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).
THURSDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2010
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)
14.50–15.15 Coffee Break
Projects in the Absence of Signposts
Lecture by Çağlar Keyder (sociologist, Istanbul/Binghamton, NY)
Rear view Vision: History Enthusiasm and History Anxiety
Lecture by Julie Ault (artist and writer, New York)
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)
Discussion with Julie Ault, Çağlar Keyder, Peter Osborne, and Simon Sheikh
Reviewer: Erden Kosova (art critic, Istanbul)
FRIDAY, 5 NOVEMBER 2010
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)
The Communist Horizon
Lecture by Jodi Dean (political theorist and writer, Geneva, NY)
Discussion with Beatriz Colomina, Jodi Dean, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta
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)
SATURDAY, 6 NOVEMBER 2010
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)
Lecture by Gerald Raunig (philosopher and art theorist, Zürich)
On Horizons and Discourse
Lecture by Ernesto Laclau (political theorist, Buenos Aires/London)
Discussion with Ernesto Laclau, Gerald Raunig, and Hito Steyerl
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
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.