Tuesday, December 14, 2010

post thursday in london

(by peter hallward)

Shortly after Thursday’s vote, a policeman hit one of my current MA students on the head with his truncheon. He said it felt like he was struck by a solid metal bar. After being bandaged by other students and released from the kettle on account of his obvious injuries, police medics took a quick look at him, and checked that his eyes were still responding to light. According to my student, they recommended that he make his own way to his local hospital in North London, where he received stitches.
At least a dozen of the students I work with didn’t escape the kettle so quickly, and were among the thousand or so people who were eventually forced back on to Westminster Bridge shortly after 9pm, without water or toilets, without information or explanation, in the freezing cold and wind, long after the media had gone home. They were then crowded together for a couple of hours between solid lines of baton-wielding riot police. Many students say they were beaten with truncheons as they held their open hands high in the air, in the hope of calming their attackers.
“I was standing at the front of the group with nowhere to go,” Johann Hoiby, a Middlesex philosophy student, told me. “My hands were open and visible, when a riot police officer, without provocation, hit me in the face with his shield, screaming ‘get back’ when I clearly couldn’t move. The most terrifying thing was the fact that everyone was screaming that people were getting crushed, yet the police kept pushing us backwards when we had nowhere to go.”
Around the same time, one of Johann’s classmates, Zain Ahsan, was “hit in the abdominal area with a baton; I shouted back at the officer that my hands were in the air and I was being pushed by the people behind me.”
My Kingston students say they saw people having panic attacks, people seized up with asthma, people who fell under the feet of the crowd.
“The fact that there were no deaths on that bridge”, one says, “is a true miracle.”
Some students claim that they were then kicked by police as they were slowly released, single file, through a narrow police corridor. Everyone was forcibly photographed, and many of the people detained on the bridge were then taken away for questioning.
The story of one Middlesex undergraduate who used to sit in on my MA classes, Alfie Meadows, is already notorious. He received a full-on blow to the side of his skull. My partner and I found him wandering in Parliament Square a little after 6pm, pale and distraught, looking for a way to go home. He had a large lump on the right side of his head. He said he’d been hit by the police and didn’t feel well. We took one look at him and walked him towards the nearest barricaded exit as quickly as possible. It took a few minutes to reach and then convince the taciturn wall of police blocking Great George Street to let him through their shields, but they refused to let me, my partner or anyone else accompany him in search of medical help. We assumed that he would receive immediate and appropriate treatment on the other side of the police wall as a matter of course, but in fact he was left to wander off on his own, towards Victoria.
As it turns out, Alfie’s subsequent survival depended on three chance events. If his mother (a lecturer at Roehampton, who was also “contained” in Parliament Square) hadn’t received his phone call and caught up with him shortly afterwards, the odds are that he’d have passed out on the street. If they hadn’t then stumbled upon an ambulance waiting nearby, his diagnosis could have been fatally delayed. And if the driver of this ambulance hadn’t overruled an initial refusal of the A&E department of the Chelsea and Westminster hospital to look at Alfie, his transfer to the Charing Cross neurological unit for emergency brain surgery might well have come too late.

just published!

kulturprojekte berlin discussed last night

I wasn't there last night for health reasons but are things heating up in Berlin?

An open discussion on the projected “Leistungsschau junger Kunst aus Berlin” (achievement show of young artists from Berlin)

Until December 17, all Berlin based artists are requested to submit their portfolios in order to apply for the “achievement show of young artists from Berlin”, scheduled for summer 2011. 600.000 Euros from the state budget will be spent for research, curators and a catalogue – more money for the production of the show and the construction of a mobile exhibition hall in the area of Humboldthafen still has to be raised by Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH.

The idea of an “achievement show” suggests an understanding of art which is based on efficiency and effectiveness and uses the innovative potential of current artistic production for political interests. It seems that Mayor Klaus Wowereit tries to obtain arguments for the realization of “his” Kunsthalle by the sheer mass of submissions and the curatorial star-assembly for this “inventory” project – just on time for the elections in 2011.

We want to take this cultural-political maneuver as an occasion to openly discuss what we have learned from two years of Temporäre Kunsthalle, how artists react on this and other “open calls”, what it is that marks the contemporary art scene in the city – institutionally as well as on other levels –, what it is missing and how it can be supported sustainably.

With, amongst others: Ulf Aminde, Stéphane Bauer, Arno Brandlhuber, Helmut Draxler, Matthias Einhoff, Katharina Fichtner, Jörg Franzbecker, Marc Glöde, Cristina Gomez Barrio, Erik Göngrich, Elín Hansdóttir, Gabriele Horn, Philip Horst, Susanne Husse, Annette Maechtel, Doreen Mende, Wolfgang Meyer, Lise Nellemann, Anh-Linh Ngo, Marie-José Ourtilane, Katia Reich, Natascha Sadr-Haghigian, Ines Schaber, Florian Schmidt, Tanja Schomaker, Marina Sorbello, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Olaf Stüber, Felix Vogel, Scott Weaver, Antje Weitzel, Thomas Wulffen, Lena Ziese.

Initiated and moderated by Ellen Blumenstein and Florian Wüst.

Press release Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH from October 26, 2010:

New version of the Artists Open Call from November 25, 2010:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

sweet anticipation @ salzburger kunstverein

We all love the anticipation of looking forward to something special. And, in the same way, we love a story that makes us hang on every word until we find out what happens. What if we think of an exhibition as a gesture of inventing a story or stories composed of different works, images, objects and references? And what if we think of an exhibition space as the narrative basis to create a multilayered experience generating anticipation, imagination, and mystery?

