Podcast – The Feelings of Concrete

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Podcast - The Feelings of Concrete

Participants: Mihaela Brebenel

On 23 June 2020, in the midst of the BLM Protests in London, the Desecration of War Memorials Bill was put before the House of Commons. It proposed amendments to the Criminal Damage Act of 1971 and aimed to safeguard historic monuments across the UK. As new restrictions around public protests were introduced and protections for protestors were removed, statues were boarded up and protected against “baying mobs.” Amidst the ongoing pandemic, the UK Home Office planned and carried out the deportation of almost 50 Black British people from the Windrush generation. Exploring these unfolding events, Brebenel reflects on the meaning of refusal and friction in UK legislation in what has been labelled “unprecedented times,” and asks what possibilities exist for Black lives when laws and legislation protect the feelings of monuments to imperialism. They perform this work from a place of learning and unlearning, from a place of whiteness and witnessing, and by scratching at the surface of work by Sylvia Wynter, Saidiya Hartman, and Alexander Weheliye.

Mihaela Brebenel is a screen and visual studies researcher based in the UK. They are interested in feminist and queer practices, as well as the aesthetics and politics of screen (and other) technologies. They work as a Lecturer in Digital Cultures at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton and are part of the Archaeologies of Media and Technology Research group.

About transmediale

For over thirty years transmediale has been one of the key leading international events for discourse and critical reflection on post-digital theory and practice. As Germany’s premier media art festival, the festival has become an influential event in the calendar of theorists, artists, activists and makers and attracts a diverse audience interested in art and culture. The festival is renowned for generating diverse, urgent and necessary debate around how digital technologies affect the lived human experience of the contemporary now. It has an extensive international network of partners including CTM, Winchester School of Art, Aarhus University and the Vilém Flusser Archive at the Universität der Künste Berlin. The festival is committed to continuous reflection on socio-political discourse and experimentation with structure and formats that challenge the conventions of how culture is experienced and understood. This has resulted in the creation of strong programming in various formats and models that build an understanding of the many intersecting fields that coalesce in the field of media arts. This has built transmediale into a dynamic festival that engages with experimentation and takes interdisciplinary artistic risks. At the core of the festival is a philosophy that continuously rethinks what culture is, where it takes place and what modes of engagement we offer for audiences.


These pre-recorded artistic and discursive contributions explore individual and collective forms of refusal that relate to institutional practices of labour, knowledge and values. The contributions explore how tactics of refusal open up possibilities for rethinking the values embedded within public and private institutions.