Isabelle Stengers and Petra Van Brabandt in Discussion

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We Are Winning Don’t Forget, 2004 © Courtesy of the artist
Isabelle Stengers and Petra Van Brabandt in Discussion

Werfstraat 13 rue du Chantier
B - 1000 Brussels
March 27th, 2013 7:30 PM - 10:30 PM

Center - Uptown
+32 2 229 00 03
Wed-Sun 11-6; Open late night until 21:00 every last Wednesday of the month.


On the occasion of the group exhibition Bon travail (02 March - 07 April 2013) Argos invites two thinkers who discuss the subject of laziness in contemporary society. For Laziness: The Last Taboo philosophers Isabelle Stengers (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and Petra Van Brabandt (Sint Lucas Antwerp) engage in a debate about our ambiguous position on laziness. What does our view of laziness imply with regard to the subject of work, pleasure, the contemporary production and consumption model and our being mortal?

Laziness is the last taboo. We all hasten to embark on the next project, the next interesting assignment, a new challenge. We are flexible workers, freelance workers. We work long hours, always say “yes” and assess our value in terms of employability. We succeed if we work—i.e. if we work non-stop. Laziness is the last sin. And as is usual with sins, we are obsessed by it. Those who don’t work, have to prove they want to. That they will work any time, that they want to say “yes”, that they will be flexible. That they want to race around and succeed, get ready and be on time. That they are not lazy. We constantly want them to prove that they are willing to work, because we suspect them of indulging in the sweet pleasure of laziness—which we begrudge them. And it is precisely this grudge that betrays how our work actually makes us suffer. We transform our suffering into resentment. 

Petra Van Brabandt is philosopher. She teaches Semiotics & Art, and Design & Context at Sint Lucas Antwerp, where she also coordinates the series of lecturesThe City Wasn’t Born Yesterday (2012-2013). Van Brabandt wrote a doctoral thesis on moral philosophy. She is currently engaged with feminist philosophy and enquires into the fields of art & narrative, and art & pornography.

Isabelle Stengers is a philosopher of science and works at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. In her early publications, co-authored by physical chemist Ilya Prigogine, she put forward that irreversible thermodynamics inevitably led to certain philosophical conclusions. These conclusions resulted in a political involvement based on the necessity of dealing with problems that encompass the present and future, as she sets out in the publications La sorcellerie capitaliste (co-authored by Philippe Pignarre, 2005), Au temps des catastrophes(2009) and Une autre science est possible! (2013).