THE INSTITUTIONAL AND IDEOLOGICAL OPERATION OF TRANSNATIONAL ART EVENTS
July 25-August 4, Yerevan, Armenia
July 25, Monday
11:30 – Opening Remarks
Angela Harutyunyan and Nazareth Karoyan
Beatrice Von Bismarck, Curatorial Conditions – Relations in Process
1:30-2:30pm – Lunch
2:30pm –4:00 Round-Table Discussion
On the Temporality of Transnational Art Events
Moderated by Angela Harutyunyan
6:30 - Introduction on Suburb Cultural Center by Eva Khachatryan
7:00 – 8:30 Public Presentations (Venue—Mkhitar Sebastatsi Fine Arts School)
Eleonora Farina, National Art Systems vs. Transnational Art Events: The Romanian Case
Elisa Tosoni, Transnational Artistic Events: On Temporality and Its Repercussions On The Local Context
Maaike Gouwenberg, Local Audiences, Global Curating
July 26, Tuesday
Misko Suvakovic, International & Global Nomad: Art & The Transcultural, Part I
2:00-3:30 – Round-Table
Curating a Biennial, Moderated By WHW and Nazareth Karoyan (TBC)
7:00- 8:30 Public Presentations (Venue – The Club, 40 Tumanyan str.)
Claudia Slanar, In-between Disruption: About the Connection between Artistic and Political Events
Ozge Ersoy, Transnational Art Events and Regional Artistic Practices
Corina Oprea, Breaking Through the Political Ideology within the Venice Biennale
July 27, Wednesday
Misko Suvakovic, International & Global Nomad: Art & the Transcultural, Part II
1:00-2:00 – Lunch
2:00-3:30 –Round Table Discussion
Institutional Frameworks of Transnational Art Events, Moderated By Sasa Nabergoj
7:00-8:30 SWEET 60s in Yerevan, transit.at (Harutyun Galents Museum)
SWEET 60s is a long term experimental, curatorial, scientific and educational research project that investigates the hidden territories of the revolutionary period of the 1960s through contemporary artistic and theoretical perspectives, which has developed around itself a wide international network of interested and cooperating individuals and institutions.
Introduction - Ruben Arevshatyan artist, art critic and independent curator, Yerevan and Georg Schöllhammer editor, author, curator and editor-in-chief of Springerin magazine, Vienna
Ali Akay curator, sociologist, Mimar Sian University, Istanbul
Keti Chukhrov philosopher, Institute of Philosophy, Moscow
Zagreb Sohrab Mahdavi cofounder and English editor of Tehran Avenue magazine, Tehran
Lali Partenava, Art Historian and Critic, Tbilisi.
„Sweet 60s“is supported by Allianz Kulturstiftung and the European Commission through the Culture Program.
ERSTE Foundation is the main partner of tranzit.at.
The panel is coorganized by International Curatorial Summer School - Yerevan
July 28, Thursday
10:30 – Breakfast
11:00 – Lecture
Sarah Rifky, On Being an Institution
2:00-3:30 – Round-Table Discussion
Labour, Value and Art Production in a Transnational Framework
Moderated By Sarah Rifky
7:00-8:30 – Public Presentations (Venue –Cafesjian Museum Foundation)
Kamil Julian , Daniela: Kostova Unorthodox Image (Suburb Center’s presentation)
Isabella Hughes, Contemporary Art: An Agent Of Cultural Diplomacy
Sasa Nabergoj, The Praise of Laziness
29th July, Friday
Visits to Art Institutions: National Art Gallery, Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Arts (ACCEA)
July 30th and 31th - Weekend Retreat to Lake Sevan
August 1st, Monday
11:00-2:00 – Visits to Art Institutions: Museum of Modern Art, Cafesjian Foundation, Art Laboratory, etc.
5:00-8:00 -Reading Sessions In Various Locations In Yerevan
Conducted By Angela Harutyunyan
August 2nd, Tuesday
10:30 – Breakfast
Bassem El Baroni, Just What Is It that Makes Today's Transnationalism So Prescribed, So Paradoxical?
2:00- 3:30 – Round-Table Discussion
Transnational Art Events and Local Cultural Politics
Moderated By Vardan Azatyan
7:00-8:30pm – Public Presentations (Venue – Narekatsi Cultural Center, near Vernissage)
Mariana Losi, Residency Zine
Milena Leszkowicz, Contemporary Art and Anthropology
Combiz Moussavi Aghdam, The Narratives Of Art History And Iranian Intelligentsia In The 1960s And 1970s
August 3rd-4th, Wednesday - Thursday
11:00-2:00 – Visits to Art Institutions: Museum of Modern Art, Cafesjian Foundation, Art Laboratory, etc.
