Tag Archives: Vladan Jeremić

Breaking the Silence on the Art World: ArtLeaks Gazette Launch @ Brecht Forum (May 4th, NYC)

art-leaks.org

546092_490420224358441_679844155_nCredit: Zampa di Leone

We are happy to share with you the details of the official public launch of our ArtLeaks Gazette which will take place at the Brecht Forum in NYC on Saturday, May 4th from 7 PM!  Hope to see many of you there – we promise it will be  an exciting evening! Please help us spread the word by sharing this announcement!

ArtLeaks members would like to initiate an open discussion at the Brecht Forum in NYC on May 4th from 7 PM, around our upcoming ArtLeaks Gazette, focused on establishing a politics of truth by breaking the silence on the art world. This will be the official public launch of our gazette, which will be available online and in print at the beginning of May 2013, and will be followed by a series of debates in the near future.

Artleaks was founded in 2011 as an international platform for cultural workers where instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation are exposed and submitted for public inquiry. After almost two years of activity, some members of ArtLeaks felt an urgent need to establish a regular online publication as a tool for empowerment, reflection and solidarity. (More about us here: http://art-leaks.org/about.)

Recently, this spectrum of urgencies and the necessity to address them has come sharply into the focus of fundamental discussions in communities involved in cultural production and leftist activist initiatives. Among these, we share the concerns of groups such as the Radical Education Collective (Ljubljana), Precarious Workers’ Brigade (PWB) (London), W.A.G.E. (NYC), Arts &Labor (NYC), the May Congress of Creative Workers (Moscow), Critical Practice (London) and others.

Eager to share our accumulated knowledge and facilitate a critical examination of the current conditions of the cultural field from a global perspective, we are equally interested in questioning, with the help of the participants in the event, the particular context of New York City with its cultural institutions, scenes and markets.

The event will be divided in two parts. In the first, we will announce and present the forthcoming ArtLeaks Gazette. Focusing on the theme “Breaking the Silence – Towards Justice, Solidarity and Mobilization,” the structure of the publication comprises six major sections: A. Critique of cultural dominance apparatuses; B. Forms of organization and history of struggles; C. The struggle of narrations; D. Glossary of terms; E. Education and its discontents; and F. Best practices and useful resources (More here http://art-leaks.org/artleaks-gazette.) This publication gathers contributions from different parts of the globe, highlighting both historical initiatives and emerging movements that engage issues related to cultural workers rights, censorship, repression and systemic exploitation under conditions of neoliberal capitalism.

This also becomes an opportunity to bring up for discussion a series of questions that have defined ArtLeaks’ activity and that we would like to tackle anew in conjunction with local cultural producers in the second part of the event: What are the conditions of the possibility of leaking information concerning institutional exploitation, censorship, and corruption in the art world? What does it mean to speak the truth in the art field and to whom may it be addressed? What analogies and what models can we use in order to describe and operate within the conditions in which cultural workers pursue their activities? We aim to bestow a greater level of concreteness to these questions by inviting the participants to share its own concerns and experiences related to inequality of chances, structural injustice and forced self-censorship within the context of their work. We are also interested in discussing current collaborations and future alliances and projects that unite common struggles across international locales. Visual and scriptural material which documents the evening will be uploaded on the ArtLeaks platform.

Gazette Contributors: Mykola Ridnyi, Gregory Sholette, Marsha Bradfield & Kuba Szreder (Critical Practice), Fokus Grupa, Amber Hickey, Lauren van Haaften-Schick, Organ kritischer Kunst, Veda Popovici, Milena Placentile, Jonas Staal & Evgenia Abramova

Gazette Editors: Corina L. ApostolVladan Jeremić, Vlad Morariu, David Riff & Dmitry Vilensky

Editing Assistance: Jasmina Tumbas

Graphic Intervetions: Zampa di Leone

Facilitators of the event @ Brecht Forum: Corina Apostol & Dmitry Vilensky

The Brecht Forum has a  donation sliding scale of $6 to $15. We recommend registering for this event in advance here. Even if you are unable to make a donation, we still encourage you to come – we will not turn away anyone that wishes to participate in the discussions.

