Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster

Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster

Bétonsalon - Center for Art and Research

Ultragramme, God Mode, 2015.

September 14, 2015

Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster
October 8, 2015–January 30, 2016

Opening: October 7, 6–9pm
After at Petit Bain starting from 9:30pm

Bétonsalon – Center for Art and Research
9 Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet
Rez-de-Chaussée de la Halle aux Farines
F-75013 Paris
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 11am–7pm
Free admission

T +33 (0) 1 45 84 17 56
info [​at​]

Antoine Catala; Ian Cheng; Melissa Dubbin, Aaron S. Davidson & Violaine Sautter; Vilém Flusser & Louis Bec; Jasmina Metwaly & Philip Rizk; David Ohle; Agnieszka Piksa; Pamela Rosenkranz; Daniel Steegmann Mangrané; Wu Tsang; Nobuko Tsuchiya; Haytham el-Wardany

Curated by Mélanie Bouteloup and Garance Malivel

Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster puts forth the speculative powers of storytelling and science-fiction to rethink the ways we inhabit our environment.

Flows of information, words, data, dematerialized transactions, precipitations, and tidal waves. Alarming observations of freak weather. Which influences the course of things today—the stock market or the weather report? Loss of legibility, failed predictions, non-linear logics.

In his essay “Infinite Game of Thrones” (2014), the artist Ian Cheng examines the cognitive evolution of individuals faced with a changing environment, with rules endlessly repeated and redefined: “Perhaps the most intimate crisis we face today is the limits of human consciousness to really grasp non-human scaled complexity. What is non-human scaled complexity? Strangelove. Y2K. The sprawling codebase of Microsoft Windows. The Amazon rainforest. Climate change. Big data. Anti-terrorism. Cancer. The unknown unknownness of an expanding universe. A dynamic something composed of such vast interconnectivity and such deep causal chains that it cannot be metabolized by humans as a comprehensible whole. Too much to hold in the head. Impervious to narrativization.”(1)

The world that we have built appears today to be dominated by an increasing ambivalence: that of an ever more complex interconnectedness that allows both new modes of exchange to emerge and practices and knowledge to circulate—yet, in an age of mass technological and industrial production, it does so with an alarming loss of legibility, and an increase in the threats to human and ecological survival. At the moment when the news media is focused on the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, following two decades of attempts to negotiate international commitments to climate change, Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster seeks to examine the ways in which we interact with our environment from a variety of disciplinary vantage points that take into account different economic, cultural, and social influences. Indeed, the distinction, as it still too often prevails, should be avoided between issues relegated to the “environmental” realm (pollution, global warming, preservation of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, etc.) and others to the “social” realm (migration, employment, racial, sexual and wealth inequality, public health, violence, etc.), in order to seek viable responses to the various upheavals with which we are currently confronted.

Echoing the metaphor put forward by the writer Haytham el-Wardany in his essay “Notes on Disaster” (2015)(2), the exhibition Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster seeks to examine not the tragic dimension that inheres in a state of disaster, but rather the transformations and forms of collective action that disaster occasions. This raises the question of emancipation and re-empowerment, in the sense that disaster, as el-Wardany argues, “is a communal event, in which stricken individuals band together in a stricken group and search for a new beginning. And in this way, it is also a political event, for disaster is a collective fumbling towards a new reality in which the individual might finally return to himself.” In other words, how to transform a critical situation into a ferment of renewal that gives itself to thought, both individually and collectively?(3)

Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster proposes an alternative perspective, a change of outlook based on the speculative power of storytelling and science fiction as a means to rethink the ways we inhabit our environment. Shifting the focus away from an anthropocentric viewpoint, the different approaches and works brought together in the exhibition allow for a renewed awareness of other forms of life, communication and interaction. Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster has been conceived as a space dedicated to exploring new forms of languages and syntax—with the wager that future possibilities to live and cohabit will depend on the attention we pay to multiple modes of expression and awareness.

More information and full text here.

Initiated by Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Co-Workers unfolds over two different chapters: The Network as Artist at ARC, the experimental space of Musée d’Art moderne, and Beyond Disaster at Bétonsalon–Center for Art and Research, where a programme of events and encounters will punctuate the exhibition.

Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster is supported by the Région Île-de-France, Arcadi Île-de-France in the framework of Némo, International Biennial of Digital Arts–Paris / Île-de-France, as well as by Imago Mundi Foundation (Cracow, Poland) within the program Place Called Space (project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the Malopolska Regional Operational Program for 2007–13). Co-Workers: Beyond Disaster is also supported by the program UDPN–Usages des patrimoines numérisés (Idex SPC).

Bétonsalon–Center for Art and Research is supported by the City of Paris, the Department of Paris, Paris Diderot University, Île-de-France Regional Board of Cultural Affairs – Ministry of Culture and Communication, Île-de-France Regional Council, and Leroy Merlin (quai d’Ivry). Bétonsalon–Center for Art and Research is a member of Tram, réseau art contemporain Paris / Île-de-France, and of d.c.a / French association for the development of centres d’art.

(1) Ian Cheng, “Infinite Game of Thrones,” originally published in The Machine Stops, ed. Erik Wysocan (New York: Halmos, 2015).
(2)  Haytham el-Wardany, “Notes on Disaster,” originally published in the online journal ArteEast Quarterly (Winter 2015). Translated from the Arabic by Robin Moger.
(3) See the essay by Giovanna Di Chiro, “Living environmentalisms: coalition politics, social reproduction, and environmental justice”, originally published in Environmental Politics, 17:2, 276-298, Routledge, 2008. Di Chiro calls for a “living environmentalism” in which citizens can combine forces in order to preserve or regenerate the ecosystems that influence the reproductive processes on which all communities depend.

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Bétonsalon - Center for Art and Research
September 14, 2015

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