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2020 marks 100 years since the publication of Sigmund Freud’s “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.” A turning point in Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, the essay complicated the pursuit of pleasure led by the sexual instinct or libido, ushering in a second, competing desire that moves life in the opposite direction and down a path of negativity and destruction, articulated by Freud as the ‘death drive’. 


With a distinct, sex-positive approach, LOVE SPELLS & RITUALS FOR ANOTHER WORLD presents a cluster of events that together re-address the question of desire from the perspective of the contemporary moment. 


Engaging with queer, feminist and decolonial approaches and drawing on developments in cultural studies more broadly, we move not just beyond Freud’s ‘pleasure principle’ but beyond Freud himself, and invite ourselves to think of desire as ‘schizo-’ instead: “A primary relay to individuated social identity, as in coupling, family, reproduction, and other sites of personal history,” desire, as Lauren Berlant notes in Desire/Love, is “also the impulse that most destabilises people, putting them into plots beyond their control”.  As a kind of evental magick, this destabilisation also binds us together in unexpected ways, carrying the power to perform the impossible: it “reorganises worlds.” 


How, we ask, do we call on this power of desire, reinvigorated today by black, feminist, and queer perspectives, to design rituals that further enable communities of difference and bring about another world?


Keti Chukhrov (National Research University Higher School of

Economics, Moscow) 

Mijke van der Drift (Royal College of Art, London; BAK, Utrecht) 

Antke Engel (Institute for Queer Theory, Berlin)

Chandra Frank (Goldsmiths University, London)

Minou Norouzi (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies)

Nat Raha (Edinburgh College of Art)

Nydia A. Swaby (ICA)



This programme is a Royal Holloway, University of London, PGR-led initiative, curated by Lilly Markaki and convened in collaboration with Lisa Moravec. It is funded by the newly launched School of Performing and Digital Arts, RHUL; the Humanities and Arts Research Institute (HARI); and the Department of Media Arts, RHUL. The film programme, curated by Minou Norouzi is supported by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies; the Arts Council England; and the Austrian Cultural Forum.

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