5:00-8:00 -Reading Sessions In Various Locations In Yerevan
Conducted By Angela Harutyunyan
Boris Groys, “Art and Money” and “Comrades of Time”
Allan Badiou, exceprts from The Communist Hypothesis
Agamben –“Author as Gesture”
Bataille – The Story of the Eye, Part II
Jalal Toufic –Undeserving Lebanon, excerpts
12:00-4:00 – Visits to Art Institutions and Artists’ Studios
Intersections: Critical and Curatorial Practices of Art and Art Education, ed. By Angela Harutyunyan. PrintInfo: Yerevan, 2011
International & Global Nomad:Art & the Transcultural
In this two-part lecture I will point to the transformation of the intercultural status of art in modernism, postmodernism and contemporary times. I will discuss the imperial model of the influence of large dominant cultures on small marginal cultures. Further I will discuss the influence of French, German and Russian art at the turn of the 19th and the 20th century. I will perform a model of cultural imperialism. I will consider the notion of style in international Western art, design and architecture between the 1930s and 1950s. I will point to the American cultural imperialism and Soviet internationalism during the Cold War. I will further interpret the concepts of the plural and the transcultural in postmodernism. It will help to indicate the difference between the nomadic and transcultural art practices. I will introduce the concept of the global and point to characteristics of a global art. The concepts of regional, glocal and transitional art in relation to globalization will be discussed and performed parallel to analysis of artistic practices and art institutions.
Curatorial Conditions – Relations in Process
Beatrice von Bismarck
Collective forms of curating have been a trend in recent years. It has become obvious especially for international large scale exhibitions, from the teams at the Manifesta, via the various Biennials – the one in Berlin, Venice, Istanbul or the Caribbean -- to Okwui Enwezor’s documenta 11 in 2002 or the travelling exhibition “Utopia Station”. While these forms of collaboration allow for synergies with respect to expertise as well as to symbolic capital – fame and status, they also possess a self-reflexive potential analyzing, questioning and redefining the conditions and relations in the field. The talk will trace recent examples of the latter approach and analyze its implications for the notion of authorship and work within the field of the curatorial. As a transdisciplinary, transprofessional and transcultural mode of working together, collective curating mirrors not only the connectivity specific for curatorial practice but also the questions pertaining its economic aspects. Activities, roles and positions can be brought together in ever newly definable re lationships. What gains central importance in this context is the capacity of collectivity to accumulate different forms of capital, its operational function and the techniques and strategies employed to this end.
Bassam El Baroni
Just What Is It that Makes Today's Transnationalism So Prescribed, So Paradoxical? *
After and sometimes during the span of a "transnational" art event (such as a biennial) journalistic and critical material circulates pointing towards the event's over or under-representation of artists from a certain region, the nationalities of the participating artists etc. In these debates the wider issues of what kind of art is subject to exclusion in present day "trans-nationalism" and the reasons behind this supposed ineligibility are often overlooked. The talk will claim that the majority of art being produced around the world is non-compatible with the paradigm of contemporary discursive art production that the curators of such events aspire to. In fact, it might not be a matter of aspiration but actually of obligation. Most peoples' imaginary of what art is can be tagged under the term 'Fine art', art characterized by the academic application or manipulation of canonical art histories. The present day biennale and similar event structures favor 'contemporary art' over 'fine art', the reasons given are unconvincing for most people. It is in unraveling, analyzing, and healing the schism between these two nodes of art that might lay a more pertinent chance for a radical transnational model.
* Based on the title of Richard Hamilton's 1956 work entitled "Just What Is It that Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?"
On Being an Institution
The discussion on a desire for increased autonomy in the arts is by no means new. Increasingly, the desire of being autonomous or independent is outlined in the way one choses to formulate what one does as an artist and as a curator, be that individually or collectively. An analysis of the daily trivial aesthetics that make up the work of independent, self-employed and self-invested people, including artists and curators, is integral towards understanding the structures within which we operate primarily governed by a de facto social contract that binds our individual practices into a type of collective action derived from a shared collective intentionality. What 'I' do becomes part of what 'we' do. The modus operandi that governs our relations and our work is increasingly tending towards a form of 'self-institutionalization'. We become locked into a system of relations that predicates certain forms of work and responsibilities that lie outside of the bounds of acting on the pure intentionality of hopes, desires, dreams and visions. The flexibility and autonomy of practice dissipates in this collective condition whereby we exist in relation to each other in the manner of institutions rather than persons.
