continent. maps a topology of unstable confluences and ranges across new thinking, traversing interstices and alternate directions in culture, theory, biopolitics and art.
Issue 6.2 / 2017
Letter from the Editor
Peer Illner

How does unworking come to us and what are its roots? In this editorial, I offer some historical vantage points that constitute a scattered genealogy of inoperativity to orient the reader in her journey through the issue.

Communism without Heirs
Alison Hugill
In her conceptual history of unworking from Heidegger to Jean-Luc Nancy, Alison Hugill traces the common origin of the concept in both aesthetics and politics. Drawing comparisons with current political trends such as accelerationism and Xenofeminism, Hugill suggests that unworking remains unique because it is non-foundational, non-teleological, non-programmatic and non-instrumental.
Lost in the Canon?
Alexander García Düttmann, Gertrud Koch
Alexander Garcia Düttmann and Gertrud Koch address the epistemic preconditions for unworking by inquiring into the nature of the canon. What does it mean to move within a canon today? Can one step outside and unwork the canon? In a philosophical dialogue that bridges Melville’s Bartleby and Sandra Bullock, Koch and Garcia Düttmann get lost in the canon.
Plastic Givens, Hard Stops: a short Overview of Forms and Forces of Negation in recent and historical Art
Marina Vishmidt, Anthony Iles
Marina Vishmidt and Anthony Iles explore the relation of art to affirmation and negation. If art has become a privileged place for critical reflection since the modern era, how does the autonomy of art survive its contemporary social integration as a neoliberal asset, investment, and creative strategy?
Destitute or Situate — A Few Remarks on the Exchange between Julien Coupat and Eric Hazan and Jean-Luc Nancy (January-February 2016)
Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen
Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen comments on the recent exchange between the Left Communist Julien Coupat, the publisher Eric Hazan and the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy in the French daily Libération. Reviewing the debate on unworking and destitution, Rasmussen asks: Can we today still abstain from making a final political choice? Where do we stand on the political spectrum?
The Artist as Whistleblower. Cartography, Capitalism and Cognitive Mapping
Peer Illner
What would a realist depiction of the mode of production look like today? Taking aim at the contemporary mapping fad that revels in the revelatory pathos of unmasking the hidden links between politics and finance, Peer Illner interrogates why artists today so often wish to be whistleblowers.
Invitation to Contribute — A Conversation about Unworking
Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Peer Illner
This correspondence with Mehdi Belhaj Kacem sees inoperativity in full force. Invited to contribute to continent, Belhaj Kacem said yes, but then did not submit anything. The reason: Désoeuvrement. The ensuing email exchange touches on unworking in relation to writing, autobiography, politics and technology and Belhaj Kacem finally submits an article.
Spectres of Laurence Rickels
Elisa Santucci-Nitis, Erik Erlanson, Peter Henning
There are specters haunting Prof. Dr. Laurence Rickels. One such is James Bond, figure of post-war leisurely nonchalance, a man somehow both maximally and minimally effective. A review and an interview develops personnel files on two international play-boys, Bond and Rickels.
Alex Unger
Illustrations throughout this issue are provided by Alex Unger. A young artist and philosopher, Unger addresses unworking’s subjective, psychoanalytic implications and dilemmas. His imagery explores a tense relationship between terms like the “self” and those “others.” The “ego,” centered-self; and the “alter,” the other-intruder. Generic inoperativity.