Practicing with Institutions, Instituting Practice: from Month to Month
Seminar 6, Friday April 22, 2015, with Stephen Wright: Use, Utile, Usership
The seminar will take place in the Van Abbemuseum with the theorist and writer Stephen Wright. Author of Toward a Lexicon of Usership, commissioned by the Van Abbe in conjunction with the exhibition Museum of Arte Util, Wright's position hinges on what he terms 'the usological turn in society'. Tying this turn to the rise in 2.0 culture and user-generated content Wright argues for the emergence of a new form of political subjectivity - that of usership. In the realm of art, usership manifests itself in practices that eschews notions of authorship, objecthood and expert culture - turning away from representation and playing out on what Wright terms a '1:1 scale'. This turn in artistic practice requires a wholesale shift in how we think about and relate to art - and its presence in the museum - as it unhinges the philosophical and conceptual basis upon which aesthetic experience has been premised, certainly in the west, for over 200 years.
As part of the seminar we will look at the Arte Util archive, a section of which is currently on display in the Van Abbe.
Seminar 5, Friday April 24, 2015, with Christian Nyampeta: De-scription or Self-Writing
The third of the three workshops will be led by Christian Nyampeta and draws form his research under the title 'How to Work Together'. The workshop will begin with a pretext: A viewing of Nyampeta's film 'idiorrhythmy'. Idiorrhythmy is a concept drawn from early monasticism, which institutes communal transformations by making room for the individual liberty. In contrast to the way of life of the hermit, this idiorrhythmic community can be summed up as living together alone. This way of life also differs from "regular" monasticisms, namely asceticism and cenobitism. In contemporary terms, what can be useful about these moments of idiorrhythmy is the ways in which these early practitioners worked out personalised methods of collective engagement against the dominant forces of their times.
Following the film and a discussion we will then focus the rest of the day on making a book! Each person in the group is asked to bing material in the form of 8-12 A4 printouts. We would like the material to be related to your recent trips to Sao Paulo / Texas / Tehran. It could be images, found text, work you have produced or notes. In essence, they should be remnants (either literal or conceptual) of your trips. These A4 printouts would be used as the basis for a prolonged discussion and reflection on your recent trips, what you drew form them and how they have informed your thinking, both about your work and your time at the DAI. We will then collectively make notebooks which each of us will take home. In a sense the purpose of the workshop is to think through how individual experiences and reflections might be thought through collectively.
The reading for the week, suggested by Christian and in the drop box is: Patrick Ffrench, 'How to live with Roland Barthes' and Pier Vittorio Aureli 'Less is Enough. On Architecture and Asceticism'. The Aureli text is quite long. If you get through it great but definitely read the Patrick French text first!
Seminar 4, Friday February 27, 2015: Workshop - Decoding, Recoding
Guest tutor: Céline Condorelli
The next block in the year has been conceived as a series of three workshops with three invited tutors (Céline Condorelli, Ahmet Ogut and Christian Nyampeta). Shifting focus from looking at how artists and projects have practiced with different institutional models, the emphasis will move towards instituting practice within the seminars themselves - and amongst ourselves.
Seminar 4 will take the form of a workshop with guest tutor Céline Condorelli. As an artist, writer and teacher Condorelli describes her work as being 'concerned with how our encounter with the material world happens through counting on it, and the fact that all human action takes place amidst countless structures of support mostly taken for granted, and therefore appearing almost invisible'. Through examining the parameters (political, aesthetic, economic, social) of display and what she has termed support structures (both physical and emotional) Condorelli focuses on frameworks that are fundamental to our way of working and being in the world, but are often left neglected.
The Thursday we will again divide into four seminar groups of four with the focus being on discussing developments in your own practice since we have met last time. The Friday workshop will be based around a series of exercises that will take us out of the DAI building and into Arnhem. The reading for the seminar includes a recent conversation between Celine and sociologist Avery Gordon on friendship, as well as an excerpt form Georges Perec's Species of Spaces.
Seminar 3, Friday January 23, 2015: Beauty and the Right to be Ugly
Guest Tutor: Wendelien van Oldenborgh with Alistair Hudson and Paul van Meerendonk
Seminar 3 will take place at the Van Abbe with guest tutor Wendelien van Oldenborgh and will focus on her most recent project 'Beauty and the Right to be Ugly', currently part of the exhibition 'Confessions of the Imperfect'. The three part film looks at the Karregat, an architectural experiment that opened in Eindhoven in 1974. Designed by Frank Van Klingeren, it was conceived as a multi-purpose community building without walls, where a school, a doctor, a library amongst other public services intermingled with one another. As users of the building experienced this new form of living, however, interventions and adaptations were made. The building's conception and its practical evolution show different modes of instituting and subsequently adapting frameworks as they are lived with over time. Van Oldenborgh's project examines the devenir –and failure– of this utopian architecture together with former and current users, and explores means with which to transpose many of the questions raised by the history of the building through the methodology of film.
Seminar 2, Friday December 12, 2014: Exhibition visits 1: Utrecht
Today we will go on the first of the year's exhibition trips, spending the day in Utrecht visiting three exhibitions:
'The Common Sense, Phase 1', Melanie Gilligan
'In the Year of the Quiet Sun', Otolith Group
'In the Stomach of the Predators', Alice Creisher and Andreas Siekman
We will spend time at CASCO where we will have a chance to meet curators and staff to discuss the shows in depth.
Seminar 1, November 7, 2014 : Making Worlds
Guest tutors: Jonas Staal and Coni Ledesma
Taking its name form a recent essay by visual artist Jonas Staal, the first seminar of the course will be held in conjunction with political activist Coni Ledesma and will focus on the New World Summit. Like many of the seminars in the year, the day will use a project as the basis for a set of discussions. Here Staal's New World Summit will be the departure point to look at the current crisis in our understanding and practice of democracy (viewed through the institutions of the state and its parliaments) and how the sphere of art might be used as a space to experiment with more 'fundamental' notions of democratic politics. Interestingly, for Staal the use of art to both create and shed light on different structures is practiced as a form of institutional critique.
The New World Summit is defined as "an artistic and political organization ... dedicated to providing parliaments hosting organizations that currently find themselves excluded from democracy," amongst others through so-called "terrorist" blacklisting. It thus claims art as a radical imaginative space "more political than politics itself where the promise of an emancipatory, fundamental democracy can take shape". Coni Ledesma is a representative of MAKIBAKA (Free Movement of New Women), a revolutionary movement in the Phillipines who will join us for the morning session, presenting on the work of MAKIBAKA, the role of art in building what she refers to as a revolutionary "parallel" state and her involvement on the New World Summit. In the afternoon Staal will look more specifically at the Summit and his work as a visual artist.