To be able to think about institutions, it is necessary to think oneself into the institution. What is an institution and how can we perform ourselves as institutions in a way that deflects the precariousness of new forms of flexible labour within an increasingly intertwined economy that subsumes us, and art? This and other questions pertaining to time, responsibility and self-fashioning of institutions will form the basis of this lecture, and the subsequent moderated discussion.
Transnational Art Events and Regional Artistic Practices
Ersoy’s presentation will introduce her two recent projects, How to Begin (2010) and The Timeline (2010). How to Begin is a publication that invites artists and curators to envision the possible impacts of the soon-to-be-built Guggenheim Abu Dhabi on their own practices in particular, and the art scenes of the Middle East in general. The Timeline (2010) takes the form of a poster that suggests the question of how exhibition practices could engage contemporary art that tackles peoples, places and cultures which once constituted the expansive Ottoman Empire. The Timeline acts as an interpretive and suggestive mapping exercise as it highlights the changes in the fields of museology, as well as visual arts and culture during the 19th and 20th century Ottoman Empire. It also raises questions about the ways in which contemporary art, modern art and traditional art forms have been categorized through clear-cut definitions and so-called ‘ruptures’ from their predecessors.
Ersoy’s presentation will focus on two fundamental questions: What is lost when curatorial and critical accounts of non-Western contemporary art are limited to ahistorical and essentialist readings? And what is the potential of emerging art organizations and museums to challenge the existing representational mechanisms in contemporary arts? Ersoy’s interest lies in rethinking the representational mechanisms in this field, as well as our very expectations from curatorial practices and emerging infrastructural models in the arts.
National Art Systems vs. Transnational Art Events: the Romanian case
Compared to other East European artistic milieus, Romania has managed to strongly establish itself at an international level presenting artists in major transnational art events. The most impressive example is the one by the dissident Ion Grigorescu (1945), who during the last years has exhibited at documenta12 (2007) and at the 6th Berlin
Biennale (2010) and is representing the Romanian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennial. How is it possible to build a national art system to support the enormous international (and, let us say, occidental) demand? How can a country that has just come out of a communist dictatorship (the Ceauşescu's one) propose, or better impose, its own artistic choices? Or maybe is it more suitable to talk about the 'colonization' of Romanian art by foreign curators? Taking my cue from my experience as assistant curator at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest (MNAC), I will discuss the Romanian art scene focusing on the mechanism of exportation of local art out of its national borders: from the disputed MNAC to the internationally known Pavilion Unicredit (founder of the Bucharest Biennial), from the independent The Paintbrush Factory in Cluj-Napoca to the new Club Electro Putere in Craiova, from the numerous not-for-profit spaces (among all the Centre for Visual Introspection in Bucharest, curator of the Romanian Pavilion at the last Venice Biennial) to the active commercial galleries (i.e. Plan B in Cluj-Napoca, dislocated in Berlin for three years) ending with the much needed art magazines (principally “IDEA art + society”).
Local Audiences, Global Curating
Within my practice as a curator there are different elements to focus on. Here in Yerevan, I would like to give you a small introduction about myself and where I come from, the scene and the changes at the moment in The Netherlands, after which I would like to concentrate on two things. The part will focus on the question “How to show a project that connects both to the local context and the international art scene while at the same time critically engages with the given structures of the Netherlands, where community art and social projects are pushed through by the (local) government?”
The second part will focus on an ongoing project. It is a close collaboration with artist Gerbrand Burger who will make a performance that deals with the (impossible) attempt to take on the view of the outsider, collected in a story that will be turned into a theater play and video work. The idea of the outsider connected to the role of the curator within the global art scene might be a good starting point for a conversation. The underlying structure of the organization, which deals with questions on the role of the curator as producer, and has as one of the main goals to place the artist and his work at the core of the program will be brought to attention.
