October 18, 2019 - Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA) - “Considering Monoculture”
October 18, 2019

Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA)

Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin, Global Digestion (detail), circa 1980–2007. Photo: M HKA.

“Considering Monoculture”
February 27–28, 2020

Submission deadline: November 18, 6pm

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M HKA (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven) and deBuren (the Dutch-Flemish house for culture and debate) are seeking proposals for its forthcoming two-day conference “Considering Monoculture". Taking place at deBuren in Brussels, it will combine a lecture by political theorist Chantal Mouffe with papers, performances, presentations and discussion.

The aim of this two-day interdisciplinary programme is an urge to explore the current trends towards monoculture and its implications for art, culture and its institutions. Over the past few years, the combination of anti-globalisation sentiment, conflict, terror, mass-migration and the perceived counter-hegemony of identity politics, has created a perfect storm for new militant forms of identitarianism to emerge. Across Europe and much of the globe, a drive for national monoculture, in which societies are understood through adhering to homogenous racial, cultural, ideological or religious parameters, has entered the mainstream. Precedents for such positions, in the guise of 20th century fascism in Europe, are alarming. For the cultural field, long considered as having a secular, elitist and socially-liberal basis, it is no longer enough simply to denounce the creep towards monoculture as an abhorrent form of neo-fascism. At the same time, the recent turn towards indigenous practices within contemporary art discourse, as well as the framings of art via race, ethnicity or other distinctions of identity or marginality, whether implicit or explicit, could itself be seen as contributing towards new forms of essentialism and reinforcing monocultural tendencies.

It therefore feels timely that we consider carefully different manifestations and implications of monoculture, keeping an open mind on its motivations and potential as well as its dangers. The programme seeks to explore the concept, and its possible alternatives from multiple perspectives, looking to the fields of art, philosophy, linguistics and politics. How real, it will ask, is the supposed essentialism of monoculture, and what might we identify as the positive qualities of its self-image? Might even historic emancipation movements such as Négritude be considered as monocultural? Given, the supposed “failure” of different forms of multicultural projects, many of which were born in the 1990s, that has been proclaimed across the political spectrum, what possible alternatives might serve us for the future? Is now the time to think more speculatively about concepts such as multiculture or pluriculture as options for being and living together? What are the ramifications of the turn towards monoculture for existing forms of democratic politics? Finally, the programme will ask how specific artistic and institutional practices can help us understand the position of the arts within these debates.

Organisers: Nick Aikens (Van Abbemuseum), Nav Haq (M HKA) and Nora Mahammed (deBuren).

Organised in the framework of “Our Many Europes", a four-year EU funded programme organised by the museum confederation L’Internationale.

“Considering Monoculture” will take place in Brussels at deBuren, and will be structured over two days. It will include a lecture by Chantal Mouffe, three panels and a series of artistic presentations.

We invite proposals from artists, academics and curators in the form of written papers, performances, screenings or presentations to “Considering Monoculture".

Please submit proposals by email as a single Word document, comprising an abstract (max 500 words) and a short biography (300 words). Proposals should be sent to: opencall [​at​] vanabbe.nl using the subject header “Considering Monoculture".

Submit proposal by: November 18, 2019, 6pm CET
Successful applicants will be notified by: December 20, 2019
If you have any queries, please contact either n.aikens [​at​] vanabbe.nl or nav.haq [​at​] muhka.be

The submissions will be assessed by:
Nick Aikens (Research Curator, Van Abbemuseum)
Pascal Gielen (Professor Cultural Sociology, ARIA – Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts)
Nav Haq (Associate Director, M HKA)
Nora Mahammed (Programmer, deBuren)
Yolande van der Heide (Deputy Director, Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons)

About the L’Internationale Confederation:
L'Internationale is a confederation of seven modern and contemporary art institutions. L'Internationale proposes a space for art within a non-hierarchical and decentralised internationalism, based on the values of difference and horizontal exchange among a constellation of cultural agents, locally rooted and globally connected. It brings together seven major European art institutions: Moderna galerija (MG+MSUM, Ljubljana, Slovenia); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS, Madrid, Spain); Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA, Barcelona, Spain); Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie, (MSN, Warsaw, Poland); Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium); SALT (Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey) and Van Abbemuseum (VAM, Eindhoven, the Netherlands).

About “Our Many Europes”
“Our Many Europes” is a four-year programme (2018–22) comprising exhibitions, public programming, heritage exchange and institutional experimentation across the Internationale confederation. The programme takes the 1990s as a starting point when our current Europe was born. It aims to think speculatively about the role of culture as a driving force in showing who and how we are in the world.

Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA)
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