“Sweet Anticipation” sets out to explore how to play with the idea of narrative in the form of exhibition making, may it be a thriller, fantasy, or love story. Formed around layers of incomplete narratives and fragments of anticipation, the exhibition wonders about the collective and personal imaginaries at work when we devise our own follow ups, actively taking part in shaping the flow of narratives. As a supplement to the exhibition, a reading space of favorite narratives selected by the members who applied to take part in “Sweet Anticipation,” the staff, and the curator will take place to mark the sphere for the collective imagination of the Salzburger Kunstverein. (Övül Durmusoglu)

Artists: Cäcilia Brown, Katharina Gruzei,
Elisabeth Junger / Severin Weiser, Matthias Klos /
Dagmar Buhr, Marianne Lang, Sina Moser /
Joyce Rohrmoser, Katherina Olschbaur,
Bernd Oppl,Petra Polli, Markus Proschek,
Anja Ronacher / Robert Gruber, Elisabeth Schmirl, Andy Scholz, Christopher Steinweber, Beate Terfloth, Kay Walkowiak

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


From the Old School of Capitalism to the New School of Capitalism: December at Workerspunk Art School! 13-15.12!!!

In addition to the events with Zelimir Zilnik on 13.+14.12, we will coorganize a presentation on 15.12 of a book edited by Gal Kirn of the original Workers Punk University in Ljubljana (of which we are a proud Chinese fake rip).

Full announcement below.

This means there will be 3 days of activities in a row from Dec 13th to Dec 15th.

13.12 Screening of "OLD SCHOOL OF CAPITALISM", Sputnik Südstern with Zelimir Zilnik and Q+A, 19h.
The Old School of Capitalism is rooted in the first wave of workers revolts to hit Serbia since the advent of capitalism. Desperate workers bulldoze through factory gates and are devastated to discover the site looted by the bosses. Eccentrically escalating confrontations, including a melee with workers in football shoulder-pads and helmets and boss and his security force in bulletproof vests, prove fruitless. Committed young anarchists offer solidarity, take the bosses hostage. A Russian tycoon, a Wall Street trader and US VP Biden's visit to Belgrade unexpectedly complicate events that lead toward a final shock. Along the way, the film produces an increasingly complex and yet unfailingly lively account of present-day, in fact, up-to-the-minute struggles under the misery-inducing effects of both local and global capital.

14.12 DRAMA-DOCU-DRAMA - workshop on docudrama with Zelimir from 18-21h at West Germany, Büro für postpostmoderne Kommunikation- Skalitzer Straße 133 - Zentrum Kreuzberg - Berlin. We´ll screen "Crni film" and clips from "Kenedi comes home" and other works to talk about Zilniks unique form of having protagonists improvise characters based on themselves.

15.12 "NEW SCHOOL OF CAPITALISM" - discussion and book presentation on postfordism (which is the New School of Capitalism, arguably) at 19h. venue tba shortly.
Babysitting provided. (Volunteers are definitely welcome!)

Workers Punk Art School and b_books kindly invite you to the discussion *NEW SCHOOL OF CAPITALISM*, which will take place on Wednesday, 15th December, at 19h Berlin. The discussion will focus and elaborate on some theoretical and practico-political moments from the recently released book Post-Fordism and its discontents, edited by Gal Kirn and designed by Žiga Testen and Nina Støttrup Larsen, financially supported by Jan van Eyck Academy (Maastricht), Peace Institute (Ljubljana) and b_books (Berlin). *Simultaneously, baby-sitting will be organized for all precarious workers (upstairs in the bar*) that want to join the event.


Part I

19.10-19.25: Introduction: political lessons from post-fordist analysis by Gal Kirn (fellow at ICI-Berlin)
The analysis of design process of the book and reflections of fordist and post-fordist moments of the design-publication process by Žiga Testen, Nina Støttrup Larsen and Cornelia Durka.

> Part II

Shock workers as "refuse of all classes"
Exhausted and organised. Is there a politics of precarious labor? by Katja Diefenbach (b_books)

venue tba

> The event will be moderated by Boris Buden (cultural theorist)

The events with Zelimir Zilnik are coproduced with interflugs and eipcp.

'Why are we here?' - Attempt #1

I have come to this city regularly since 2005. And I have always had good reasons to come; exhibitions, workshops, studio visits, good friends and easy moods. A good friend always underlines that Berlin is an artists' city. Now that I “officially” live here, I am questioning what it does mean to live here as a curator; how to analyze what is going on in this city where many contemporary art related people reside and work from. So I decided to take some occasional short notes about the things happening and perform some writing exercises of my readings to formulate better how I am thinking and feeling about the ‘current’s of contemporary art here, and also trying to understand why we are all here.


Absalon retrospective opened in KW last Saturday. Most of the works he made are there, exhibited on all floors. Making a retrospective is always a hardcore business. An in this case the question is how to retrospectively curate an oeuvre that started to develop itself around radical transformations of dwelling, aiming to intensify the private space of living mentally and spiritually? The exhibition feels more like an inventory or an attempt of collecting together. The radicalness of Absalon’s designs, hanging between monadic and nomadic, becomes repetitive, loses its almost disturbing feeling of plainness. Wouldn’t it be great for example that the cellules were distributed over a couple of locations inside and preferably outside KW? Then people would be able to experience the sense of solitary dwelling in different surroundings, just like the artist himself who started to model and spread these cellules to six cities to be able live in his idealized, personal space when he travels?

Another fact I am still questioning is that all the models brought together were painted the same hue of white of the exhibition spaces. And it seems like they have been recently painted over. I don’t know if there was a set of instructions left by Absalon for the display of these pieces. But something felt wrong, all around surrounding white made me lose my point of reflection. The space has memory and institutions can perform that memory, not only archive it, such as learning from the artists they show, the exhibitions they make. I am thinking of Renata Lucas’ subtle and puzzling gestures in and out KW just shown recently (the way she used the material of the building, the way she connected inside and outside) and of Ahmet Ogut’s unforgettable gesture performed for 5th Berlin Biennial, a completely asphalted ground floor. Such gestures make us question the nature of the surrounding we are in and imagine their and our further possibilities. In this respect, the retrospective, though having the merit of bringing most of the produced work, small models and sketches together, unfortunately tames and domesticates Absalon’s phenomenologically devised challenges to use and function in everyday living.

