WELCOME TO ECONOTOPIA
Wednesday May 14
Seminar with T.J. Demos
Morning seminar: 10:00-13:00
Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology in Mexico
Forming part of ongoing research toward a new book project on art and ecology, this presentation will investigate a range of artistic and cultural engagements in Mexico that consider environmental crises in relation to urban pollution, fossil fuel extraction, biotec-agribusiness and aquaculture. Considering work by artists and social movements such as Maria Thereza Alves, Minerva Cuevas, Marcela Armas, Gilberto Esparza, Superflex, Pedro Reyes, and the Zapatistas, the presentation will explore what insights artistic and cultural practitioners can offer in relation to bioremediation, ecological sustainability, postcolonial justice, and the politics of land use.
The Rights of Nature and the Nature of Value
Are natural resources such as the air we breathe and the water we drink a human right? Is putting a price tag on nature the first step towards ecosystems being traded as commodities? What does it mean for society when monetary value is the only way that we can articulate value in decision-making? These debates have been taken up in a variety of different geographies, including in those with indigenous and first nations people, as well as in emerging discourses such as eco-economics and wild law. This presentation will explore how and why we value and protect the natural environment, considering these questions in relation to conflicts between the neoliberal valuation of nature in economic terms, and indigenous, tribal ways of understanding nature in biocentric and religious terms. I’ll consider how this conflict figures variously in the practices of American conceptual artist and activist Amy Balkin, artists and filmmakers Amar Kanwar and Sanjay Kak in the Indian context, and Swiss artist and researcher Ursula Biemann.
Wednesday April 9
Seminar with Chto Delat (Dmitry Vilensky)
Border Politics in art and real life
In our seminar we will focus on the problematizing the borders in art and aesthetics. There is a growing feeling that right now we have already overcome the classical principals of artistic autonomy and there is no one border left, no limitation are visible and all artist are totally on their own in determine their creative practice. So in the course of the seminar we scrutinize this situation at the backdrop of broader socio-political concept of the border. The film “Museum Songspiel” will be screened and discussed.
Borderlands always aggravate differences – political and social, behavioral, linguistic and economic, and so on. The border's physicality, particularly in the form of rigid paramilitary zones impeding the free circulation of people, causes anyone who becomes caught up in their force fields to re-examine the world and themselves. On the map of the world, such areas have always been not only the focus of geopolitical tensions, but also special habitats encouraging the development of new forms of language, behavior and culture. The border is a place for experiment, a zone of mobility and change.
The history of state borders has always been a history of violence: a history of wars, militarization, securitization, bureaucratic control, biopolitical regulation, forced displacement, flight and migration. Historically, state borders are shaped by the balance of violence. The winners dictate them to the losers, without taking into account either real geography or ethnicity. Borders separate "us" from "them," and these divisions are set down in documents determining state loyalties and citizenship. Paradoxically, borders, which are always artificial forms, are an essential factor of existence, shaping not only the lives of people, but also impacting the natural environment and the animal world.
Familiar to anyone who has ever participated in European protests, the slogan "No borders, no nations." (which can be continued in various ways as tactics demand) is a radical utopian response to the current delineation of the modern world. It says that one and the same common extraterritorial border runs everywhere – the boundary separating the world of prosperity from the world of poverty. This border runs both along the real boundaries of the so-called First World (e.g., Fortress Europe) as well as within it, generating ever-new ghettos and zones of exclusion. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a celebration of the hope that the Cold War's division of the world was over, and the whole planet would be a single home for everyone, with people united by a common, global citizenship. It was a foretaste of the performative unity of the world described by Alain Badiou in his text "The Communist Hypothesis," which we have excerpted in this issue.
More than two decades have passed since then, and we see this beautiful utopia has turned into its opposite: borders and walls have multiplied, inequality has grown, and the freedom of globalization has given way to the total freedom of global financial speculation and the establishment of new forms of market colonization and imperialism. It is not worth indulging in pessimism, however; the true dialectician always strives at history's most depressing moments to identify those potentials that emerge despite everything (or are concealed on the flip side of all reactionary processes) and work on implementing the prerequisites for alter-globalism. It was this movement for as-yet-untested grassroots forms of globalization that, despite its current downturn, was able to outline a range of ideas and initiate a series of political processes that are still alive and evolving.
