“The Secession Sessions” is conceived as a series of invitations, initiated by French artist Eric Baudelaire, to investigate the question of statehood through the prism of the stateless state of Abkhazia. The exhibition is composed of various elements: regular public office hours at the Anembassy of Abkhazia created at Bétonsalon for the (...)“The Secession Sessions” is conceived as a series of invitations, initiated by French artist Eric Baudelaire, to investigate the question of statehood through the prism of the stateless state of Abkhazia. The exhibition is composed of various elements: regular public office hours at the Anembassy of Abkhazia created at Bétonsalon for the duration of the exhibition, and staffed by Maxim Gvinjia, former Foreign Minister of Abkhazia; daily screenings of a new film by Eric Baudelaire titled Lost Letters to Max; and a program of talks, public events and classes with scholars and artists from various backgrounds, exploring the issues at stake in “The Secession Sessions”.
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Session 4 : The Nitty Gritty of the State — A lecture by Fabien Jobard 


[Paris • France]
The State, as we say, is the monopoly of violence. The state, it seems, is primarily the army, the police, and prison. But taking a closer look, the State is above all an edifice made of papers. It draws its legitimacy from a written Constitution, and not anymore from customary or divine law. This document, and the seals that attest it, are kept precisely by the same ministry that manages sentences and prisons. The State and its agents dispose of an authority, of a power that is first and foremost made of paper.
From a research we conducted in Paris on identity checks, this very particular act which entails the identification of individuals thanks to their papers by depository agents of the public authority, we offer to enlighten the establishment of the State grasped in History and the consistency of papers that link individuals to public authority. Having papers. Having one’s papers. Losing one’s papers. Presenting them. Is this really how we make the State?

Session 3 : State Desire — a seminar by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez & Elena Sorokina

[Paris • France]
An international law, the reasons for non-independent entities to aspire to statehood are enumerated as follows: the notion of sovereignty and the desire for independence and self-determination are the aspirations which come first; the possibility of joining international organizations only open to independent states; and the prospect of being involved in foreign affairs and the right to use force in self-defence are equally important. But what fuels these desires, what kind of affects are involved, how are they generated and expressed? Collectively produced, the strife for recognition and sovereignty is a special kind of affect, usually clashing against the strict international regulations and laws. The speakers invited will present their reflections and insights into a range of topics, from visual expression to fictional (re-)construction, including case studies from different areas of the world. At the end of the seminar, Björk’s music video Declare Independence, will be projected and analyzed.

Session 3 : State Desire — a seminar by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez & Elena Sorokina

[Paris • France]
An international law, the reasons for non-independent entities to aspire to statehood are enumerated as follows: the notion of sovereignty and the desire for independence and self-determination are the aspirations which come first; the possibility of joining international organizations only open to independent states; and the prospect of being involved in foreign affairs and the right to use force in self-defence are equally important. But what fuels these desires, what kind of affects are involved, how are they generated and expressed? Collectively produced, the strife for recognition and sovereignty is a special kind of affect, usually clashing against the strict international regulations and laws. The speakers invited will present their reflections and insights into a range of topics, from visual expression to fictional (re-)construction, including case studies from different areas of the world. At the end of the seminar, Björk’s music video Declare Independence, will be projected and analyzed.

Session 2 : Identity Ploy and Dangerous Fictions — A workshop hosted by the journal Vacarme

[Paris • France]
No one knows for sure what « identity » means, but all minorities most definitely need to fictionalize identities for themselves. To fictionalize is both to let the cat out of the bag and to hide, to resist the dominant order and accept its game, but to play it differently. Nevertheless when the identity trick becomes a national project and a desire of the State, it is continually at risk of falling into violent or sad re-territorializations. In response to the invitation by the “Secession Sessions”, Vacarme offers to hold a fictitious editorial board meeting with the audience in order to reflect upon the possible articulations between its specific issues of interests: fictions, politics of emancipation, the relation to the State and the rise of European fascisms.

Session 1 : Improbable Abkhazia - A conversation between Maxim Gvinjia and Leon Colm

[Paris • France]
Max and Leon met in 2000. Max was working at the Foreign Ministry of self-declared Abkhazia, while Leon was a university lecturer, interested in war and separatism. Max eventually became the Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, and Leon became a senior advisor to an international organisation dealing with conflicts in the former Soviet Union. For the Saturday Sessions, a conversation between Max and Leon will revisit History—the collapse of the USSR, the rise of separatist States—and a history, the tale of two men, of two friends. A small story in the bigger story.