#2 "Why thinking in Turkish can be a good catalyzer in Berlin?" soon

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand's project at casco

"Unlike a work of literature, translation does not find itself in the centre of the language forest but on the outside facing the wooded ridge; it calls into it without entering it, aiming at that single spot where the echo is able to give, in its own language, the reverberation of the work of the alien one."
- Walter Benjamin, The Task of the Translator

Casco is pleased to present 'seeing studies', a long-term project by the institute for incongruous translation, . The institute for incongruous translation was founded in order to support discord and negotiation in translation. The institute sees translation as a polyphonic reverberation of voices that cannot be set into accordance, yet still speak to one other by means of reflection. An incongruous translation starts not from the centre of meaning, but from the margins of association.

This project, developed by Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand for the institute for incongruous translation, engages with formations that constitute how we perceive, read, draw and depict the world in order to investigate the ways we learn 'to see'. Departing from a schoolbook – a textbook published by the Iranian Ministry of Education used to teach art in the first year of Iranian public middle school – the project takes shape in three overlapping chapters.

A facsimile reproduction of the schoolbook is the basis for a bilingual publication (Farsi/English) that researches 'schools of seeing', from Ibn Al-Haytham's 'Book of Optics', the 'period eye' of the Italian Renaissance to mechanical drawing in late-19th century France and photography in Qajar Iran. Operating as editors of the book, Sadr Haghighian and Sepahvand will also give shape to a spatial arrangement at Casco's project space, involving a series of overhead projectors and selected material from the publication. The material is applied to the overhead projectors in various ways resulting in partial projection. This method creates a simultaneity of perspectives, restricts visibility and sets viewpoints into motion. Addressing conventions as well as boundaries of perception and depiction, the arrangement varies three times over the course of two months. In the third chapter, the space will serve as a setting for a four-day workshop session. These sessions offer opportunity to discuss the propositions in 'seeing studies' together with some of the collaborators and contributors to the institute's activities.

This investigation moves beyond art instruction and takes a polyphonic look at the existing interpretations and depictions of the world in its globalised state, questioning the ways in which we perceive. It further explores approaches for us to destabilise presumably fixed viewpoints and weave an open history that 'sees' knowledge re-circulating, re-interpreting or re-applying. The audience is welcomed as study companions, fellow readers and interpreters to set up a temporary study room at the Casco space.

4 December 2010-13 February 2011

Book release: 19-22 January 2011

The book is designed by Farhad Fozouni and image-shift and co-published by Hatje Cantz Verlag, dOCUMENTA (13) and Casco.
The publication contributors include: Nazgol Ansarinia, Homayoun Askari Sirizi, Mehraneh Atashi, Mahmoud Bakhshi, Daniel Berndt, Binna Choi, Media Farzin, Shahab Fotouhi, Farhad Fozouni, Reza Haeri, Zoya Honarmand, image-shift, Hatem Imam, Mehdi Navid, Molly Nesbit, Oya Pancaroglu, Tina Rahimi, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Ashkan Sepahvand, Setareh Shahbazi, Zeinab Shahidi + Reza Abedini, Jana Traboulsi and William Wheeler. The publication is made possible with additional financial support of Fonds BKVB for electric palm tree, Hessische Kulturstiftung and Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen.

Workshop sessions: 19-22 January 2011

You are warmly invited to join a four-day workshop with some of the contributors to the publication. The detailed programme will be available on our website (www.cascoprojects.org) from mid-December 2010. The workshop is organised in partnership with Extra City.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Open Call

Within the framework of the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art in 2012, curated by Artur Żmijewski, artists from all over the world are requested to send in their artist material for a research investigation, following the conditions below.

We accept artistic material in hard copy formats not bigger than A3 (297 x 420 mm or 11.69 x 16.54 in.), printed images, digital data, as well as DVDs.
PDFs in A4 (297 mm x 210 mm or 11.7 x 8.3 in.) or fax will also be accepted.
Please do not send any original artworks.
We welcome all possible languages of your artistic comments and explanations. However there should equally be an English version.

As the research also focuses on the question whether artists consider themselves to be political, please inform us about your political inclination (e.g. rightist, leftist, liberal, nationalist, anarchist, feminist, masculinist, or whatever you identify yourself with) or whether you are not interested in politics at all.

Please send your artistic statement or presentation as a hardcopy via regular mail, via e-mail or fax to the following address or number before January 15, 2011:

Berlin Biennale
– Open Call –
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststraße 69
10117 Berlin/Germany

e-mail: call@berlinbiennale.de
fax: +49. 30. 24 34 59 88

This open call is not guarantying that you will be invited to take part in the 7th Berlin Biennale. Please be aware that your submission might be used and published within its framework. Please also consider that the 7th Berlin Biennale is not able to send back any received material, but that everything will be integrated into the public research archive of the Berlin Biennale.

The open call is available for download in various languages (Arab, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Span
ish) on the website www.berlinbiennale.de.

“Usually, artists are not asked to identify their political positions. But this time it's different. In my opinion, all artists represent particular political standpoints, even if they don't want to identify them clearly. There is this invisible rule for artists to produce so-called “political art” from an unidentified political position and to keep neutrality, even if it is obvious that they are not neutral.

Our reality is structured by politics; this means that art is also structured by them. Let's present this invisible/hidden structure, this obscene background of art. Politics are not, as politicians would like to convince us, fights for power or dirty games. They are the language of our collective needs which people share.

We are not only human beings, we are also political beings, as Hannah Arendt said. Let's describe what we are doing as artists also in pure political terms. That's why I ask about this “secret” and “private” information. Let's give it a public body.

It doesn't mean that the curatorial choice will be based on preferred political identity—no, it will be based as always on intuition and ambiguity. But this time intuition and ambiguity will be a little deformed by this over-obvious political element. So, we will see what happens.”

