The Fall of Enthusiasm

Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield

25/12/2014 - 07/01/2015

Dr. Felix 72A, Bucharest, Romania


To Romanians and other enthusiasts of democracy

Get out of Europe!

..Only joking.

25 years ago I joined your revolution. As a student I came to Bucharest to make a film in the name of enthusiasm. I commenced it whilst Ceausescu was still in power, shooting clandestinely all over Romania. I have returned quite a few times since. In the process gathering many hours of footage capturing fragments of destruction, of beauty, of traversal.

And now… what to do with the footage?

What’s important to me is the question whether the promise of democracy has been redeemed, and what difference to the concept of freedom has been made. To which end I propose a series of open-ended discussions seminars and screenings.

I want to share the film I’ve shot. To expose it to your views.

And then there’s the contemporary moment. The British government making it a condition of our staying in the EU that one of its founding principles be crossed out: the free movement of its peoples – and that means you, the Romanians.

I resist this. Where do you stand?

Over the course of the next two weeks the doors of ODD will be open to all-comers. Artist or researcher, philosopher or fan, student or parent, you are welcome. From the birthday of Ceausescu’s end, 25 December 2014, to 7 January 2015, midday to midnight every day you can wander in and talk watch listen – or dance.

The pathology of enthusiasm, the aporia of democracy its chance and risk, the renewal of philosophical nationalism, the necessary failure of communism, wherefore being-in-common?, the gallery space as theatre hall of history – these are the sorts of things we can talk about.

Texts are available for download… but above all else I invite you to read Fernando Pessoa’s Ultimatum! of 1917.

“Europe wants to go from being a geographical designation to a civilized person!”


Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield

Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield, AntiCafe Seneca, 2015. Photo credits Cristi Popescu.

Reading Material


Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield

Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield currently has work showing in Dispositions in Time and Space at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) Bucharest, four sections of his book ‘to come’ The Swerve of Freedom after Spinoza. He was selected for the first Mobile Biennale last summer in Oltenia, Romania. The Spinoza project has involved giving a 24-hour reading of The Ethics (also in the summer, at N Raum Gallery Berlin), and then a reading over 24 hours of the transcription of that reading and discussion (last month at KaaiTheaterStudios Brussels), to be followed by a reading over 24 hours of that reading and discussion (forthcoming in Vienna), and so on. Dronsfield has given performative readings of his work at many galleries, including Wilkinson Gallery London, Focal Point Gallery Southend-on-Sea, Extra City Kunsthal Antwerp, Stroom Den Haag, S.M.A.K. Ghent, Pallas Contemporary Projects Dublin, Sketch Gallery London, and at various other locations, including Cabaret Voltaire Zürich, L’institut francais London, and IKEA Ashton-under-Lyme; has had work included in a number of exhibitions, including la Biennale di Venezia 54 and art:gwanju 12; and has worked collaboratively with artists Ian Kiaer, Gregory Maass & Nayoungim, Benoït Maire, and Haroon Mirza.

Dronsfield is author of Cryptochromism (2007) and Materiality of Theory (2011), and many papers and essays in journals and books, including most recently ‘Filming deconstruction/deconstructing film’ in Callaghan & McQuillan (eds), Love in the Post: From Plato to Derrida (2014), ‘Materiality of theory’ in Elkins (ed), Artists with PhDs: On the New Doctoral Degree in Studio Art (2014); and, forthcoming, ‘Immanent surface: art and the political demand for signification’ in Dejanovic (ed), Nancy and the Political, ‘“A strange image you speak of, he said”: cave painting and the allegory of the cave’ in Mircan & van Gerven Oei (eds), Allegory of the Cave Painting, ‘Philosophers enowning that there be no own (face)’, in Mattar (ed), You Must Make Your Death Public, ‘Democracy to Come’, §10, The Swerve of Freedom after Spinoza, in Sleigh-Johnson (ed), Thames Delta (all 2015).

Until recently Dronsfield was Reader in Theory and Philosophy of Art at the University of Reading, and before that Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art Research at the University of Southampton, and Leverhulme Special Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University. He sits on the Executive Committee of the Forum for European Philosophy at the London School of Economics, is a Permanent Fellow at the London Graduate School, and is a regular member of Faculty of the Collegium Phaenomenologicum Italy. He studied at Birkbeck College University of London, The British Film Institute, University of the Arts London, the Royal College of Art, the Jan van Eyck Academie, and the University of Warwick.

As well as having begun filming in Romania under Ceaușescu’s rule in the summer of 1988, and been present in Bucharest throughout the revolution in 1989, Dronsfield has made a number of return visits to Romania since. These include participating in Bucureşti 2000 with LAB architecture studio, London and Australia: see Bucureşti 2000, Bucureşti: Simetria, 1997, p168; and, together with Metahaven, organising the symposium Regimes of Representation/Representation of Regimes at MNAC in January 2007, with Nicholas Bourriaud, Dronsfield, Chantal Mouffe, and Marcus Steinweg. He also participated in Evicting the Ghost, the London Festival of Architecture 2008, at the Romanian Cultural Institute, London.