Doctoral Students

Torben Körschkes
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Research summary

Spatial Imaginations and the Chaos-World

In June 2023, French President Emanuel Macron condemned the protesters following the death of teenager Nahel Merzouk at the hands of a police officer in Nanterre. Macron said that the protesters were exploiting Merzouk's death to "cause chaos and attack our institutions" (Le Monde Diplomatique, August 2023). Macron's statement contains several points that are central here: 1) the linking of a notion of community with a spatial order, expressed through institutions and the street occupied by the protesters; 2) the threat to this order by the Other; 3) the concept of 'chaos', which has popped up more frequently in the statements of politicians worldwide and which, in addition to its meaning as precisely this threat, for Derrida represents the precondition for the political, i.e. the negotiation of the question of how we want to live together.

Based on this observation, the aim of the research is to develop artistic tools and methods to understand, frame, and imagine space in the 'chaos-world'. The term chaos-world is borrowed from the philosopher and writer Édouard Glissant. It serves here as a framework to capture both the utopian moment of unpredictable encounters as well as the subjective and collective overload resulting from the apparent impossibility of dealing with the complexity of the 21st century. Both require an analysis as well as a renewal of spatial imaginations if we understand space with the geographer Doreen Massey as the dimension of our coexistence.

Through performative readings, installations, and drawings, the research questions the standards of spatial representation and aims at a poetic and speculative investigation of the connections between notions of community and space: How might these connections be broken and re-imagined? Poetics here does not mean a romanticized 'clinging to a world' ('Weltnachhängen'), but the detachment of signs from established frames of reference, i.e. an experiment with our relations in the world.



Torben Körschkes (1990, DE) is an artist and experimental spatial designer. In essays, montages, installations, and fictions, he seeks to challenge the relationship between concepts of space, community, and complexity.

He is part of the design and research collective HEFT, which deals with questions of socio-political spaces, as well as studio lose, a collaborative design studio with Ina Römling and Frieder Bohaumilitzky. He studied design at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen and HFBK Hamburg, where he completed his MFA on contemporary salons in 2018.

Recent activities include: lecturing at HAW Hamburg (2023-24), a residency at INSTITUTO (Porto) funded by the European Union, the Goethe Institut and the City of Hamburg (2023), Hamburger Zukunftsstipendium (2021), Elbkulturfonds (2020), and a residency at Bibliothek Andreas Züst (2019). He is a co-editor of the publication 'Specology – Zu einer ästhetischen Forschung' (adocs, 2023).


Individual projects