Artur Żmijewski

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

some images from another country @ ifa berlin, more will come soon

photos by dubravka sekulic

soon in berlin, texte zur kunst discussing art criticism

Where do you stand, colleague?
Art criticism and social critique


Symposium on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Texte zur Kunst
December 11, 2010, Hebbel-Theater am Ufer (HAU 1), Stresemannstrasse 29, Berlin

Conference organizers: Isabelle Graw & André Rottmann
Conference language: English
Tickets available at: www.reservix.de

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the renowned Berlin-based journal for contemporary art, this symposium investigates art criticism's potential to become social critique. When the journal was founded in Cologne in 1990, returning to the methods of social art history promised to link current artistic production to larger economic and ideological frameworks. Even if this approach has remained an important touchstone in the critical work of the journal and its most frequent contributors, new models have emerged: discussions around biopolitics and immaterial labor under post-Fordist conditions have radically questioned long-held methodological assumptions about the visual arts' potentially antagonistic role in the capitalist societies of the West. Moreover, the notion of the aesthetic, which had for many years been utterly dismissed due to its association with idealist concepts of autonomy, has returned in unforeseen ways—by way of a recourse, for instance, to an emphatic and ethically motivated defense of aesthetic experience and an immersive attention to formal detail.
The symposium takes this situation as a point of departure in order to reflect on the role and potential of art criticism as social critique today.

Program, Saturday, December 11, 2010

4 pm:
Official Welcome
by Arend Oetker, Berlin

by Isabelle Graw, Frankfurt am Main/ Berlin & André Rottmann, Berlin

4:15 pm:
Opening Statement
by Diedrich Diederichsen, Vienna/ Berlin

4:30 pm:
Panel I: New Spirit of Criticism? The Biopolitical Turn in Perspective
Like no other field of theoretical investigation, studies of biopolitics and related discourses around immaterial forms of labor in post-Fordism have come to inform recent art criticism and history. This sort of approach to art allows us to revisit historic as well as contemporary artistic practices in terms of their complicity with an economic and political regime that seeks to produce social life and to control subjectivity by way of internalized notions of productivity, creativity, and individual freedom. These notions, still so dear to art-historical discourse, appear more problematic in a perspective informed by the discourse of biopolitics than repressive structures of authoritative interpellation. Yet the urgent question arises and needs to be addressed: does not this new master trope of (art) criticism itself amount to a totalizing gesture that subsumes all aesthetic phenomena to the insurmountable grasp of an omnipresent but elusive regime of power? Is the recourse to biopolitical thought maybe even part and parcel of the notion of life it wishes to analyze critically?
Franco Berardi, Milan
Luc Boltanski, Paris
Sabeth Buchmann, Vienna/ Berlin
André Rottmann, Berlin
chaired by Martin Saar, Frankfurt am Main/ Berlin

6:30 pm:
Panel II: Between Specificity and Context. Social Art History Revisited
Social Art History, as it had been rediscovered and expanded as a methodology in Anglo-American art history in the early seventies, once provided the privileged critical model of how to align supposedly autonomous aesthetic phenomena with the specific historical, discursive, ideological, and economic conditions that shaped their production and the subjectivity of both artist and beholder. However, this approach was deservedly contested for its tendency to interpret works of art in a rather schematic fashion as mere illustrations of social conditions, ultimately neglecting the genuine logic of artistic phenomena. Are there theoretical models today that, while staying true to Social Art History's methodological insights, can lead a way out of this theoretical impasse? Is there a way to reconcile formalist or phenomenological approaches with an attention to social and historical factors? And how can we write a contemporary social history in a non-reductive way, given recent shifts in media culture and forms of immaterial labor?
Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Cambridge, Mass./ New York
Andrea Fraser, Los Angeles
Gertrud Koch, Berlin
Isabelle Graw, Frankfurt am Main/ Berlin
chaired by Sven Lütticken, Amsterdam/ Utrecht

8:30 pm:

9:30 pm:
Panel III: From the Anti-Aesthetic to Aesthetic Experience?
In recent years, art criticism has witnessed a complete re-evaluation of the validity and reach of the notion of the aesthetic. Whereas postmodern theories of artistic production of the 1980s were largely determined by an anti-aesthetic impulse in their attempt to contest idealist tenets of the bourgeois appreciation of art, today's debates are shaped by a return of the aesthetic in terms of a new valuation and conceptualization of the beholder's experience of artworks, even if the latter defy modernist ideals of autonomy and self-sufficiency. This panel sets out to explore the implications and repercussions of this paradigm shift: Is the notion of aesthetic experience inadvertently championing an individualistic idea of the beholder? To what extent can it provide a model that would do justice to the specificity of a work in terms of its form and content as well as its social context, rather than explicating a universal mode of perception? Might the aesthetic be reliant on an emphatic idea of "Art" that, for many good reasons, had been challenged—if not utterly shattered—by critical art practices ever since the avant-gardes and the new spirit of capitalism, which is to a certain degree based on the recuperation of artistic critique?
T.J. Clark, London
Helmut Draxler, Stuttgart/ Berlin
Jutta Koether, Hamburg/ New York
Juliane Rebentisch, Frankfurt am Main/ Berlin
chaired by Christoph Menke, Frankfurt am Main/ Berlin

learning zulu

image: mary sibande

text from kristinpalitza.wordpress.com

The plane hits the tarmac with a brief thud. I have landed in South Africa, for the first time. As I exit through the sliding doors of the baggage claim area, an elderly woman is waving at me. She works with Amnesty International, one of the organisations I have come to volunteer for, and she has kindly offered to host me for the first couple of weeks of my stay, until I find a place of my own.

She is talkative. On the way from the airport to C.’s home, I am told a variety of colourful and impressive stories about her life. I presume they are meant to give me a) an introduction to my host and b) an insight into the recent political history of the country. C. is not shy to talk about her achievements as a liberal white in the anti-apartheid struggle. And she has every reason not to be. She was a member of the Black Sash and had many black friends, who she didn’t hesitate to drop off in townships after curfew, when demonstrations ran late, even though her husband thought it too dangerous. To defy segregation and unfair apartheid laws, she also went swimming with black friends on a whites-only beach, risking arrest. According to her husband J., the apartheid regime soon took such a strong interest in C.’s political activities that its spies rented the house opposite their home to be able to watch her every step.

