Mi / 10:00 – 11:30

Hot and Cold

On the Materiality of Memory

Mona Leinung, KWI

Online (Zoom) & Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI), Raum 106, Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

While metaphors of coldness have long shaped the way we talk about modern society, warmer times seem to have dawned: there is no longer any trace of the „cold skeletal hands of rational orders“ or the behavioral doctrines of coldness, which for Helmuth Lethen in the second half of the 20th century still represented the condition of possibility for society. The once „cold world“ is experiencing a climate of outrage, and the collectively heightened affect of the „angry citizen“ has become a symptom of the crisis of representative democracy. At the same time, in the wake of feminist affect theory, figures such as the „angry (Black) woman“ are making themselves heard, representing an important movement in the critical examination of racism and patriarchy, and joining „hot“ movements from Punk to Fridays for Future. Significantly, this climatic shift is taking place against the backdrop of the real climate and environmental crisis, and is particularly evident in the debates surrounding artistic artifacts – e.g., statues and sculptures of historical figures from the colonial era. The recent protests in Europe and North America make it clear that monuments can suddenly become historically heated objects once again. While Marshall McLuhan claimed already in the 1960s that media are capable of „heating up or cooling down the social milieu to a very high degree“ and thus exerting a significant influence on the „emotional climate of a culture“, it is worth asking whether effigies carved in stone may be more than mere scenes of conflict. In their materiality and form, do they already provide the energetic foundation for this social heating and cooling?