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Filed under activism, contemporary art, critical thought, open letters, manifestos, appeals

On the Urgency of Launching the ArtLeaks Gazette (London)

Presentation of the international platform ArtLeaks
On the Urgency of Launching the ArtLeaks Gazette

Wednesday, 7 November 2012
19:00-22:00
Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London

This is part of the 9th Annual Historical Materialism Conference ‘Weighs Like a Nightmare’, London, November 7th-12th, 2012

ArtLeaks is an international platform for cultural workers where instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation are exposed and submitted for public inquiry. ArtLeaks’ mission is to create a space where one could engage directly with actual conditions of cultural work internationally – conditions that affect those working in cultural production as well as those from traditionally creative fields. Furthermore, ArtLeaks is developing in the direction of creating transversal alliances between local activist and cultural workers groups, through which we may collectively tackle repression and inequality.

While building on previous models that emerged in the highly politicized milieus of the 1970s and 1980s, such as the institutional critique practice of left-wing collectives, ArtLeaks seeks to expand the scope of these historical precedents towards international geopolitical engagement. One of the outcomes of ArtLeaks working assemblies and workshops was the establishment of alliances with international groups such as W.A.G.E. (NYC), Occupy Museums (NYC), Arts & Labor (NYC), Haben und Brauchen (Berlin), the Precarious Workers Brigade (London), Carrotworkers’ Collective (London), Critical Practice (London), and The May Congress of Creative Workers (Moscow). It is our strong belief that only an internationally coordinated movement would be able to expose and denounce exploitation and censorship in contemporary culture, and collectively imagine new types of organizational articulations.

For the 2012 Historical Materialism Conference, members of ArtLeaks will present the outcome of their previous working assemblies which took place this year in Berlin, Moscow and Belgrade, and bring up for discussion the urgent need to establish the ArtLeaks Gazette (forthcoming 2013). This regular, online publication aims to be a tool for empowerment in the face of the systemic abuse of cultural workers’ basic labor rights, repression or even blatant censorship, and the growing corporatization of culture that we face today.

After these brief introductions, we will break into four working groups, each focused on a different theme outlined in our Gazette. These will be:

1) Critique of cultural dominance apparatuses

Here we will address methodological issues in analyzing the condition of cultural production and the system that allows for the facile exploitation of the cultural labor force. We will try to relate methodology with concrete case studies of conflicts, exploitation, dissent across various regions of the world, drawing comparisons and providing local context for understanding them.

2) The struggle of narrations

This working group will develop and practice artistic forms of narration which cannot be fully articulated through direct “leaking”. Our focus will be finding new languages for narration of systemic dysfunctions. We expect these elaborations to take different forms of artistic contributions, such as comics, poems, drawings, short stories, librettos, etc.

3) Education and its discontents

The conflicts and struggles in the field of creative education are at the core of determining what kind of subjectivities will shape the culture(s) of future generations. It is important therefore to analyze what is currently at the stake in these specific fields of educational processes and how they are linked with what is happening outside academies and universities. Here we will discuss possible emancipatory approaches to education that are possible today, which resist pressing commercial demands for flexible and “creative” subjectivities. Can we imagine an alternative system of values based of a different meaning of progress?

4) Best practices and useful resources

In this working group we invite people to play out their fantasies of new, just forms of organization of creative life. Developing the tradition of different visionaries of the past we hope will trigger many speculations which might help us collect modest proposals for the future and thus counter the shabby reality of the present. This also includes practices which demonstrate alternative ethical guidelines, and stimulate the creation of a common cultural sphere.

At the end of the working group session, we will present our findings to each other and come together for some final conclusions and future common aims.

Facilitators of the event: Corina L. Apostol, Vlad Morariu

The editorial board for the first issue of the Gazette will consist of Corina L. Apostol, Vladan Jeremić, Vlad Morariu, David Riff and Dmitry Vilensky.

More about the ArtLeaks Gazette: http://art-leaks.org/artleaks-gazette/

More about Historical Materialism: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/about-us

Thanks to Historical Materialism for hosting us!

