-red, which contributes to political organizing initiatives in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Berlin. In New York, Robert works with the Black and Latino LGBTQ community on a political education and political organizing project rooted in the principles of popular education. Robert teaches interdisciplinary art at Eugene Lang College, The New School in New York City where is also on the faculty of the Lang College’s Prison Education Initiative, which offers college courses in a federal detention center in New York City. Robert is a Senior Associate with C4 Innovations in Boston, USA, where he works on addiction and mental health recovery research and education initiatives and is co-chair of the 400 Years of Inequality initiative’s organizing committee, which supported national observances in 2019 of the 400th anniversary of arrival of the first African in North America to be sold into bondage. From 2009-2001 Robert was a fellow with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics and is currently a teaching artist with Artist Space working with middle school students in New York City public schools on sound-based investigations of local history. He has held teaching posts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the University of Amsterdam’s Summer Institute for Sexuality, Culture, and Society, the Department of World Arts and Culture at the University of California, Los Angeles, the Department of Theater, Ohio University, and the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He is the recipient of the New School’s Distinguished Teaching and Social Justice Teaching awards.

Added: 19 November 2020

Session I. Place | Gathering
Reading: Merrifield, Andy (2020) “Beyond Plague Urbanism.”
williams, Rev. angel Kyodo (2016) Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation
Chapter: “A Different Drum.”

Viewing: National Geographic (2018) “Episode I: Gasp.” One Strange Rock.

Activity: Show how you are placed in the world.


Session II. Inquire | Resist
Reading: Simpson, Leanne Betasamoasake (2017) As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance
Chapter: “Nishnaabeg Internationalism,” & “Conclusion: Toward Radical Resurgent Struggle.”

Stanley, Jason (2020) How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.
Chapter: “Introduction” & “Epilogue.”

Viewing: West, Cornel (2006) “The Gift of Black Folk in the Age of Terrorism.”

Activity: Compose, record, or find an action or statement of resistance.


Session III. Trauma | Recovery
Reading: van der Kolk, Bessel (2014) The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
Chapter: “Losing Your Body, Losing Your Self.”

Federici, Silvia (2020) Beyond the Periphery of the Skin: Rethinking, Remaking, and Reclaiming the Body in Contemporary Capitalism.
Chapter: “In Praise of the Dancing Body” & “Afterward: On Joyful Militancy.”

Viewing: van Ijken, Jan (2015) The Art of Flying: Murmurations.

Loznitsa, Sergei (2016) Austerlitz.

Activity: When do you wish you had spoken up and not remained silent?


Session IV. Hope | Love
Reading: Horvat, Srećko (2016) The Radicality of Love
Chapter: “Foreplay: To Fall in Love, or Revolution” & “Afterplay: The Radicality of Love.”

Parla, Ayşe (2019) A Time for Critique
Chapter: “Critique Without a Politics of Hope?”

Viewing: WonderWhy (2019) How Fungi Made All Life on Land Possible Cosimano,

Mary (2020) Psilocybin, Love and the Meaning of Life: TEDx Talk.

Activity: Diagram a place beyond the horizon of the present.