Contemporary Art: An Agent of Cultural Diplomacy
Getting back to the core of cultural diplomacy, a definite buzz word these days: it's about exchanges and building relationships between people and cultures different than our own. I will discuss the power that contemporary art has to build greater understanding, tolerance and awareness both within the US, where I am from, by focusing on new immigrant and indigenous communities, as well as contemporary art and cultural diplomacy in a more global context, with an emphasis on the Middle East. I'll also reference my own background as an Iranian-American, born and raised in Hawai'i, now living in the Arab world and how this impacts my curatorial practice and the projects that I develop. I will reference two past exhibitions that I've curated and one upcoming project and how they relate to this topic.
Contemporary Art and Anthropology
How can contemporary art criticism benefit from cultural and social anthropology?
Recently a number of publications and workshops including the books Contemporary
Art and Anthropology and Between Art and Anthropology edited by Chris Wright and
Arndt Schneider and the Connecting Art and Anthropology (CAA) workshop in 2007 pointed towards a convergence of art and anthropology. While cultural and social anthropologist reach out to the art world to find new ways of representation and more freedom for experiment, the understanding and interpretation of contemporary art production can deeply benefit from anthropological approaches and methods. In reliance on ethnographic fieldwork anthropologists generate much of their data and knowledge through direct, personal interactions and observations creating in-depth and thick descriptions. Such ethnographic studies in the field of art practice and criticism can be used to challenge and analyze processes of value production or understanding general processes underlying the cultural connections and clashes which appear when art (increasingly non-Western art) is exhibited in inter - and transnational contexts.
Transnational exhibitions and art events increasingly confront artistic expressions based on different local, cultural and political influences with a globalized, international art market and context. It seems that anthropologists might be uniquely positioned to understand art as an activity embedded in a complex set of social relationships and cultural influences.
Among other projects I’ve developed so far, one in particular fits with the topic of the Seminars. It’s a long term work which started last year and arose from the interest in residency programs as one of the strongest examples of transnational events in the contemporary art system. The research consisted of mapping residencies provided by Western European art institutions, in order to list who and how many artists from Central- East areas caught the attention of the Western art system in the past. Consequently, a report of various ways each artist experienced the residency was collected. These contributes will be part of an e-zine, temporary entitled Res-zine that should ideally circulate by email and would be periodically brought up to date.
The project aims at mapping artists/curators passages from a context, a social history, a society and a culture to another, and at highlighting the role that residency programs play in the art system, in terms of relationships among people, territories and point of views. Behind this, key topics concern the definition of geographical and political borders and its influence on the art system; the growing network occurring thanks to artists’ movements and to physical and cultural passages and its effect. Accordingly, the Residency-zine would become a means to give form to the network and spread information, since it is free of charge, nonofficial and non-professional. It will represent a virtual map of artists’ movements and physical and cultural passages, as well as a way cross political and geographical borders.
Daniela Kostova Unorthodox Image
I would like to present the exhibition Daniela Kostova Unorthodox Image that I organized in early 2010 in Warsaw in the framework of 93 Foundation, and the project-book I issued from that.
The project evolved around the Alexander Nevski Orthodox Church, built by the Russian Church and co-funded by the Russian Empire – a huge church imposed over Warsaw, located at the Saxon Square and hated by the Poles. I invited artist Daniela Kostova to work with the (non-existing nowadays) church, and as a result new works were created. The project touched upon political and historical issues related to the Russian presence in Warsaw as well as contemporary functioning of unwanted historical architecture that often goes covered with huge advertisements. Furthermore, Unorthodox Image interrogated the relation between image, memory (screen memory) and (official) history: the way they complement and contradict one other.
The project book includes both textual and visual material, where images create their own narration. The publication is a survey from analysing the work by Daniela Kostova, through texts covering the background of the history of the Saxon Square and Alexander Nevski Orthodox Church with archival photographs, to essay on art of Daniela Kostova, a Bulgarian-born and New York-based artist.
The Narratives of Art History and Iranian Intelligentsia in the 1960s and 1970s
Since the early twentieth century, many Iranian intellectuals have attempted to construct and demonstrate their new identity with reliance on their national history vis-à-vis the history of the modern West. Associated with nationalism, Shiite Islam and modernist currents, certain narratives of Iranian history shaped modern Iranian subjectivities during the past century. In this context, the development of art historical narratives in intellectual environment played a significant role in the flourishing of modernist artistic trends in Iran of the 1960s and 1970s. On the one hand, the narratives of both Iranian and Western art history were mainly based on the writings of Euro-American scholars with their Orientalist and colonialist views. On the other hand, both Marxist and Formalist approaches in art criticism were highly influential in determining the new modes of image representation, specifically when the Cold War reached its zenith within mentioned period. Today, with reference to art history books and journals available at the time, policies on translation and publication, university curricula and exhibition catalogues are be able to analyse the flourishing of modernist trends in Iran, and the ways images are chosen, reproduced and located within the historical narratives.