As we pull into the driveway of their simple face-brick single storey in an upper middleclass neighbourhood, I am made aware that C.’s house is the only one in the area that is not surrounded by a fence. One can walk straight up to the front door. C. and her husband make a point not to be one of those post-apartheid whites who lock themselves in … and others out.

Needless to say, I am impressed and feel blessed to have found a host with such an impressive life story. These first weeks as C.’s guest will be an incredible opportunity to get to know South African life from a critical, politically aware point of view, I think to myself.

C. shows me to my room and after I have dropped off my luggage gives me a quick tour of the house so that I can make myself comfortable. Room by room, she explains where I can find what and about the daily routines of her household. I quickly gather that C.’s life is organised down to the tee, according to a well thought out system and schedule. And I am expected to quickly catch on so that I can make sure to fit in. From 12h00 to 13h00 every day, for example, is J.’s “sacrosanct hour”, I am told, and during this time, no-one is allowed to speak to him. Not the domestic worker, not me, the guest, and not even his wife. It begins to dawn on me that this stay will be an interesting one from more than just a political perspective.

We proceed to the kitchen, where I am shown how to find my way around. C. explains based on what system the fridge and the scullery are stocked. She also shows me where to find glasses, plates, cutlery and so on. Then, she opens the cupboard underneath the sink. Next to neatly stacked cleaning paraphernalia is placed a lonely, chipped set consisting of a plate, a mug, a fork and a teaspoon. The teaspoon is important because ‘they’ like to drink their tea with lots of sugar. C. is speaking about her domestic worker, who, she explains, does not eat from the same crockery and cutlery than the rest of us. I am a little shocked but say nothing, only too aware of my role as a guest, who has come from another continent, who knows nothing about how life is lived in the New South Africa and who better be grateful for the generous hospitality offered. How dare I question or criticise?

I go to my room and lie down on the bed to rest from the long flight. My first impressions and experiences of this country so different from anything I know float through my head until I fall into a deep, exhausted sleep.

I am awoken two hours later by a gentle knock on the door. “Dinner is ready,” says C., popping her head into the room. When I walk into the dining room, I am introduced to J., an elderly gentleman with refined features and a welcoming smile. A black woman is carrying bowls of food from the kitchen and places them onto the elegantly laid-out dining table. I am briefly introduced to S., the domestic worker. Then, we sit down to eat, while S. retreats to the kitchen. I imagine her sitting all by herself on a wooden chair with her chipped plate on her lap.

After we have dished up, J. notices that salt and pepper are missing. He opens a little drawer next to his place at the table and takes out a silver bell. Ding, ding, ding it goes and a few seconds later, S. emerges from the kitchen to inquire what is needed. Apologetically she scurries back into the kitchen, to re-enter the dining room with a set of salt and pepper shakers. For the second time in the day I am flabbergasted. For the second time, I don’t say anything. Is this really the house of the liberal anti-apartheid activist who risked arrest by protesting discriminatory apartheid law?

The next morning, I am awoken by the warm rays of the sun that shine through my bedroom window. Even though it is winter in South Africa, it is nice and warm. T-shirt weather. When I step out onto the veranda to breathe in the fresh morning air, I come upon J. who is reading the newspaper in a wicker chair in the shade. We get to talk about this and that, the news of the day, the quality of South African newspapers and how I am planning to spend my time in this country. “If you truly want to understand this country and its people, you should learn isiZulu,” J. suggests. That’s a good idea, I nod. J. gets up to search for an English-Zulu phrasebook he would like to lend me. Five minutes later, he is back, holding a thin book in his hand. “Here you go,” he says as he hands it to me.

I only get to sit down for my first isiZulu ‘lesson’ in the evening, after a day of taking in the sights of the city and familiarising myself with my new surroundings. I open the cover page of the book and see that it is divided into several chapters around the home: the kitchen, the garden, the garage and so on. I turn to the first chapter: the garden. “Fetch the watering can” the first sentence reads. “Don’t dig here” the next follows. “Clean your boots” reads the next one. I can see where this going. It suddenly dawns on me that what I am reading is not a Zulu phrasebook to understand a culture and a people but rather a tool for a white baas to give orders to his staff.

With a sigh, I close the book, realising how many shades of grey there are between black and white.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Former West in Istanbul: Art and Political Imagination

Art and Political Imagination, the second in the series of FORMER WEST Research Congresses, takes place on 4–6 November 2010 at Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul. The Congress revolves around the theoretical notion of the “horizon” and its place within artistic production and political imagination today.

If, as it is commonly assumed, the global political and cultural changes of 1989 left the world bereft of a sense of politics as striving towards a future—a horizon as it were—then we are left with the perpetual caretaking of the existing state of things. Given this apparent endgame of liberal democracy, how can we insist that it is possible to imagine and to realize another world, to posit the horizon anew?

In this context, the project FORMER WEST is a proposition for speculating—in the field of contemporary art—about a possible horizon. For, can it not be argued that art works, exhibitions, and their discourses inherently set up a horizon, offering a proposal of what can and cannot be imagined? This horizon links aesthetics with politics, creates an image of possible futures, yet also marks a limit that cannot be surpassed as it recedes with each move toward it, offering a sense of both possibility and that which remains out of reach.

Venue: Istanbul Technical University, Taşkışla Campus, Room 109.

Language: English (simultaneous translation into Turkish is provided).

Admission: free (registration is required).

Deadline for registration: 3 October 2010 (Registration is closed, all available seats have been reserved).

