the building in january

the building in january


January 3, 2009

the building in january

Wednesday, January 7, 730PM: Jan Verwoert

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

The building is pleased to present the fourth talk in a monthly series of conversations organized by the art critic Jan Verwoert: Facing things in a state of crisis: From debt to dedication.

As a consequence of the attempt to dismantle certain categorical definitions of what art practice (after conceptualism) is about, the discussions after the previous lectures time and again raised the question: How can we seek to understand the situation that we find ourselves in when we reject a type of thinking that conceptualizes art practice solely in terms of a legitimatory discourse of stated intentions and programmatic declarations? 

It would seem that, in the absence of programmatic marching orders, we encounter a state of crisis where what is to be done is unclear so that indecision and paralysis automatically ensue. But what, if it was only in this critical situation of indeterminacy that the things that might truly matter for an awareness of what could be done begin to emerge – precisely because they are no longer obscured by overblown heroic narratives of what would have to be done? How to find a language for this moment, when in a state of hiatus, the haecceity of things might most keenly and painfully be perceived?

Unprotected by a legitimatory apparatus of programmatic declarations one in fact becomes fully exposed to the desires of others and that entails – in the art world – the painful awareness of one’s dependency on the fickleness of those desires of others. Inevitably one ends up in debt, symbolically, financially, emotionally. What to do with this debt? The launch of fast careers might provide fast relief, but will effectively only increase the dependency on those who facilitate those careers. The alignment with established schools of thinking through programmatic conceptual statements may likewise merely reinforce intellectual dependencies that are no less oppressive.

So how to face the debt? Maybe by proactively indebting oneself to others – others one loves or remains indebted to, if not haunted by – in an act of dedication. What would it mean to, conceptually, in art practice, move away from a stance of declaration towards one of dedication?

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. Teaches at the MA Fine Arts department at the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam.


e-flux video rental
(EVR) is an ongoing work by Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda, comprising a free video rental, a public screening room, and a film and video archive that is constantly growing. This collection of over 850 works of film and video art has been assembled in collaboration with more than 400 artists, curators and critics. 

EVR is a poetic exploration of alternative processes of circulation and distribution, and it is structured to function like a typical video rental store, except that it operates for free. VHS tapes can be watched in the space, or, once a new member fills out a membership form and contract, they can be checked out and viewed at home. Originally presented at a storefront in New York, in 2004, EVR has traveled to art venues in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Seoul, Paris, Istanbul, Canary Islands, Austin, Budapest, Boston, Antwerp, Berlin, Miami, Lyon, Lisbon and Cali.

Every time EVR opens in a new city, local artists, curators and writers are invited to serve as selectors, choosing artists whose work is added to the collection. In addition, a special program of screenings of works from the EVR collection is part of the project.

Special screenings in January:
Saturday, January 17, 7:30PM – A program by Severun Dunser
Thursday, January 22, 7:30PM – A program by Alexander Komarov
Thursday, January 29, 7:30PM – A program by Florian Zeyfang


e-flux reading room is a collection of books on contemporary art exhibitions open to the public at the building in Berlin. The books have been donated by numerous art institutions from all parts of the world and reflect some of the more interesting developments in art of the past decade. e-flux reading room is open for research and study from Thursday through Saturday, 12-6 pm. 

Contributing institutions include:
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Deutsche Guggenheim, The Sculpture Center, Archis Foundation, The New Museum, Locus Athens, Lehman College Gallery, Kunstlerhaus Buchsenhausen, CCNOA Brussels, ICI, The Drawing Center, Shefield Contemporary Art Forum, Matt’s Gallery, London, National Sculpture FactoryIreland, Caja de Burgos Art Centre, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Parker’s Box, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Parasol Unit, Foundation for Contemporary Art; Public Art Lab / Mobile Studios; Villa Manin: Centro de Art Contemporanea; Austrian Cultural Forum; Office of Contemporary Art, Norway; La Maison Rouge; Frankfurter Kunstverein; National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST); Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site; Project Art Center, Essex/ Project Press; NADA; Serpentine Gallery; Via Farini; The Moore Space; Or Gallery, Vancouver; Villa Arson; Galerija Skuc; Artadia; Objectif Projects; Taipei Fine Arts Museum (Taipei Biennial and Taiwan Pavilion); Sala Rekalde; Portikus; I Sotterranei dell’Arte, Monte Carasso; Apex Art; Archis Foundation; Flintridge Foundation; Kunsthaus Graz; Institute National de l´Arte Contemporain; Redcat; tranzit, initiative for contemporary art; PS1; Vera List Center; O.K. Centrum für Gegenwartskunst; FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange; CAB; Kunstlerhaus Stuttgard; Siemens Arts Program; National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest ; Foundation Antoni Ratti; Art Box; De Appel; Queens Museum; GAK; Parkett; Parasol Unit; InSite/Installation Gallery; Dia Center for the Arts; Secession; Art & Industry Biennial Trust; Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana; MUSAC; Weatherspoon Art Museum; Aeroplastics; Salzburger Kunstverein; Museion; Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein; SCI-Arc Gallery, Southern California Institute of Architecture; Art Forum; Public Art Lower Austria; SITE Santa fe; MDD – Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens; Artspeak; Afterall Books; Black Dog Publishing; A prior; Middelheim Museum; KW, Berlin; Art Resources Transfer Inc.; Luckman Fine Arts Complex; Institiute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art; Americas Society; Stroom den Haag; Museum in Progress; Wyspa Progress Foudation; Museion; Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art; Mobile Academy; Sternberg Press; DaimlerChrysler Contemporary; Umetnostna galerija / Umetnostna Galerija Maribor; MDD – Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens; MUSAC; Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan; Monokultur; Blanton Museum of Art; GAK, Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen; Bidoun; Bonner Kunstverein and other institutions and private individuals.

Should you wish to contribute to this growing collection, please send your publications to:

e-flux reading room
Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a

Berlin, 10249 Germany

The building is an e-flux project.
The building is open Thursday through Saturday, 12 – 6 pm. Come visit!

For further information please contact Magdalena Magiera: 

the building
Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a

10249 Berlin DE

T: 030 28 04 79 73

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January 3, 2009

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