This talk intends explore the links between the narratives of art history and the history of intellectual trends in 1960s and 1970s in Iran. Despite the fact that visual analysis can play a significant role in showing how modern Iranian identities have been developed, almost all intellectual discourses have failed to address the ways the collective subjectivities are imag(in)ed through visual arts and its history in Iran. In this paper, I will focus on the role of ideological agendas in the construction of modern Iranian art history and the approaches in which Orientalism meets nationalist and religious tendencies. Revealing the limits and problems of these canonised approaches in art history will shed light on some unexplored angles of Iranian identity today.
Dolce Far Niente: The Praise of Laziness
In this lectures Saša Nabergoj will try to defend the right to leisure in contemporary hyper-productive society. She will examine the roots of our contenporary obsession with work and in the 18th century. The capitalist economic system was formed during the Enlightenment, and within this system rational discourse on work and economy emerged. At the same time, however, an alternative discourse celebrating laziness was established. In this discourse lies the roots of resistance to participation in a social project based on the work ethic, and the beginning of scepticism about the belief that productivity and the production of goods are the ultimate goals in life. The generally accepted circle of supply and demand fuelling the consumer society of the 21st century will be questioned with reference to artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Marcel Duchamp and Mladen Stilinović. Laziness will be presented as an alternative which can turn the need for (multi)production into freedom for production.
Breaking Through the Political Ideology within the Venice Biennale
Since its launch in 1895, the Venice Biennale has been constructed on the politics of nation-states. Besides being an artistic platform the biennale functions as a marketing agency for states and regions. Individual countries are showcasing in national pavilions their own artists and representing their nations. Through the years, the biennale mirrored also the global geo-politics and the changes happening on the European map. New countries are represented each year, similar to other transnational events, such as Sports Olympics. In some cases, state sanctioned identities are being highjacked by individual or political interests in order to achieve individual curatorial or artistic projects.
The biennial has also become the stage for initiatives that use the political charge of the event to reach across with a meaningful content that questions political strategies within artistic contexts.
InBetween Disruption: About the Connection Between Artistic and Political Events
How does the character of an event frame an exceptional state interrupting our ontological state of being? How and why do artistic practices that deal with events investigate not only a rupture that an event (and its often traumatic experience) presents in the fabric of our sensual world, but also seek to re-visit it, to re-frame and re-shape the “distribution of the sensible” (Jacques Rancière)? Is there an intrinsic quality or potential to (hopefully and possibly) change the course of a particular historical narrative when dealing with such a practice and can the “thought-provoking” (Claude Lefort) nature of an event be reshaped again by its re-staging?
Transnational Artistic Events: On Temporality and its Repercussions on the Local Context
Is it possible to imagine a biennial - the most iconic of transnational art events - as something that could possibly exceed its canonized temporality? Could an event be considered not as a momentum, but rather as an iteration of simultaneous momenta, for which power resides in a moving - evolving - mass, becoming something that stretches across a time-lapse of two years? Or would the art system then face the paradox of a continuous, eternal biennial, in which one edition fades through to the next? And, again, what are the consequences of the voracious rhythms of artistic production and consumption, often dictated by those of global institutions, on the locality? How could a host city or territory forge a biennial in becoming, adapted to the rhythms of its own social norms, its inhabitants and geographies, aiming towards sustainability and perhaps a fruitful slowness? Rethinking the temporality of such events, by shifting the attention away from the “finished” exhibition and artworks, the opening week and the art professionals’ tourism, towards a continuously accretive process, in which a variety of tangents unfold simultaneously or remain idle, appears to be a solution to connect with - rather than tower over - the local context.
The presentation will address these questions through the lens of three case studies: BB3 (Bucharest, Romania, 2008), Manifesta (with particular focus on the exhibition The Rest of Now, and its offspring Tabula Rasa, at Manifesta 7 - Bolzano, Italy, 2008) and the 6th Momentum Biennial (the exhibition Imagine Being Here Now, and its itinerant performance program - Moss, Norway, and across Scandinavia, 2011).