Constantly keeping in mind the sociopolitical problems of the modern border, in this issue we have decided to focus primarily on an analysis of linguistic differences and show that, in the fight for a new unified world, it is also important to take into account the structural features of human consciousness, its intrinsic limitations. And here our understanding of the dialectics of subjectivity is formed not only in the search for unity, but also by the insurmountable limitations imposed by one's body, one's language and one's finitude.It is in this context that crossing the border is problematized not as a universal right to equality and a decent life, but as the fundamental human desire for another, unknown experience, the desire for an encounter which conceals the potential for love and the possibility of death, the possibility of arriving at a place where everything would be different. The desire for a harmonious existence with oneself, with others and with the world, in which all barriers and borders would be removed, is a vital trait of human beings as a species. Existing boundaries constantly remind us of how far we are from that lofty ideal. At the same time, it is their everyday oppressive presence within and around us that stimulates our search and our thirst for transformation. As the song has it, "If you press with your shoulder, / And you and I push together, / The walls will crumble, crumble, crumble, / And we will breathe freely."
Wednesday March 12
Seminar with Jubilee (Katrien Reist, Justin Bennett, Vermeir & Heiremans, Vincent Meessen)
Autonomy through collectivity - reclaiming art as part of the commons
Art uses the tools of imagination and the speculative to address the tension between the imagined and the real, between memory, perception and projections into a future. It does so through an intelligent play with the margins, gaps, overlaps and grey zones that imagination allows. Yet the daily life of art production confronts us with other realities. Art making is becoming a business model, following the corporate identity we give ourselves as artists or that is given to us by those who perceive and promote the work. Claims of uniqueness that enforce to be defended limit our autonomy. The current marketing system and strategies do not allow for (artistic) values like fragility, failure, or the challenge of change and uncertainty.... On the contrary. These values have grown into deep contrast with those that shape the current neo-liberal society: success and fixed matrixes, expressed and regulated in terms of money and numbers. Meanwhile, the newly rediscovered 'creativity' plays an evil role by pretending a freedom that is completely incorporated, gentrified and commercialized and misses any relation to the marginal, unexpected and unpredictable forces that underlie the creation of art. How do we create zones of autonomy, where these values are allowed and get the chance to recapture our modes of acting, working, and producing? We will discuss forms of self-organisation and the particularities of artist run initiatives that explore the margins of the existing system, attempt to cross boarders and create new approaches towards production, presentation and distribution. Searching for alternatives also forces us to think about key matters like private property and the commons, urgency and abundance, and art as a professionally produced good.
Wednesday February 12
Seminar with Jakob Jakobsen and Jacqueline de Jong
February 12, 2014, 10-13
'Antiuniversity, Antihistory, Antiknow'
Jakob Jakobsen's seminar will introduce a collage of recent research activities, including his research into the antipsychiatry movement - and the different lines of work developing from that. The Antiuniversity of London was a short-lived and intense experiment into self-organised education and communal living that took off at 49 Rivington Street in Shoreditch, London in February 1968. Jakobsen has incorporated its history in his research blog, Antihistory, (http://antihistory.org/) where this material and related initiatives are brought to light. The Antihistory blog has been set up to share these histories and activate them once more so user participation is requested and encouraged. The term, Antiknow was originally introduced by John Latham as his course title for the Antiuniversity of London in 1968. It is doubtful whether this course ever took place. His recent exhibition, Antiknow is a collective effort into unlearning and non-knowledge as critical strategies. This, in a time where institutional and frozen forms of knowledge and learning shaped by economic forces increasingly characterise education and society in general. A pedagogical theatre of unlearning and the limits of knowledge, Jakobsen will screen the video of his latest theatre production as director of Antiknow. Furthermore, Jakobsen will sketch out the Dialectics of Liberation, a unique gathering in July of 1967 in London, England whose purpose was to demystify human violence in all its forms, the social systems from which it emanates, and to explore new forms of action. Jakobsen will also talk about his recent research on the role of Gregory Bateson and the Antipsychiatry within this frame, along with ecological anthropology and cybernetics.
February 12, 2014, 14-17
An afternoon with Jacqueline de Jong
Jacqueline will share some of her archive from Situationist International with us.
Jacqueline de Jong (born 1939) is a Dutch painter, sculptor and graphic artist. In 1959 she became involved with Danish artist Asger Jorn. Through him she was introduced to Internationale Situationniste and became a member in 1960. De Jong had become acquainted with the artist Constant and other Dutch members of the I.S. – Armando and the architect Har Oudejans – while working for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
After the Dutch section got expelled (because of constructing a church) Debord asked Jacqueline in a in letter june 1960 ("La Hollande set 'a vous") to become the Dutch section on her own.
After Jacqueline was excluded of the SI in 1962 she went on to publish the first issue of The Situationist Times, an international multi-cultural revue mainly based on visual material accompanied by texts by artists, architects, scientists, poets etc.
