Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art (NIFCA)

September 14, 2004


NIFCA – the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art


In spring 2005 NIFCA launches exhibition events in four European cities exploring the relationships between contemporary art and current cultural and political trends. Populism Evening talk at the Berlin Art Forum Wednesday 22nd of September by Professor Niels Werber and curator Nicolaus Schafhausen.

NIFCA – the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art – will in April and May 2005 present a major new exhibition project: Populism. It will focus on populism as a pervasive cultural phenomenon and explore connections between the art system and populist ideology. Through visual art and its discourses, the project aims in this way to critically investigate the current reality of populism(s).

Populist tendencies, whether right wing or left wing, are no doubt one of the major challenges within modern democratic systems. At the same time, the aestheticisation of life takes place in new ways. The initial idea of the Populism project took shape after noticing how the field of visual art since the late 1980s has become more and more “populist” (and popular) in Western cultural production, as a phenomenon around which mass audiences are organised and identities are branded. Populism will deal with themes related to populism on different levels, be they social, political or aesthetic, and in this way address current democratic discussions. Key questions are how forms of populism historically have been propagating or reacting against discourses of modernity, and how a high level of stylistic and “aesthetic” consciousness is central to populist movements’ quest for mass appeal.
Populism will include new works and projects by around 30 Nordic, Baltic and international artists, bringing together challenging works and proposals in a multitude of artistic strategies. The exhibition will take place in the Nordic region at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo; in the Baltic Sea region at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius; and in continental Europe at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

In order to stimulate a public debate of visual culture and its social-political background, a series of events will be organised in connection to the exhibition. This debate will be launched within the framework of the Berlin Art Forum Talks on Wednesday 22nd of September, by curator Nicolaus Schafhausen and Niels Werber, Professor of German Literature and Media Theory at the University of Ruhr in Bochum. A reader on populism will be released before the official opening of the exhibitions, followed by an exhibition catalogue. NIFCA will also organise a series of lectures in different European cities during 2005. In addition, collaborations with media partners in each country will present artists’ projects and texts. Populism was initiated by Cristina Ricupero curator at NIFCA and Nicolaus Schafhausen, director of Frankfurter Kunstverein at the beginning of 2003. The project is organised and produced by NIFCA.
Curators: Lars Bang Larsen, Cristina Ricupero and Nicolaus Schafhausen.
Populism is developed through a network of artists, curators and theorists who are brought together to debate the themes related to populism and elaborate a discourse together:
Board of institutional advisors: Ina Blom from the Department of art History IAKK, University of Oslo, Leontine Coelewij from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Lolita Jablonskiene from the Contemporary Art Information Centre in Vilnius, Gavin Jantjes from the Contemporary Art Museum in Oslo, Maaretta Jaukkuri from Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki and Vanessa Joan Muller, Germany.
Board of artistic advisors: Matias Faldbakken (Norway), Jens Haaning (Denmark) and Matthieu Laurette (France) (provisional list).
Populism is supported by:
Culture 2000, DekaBank, Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation), European Cultural Foundation, Ars Baltica and ABN-AMRO.

Order NIFCA Info 2/04 special on Populism from www.nifca.org
For further information, please contact: information@nifca.org

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Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art (NIFCA)
September 14, 2004

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