Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerpen /

Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA)

Animism is a long-term exhibition and publication project first presented between 22 January and 2 May 2010 in Antwerp in a collaboration of Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen and the Museum of Contemporary Art (M HKA). A second version of the exhibition will be shown at Kunsthalle Bern from May till July 2010. Subsequent versions will be developed at the Generali Foundation in Vienna and the House of World Cultures in Berlin (with the Free University Berlin) in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Can animation be thought beyond the fictional, as a practice shaping vital relations with the world? What is the role of aesthetic processes in the drawing of the boundaries between life and non-life, humans and things? The exhibition takes as its starting point what was once the negative backdrop against which modern objectivism defined itself. Coined by 19th century anthropologists in the context of the colonial encounter, animism was understood as a ‘primitive’ religion and psychological mechanism through which non-modern cultures were thought to endow objects with life, that is, with souls, agency, or forms of personhood.

This project responds to a new interest in animism, which stems from a widespread re-visioning of modernity, by a reflection on aesthetic processes seen through the prism of an exhibition. Animism has recently become a concept through which to look at the construction and organization of collective relations between various social actors – human and non-human – once again. Retrospectively, the concept opens new perspectives on modern boundary-practices – culture and nature, life and non-life – forms of knowledge and power, and the aesthetic economies that they produce.

Structured around two opposed and yet complementary aesthetic processes and effects, animation and objectification, the exhibition brings together contemporary and historical works that explore the modern anxiety about the boundaries between persons and things, the animate and inanimate, and puts their negotiation in artistic practice in historical perspective.

An accompanying catalogue – the first in a series of two, published by Sternberg Press – connects several recent attempts at rethinking animism from a variety of perspectives, and traces their various historical genealogies.

With works by:
Agency, Art & Language, Christian W. Braune & Otto Fischer, Marcel Broodthaers, Paul Chan, Didier Demorcy, Walt Disney, Lili Dujourie, Jimmie Durham, Eric Duvivier, Thomas A. Edison, Harun Farocki, Leon Ferrari, Victor Grippo, Brion Gysin, Igloolik Isuma Productions, Luis Jacob, Ken Jacobs, Joachim Koester, Louise Lawler, Len Lye, Étienne-Jules Marey, Daria Martin, Angela Melitopoulos & Maurizio Lazzarato, Wesley Meuris, Henri Michaux, Santu Mofokeng, Vincent Monnikendam, Tom Nicholson, Reto Pulfer, Félix-Louis Regnault, Jozef Robakowski, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Paul Sharits, Jan Švankmajer, David G. Tretiakoff, Rosemarie Trockel, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Dziga Vertov, Klaus Weber, Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Contributors to the publication:
Irene Albers, Bart De Baere, Oksana Bulgakowa, Edwin Carels, Brigid Doherty, Masato Fukushima, Avery Gordon, Richard Hill, Darius James, Gertrud Koch, Maurizio Lazzarato and Angela Melitopoulos, Vivian Liska, Philippe Pirotte, Florian Schneider, Erhard Schüttpelz, Michael Taussig, Marina Warner, Martin Zillinger, et.al.

Concept: Anselm Franke
Curators Antwerp: Anselm Franke (Director Extra City Antwerp), Edwin Carels (Researcher KASK/HoGent), Bart De Baere (Director M HKA Antwerp); Bern: Anselm Franke, Philippe Pirotte (Director Kunsthalle Bern); Vienna: Anselm Franke, Sabine Folie (Director Generali Foundation Vienna).

More info on http://www.extracity.org and http://www.muhka.be

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