One of the most devastating charges levelled against theories, analyses, and descriptions is that of being reductive or of amounting to a full-blown reductionism. Conceptual frameworks are scolded for being impoverished and descriptions for being too sparse or flat. And conversely, to call something ‘irreducible’ seems to confer an immediate and indisputable dignity to it. And yet the history of science and knowledge cannot be told without acknowledging the importance of reductionist programmes; reductive paradigms have periodically revitalized the arts. What lies at the root of such different attitudes towards ‘reduction’? Can one embrace forms of reduction that are not in the service of production, allowing for the possibility of a ‘less’ that would no longer have to amount to ‘more’?
The ICI Berlin’s new core project will explore the critical potentials of notions and practices of ‘reduction’, within and across different fields and approaches, from the sciences, technology, and the arts to feminist, queer, and decolonial approaches, inquiring in particular into the transversality of different economies of reduction and production, and into possibilities of escaping them.