De Jong furthermore published six issues of The Situationist Times between 1962 and 1967, making it an experimental platform for visual research.
February 12, 2014, 17-18
A conversation between Jakob Jakobsen and Jacqueline de Jong
Tuesday January 7
Face to Face meetings with Renee Ridgway and Nishant Shah
Wednesday January 8
seminar 'Playing with Cultures: The darker side of DIY practices' by Nishant Shah
The seminar on 'Playing with Cultures' looks at the ways in which the digital communities of sharing, engagement, collaboration and networking, produce new and irreverent forms of cultural production and consumption, that often challenge the traditional structures of labour, power and production. Contextualising these practices at the conjunction of cybercultural practice, law, and modenities, the seminar works through case studies to see how these practices which began as subversive and radical have been gentrified, regulated and appropriated within the mainstream digital cultures. The seminar ends with a working session in creating acts of digital vandalism and understanding what is at stake in exploring DIY online practices.
20:00 Public talk 'Copy + Paste: Of Authors, Authenticity and Authority'
The Internet as it was imagined has been dying. In the age of Edward Snowden and PRISM, the potentials and promises of all things digital have taken a sinister turn. Especially when it comes to cultural production and participatory movements, there is a deep Balkanisation where more than half the intellectual property rights reside with a handful of global media conglomerates. Remixing, as a part of the Copy+Paste cultures has been seen as a challenge and a subversive movement that challenges the intellectual property regimes that govern the production, distribution and access to digital material. In this talk, I draw from historical processes, personal anecdotes and contemporary battles around intellectual property rights in India to dislocate remix from its centrality within content-based processes. Instead I propose that new structures of authorship, authority and authenticity need to be built in order to realise the true potentials of remix lie."
Tuesday November 26
Face to Face meetings with Renee Ridgway
Wednesday November 27
Morning: lecture 'Imagined Places'
This lecture will look at art works and cultural theories that try to re-imagine our relationship to place. Current political debates as well as popular sentiments share a logic that assumes a natural relationship between physical place and cultural identity. In other words: there would be a 'Dutch' space characterized by 'Dutchness', a 'Moroccan' space characterized by 'Moroccanness', etc. The spatial image that thus arises is that of a discontinuous, ruptured landscape, that forms a sort of world map of distinct cultural territories. Images and exhibitions have historically played an important role in informing this kind of cultural topography. It is the legacy of a 19th century worldview that also has its echoes in ethnographic museums like the Tropenmuseum. As more and more individual and collective existences are shaped by displacement and multiple belongings, finding new understandings of our relation to place becomes a pressing cultural, and political, necessity. How can we re-imagine the dispersed spaces in which modern lives take place? What new spatial imaginaries can foster a better understanding of the ways in which communities take shape and lay claims to space within an interconnected world? The starting point for my reflections will be works by artists Bouchra Khalili, Zineb Sedira and Claudia Cristovao. Afternoon: seminar In this seminar, we will delve into a selection of images from the Tropenmuseum's historical photo archive. My proposition is that these historical images from colonized Indonesia and the Caribbean may allow us to trace how places and identities have come to be imagined in certain ways, and what role photography has played in this.
Tuesday October 15
Face to Face meetings with Renee Ridgway
Wednesday October 16
Seminar with Brigitte van der Sande
Presentations by participants Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 10-13
This month's guest is Brigitte van der Sande, an art historian, independent curator and advisor in the Netherlands. Today Brigitte will share with us her past exhibitions that address the representation of war in art, such as 'Soft Target. War as a Daily, First-Hand Reality' in 2005 in Basis Actuele Kunst (BAK) in Utrecht, and the controversial 'War Zone Amsterdam' (2007-2009). Along with visual representations of war, her research investigates questions surrounding international peace and criminal justice for committed atrocities. Her present curatorial programme, 'See You in the Hague', will be the focus of her today's lecture. This on-going project (which you can also sign up for and participate in) exposes the bright and dark side of the Dutch city of The Hague as an International City of Peace and Justice. Furthermore, Brigitte will elaborate on the role of informal media on the public image of death. Please see the link on the DAI website that contextualises this project: http://dutchartinstitute.eu/page/4484/outside-academy-joins-see-you-in-the-hague-and-calls-for-participants-student
14-17:30 In the afternoon we will further unpack this year's curatorial concept: 'Welcome to Econotopia- commons of the contemporary' through discussion but also sharing our work with each other as a group. Each participant will be asked to give a short presentation of their past and recent work (around 10-15 minutes).