Cite as: Ozren Pupovac, ‘The Violence of Form: Philosophical Remarks on Mazen Kerbaj’s Sound Piece Starry Night ’, in Tension/​Spannung, ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey, Cultural Inquiry, 1 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2010), pp. 251–74 <>

The Violence of FormPhilosophical Remarks on Mazen Kerbaj’s Sound Piece Starry NightOzren Pupovac


The article offers a philosophical reading of Mazen Kerbaj’s sound piece Starry Night. Recorded in 2006 during the bombing of Beirut by the Israeli Air Force, the piece stages an acoustic encounter between the improvised sounds of the trumpet and live bomb explosions. Arguing for a formal examination of the ways in which Kerbaj stages the problem of the genesis of musical order in the exchange between trumpet and bombs, the article draws parallels with explorations of the problems of the State and of political contradiction in the Marxist tradition. Three common points are identified: the contingency of the appearance of order, its inseparability from an excess of violence, and its spatializing function. The last part delineates parallels between Kerbaj’s subversive aesthetic strategies and Badiou’s elaboration of the concept of the subject as the interruption of a repetitive logic of placement.

aesthetic form, Badiou, Mazen Kerbaj, splace, state, violence