Positing the Horizon in Art, Philosophy, and Politics

On its first day, the Congress explores the notion of the horizon in contemporary art and critical theory. Taking as our starting point the idea that the horizon is what frames our sense of direction of possibility and impossibility, the contributors speculate along two lines of orientation. On the one hand, the question of how and where the horizon must be situated in order to be effectual is considered. On the other, the issue of the horizon as an image is explored, in order to connect political imaginaries and artistic production. In this sense, the horizon is produced in the intersection between aesthetics and politics.

Boris Buden (cultural critic and writer, Berlin)

Welcome by Maria Hlavajova (artistic director, BAK, Utrecht and FORMER WEST) and Fulya Erdemci (director, SKOR, Amsterdam)

Opening Remarks by Maria Hlavajova

Introduction to the day by Boris Buden

Expecting the Unexpected: Once more on the “Horizon of Expectations”
Lecture by Peter Osborne (philosopher and writer, London)

14.40–14.50 Questions

14.50–15.15 Coffee Break

Projects in the Absence of Signposts
Lecture by Çağlar Keyder (sociologist, Istanbul/Binghamton, NY)

15.55–16.05 Questions

Rear view Vision: History Enthusiasm and History Anxiety
Lecture by Julie Ault (artist and writer, New York)

16.45–16.55 Questions

16.55–17.15 Coffee Break

Vectors of the Possible: Art between Spaces of Experience and Horizons of Expectation
Lecture by Simon Sheikh (curator and critic, Copenhagen/Berlin)

17.55–18.05 Questions

Discussion with Julie Ault, Çağlar Keyder, Peter Osborne, and Simon Sheikh

Reviewer: Erden Kosova (art critic, Istanbul)

Horizontality Enacted

Whereas the metaphor of a horizon suggests an expansive outlook and a field of possibilities, the notion of horizontality is associated with being on a single plane with little sense of orientation. Is horizontality a form of spatial production driven by the principle of radical equality? How might this shift our understanding of the public and the commons? Contributors examine how various geographies of horizontality, both conceptually and in practice, are played out in urban forms, exhibition making, institutions and social organization. The enactment of horizontality is seen as the link between the “space of experience” and the “horizon of expectation.”

Vivian Rehberg (art historian and critic, FORMER WEST research curator, Paris/Utrecht)

Introduction to the day by Fulya Erdemci (director SKOR, Amsterdam)

The Exhibition as an Archive
Lecture by Beatriz Colomina (architecture historian and theorist, New York)


Practicing Art. Imagining Politics
Lecture by Shuddhabrata Sengupta (artist and writer, member of Raqs Media Collective, Delhi)


Coffee Break

The Communist Horizon
Lecture by Jodi Dean (political theorist and writer, Geneva, NY)


Discussion with Beatriz Colomina, Jodi Dean, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta

Lunch Break

Conversation between Bülent Diken (social theorist, Lancaster) and Wouter Vanstiphout (architectural historian, Rotterdam)

Conversation between Vasif Kortun (curator and writer, director of Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul) and Lisette Lagnado (curator and writer, São Paulo)

Reviewer: Övül Durmuşoğlu (curator and writer, Istanbul/Berlin)

Reclaiming a Horizon—Art as Political Imagination

How are new horizons imagined, speculated upon, visualized, and materialized through contemporary art? This question concerns not just the historical and conceptual connections (and divisions) that have long existed between aesthetics and politics, but also the political tendencies that can be found in artistic production after 1989. How is a particular kind of politics of representation and representation of politics articulated in contemporary artistic production, art theory, curatorial work, and through the production and dissemination of cultural discourses more generally? And how does this connect to the aesthetic dimension of contemporary politics? The task is not only to look at the relationship between art and politics, but to see art as political imagination.

TJ Demos (art historian and critic, London)

Introduction to the day by TJ Demos

In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment
Lecture by Hito Steyerl (filmmaker and writer, Berlin)


Aesthetic Horizons
Lecture by Gerald Raunig (philosopher and art theorist, Zürich)

11.45– 11.55

Coffee Break

On Horizons and Discourse
Lecture by Ernesto Laclau (political theorist, Buenos Aires/London)


Discussion with Ernesto Laclau, Gerald Raunig, and Hito Steyerl

Lunch Break

Conversation between Ultra-red, New York">Robert Sember (artist and activist, member of Ultra-red, New York) and Dmitry Vilensky (artist and activist, member of Chto Delat?/What is to be done?, St. Petersburg)

Wrap up and Conclusions by Maria Hlavajova and Simon Sheikh

Closing Reception

Congress concludes

Reviewer: Pelin Tan (sociologist and art historian, Istanbul)


The 2nd FORMER WEST Research Congress is developed by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and SKOR, Foundation Art and Public Space, Amsterdam, and is co-curated by Simon Sheikh, FORMER WEST Researcher. The Research Congress is realized in collaboration with İKSV, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, Istanbul and is hosted by Istanbul Technical University.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

the potosi principle, coming soon @ hkw berlin

08.10.-02.01.2011 | Opening 07.10.2010 19:00h
WED - MON and on holidays 11:00 - 19:00h, TUE closed
Guided tours 10.10. - 19.12. SAT + SUN 15:00h
During the Workshop days on October 8 + 9
the exhibition will be opened until 22:00h
At the beginning of the 17th Century, Potosí was one of the largest cities in the world - comparable to London or Paris. During the Spanish colonial rule, enormous quantities of silver were shipped from Potosí to Europe, thus giving the early capitalist system a tremendous push, and initiating the start of the modern era.

During the Counter-Reformation, this dynamic triggered a mass production of images, not only in Spain, but also in the Viceroyalty of Peru.
The exhibition “The Potosí Principle” traces the circulation of money and art, which developed during that period. A selection of images from the “Andean Baroque”, seen for the first time in Germany, enters into dialogue with contemporary works of art which make reference to the present: whether it is the migrant workers in China who made the economic miracle there possible, or the economic power Dubai, which - with the help of cultural managers from Europe - seeks to reinvent itself as an art metropolis.The tour of the exhibition projects a kaleidoscope of a globalized society in which the principle of exploitation is still as prevalent as it was in the early days of modernity.

