Sandberg Forum with Franco "Bifo" Berardi
The Sandberg Forum was a lecture series part of Designing Democracy’s Master Programme at the Sandberg Instituut, hosting guests we thought were relevant for the topics each of us were researching about.
At the beginning of the two year master programme, I had the chance to go to a talk 1 where also Franco “Bifo” Berardi was invited to, and took advantage of the situation to invite him as a guest to our Sandberg Forum.
At the time I was outlining my research on the topics of labour, the internet and the evolution of usership in a post-work, post-human world: “Bifo”, being first an instrumental figure in Autonomia Operia, and then a relevant voice in the broader discourse about language, labour and the machinic in nowadays’ reality construction, was a very good fit for the kind of work I was pursuing on.
I proposed him to come to the Sandberg Forum and he accepted without hesitation. We then kept in touch over the following year leading up to his evening lecture.
~Winter 2014 passes, Spring 2015 passes, Summer 2015 passes~
Over the Summer I contacted him again to be sure he was still interested in the program, and fortunately got a confirmation.
Late August and September were spent following the news between Germany and Greece, and I proposed him to talk about Angela Merkel as a new form of internet bot. We quickly reiterated the topics for the evening, setting on questions such as democracy as a formal framework, democracy as a living process, and the role of finance and mathematics in these domains.
In the meanwhile I worked on the visuals for the evening and discussed with Alberto how to arrange the space. We opted to completely ditching chairs for the public, except one for “Bifo”. Instead, we used blankets, which people had to pick up at the entrance and decide if sharing with someone else or not 2. Finally, a big photographic spotlight was used as the only source of light, creating a kind of 70s reminiscent atmosphere—overly chilled and welcoming, but still not familiar. This made also possible to have a nice, fluid conversation between “Bifo” and the people in the room after his lecture.
When Franco arrived, he changed most of the topics he shared with us during the event preparation, and went on on his own: starting with Pico della Mirandola on God and reaching a conclusion with western democracies being a dead and useless thing—since “We all agree on such and such thing, so what’s the point then?”.
Full organisation and production of the event, from guest invitation (newsletter, eventbrite) to the design of the space.
Beside posters and flyers, we also made a video collage (projected in loop on a white board, see below) of clips which could have been relevant for the overall discussion with Franco.