Tue 28 Mar 2023

Reading Group: Ken Chen’s “Authenticity Obsession, or Conceptualism as Minstrel Show”



Femke SneltingEva Weinmayr

Reading Group: Ken Chen’s “Authenticity Obsession, or Conceptualism as Minstrel Show”

Starting from Kenneth Goldsmiths’ appropriation of the autopsy of police-murdered Michael Brown as a piece of conceptual poetry, Ken Chen asks challenging questions about the way this incident was not an accident.

From reading this text, we understood that an anti-colonial, feminist practice of Open Content would need to formulate “a politics of appropriation”. Without it, it risks repeating the colonial/white (?) gesture of treating the world as resource (primary, “raw” material, “dry text, pure content, pure evidence, anthropology), to render it dumbly into things, mere material to own; a site of violation; or simply something to instrumentalize”. (Chen 2015)

What is the line separating one writer as a poet of witness and another as a poet of expropriation—and what prevents either from being a producer of the kitsch of atrocity?

Conceptual Poetry has no politics of appropriation. One could say that the movement’s major theoretical texts spend significantly more time discussing, say, John Cage, Sol Le Witt, and Walter Benjamin than they do the power relations of cultural exchange. (Chen 2015)

Reading instruction

We would ask you to read the text beforehand, and then when we meet, we will read some parts together more closely.

Literature List

Ken Chen (11 June 2015). “Authenticity Obsession, or Conceptualism as Minstrel Show”, Asian American Writers’ Workshop,



Femke Snelting

Femke Snelting develops projects at the intersection of publishing, feminisms, and Free Software. In various constellations, she works on re-imagining computational practices to disinvest from technological monoculture and the regime of The Cloud.

With Miriyam Aouragh, Seda Gürses and Helen Pritchard, she runs The Institute for Technology in the Public Interest, a trans-practice and para-academic gathering of activists, artists, engineers and theorists that creates spaces for articulating what computational infrastructures in the “public interest” might be when “public interest” is always in-the-making.

With Jara Rocha, she edited Volumetric Regimes: Material Cultures of Quantified Presence (Open Humanities Press, 2022). The publication results from a collective disobedient research project which interrogated the concrete and at the same time fictional entities of “bodies” in the context of volumetric technologies.

In the research project Ecologies of Dissemination ​​​​​​ she develops, together with Eva Weinmayr, feminist and decolonial approaches to Open Access.

Until 2021, she was responsible for artistic direction of Constant, an association for art and media based in Brussels. Constant generates performative publishing, curatorial processes, poetic software, experimental research and educational prototypes in local and international contexts.

Femke regurlarly teaches at New Performative Practices (Stockholm University of the Arts) and supports artistic research at MERIAN (Maastricht). She also contributes to Nubo, a cooperative which provides locally hosted, Open Source digital services.


Eva Weinmayr

Eva Weinmayr’s collaborative practice is grounded in contemporary art, radical education and institutional analysis. In 2020 she published her doctoral thesis, titled Noun to Verbon a MediaWiki. This research is concerned with the micropolitics of publishing from an intersectional, feminist perspective. (HDK-Valand, University of Gothenburg, SE)

As interims chair of faculty Art and Education at Munich Art Academy (2022-23) she co-initiated together with students kritilab, an open source platform for discrimination-critical teaching in the arts. From 2019 to 22 she co-led the EU-funded collective research and study programme “Teaching to Transgress Toolbox” inspired by US activist, teacher and theorist bell hooks (with erg, Brussels, BE).

As part of Ecologies of Dissemination (HDK-Valand, 2023-24) she is currently Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University (UK). Ecologies of Dissemination​​​​​​, a collaboration with artist Femke Snelting, seeks strategies for dissemination and a politics of re-use that acknowledge the tensions between feminist methodologies, decolonial knowledge practices and principles of Open Access. More specificly, they explore in which way the current drive drive to universal access policies might overlook relational aspects.

Recent artistic research-based projects include “Teaching the Radical Catalog – a Syllabus” (2021-22, with Lucie Kolb), “Library of Inclusions and Omissions” (2016-20), “The Piracy Project” (2010-15, with Andrea Francke), AND Publising (2010-ongoing, with Rosalie Schweiker).