February 28, 2006 - Iaspis - A Fiesta of Tough Choices
February 28, 2006

A Fiesta of Tough Choices

A Fiesta of Tough Choices
Addressing the Swedish Government Decree of 2006: Year of Multiculturalism

Iaspis Stockholm, 4 – 12 March 2006
Jakobsgatan 27, Stockholm

Invited participants: Timothy Brennan, Loulou Cherinet, Peter Geschwind, Jonathan Harris, Edda Manga, Philippe Parreno, Kate Rich, Hito Steyerl

Concept: Maria Lind & Tirdad Zolghadr

Multiculturalism is easy to dismiss. For the right, it poses a threat to tradition and national identity. For the left, it often means food festivals, post-Marxist culturalism, or reactionary community spokesmen. As in discussions on globalization, perhaps the jist of the problem lies in the tools at our disposal, the critical terminology, which is awkward at best, dangerous at worst.

Following the government declaration of “2006: Year of Multiculturalism”, we looked to theorists and practitioners with a talent for challenging standard terminologies and reassessing their critical potential. If a prominent example is the recent notion of the multitude, as formulated by Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, keynote speaker Timothy Brennans use of cosmopolitanism is a reconsideration of an older concept to critique new developments in academia and the cultural industries.

Another example is that of “Ethnic Marketing”, as used by organizer Zolghadr, which allows the host country (in this case Sweden) to be viewed as a specific “ethnic” populace with a specific buying power and demand – for a specific type of multiculturalism to begin with. One of the very aims of this festival-inspired seminar is to discern what this Swedish brand might be. Does it play with universalist aspirations, or does it share the more fashionable notions of Other but Equal?

One vital critical discourse regarding multiculturalism is that of Postcolonial Theory, the academic trend which surfaced in the 1980s, and which, among other things, analyzed the complicity of Western intellectual traditions with various forms of colonialism, old and new. In the course of its swift institutionalization, has this movement spawned a newer, updated version of that complicity? What are the perils of academic engagement, and other top-down gestures of goodwill?

Finally, what can the artworld contribute to this debate? Is it enough to critique the streamlined government decrees? Are there possibilities of being more cooperative, or is the artworld at odds with mainstream engagements? The instrumentalization of the visual arts has been decried by critics for decades, and the boom in art & culture events dubbed international festivals, for one, seems to confirm this suspicion. But does a festival necessarily result in a crude reduction of subject matter, or does it possibly harbor critical potential? Again, when addressing these facets of multiculturalism here and now, it is crucial that the actual language of the debate – the bedrock of the internationalist conundrum – be examined once again.

The event will begin with talks, screenings, project presentations and performances. The festivalesque setting comprising the artworks shall be on display for a week thereafter.

Contributions by artists include

Scenography by Philippe Parreno
Giveaways and festival medley by Peter Geschwind
Feral Trade Catering by Kate Rich
Films by Loulou Cherinet and Hito Steyerl

Talks and presentations include

Day 1 Saturday, March 4
Introduction by Iaspis director Maria Lind
Edda Manga (Uppsala University)
Stockholm-based Iaspis resident artist Loulou Cherinet
Event co-organizer Tirdad Zolghadr

Day 2 Saturday March 11
Timothy Brennan (University of Minnesota)
Future Iaspis resident artist Hito Steyerl
Jonathan Harris (University of Liverpool)


IASPIS (International Artists Studio Programme in Sweden) is a Swedish exchange program whose main purpose is to facilitate creative dialogues between visual artists in Sweden and the international contemporary art scene. Iaspis encompasses an international studio program in Sweden, a support structure for exhibitions and residencies abroad for Swedish based artists, as well as a program of seminars, exhibitions and publications. Iaspis is the international program of the Visual Arts Fund, a branch of the Arts Grants Committee.
Maria Lind has been the director of Iaspis (International Artists Studio Programme in Sweden) since February 2005. She was formerly the director of Kunstverein München from 2002-2004 where she together with a curatorial team consisting at different times of Sören Grammel, Katharina Schlieben, Tessa Praun, Ana Paula Cohen and Judith Schwarzbart – ran a programme which involved artists such as Deimantas Narkevicius, Oda Projesi, Bojan Sarcevic, Philippe Parreno and Marion von Osten. From 1997-2001 she was curator at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and, in 1998, co-curator of Manifesta 2, Europe’s biennale of contemporary art. Responsible for Moderna Museet Projekt, Lind worked with artists on a series of 29 commissions that took place in a temporary project-space, or within or beyond the Museum in Stockholm. There she also curated What if: Art on the Verge of Architecture and Design, filtered by Liam Gillick. Lind was one of 10 contributing curators to Phaidon’s Fresh Cream book, and she has contributed widely to magazines including Index, Site, Frieze, Art Monthly and Parkett, as well as to numerous catalogues and other publications.

Since 1999, the focus of Tirdad Zolghadr’s work has shifted from documentary practices to the visual arts. After co-founding the Tehran-based feminist online magazine « Bad Jens », he collaborated with Solmaz Shahbazi on a documentary on urbanism in Tehran, « Tehran 1380 ». His ongoing projects in the field of curating and criticism arose from his critical engagement with the mise-en-scene of internationalism in the arts. Recent curatorial efforts include « Ethnic Marketing » at the Kunsthalle Geneva, and the 7th International Sharjah Biennial. He is active as a founding member of the Shahrzad Art & Design Collective, as a contributor to frieze magazine and as an editor of Bidoun, a publication on arts & culture in the Middle East.

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