COOP Academy 2 (curating class): Curating Positions from Month to Month

Seminar 7: 19-20 May 2017

For the Van Abbemuseum’s Caucus, Becoming More…, the Curating Positions seminar group have worked on a series of interventions into the Van Abbemuseum responding to the senses in order to question the historical prioritisation of the scopic within histories of art and museology. The projects seek to open up other ways of sensing the museum and to alter the existing patterns, routines and relations between those engaged in it. This includes the entering of other voices from outside of the museum via radio; the gift of a ribbon with a message to visitors upon entering the museum; the inclusion of animals in the museum’s exhibits; and the questioning of the ethics and politics of the presence of an artwork in the museum’s collection.

Alongside the projects, for the seminar we have invited artist and theorist Zach Blas, who will also be participating in the Roaming Assembly, Towards Entangled Modes of Becoming More, which leads out of the Curating Positions programme, held on Sunday 21 May. He will be talking about two strands of his research, on Contra-internet and Pattern-of-life.

Spanning video, sculpture, performance and text, Contra-Internet is a large-scale installation that confronts the transformation of the internet into an instrument for state oppression and accelerated capitalism. Inspired by theorist Paul B. Preciado’s Manifiesto Contrasexual, Contra-Internet unites feminist and queer perspectives to fracture the global dominance of “the Internet” while speculating on alternative network infrastructures that activists are developing globally.

Pattern-of-life analysis is an informatic mode of surveillance that uses tracking, data aggregation, and predictive software to generate a pattern of a person’s life, for the purposes of security and policing. Pattern-of-life analysis mathematically reorients what counts as normal and abnormal, innocent and threat. 

Seminar 6: 26-27 April 2017

For this session our guest will be artist and curator Pedro G. Romero who will introduce the work of Constant Nieuwenhuys through his research and contribution to the exhibition catalogue “Constant: Nueva Babilonia” at Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (From October 20, 2015, till February 29, 2016).

A great part of the artistic practice of Pedro G. Romero is fed by the experience of Flamenco, a form of life common to artists, gypsies and non-gypsies and specific to various cities of the South of Spain. His interest on Flamenco lies on the fact, that despite its own theatrical nature, when it takes place within the context of a stage, it ends up transmitting a sort of friction, a discomfort that gets produced, sometimes, as a rhetoric attitude, other times as a terrorist attitude. What happens when this enters the museum? Through the exploration of some artistic activities by artists such as Constant Nieuwenhuys, Carola Torres, Curra Márquez o Teresa Lanceta or of the so-called flamenco art brut, Pedro G. Romero explores that feeling of nuisance. He is interested in the way some works, although born out within the overwhelming logic of the museum, stand uncomfortably, and are out of place but aspire to have other narratives and other lives. This interest has taken him to the production of several “apparatuses” such as Máquina P.H., Plataforma Independiente de Estudios Flamencos Modernos y Contemporáneos (The Independent Platform for Modern and Contemporary Flamenco Studies); the project Máquinas de vivir. Flamenco y Arquitectura en la Ocupación y Desocupación de Espacio, a project which has been presented at the Berlin Biennale; CGAC, Santiago de Compostela; unía arteypensamiento, Seville; Cristinaenea de Donostia, MACBA, Barcelona, and Viena Secession; and the works of La Farsa Monea that will be presented at Documenta 14, in Kassel with Israel Galván and Niño de Elche.

Seminar 5: 9-10 March 2017

For this session, held in Mechelen in conjunction with Contour, on Thursday afternoon we will be joined by theorist Denise Ferreira da Silva who will talk with the group about her work, including her work around poethical readings, which includes an ongoing collaboration with Valentina Desideri, and the Sensing Salon project that they realised at The Showroom in summer 2016. The workshop will include a group tarot reading.

The rest of the seminar will be used to develop the forthcoming project at Van Abbemuseum, including one on one sessions with each participant.