Curators: Alice Creischer (Berlin), Max Jorge Hinderer (Berlin / Santa Cruz de la Sierra), Andreas Siekmann (Berlin)

With works and contributions by:
Sonia Abián (Barcelona/Posadas)
Anna Artaker (Vienna)
Monika Baer (Berlin)
Quirin Bäumler (Berlin)
Christian von Borries (Berlin)
Matthijs de Bruijne (Amsterdam/Beijing)
Chto delat (Moscow/St. Petersburg)
Culture and Arts Museum of Migrant Workers (Beijing)
CVA/TIPPA (London)
Stephan Dillemuth (München)/Konstanze Schmitt (Berlin)
Ines Doujak (Vienna)
Elvira Espejo (La Paz)
Marcelo Expósito (Barcelona/Buenos Aires)
Harun Farocki (Berlin)
León Ferrari (Buenos Aires)
María Galindo/Mujeres Creando (La Paz)
Isaías Griñolo (Huelva)
Luis Guaraní (La Paz)
Sally Gutiérrez Dewar (Madrid)
Zhao Liang (Beijing)
Rogelio López Cuenca (Barcelona)
Eduardo Molinari (Buenos Aires)
PRPC (Plataforma de Reflexión sobre Políticas Culturales, Sevilla)
David Riff/Dmitry Gutov (Moscow)
Territorio Doméstico (Madrid)
The Long Memory of Cocaine research group (La Paz/London/Berlin)

Artur Żmijewski appointed as bb7 curator

7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, 2012

Artur Żmijewski appointed curator

KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin is pleased to announce that Artur Żmijewski has been appointed curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art.
The 7th Berlin Biennale will take place in early 2012.

Visual artist Artur Żmijewski, born in 1966 in Warsaw (Poland), works almost exclusively with the media of photography and film. He is particularly interested in the power of art and its relation to politics. From an almost anthropological viewpoint he investigates social norms, morality and representations of power in today’s society and the effects that art have on it. Żmijewski studied in the sculpture class of Professor Grzegorz Kowalski at the Warsaw Art Academy from 1990 to 1995 as well as at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam in 1999. His work has been internationally shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions. In 2005 he represented Poland at the 51st Art Biennale in Venice. He is member of the Polish political movement "Krytyka Polityczna" and the art director of the magazine of the same name. Żmijewski lives and works in Warsaw.

The selection committee for the curatorship of the 7th Berlin Biennale consisted of Jacob Fabricius, Malmö Konsthall; Bartomeu Mari, MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Matthias Mühling, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München, Munich; Joanna Mytkowska, The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; and Hoor Al Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial.

sense and sense- emily roysdon @ konsthall c


Emily Roysdon with MPA

15.9—24.10 2010

The New York based artist Emily Roysdon will present her first solo exhibition at Konsthall C in Stockholm. Sense and Sense is a project developed on site in Stockholm over the last six weeks. Emily Roysdon invited performance artist MPA (New York) to collaborate on a series of photographs and a video for the exhibition. For Sense and Sense Roysdon has worked with the relationship between use and regulation of public space.

–Through the years I have been exploring how political movements are represented, and it is because of this that I was attracted by Sergels torg as a place. In recent projects I have been connecting that to a wider understanding of choreography – choreography as organized movement in an aesthetic and political sense.

–What is so fascinating for me with Sergels torg is that it is a planned site for political protest. At the same time; when you approach the actual place and look down on it from the railing above, Sergels Torg turns into a panoptic place and an abstraction.

A second part of the exhibition is a wallpaper project installed in a number of different places in Stockholm, for instance the City Library.

This is Emily Roysdon’s first exhibition project in Sweden. In 2008 she was a resident at the International Artists Studio Program in Sweden (IASPIS), when she also presented the performance Work, Why, Why not at Weld, Stockholm.

Emily Roysdon (1977) is a New York and Stockholm based artist and writer. Her working method is interdisciplinary and recent projects take the form of choreography, photographic installations, printmaking, text, video, curating and collaborating. Roysdon recently developed the concept “ecstatic resistance” to talk about the impossible and imaginary in politics. The concept debuted with simultaneous shows at Grand Arts in Kansas City, and X Initiative in New York.

She is editor and co-founder of the queer feminist journal and artist collective, LTTR and she is a contributing member with the band MEN. In 2010 Roysdon’s work has been shown at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Greater NY at PS1, Mixed Use: Manhattan at the Reina Sofia in Madrid and Bucharest Biennial 4. She is participating in Manifesta 8 and in December she will have her first solo show in the USA at Matrix, Berkeley Art Museum.

Read more about Emily Roysdon:


the jerusalem show

The Jerusalem Show (‘Ala Abwab Al Janna) is a novel and socially significant visual art event that is headed and organized by Al-Mamal Foundation for Contemporary Art and this year is featuring its fourth edition. The Show encompasses an exhibition of contemporary art works for Palestinian and international artists. Art projects and interventions are presented in indoor and outdoor venues and reflect on the spiritual, political, historical and cultural import of the city of Jerusalem. The Show is a unique action, promoting a re-reading of the city in creatively open, accessible and interactive manner.

The theme for the Jerusalem Show IV-2010 is Exhaustion. It is inspired by the prevailing state of apathy which is fuelled by Exhaustion, anger, helplessness, docility and alienation in one’s own town. Exhaustion describes best the widespread feeling amongst the majority of the inhabitants of the city. Be it the closure, the lack of any viable solution or even a political horizon, the crumbling economic conditions, the closing in of Palestinian residents through an orchestrated policy of confiscation, demolition, fines and taxation, all contribute to a state of insecurity and fear of the future. Nothing is offered, given or provided hence people revert to snatch, grab, jump the line, and most importantly break the atrocious laws, any laws even those that govern human relations. All this calls for some investigation, some probing and possibly uncovering and betrayal.

