July 12, 2012 - Former West - 3rd Research Congress, Part Two, Utrecht
July 12, 2012

3rd Research Congress, Part Two, Utrecht

Design: Mevis & Van Deursen.

3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part Two, Utrecht​
Beyond What Was Contemporary Art, continued

29 September 2012

Utrecht School of the Arts
Mariaplaats 28, Utrecht


Following the first part of the 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress: Beyond What Was Contemporary Art (19–20 April 2012, Vienna), Part Two takes place in Utrecht on 29 September 2012.

The remarkable discussions in Part One of the Congress among artists, thinkers, and activists began to untangle the speculative proposition that alongside the ongoing seismic shifts in society, politics, and economy in the so-called West we move beyond the confines of Contemporary Art’s practices. The question before us was: how can we collectively imagine the possibilities ahead in the space of art and reconfigure the field as a set of potentialities while harvesting the imaginaries in thinking through the “formerness” of the capitalist product/propaganda impasse of Contemporary Art?

Part Two extends these propositions and addresses theorist and curator Irit Rogoff’s question in her closing lecture referring to the use of the term “art”: “What on earth do they mean?!” Rogoff suggested that while “the world of ‘art’ is one of multiple practices and a proliferation of incommensurate protocols that produces the confusion of one word which has contradictory meanings for so many of the stakeholders within the field,” it is “actually a part of living through a major epistemological crisis.” She further designated “practice,” “audience,” “curator,” “space,” and “exhibition” as subject to this same disorientation of expanded meaning that has not yet been “allowed to back up on itself and flip over into something entirely different.” These concerns seem critical to struggle with as the hegemonic formations that held hostage the imagination of the future—and thus the possibility of “art”—for the last 20-odd years are being dismantled. How exactly does this epistemological disorientation provide us with a “fertile ground from which to think the notion of an emergent field”? How do we move away, in sync with Rogoff’s proposal, from competing interests and towards absent knowledges, and embrace “the loss or the sacrifice” as opposed to the “cumulative proliferation of modes of operating”?

To speculate about the prospects ahead, Part Two of the Congress brings together artists, curators, scholars, and activists including Bassam el Baroni (curator and art critic; Alexandria), Delaine Le Bas (artist; Worthing), Mihnea Mircan (curator and writer; Antwerp), Marion von Osten (artist and cultural researcher; Berlin/Vienna), Rasha Salti (curator and writer; Beirut), Jonas Staal (artist; Rotterdam), and Stephen Wright (theorist, writer, curator, and researcher; Paris).

Part Two of the Congress is co-curated by What, How and for Whom/WHW and follows the opening of the WHW-curated exhibition How Much Fascism? on 28 September 2012 at BAK. This research exhibition in the framework of FORMER WEST engages with Slovenian theorist and political activist Rastko Močnik’s provocative claim in his 1995 book How Much Fascism? that we no longer need to ask ourselves whether “new local populism, new ‘fascism,’ [and] new right-wing extremism” drive the contemporary condition in the West and beyond, but rather, how much they drive that condition. The exhibition includes works by artists Burak Delier (Istanbul), Etcétera… (Buenos Aires), Avi Mograbi (Tel Aviv), Marina Naprushkina (Minsk), Trevor Paglen (New York), Cesare Pietroiusti (Rome), Jonas Staal (Rotterdam), Mladen Stilinović (Zagreb), Superflex (Copenhagen), Milica Tomić (Belgrade), and Lidwien van de Ven (Berlin/Rotterdam).

FORMER WEST (2008–2014) is a long-term artistic research project that proposes using the tool “former West” to think through the contemporary and to critically reinterpret our post-1989 histories and speculate about our global futures by casting new light on art in relation to developments in society and politics. It is realized with a dense international network of researchers and institutional partners and curated by Maria Hlavajova (artistic director of BAK and FORMER WEST) and Kathrin Rhomberg (independent curator, Vienna). The 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress is part of a series of public forums that render visible and further the artistic, curatorial, and academic research that grounds the FORMER WEST project.

The Congress is in English. Admission includes lunch and coffee; students/books@bak members receive a special rate. Registration opens on 12 July 2012 at www.formerwest.org.

The 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part Two is developed by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst and co-curated by What, How and for Whom/WHW and the FORMER WEST curatorial team. The 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part Two is realized in collaboration with Utrecht School of the Arts. It is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam, and the EU Culture Programme, Brussels.

For information about the contributors to and recordings of Part One of the Congress, more information on previous Congresses, and to explore the research archive, please visit the Digital Platform: www.formerwest.org.

For further information, please contact:
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst
Lange Nieuwstraat 4, 3512 PH Utrecht

T +31 (0)30 2316125
F +31 (0)30 2304866
info [​at​] bak-utrecht.nl

Former West
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