7-th Summer Seminars 2013

The Institutional and Ideological Operation of Transnational Art Events


Marina Grzinic Ljubljana/Vienna

LECTURE TITLE: Curating as activity for a political transformation ABSTRACT: Curating is a power/hegemonic tool especially when the curator(s) is in charge of big curatorial projects that involves money, money and money, power and institutional influences and art markets bondages. But this is reserved for some; the others try to do some small interventions and also develop extremely interesting positions and reflections. I want to talk about these projects, about these revolving/impossible situations, events, interventions. WORKSHOP TITLE: Antiracism, critique of anti-Semitism and the performing transgender politics in curatorial projects that means nothing for the neoliberal capitalist nation-space DESCRIPTION: The workshop will deal with works that are excluded, experimental or too demanding and not enough attractive in the show business of contemporary mainstream curating, but capable of develop an anti-curatorial position and anti-performative strategy.

Adham Hafez Cairo

LECTURE TITLE: Burn After Hearing ABSTRACT: This lecture deals with how memory-politics serve as a playground where constituting the contemporary arts scene in the Arabic Speaking Region, and specifically in Egypt, could be taking place through performative state-political gestures. Between police-states and fundamentalist political Islam, the role of the state could be seen in relation to the contemporary ‘independent’ arts scene through different lights. With arms extending into archives and documentation platforms, or the performative role of ‘Dar El-Wathaiq’ (National Documentation and Archives- Cairo) affecting curatorial practices in the field of cultural and artistic production in Egypt, and through other examples, it is hard to articulate the role of ‘museum curator’, ‘festival curator’, ‘special collections curator’ within such institutional and political realities. The lecture will deal with two key catastrophic events revisited here as performative acts; the burning of the Institut D’Egypte in Cairo (2011), the burning of the Cairo Opera House (1971) WORKSHOP TITLE: Sand-Fever DESCRIPTION: With a rising international curatorial interest in performance- and other artistic practices in general from the Arabic Speaking Region- since the eruption of the Tunisian Revolution in December 2010, a rising concern looms over cultural events. Individuals working in the field of cultural production and the arts are reminded of nascent art markets around the Iraqi- Kuwaiti war, September 11th, but perhaps also the fall of the Berlin wall, the Romanian revolution, Barcelona Declaration, and many other political/ historical ruptures that facilitated the birth of new art markets and production possibilities. This immediate constituting act carries within it questions on displacement, framing, representation, representativeness, power, and hegemonic discourses, diverging vectors into the figure of the curator, problematizing it in relation to knowledge and power. This workshop is going to shed an eye on the practice of disseminating/ displacing artistic productions in the field of performance and performing arts across cultural, economic and political contexts as a performative gesture, as well as delve into key performance works that problematize the figure of the curator and curatorial thinking within that aforementioned terrain. With pre-Arab-Spring case-studies such as The Cairo International Experimental Theatre Festival, Arabesque Festival of the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC, and events generated and redefined by the Arab-Spring within the Arab and European contexts, the attendees of the workshop together with the workshop leader shall backtrack the performative gesture and develop a mesh of frames and tools of engagement. Discussions that deal with performances through keywords such as beautiful, kitsch, new, passe’, are very much encouraged, where subjective judgements will be taken towards work screened during the module, developing conversations around judgements, taste and interests. Each participant (or several together in a collective) will be asked to curate fictitious festivals for performance and performing, based on material and artistic references dealt with during the workshop, where issues of where the political impacts policy and production shall be dealt with through the format of grant-proposals in text, and pitching as a ‘performance’.

Julian Vigo UK

LECTURE TITLE: Curating the Garden, Performing Politics: Le Petit Versailles, New York City DESCRIPTION: During the 1980s and 1990s ‘gentrification’ was the catchphrase for ‘urban development’ in New York City while the more disenfranchised parts of the city (ie. Harlem, the East Village) faced the decline of rent control and an increase of urban planners who were eager to work on issues surrounding environmental sustainability. The result was that through the green movement’s strength & advocacy, lawsuits stemmed losses by working with local communities and public land trusts to broker workable alternatives. Resulting from the removal of an illegal drug operation and auto ‘chop shop’ in 1996, Jack Waters and Peter Cramer formed Le Petit Versailles as a GreenThumb garden/curatorial space located in the East Village of Manhattan. Curating events for six months each year, Waters’ and Cramer’s non-profit and artist-run project has turned into one of the more reputable sites for performance art in New York City while conterminously lending legitimacy to this alternative space of curation, the garden, as a viable arena for bringing art and politics together as well as bringing people from diverse backgrounds together in the spirit of participatory art and political dialogue. Performance has been Le Petit Versailles’ strength as a community space for effecting political change. Projects curated by Waters and Cramer and exposed in Le Petit Versailles had dealt with a series of issues affecting all New Yorkers: the aftermath of 9/11 and the correlation of lives lost to AIDS, housing, graffiti, queer representation, folk/new music traditions, and experimental film/performances. Le Petit Versailles has ignited a new generation of cultural workers—activists and performers alike—while the ongoing debate about private versus public space and corporate versus local came to the fore and the performances of art and politics underscored the curatorial project as part of this polyvalent scene of cultural production.

Nuit Banai US

LECTURE TITLE: Performative Geographies: When Art and Politics Collide in Zones of Conflict DESCRIPTION: This lecture will examine the case of Manifesta: The European Biennal of Contemporary Art and suggest that it does not simply reflect the existing territory or concepts of Europe but uses several performative strategies to bring the mapping and manufacture of a European cultural topography into a complex dialogue. Specifically, I argue that Manifesta’s nomadic imperative at once crystallizes and contributes to the collective imagination of Europe and its demos as a permanent experience of living on the border. Yet, what happens when the symbolic performance of space, subjectivity, and cultural citizenship collides with the political reality in a zone of conflict? What happens when an exhibition creates new possibilities and limits for a territorial imagination that exceed the political status quo? The case of Manifesta 6, scheduled to take place in Nicosia, Cyprus (2006) only to be cancelled three months before the opening, offers a productive opportunity to consider the problematic of borders as one of the most pressing issues in the contemporary imagination of Europe. The multiple iterations of Manifesta 6 make visible the complexity of ‘border identity,” which can simultaneously serve as a site for reactionism and reinvention.

Angela Harutyunyan Arm

LECTURE TITLE:Before and After the Event there was the Artwork DESCRIPTION:The talk is organized around four chapters that offer interrelated reflections on art and autonomy. Considering the present setting of the seminars as a semi-autonomous situation, the talk moves from offering a polemic against content to sketching a theoretical proposition that goes beyond the politics of representation. I propose to think of the artwork as an event that throughout time undoes its content, and claim that the resilience of form cancels the adaptability of content towards instrumental ends. It is the form’s perseverance that always leaves that excess which makes the deferral of meaning possible and opens up a space where the artwork neither represents, nor comments on a political content. Rather it opens itself up to the social content through the politics of form.


Marta Keil Poland

Aug14 19.00, ICA If the figure of curator has become one of the most powerful culture producers in late capitalism, he or she is obviously not only one of the examples of the working system, but also its product. Where is the space for critical attitude in the curatorial practice then? One may refuse to work with the system rules, but one could also continue his or her practice, choosing subversive topics and ways to work. For instance – by rethinking the time, which is one of the main values in capitalist economy. Can the notion of time get a political dimension? How to work with it in the curatorial practice? proposed texts ‘The Program of No Program’ by Wojciech Szymański ‘How Time Can Dispossess: On Duration and Movement in Contemporary Performance’ by Bojana Kunst