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the Laws of Hospitality

Page history last edited by Panos Kouros 1 year, 11 months ago




The Laws of Hospitality - Living Currency

performing archiving acts



Hydra Fine Arts School Resident Centre, August 16-22, 2012

Mykonos Fine Arts School Resident Centre – Un/Inhabited project, August 31, 2012

This work builds a common performative archive, out of documents that project acts of actualization of Klossowski’s Laws of Hospitality in the specific hosting situations in the Fine Arts School of Athens Αnnexes in the greek islands of Hydra and Mykonos, in the summer of 2012. 





The Laws are framed and hung in the place of Fine Art School Annex Regulations and above the beds of each room in the hosting building.


Fragments of the Laws in English, as well as of Living Currency, constitute the initial archival content of this wiki.


The archive is performed by any document insertion and data recycling by participant guests during their hosting days.

Hydra and Mykonos are elite hosting places for summer art events, exposing objects of art to art lovers, art collectors, and tourists. In this specific art economy, the Fine Arts School of Athens operates topical Annexes, hosting art students and artists for educational and research purposes. At the same time, in the summer 2012, a generalized hosting context emerges related to national immigration policies, such as the operation Xenios Zeus (Hopsitable Zeus), and the new laws for the creation of immigrant detention camps in the greek territory.  Klossowski’s Laws of Hospitality are inserted into the room of every host, above the bed, bringing the phantasm of the name Roberte from Klossowski’s fiction Roberte ce soir (1954) into the hosting situation of the artists, engaged in various summer art projects in the greek islands of Hydra and Mykonos. The three person scheme is in the novel an essential part of a planned hospitality practice that reveal the internal contradictions of the identities of the host, the hostess and the guest. This hospitality practice - the offering of the mistress of the house to the guests - is inscribed in a paradoxical way within the law, exposing the institutionial. The Laws of Hospitality text is here coupled with Living Money, Klossowski's traitise on economics, where currency is the living bodies in their libidinal exchanges. The intrusion of Klossowksi’s text initiates an archival performance. It is an invitation to participant guests to act out derivative – and deviative - hospitality acts taking as subject their own interpersonal relations during their residency. 

our nothingness is as warm as our body;

The master of the house [maître de céans], The mistress of the house [maîtressede céans], The guest 


When my Uncle Octave took my Aunt Roberte in his arms, one must not suppose that in taking her he was alone. An invited guest would enter while Roberte, entirely given over to my uncle’s presence, was not expecting him. And while she was in fear lest the guest arrive—for with irresistible resolution Roberte awaited the arrival of some guest—the guest would already be looming up behind her as my uncle made his entry, just in time to surprise my aunt’s satisfied fright at being surprised by the guest. But in my uncle’s mind it was all over and done with in the blink of an eye, and once again my uncle would be on the point of taking my aunt in his arms. It would be over in the blink of an eye . . . .

for, after all, one cannot at the same time take and not take, be there and not be there, enter a room when one is already in it.


My Uncle Octave would have been asking too much had he wished to prolong the instant of the opened door; he was already doing exceedingly well in getting the guest to appear in the doorway at the precise moment he did, getting the guest to loom up behind Roberte so that he, Octave, might be able to sense that he himself was the guest as, borrowing from the guest his door-opening gesture, he could behold them from the threshold and have the impression that it was he, Octave, who was taking my aunt by surprise




