Description: The 5th (Dis)Appearance Lab is a collaborative unit that stages original events in different venues worldwide. Founded in 2014, the figures involved are established authors and thinkers who combine philosophy, literature, art, and storytelling to offer dynamic insights into the known and unknown aspects of our global reality. The lab thereby marks the return of the wandering philosopher, an ancient figure that has since fallen off the map of the modern age.
5th: The poet Federico Garcia Lorca starts a verse with the line, “I had killed the fifth moon.” The mystic Rasputin underwent five assassination attempts by the Russian Imperial Guard. The playwright Antonin Artaud nearly died of meningitis at age 5. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent his adult life wandering between five cities: Sils Maria, Genoa, Rapallo, Tautenburg, and Turin. There are five primary forms of fortune-telling: hydromancy, pyromancy, cheiromancy, aeromancy, geomancy. The fox (kitsune) in Japanese folktales grows five tails which designate its magical properties. The writer Reinaldo Arenas wrote five novels of a secret history called “Pentagonia.” There are five stages in the formation of a solar system.
(Dis)Appearance: The things sought after here are apparitional: they appear and disappear at will. They perfect the art of materialization and vanishing. Such is the nature of living dangerously, and with it the short duration of enchantment.
Intention: To track the most provocative ideas, artifacts, and phenomena rising and fading across different territories of the contemporary world. To construct and theorize things of an ephemeral, amorphous, fragmented, and nomadic nature. To generate a complex, fractal vision of the world against the backdrop of its most volatile spaces. An atlas of (dis)appearance (i.e. of emergent and extinguishing realms).
Methodology: To take obscure incidents and turn them into fast-paced, enigmatic lines of inquiry. To extract the intricacy and intrigue of these episodes and re-form them as short, powerful thought-images in writing and also as a series of brief yet staggering imagistic presentations.
Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh (Ph.D. Columbia University, 2004) is a professor of Comparative Literature at Babson College. His interest is in rising currents of radical thought in the Middle East and the West, specifically exploring the concepts of chaos, violence, illusion, silence, sectarianism, mania, and apocalyptic writing. He has written six books to date—including The Chaotic Imagination: New Literature and Philosophy of the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), Inflictions: The Writing of Violence in the Middle East (Continuum 2012), The Radical Unspoken: Silence in Middle Eastern and Western Thought (Routledge, 2013), and Insurgent, Poet, Mystic, Sectarian: The Four Masks of an Eastern Postmodernism (SUNY Press, 2015)—and is also co-editor of the Suspensions book series (Bloomsbury).
Una Chung (Ph.D. Graduate Center of the City University of New York) is a professor of media and global studies at Sarah Lawrence College. Her work focuses on Asian American literature and film, late 20th-century transnational East and Southeast Asian cultural studies, postcolonial theory, ethnic studies, globalization, affect, and new media, and she has written on subjects ranging from spectrality, horror, reincarnation, and contagion.
Dejan Lukic is a teacher and writer. He is institutionally trained as an anthropologist (Ph.D. Columbia University, 2007) and self-trained as a philosopher (with a little help from the Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven). He is currently teaching at the School of Visual Arts, and previously at Parsons School of Design, Reed College, Rutgers University, and Columbia University. He gave a series of talks at the Whitebox Art Center in New York and at the Global Center for Advanced Studies in Slovenia. He has published two books, Phantom Territoriality and Elemental Disappearances (with Jason Mohaghegh), and numerous essays on art. He also runs a philoso-therapy practice.