Subproject 5

Micropractices: Forms of Resistance and Engagement

Project leadership: Prof. Dr. Elke Bippus, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Institut für Theorie

Sebastian Dieterich
Brigita Zuberi

This project studies the interrelation of aesthetic practices and participation, understands contradiction as a constitutive element of participation, and attempts to make resistance apparent as a performative pharmacological micropractice. The concept of “micropractices” is based on Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s theory of micro- and macropolitics (Deleuze and Guattari 1987). Those authors define micropolitics as a critique based on the model of representation that, with the intention of creating resistance, uncovers microscope phenomena beneath the large units defined as molar (state, society, church, school, capital, companies, etc.) and maps, so to speak, movements, lines, and forces.

The concept of micropractice adopts the perspective described by Deleuze and Guattari and shifts it slightly. The central fields of investigation are not structures and social contexts but rather practices. Like practices, micropractices are not indebted to a sovereign subject but result rather “from the intertwined connections of the events, which may be prefigured by cultural conventions but can be transform historically and hence is not determined.” (Alkemeyer, Budde, and Freist 2013, 21). Correspondingly, strategies of contradiction, demarcation, reversal, or shifting that can make practices effective in micropractical ways, to the extent they dissect, stretch, break up, or exaggerate, as it were, the learned course of practices that is perceived as natural. In their ineluctable connection to goal-oriented and standardized practices, micropractices are fundamentally pharmacological. That means they are at once formative and de-formative. In other words, they are determined in two way: they can have a programming, disciplinary, or standardizing effect, by referring to “what is to be done” as well as to “what is to be known” (Foucault 1991, 75), but they can also contradict norms by disturbing, diverting, and opening up the potential of the learned orientation of practices that is perceived as natural. The development and training of micropractical processes promises to call accepted conventions into question, to reflect self-critically on the determination and standardization of practices, and to resist effectively processes of subjectification.

The subject areas of Micropractices: Forms of Resistance and Engagement are aesthetic, social, and participatory methods for art and socioculture. In her research area, Micropractices in the Field of Art and their Aesthetic Politics, Elke Bippus will study a participation that forms through contradiction and therefore, it is assumed, remains a divided one. Contradiction is considered in relation to the conditions of the art system and is studied as something that develops participation or nonparticipation or belonging or not belonging. The guiding issue is that these micropractical, contradictory, and self-contradictory processes of participation form ways of resisting that can occur performatively in face of the relationality and dependence.

Sebastian Dieterich makes aesthetically motivated practices of working together on sociocultural projects the focus of his research area, “Do It Together”: On a Micropractice of Existence. He sheds light on shared gardening and cooking, practices of sharing, repairing, or handiwork in public workshops, and practices of self-organization and (re)appropriation of urban space. The goal, however, is always to work out the resistant but also pharmacological potential of these practices from the uniform perspective of micropractice.

The goal is to reveal micropractices as sensory, physical, reflexive, discursive, and above all experimental methods that reflect on resistance and engagement as a pharmacological practice of participation.


Alkemeyer, Thomas / Gunilla Budde, and Dagmar Freist, „Einleitung“, in: Diess. (Hrsg.), Selbst-Bildungen. Soziale und kulturelle Praktiken der Subjektivierung, Bielefeld: transcript 2013, 9–30.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press 1987.

Michel Foucault, „Questions of Method,“ trans. Colin Gordon, in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality; with Two Lectures by and an Interview with Michel Foucault, ed. Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1991), 75.