The reading for the session includes texts by

Seminar 4: 15-16 February 2017 

For this session, we will visit two museums of different kinds: The Van Abbemuseum, in Eindhoven and The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. The first day will be dedicated to researching the Van Abbemuseum exhibition space, where they will be staging a project during the Caucus, Becoming More, in May. The group will meet Chief Curator Annie Fletcher and Curator and Head of collections Christiane Berndes. The students will present a brief of their ideas for the project and will pose some questions in relation to the feasibility of their plans.

The second day, we will visit the Tropenmuseum, where the group will meet with artist Charl Landvreugd, who will be the guest of this seminar. Charl researches the visual strategies of Dutch Afro artists with a focus on the production of cultural citizenship. He argues that the discourse dominated by post colonial theoretical frameworks does not always suffice in describing the Dutch and continental European Afro art production. He advocates for local European concepts and language that have the potential to speak about the sensibilities specific to the area.

Seminar 3: 18-19 January 2017 

For this session our guest will be artist Alejandra Riera, who will contribute to the seminar with a screening of her latest film … –Ohpera – Muet– … [… –Mute – Ohpera…], which was realised in collaboration with the Brazilian theatre group UEINZZ. This is a film and a document of an experience signed on “the date of 9 July 2016” dealing with “places” and languages: those that are to be abandoned, re-taken or dreamt about, those that are most secretive. The work revolves around spaces and places of History, constructions and demolitions, such as the removal of the statue of Colombus in Buenos Aires in 2014, among others. It also engages stories and storytellers, female narrators for whom there is often no space, so that space has to be produced.

The screening will be followed by a conversation with the artist, through which we will try to unravel some of the core concerns of her work and gestures undertaken in collaboration with others, when trying to inhabit the museum.

On day two of the seminar the students will present ideas for contributions to the Van Abbemuseum’s Caucus, which will be held in May 2017. Working in groups, they will depart from the idea of conceiving the museum as a spatial device that has mediated difference through sensory neutralisation. This idea comes from Greek anthropologist Nadia Seremetakis in “The Memory of Sense. Historical Perception, Commensal, Exchange and Modernity” (1994). Tutors Emily Pethick, Leire Vergara and Alejandra Riera will respond to the students’ proposals.

Readings for the session include:

-“How to Engage with It? Addressing Alejandra Riera’s Maquetas-sin-cualidad” by Angelika Bartl in Afterall Journal Summer 2009.

-“The Senses Still: Perception and Memory as Material Culture in Modernity”. Edited by Nadia Seremetakis. The University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Seminar 2: 14-15 December 2016 

For this session we have invited artist Marysia Lewandowska, who has proposed to work with us on imagining the museum’s commons. The commons is a general term for shared resources in which each stakeholder has an equal interest. We will be asking ourselves: How can we articulate a form of museum that could be closer to the commons? What can we demand of the museum as a place where a cultural value is manufactured?  What mechanisms do we need to re-imagine in order producing a different kind of engagement with the museum? 

Marysia will give a presentation and then we will use the session to start planning a different kind of museum. 

Readings for the session include texts by Brian Holmes, Manual J. Borja-Villel, Lara Garcia Diaz, a text on Tania Bruguera’s Utopian ‘Non-Museum’ by Marjorie Micucci-zaguedoun and the introduction of the book Undoing Property, edited by Marysia Lewandowska and Laurel Ptak. For information on Marysia’s work please see her website: 

In addition to this, we will continue discussions that we began in seminar one about white Eurocentrism through discussing the introduction to Gloria Wekker’s White Innocence, and the introduction and chapter 4 of Clare Land’s Decolonising Solidarity. 

Seminar 1: Wednesday 26 October 2016 

Afternoon: Introduction and presentations by Emily Pethick on The Showroom and Leire Vergara on Bulegoa z/b.

Evening: Reading group session and introduction to Leire Vergara's research project "Dispositifs of Touching: Curatorial Imagination in the Time of Expanded Borders". Readings will be circulated to the students in advance. 

Seminar 1, continuation: Thursday 27 October 2016 

Student introductions and discussion about the curatorial project at the Van Abbe Museum.