The master of this house [maître de céans], having no greater nor more pressing concern than to shed the warmth of his joy at evening upon whomever comes to dine at his table and rest under his roof from a day’s wearying travel, waits anxiously at the gate for the stranger he will see appear like a liberator upon the horizon.
And catching a first glimpse of him, though he be still far off, the master will call out to him, “Come in quickly, for I am afraid of my happiness.” 
This is why the master will be grateful in advance to anybody who, rather than considering hospitality as an accident in the souls of him and of her who offer it, shall take it as the very essence of the host and hostess, the stranger in his guest’s capacity partaking this essence.For with the stranger he welcomes, the master of the house seeks a relationship that is no longer accidental, but essential.
At the start the two are but isolated substances, between them there is none but accidental communication: you who believe yourself far from home in the home of someone you believe to be at home, you bring merely the accidents of your substance, such accidents as conspire to make a stranger of you, to him who bids you avail yourself of all that makes a merely accidental host of him.
To this end the host actualizes himself in the guest; or, if you prefer, he actualizes a possibility of the guest, just as you, the guest, actualize a possibility of the host.
Now, upon whom is this duty incumbent if not the guest? Does this mean that the master of the house expects betrayal at the hands of the mistress of the house?
But because the master of this house herewith invites the stranger to penetrate to the source of all substances beyond the realm of all accident, he inaugurates a substantial relationship between himself and the stranger, which will be not a relative relationship but an absolute one, as though, the master becoming one with the stranger, his relationship with you who have just set foot here were now but a relationship of one with oneself.
Now it seems that the essence of the hostess, such as the host visualizes it, would in this sense be undetermined and contradictory. 
For either the essence of the hostess is constituted by her fidelity to the host, and in this case she eludes him the more he wishes to know her in the opposite state of betrayal, for she would be unable to betray him in order to be faithful to him;
or else the essence of the hostess is really constituted by infidelity, in which case the host would cease to have any part in the essence of the hostess who would be susceptible to belonging accidentally, as mistress of the home, to some one or other of the guests.
  The notion of the mistress of the house reposes upon an essential basis: this essence is therefore subject to restraint by her actual existence as mistress of the house. And here the sole function of betrayal, we see, is to lift this restraint.
The host’s most eminent gratification has for its object the actualization in the mistress of the house [maîtresse de céans] of the inactual essence of the hostess.
  If the essence of the hostess lies in fidelity to the host, this authorizes the host to cause the hostess, essential in the existent mistress of the house, to manifest herself before the eyes of the guest; 
  If the essence of the hostess lay in infidelity, the outcome of the game would be a foregone conclusion and the host the loser before it starts. But the host wishes to experience the risk of losing, and feels that, losing rather than winning in advance, he will, at whatever the cost, grasp the essence of the hostess in the infidelity of the mistress of the house.
  for the host in playing host must accept the risks—and these include the consequences of his wife’s strict application of the laws of hospitality and of the fact that she dare not be unmindful of her essence, composed of fidelity to the host, for fear that in the arms of the inactual guest come here to actualize her qua hostess, the mistress of the home exist only traitorously.
Hence by means of the guest he wishes to actualize something potential in the mistress of the house: an actual hostess in relation to this guest, an inactual mistress of the house in relation to the host.
  For to possess the faithless one qua hostess faithfully fulfilling her duties, that is what he is after. 
Now this curiosity, as a potentiality of the hospitable soul, can have no proper existence except in that which would look to the hostess, were she naive, like suspicion or jealousy.
  If the hostess’s essence remains thus indeterminate, because to the host it seems that something of the hostess might escape him in the event this essence were nothing but pure fidelity on the part of the mistress of the house, the essence of the host is proposed as an homage of the host’s curiosity to the essence of the hostess.
Now this curiosity, as a potentiality of the hospitable soul, can have no proper existence except in that which would look to the hostess, were she naive, like suspicion or jealousy.
  in this competition let them surpass each other in subtlety: let the host put the guest’s discretion to the test, and the guest make proof of the host’s curiosity: the term generosity has no place in this discussion, since everything is generosity, and everything is also greed;
Let the guest not be the least uneasy; above all let him not suppose he could ever be cause for jealousy or suspicion when there is not even anyone to feel these sentiments. In reality the guest is anything but that;
for it is owing to the absence of cause for jealousy and suspision, which are not otherwise determined than by this absence, that the guest is going to emerge from his stranger’s accidental relationship to enjoy an essential relationship with the hostess whose essence he shares with the host.  The host’s essence-hospitality-rather than being confined to impulses of jealousy or suspicion, aspires to convert into a presence the absence of cause of these impulses, and to actualize itself in that cause.    Let the guest understand his role well: let him then fearlessly excite the host’s curiosity by that jealousy and that suspicion, worthy in the master of the house but unworthy of a host; the latter enjoins the guest loyally to do his utmost;  
  but let the guest take all due care lest this jealousy or this suspicion grow to such proportions that no room is left in the host for his curiosity; for it is upon this curiosity that the guest depends for his prestige.
If the host’s curiosity aspires to actualize itself in the absent cause, how does he hope to convert this absence into presence unless it be that he awaits the visitation of an angel? Solicited by the host’s piety, the angel is capable of concealing himself in the guise of a guest—is it you?—whom the host believes fortuitous. 

To what extent will the angel actualize in the mistress of the house the essence of the hostess such as the host I sprone to visualize it, when this essence is known to none but him who beyond all being knows? By inclining the host farther and farther, for the guset, be he angel or no, is only inclination in the host: learn, dear guest, that neither the host, nor yourself, nor again the hostess herself yet knows the essence of the hostess; surprised by you she will attempt to find herself in the host who then will no longer hol dher back; but who, knowing her in your arms, will hold himself richer in his treasure than ever.

In order that the host’s curiosity not degenerate into jealousy or suspicion,

it is for you, the guest, to discern the hostess’s essence in the mistress of

the house, for you to cast her forth from potentiality into existence: either the hostess remains sheer phantasm and you a stranger in this house if you leave to the host the inactualized essence of the hostess, or else you are indeed that angel, and by your presence you give an actuality to the hostess: you shall have full power over her as well as over the host.


And so, cherished guest, you cannot help but see that it is in your best interest to fan the host’s curiosity to the point where the mistress of the house, driven out of herself, will be completely actualized in an existence which shall be determined by you alone, by you, the guest, and not by the host’s curiosity.


Whereupon the host shall be the master in his house no more: he shall have carried out his mission. In his turn he shall have become the guest.




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