Night School: Last Seminar

Night School: Last Seminar

New Museum

February 20, 2009

Night School: Last Seminar

New Museum
235 Bowery

New York, 

NY 10002


The New Museum is pleased to present the final Night School program: Public Seminar 12 with Jan Verwoert, February 28 – March 1, 2009t.

Night School is an artist’s project by Anton Vidokle in the form of a temporary school. A yearlong series of monthly seminars, screenings, performances and workshops, Night School drew upon a large group of artists, writers, curators, architects, scientists and theorists to conceptualize and conduct the program.
Contributors included (in chronological order): Boris Groys, Mikhail Iampolski, Martha Rosler, Liam Gillick, Maria Lind, Carey Young, Tirdad Zolghadr, Hu Fang, Zhang Wei, Xu Tan, Okwui Enwesor, Paul Chan, Eileen Myles, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Nikolaus Hirsch, Molly Nesbit, Neil Logan, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Thomas Keenan, Avery Gordon, Walid Raad, Jalal Toufic, Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta), Arani Bose, Steven Pacia.

Night School Public Seminar 12 

Jan Verwoert:
Why are conceptual artists painting again?
Because they think it’s a good idea.

Friday, February 27, 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 28, 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 1, 4:00 p.m.

What is the future of medium-specific practices after Conceptualism?
What is the future of Conceptual Art after the 1990s?

How have the basic conditions of art practice changed and what words and models could we use to open up the potentials at the heart of these developments in art after Conceptualism?

The dominant models no longer satisfy. It makes no sense to melodramatically invoke the “end of painting” (or any other medium-specific practice for that part) when the continous emergence of fascinating work obviously proves apocalyptic endgame scenarios wrong. Yet, to pretend it were possible to go back to business as usual seems equally impossible because the radical expansion of artistic possibilities through the landslide changes of the 1960s leave medium-specific practices in the odd position of being one among many modes of artistic articulation, with no preset justification. How can we describe then what medium-specific practices like painting or sculpture can do today?

Likewise, it seems, that we can still not quite convincingly describe to ourselves what Conceptual Art can be: An art of pure ideas? As if “pure” idea art were ever possible let alone desirable! An art of smart strategic moves and puns? We have advertising agencies for that. The social and political dimension of Conceptualism has been discussed, but often only in apodictic terms, not acknowledging the humour, the wit, the existential, emotional or erotic aspects, as well as the iconophile, not just iconoclast motives, that have always also been at play in the dialectics and politics of life-long conceptual practices.

This seminar is a part of an ongoing series of monthly talks and conversations about conditions of contemporary practice that started last Fall at The Building in Berlin. The idea is to invent a new language together in discussions that could describe the potentials of contemporary practice; a language that would acknowledge a shared sense of crisis and doubt, yet fight the senseless paranoia over legitimation that too much bad-faith criticism today exploits in the wake of second-generation institutional critique. In other words: how could, in response to the concerns of contemporary art practice, a critical vocabulary be developed that would break the spell of the oedipal infatuation with the laws of (institutional) legitimacy – and instead help to transform criticism into a truly gay science based on a shared sense of appreciation and irreverence?

Jan Verwoert is an art critic based in Berlin. He is a contributing editor to Frieze magazine and also writes regularly about contemporary art for such art magazines as Afterall, Metropolis M, Springerin, and other. His book Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous (One Work) was published in 2006 by Afterall Books/MIT Press. He teaches at Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam.

All events are free with Museum admission but tickets are required. Tickets can be reserved online or at the Museum one week before the seminar’s start; a limited number of tickets will be available one hour before each event’s start. Tickets are limited, distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis, and must be collected prior to the event’s start time. Unclaimed tickets will be released promptly at the event’s start time. Please check individual events below for tickets and more information.

For tickets see

Museum as Hub is made possible by the Third Millennium Foundation.

With additional generous support from the Metlife Foundation. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Endowment support is provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum. Generous support also provided by the Charlotte and Bill Ford Artist Talks Fund.

New Museum

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February 20, 2009

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