For the Jerusalem Show IV, 18 Palestinian and international artists were invited by Al-Mamal Foundation to think through the theme of Exhaustion in the context of the city and its environment, and to produce works that explore issues involved in the condition and feeling of Exhaustion which afflicts the whole of Palestinian society and is palpable in Jerusalem particularly. In addition, 11 young Palestinian artists were commissioned by al Hoash to produce new artworks to be presented in the framework of the Jerusalem Show.

Jerusalem Show Participating artists: Anonymous, Karim Abu Shakra, Moayed Amleh, Asad Azi, Mirna Bamieh, Taysir Batniji, Bahar Behbahani, Youmna Chlala and Jeannette Gaussi, Mohamad Fadel, Sarah Faruki, Issa Freij, Mohamad Hawajiri, Dima Hourani, Khaled Jarrar, Yazan Khalili, Martin Lebioda, Randa Madah, F. Zahir Mibineh, Ariane Michel, Nissrin Najjar, Michael Rakowitz, Rigo 23, Raeda Saadeh, Salama Safadi, Inass Yassin

Jerusalem Show performance events: Uriel Barthélémi, Vlatka Horvat, and Sabreen band (a Michael Rakowitz project).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010



Dün akşam Tophane sanat galerilerinin ortak açılışı sırasında düzenlenen örgütlü saldırıda, sergi açılışına katılan sanat izleyicileri 40-50 kişilik bir grup tarafından tartaklandı, yaralandı, galeriler tahrip edildi. Aralarında sanatçılar, akademisyenler, öğrenciler, yazarlar, Türkiye ve yurtdışından gazeteciler, yabancı ülkelerin kültür ataşeleri olan sanatseverler üzerinde tam bir terör ortamı yaratıldı. Saldırıda, gaz spreyi, bıçak, kırık şişeler, demir sopalar ve coplar kullanıldı. Polonya, Hollanda, Alman, İngiliz uyruklu sanatseverler de hastanelere kaldırıldı. Saldırının daha vahim sonuçlar yaratmaması büyük şanstı.

Bir süreden beri, Tophane’de bir grubun sanat galerilerinin açılışını ve calışmalarını engellemeye yönelik şiddet unsuru içeren eylemlerine şahit olduk. Çesitli defalar galerilerimiz, sanatçılar, ve izleyiciler taciz ve tehdit edildi. Bu eylemlerin, internet üzerinden ve mahalledeki mekanları kullanarak örgütlenen bir grup tarafından gerçekleştirildiğini biliyoruz.

Taşındığımız ilk günden beri, komşularımızla, çocuklarla, anne ve babalarla, esnafla iletişim içerisinde olduk, beraber projeler gerçekleştirdik. Biz Tophane’deki kültürel çeşitliliğin ve dokunun kalıcı bir parçası olduğumuza inanıyoruz. Bu örgütlü saldırılar, Tophane ahalisine mal edilemez. Bu saldırganlar, mahallemizin güvenliği açısından ciddi bir tehdit oluşturmaktadır.

İstanbul’un merkezinde, bir kültür başkentinde yaşanması hiçbir şekilde kabul edilemez bu örgütlü saldırı, aynı zamanda tüm sanat kurumları için de ciddi bir uyarıdır. Bu eylemin nasıl örgütlendiğiyle ilgili ciddi bir soruşturma yapılması ve sorumluların bulunması kentimizin güvenliği açısından zorunludur.

Daha önce Tophane’de İMF protestolarına katılanlara karşı yaşanan linç girişimi de bu oranda bir şiddet gösterisi olmuş ve basına yansımıştı. Ancak bu olaylar sonrasında saldırganların cezasız kalması, bu tür şiddet eylemleri yapan gruplar için cesaretlendirici bir örnek olmuştur.

Valilik, emniyet ve siyasi partiler bu konuya gereken duyarlılıkla yaklaşırlarsa, bu gibi saldırıların önünün kesileceğine inanıyoruz. Aksi takdirde bu tür eylemler, daha vahim boyutlar kazanabilir ve kentimizin sosyal ve kültürel hayatı için bir tehdit haline gelebilir.

Olayın tekrar etmesine fırsat vermemek üzere dün gece yaşananlara tanık tüm dostlarımızı Beyoğlu Karakolu’na ifade vermeye çağırıyoruz.

Tophane galerileri, sanatçılar ve sanatseverler



In an organized attack on art galleries in the Tophane neighbourhood of Istanbul, guests attending exhibition openings were physically assaulted in a lynch attempt by a gang of 40-50 people. The audience subjected to this atmosphere of total terror featured artists, academicians, students, writers, local and international journalists and cultural attaches from consulates. The attackers used knives, batons, broken bottles and pepper spray. The injured include Polish, Dutch, German and English guests.

We have witnessed for a time now the actions of a certain group to disrupt the openings, exhibitions and events of art galleries in Tophane and to create an atmosphere of intimidation. Galleries, artists and guests have been harassed and threatened numerous times. We know that these actions are carried out by a group organized via certain web sites and around certain localities in the neighbourhood.

We have always had a strong bond of communication with all our neighbours, with children, parents and other commercial enterprises in the neighbourhood, and carried out community projects. We believe we are a part of the cultural and social scene in Tophane. These organized attacks cannot be attributed to the Tophane community. These assailants constitute a serious threat to the security of our neighbourhood.

This organized attack in the centre of Istanbul, a cultural capital, is in no manner acceptable. This attack spells a clear and genuine warning to all art institutions. A serious investigation into the organizers and perpetrators of this attack is necessary for the safety of our neighbourhood and city.

Participants in protests against the IMF had previously been attacked in a similar manner in what can only be described as a lynching attempt. However, this attack remained uninvestigated, providing an instance of encouragement for the groups carrying out such violent attacks.

We believe these attacks can be prevented if the governor’s office, the police forces and political parties treat this incident with appropriate sensitivity. Failing that, such incidents will take on more perilous proportions and form a grave threat for the social and cultural life of our city.

Tophane galleries, artists and art audience