Michel de Certeau and the practice of everyday life, dinner with performative lectures

This is one of the earliest (1999) projects in my practice where eating a meal together was central to collective research. De Geuzen, Riek Sijbring, Femke Snelting, and I programmed and designed a performative dinner accompanied by different textual table coverings and take-home quotes related to the work of Michel de Certeau. In this respect, many surfaces could be read as a kind of primer on his key concepts.

Michel de Certeau has been an important figure in shifting modes of analysis away from the study of media as object or textual surface towards the research of how people use, interpret and reinvent media for their own purposes. As an ethnologist and historian, de Certeau refused to remain faithful to any singular specialised discipline. The theoretical framework from which he operated was impressively broad, traversing the lines between anthropology, sociology, philosophy, history, mysticism, and literature. He radically questioned his own position within discursive practices by problematising the inevitable power relation that arises in studying a subject while simultaneously laying bare the numerous limitations of representation. Beyond the more self-reflexive aspects of his project, he examined how the weak attain power through subtle tactics of manipulation and play. According to de Certeau, suppressed voices emerge through the employment of guises, appropriation of media, and the creation of interruptions. As he points out with acuity in his book, The Practice of Everyday Life (1974) “Everyday life invents itself by poaching in countless ways on the property of others”.

Guest Speakers were:

Rob van Kranenburg (1964) Worked and taught at Tilburg University as a research assistant after his studies in Language and Literature. Currently, he is working in Ghent developing and designing idiosyncratic and explorative online learning environments in the culture curriculum. As a writer, he is part of the arts collective Alarrb.

Mike Tyler (Ventura, California, 1964) Artist/garden designer/filmmaker currently based in Amsterdam. His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and festivals including Kunsthalle Bern, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.