Freddie Rokem

The Scenarios of Walter Benjamin's “Kritik”: Presentations and Representations of Violence / Lecture

Part of “Violence of Inscriptions”


English / 60 minutes

Walter Benjamin's 1921 essay “Critique of Violence” (Zur Kritik der Gewalt) can be read as a 'philosophical performance' focusing on the conceptual aspects as well as the bodily expressions of “Gewalt” (meaning ‘violence’, but also referring to 'force' and 'power'). Beginning with a traditional Kantian “Kritik” the essay gradually develops into a self-reflexive scenario of resistance and protest, incorporating classical texts as well as more recent narratives and events within the formal, legal discourse. Following the multiple failures of the rational/traditional “Kritik,“ the second part of the essay presents what Benjamin terms 'mythical violence' – exemplified by the petrified figure of Niobe, to whom Antigone compares herself before her death – and 'divine violence' based on the biblical account of Korah and his band who are annihilated when they protest against the priestly authority of Moses.

Rokem wants to suggest that Benjamin's scenario – facing “Gewalt” – is based on Kafka's parable “Before the Law” (Vor dem Gericht), depicting the endless postponement of clarity and understanding experienced by the man from the country. In order to approach “Gewalt” it must be inscribed in a narrative where the tensions and interactions between the gestures of 'presentation' and 'representation' concealed within the Benjaminian notion of “Darstellung” gradually unfold. Like in Kafka's parable, the attempts to reach a full understanding are finally aborted. 



  • Past
    Sun 5.3.2017, 17:00 / HAU2


Hallesches Ufer 34, 10963 Berlin

Wheelchair users are kindly requested to register their attendance at least one day before the performance. Thank you for your understanding. If you need help, please contact our Ticketing & Service team at +49 (0)30 259004-27 or send us an email to

HAU3000 / Positions, Projects, Publications

The Glowing Room

Text by Hendrik Otremba.

An Introduction to “Collectivize Facebook”

By Jonas Staal

“Collectivize Facebook” is a lawsuit aimed to turn Facebook into public property, initiated by artist Jonas Staal and lawyer Jan Fermon. Read here Staal’s introduction to the project.

“Manifestos for Queer Futures”

Video Documentation

As part of the festival “The Present Is Not Enough – Performing Queer Histories and Futures”, HAU initiated an open call for artists based in Berlin, who were invited to submit proposals for their Manifestos for Queer Futures.