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Filed under censorship, contemporary art, international affairs

Absolute Democracy (Graz)

ABSOLUTE DEMOCRACY

A conference organized by Carlos Motta (CO/USA) and Oliver Ressler (A) for steirischer herbst as part of the 24/7 marathon camp “Truth is Concrete” in Graz
September 26, 2012 — 8 pm – midnight

Participants: Manuela Bojadzijev, Janna Graham & Dont Rhine/Ultra-red (D/UK/US), Mariam Ghani (US), Nicoline van Harskamp (NL), Jennifer Gonzalez (US), Isabelle Fremeaux & John Jordan (F/UK), Miguel López (PE), Sofía Olascoaga (MX), Nikolay Oleynikov/Chto Delat (RU), and Marco Scotini (I).

The idea of an “absolute democracy” suggests the need for the redistribution of wealth and power and the radical transformation of systems of rule. It denounces the effects of capitalism and in that way challenges normative understandings of class, race, gender and sexuality. “Absolute Democracy” convenes an international group of cultural producers to discuss the construction of a plural, heterogeneous, inclusive and “absolute” democracy. The conference is composed of two sessions: “Forms of Democracy: Activism, Art and Cultural Production,” which features presentations by artists and theoreticians that question past and existing forms of democratic participation, revise historical accounts and interpret forms of artistic production and documentation; and “Thinking Politics Freed From the State,” a session devoted to presentations that imagine new democratic models independent from the State and that envision new understandings of governance and self-determination.

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Session 1: Forms of Democracy: Activism, Art and Cultural Production
Introduction/Moderation: Carlos Motta (CO/US)
Manuela Bojadzijev, Janna Graham & Dont Rhine from Ultra-red (D/UK/US)
Mariam Ghani (US)
Jennifer Gonzalez (US)
Miguel López (PE)
Nikolay Oleynikov (RU)

“Forms of Democracy: Activism, Art and Cultural Production” asks what is at stake in the process of representing, critiquing, and archiving democracy. Presenters discuss artistic and cultural projects that interrogate the “forms of democracy”— its aesthetic and political articulations—and engage with specific representational strategies that comment on democracy as a form of government but also as a mode of cultural production.

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Teaching/Learning Democracy: Delegate Reports from Three Schools of Echoes
Manuela Bojadzijev, Janna Graham & Dont Rhine from Ultra-red (D/UK/US)

The problem of democracy echoes everywhere. The curators of “Absolute Democracy” have called for “concrete statements about how to possibly achieve, construct, arrive at an absolute democracy.” This sounds like an invitation to interrogate what we do, why we do it, and with whom. Since every inquiry presumes a protocol, and every protocol commences around a question, Ultra-red ask, what is the sound of democracy? That sound can be heard in the traditions of radical democracy linking political organizing with education. For the “Forms of Democracy” conversation, delegates from three Ultra-red teams (Berlin, London, and Los Angeles) reflect on their efforts to establish local pedagogical experiments. What is radical democratic pedagogy within the very centers of global capital today? What concrete contributions can cultural producers make to teaching/learning absolute democracy in a moment of crisis in/of capitalism?

Ultra-red is an international sound collective. The group’s diverse membership draws on a broad range of political experiences, intellectual traditions and artistic practices. Founded in 1994 by two AIDS activists in Los Angeles, Ultra-red conduct sound-based investigations as part of our members’ daily involvement in social justice struggles concerning HIV/AIDS prevention justice, anti-racism, migration, education, gentrification, and poverty. Ultra-red teams work in locations across Europe, North America, and South Africa. We learn from musique concrète, conceptualism, popular education, and militant inquiry. In the image-dominated field of political art, Ultra-red seek to develop, test, and teach practices of political listening.

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Kabul: Constitutions
Mariam Ghani (US)

Mariam Ghani will present a guided tour of “Kabul: Constitutions,” her interactive documentary of Afghanistan’s Constitutional Loya Jirga of 2003-4, with a discussion of the strategies of representation employed in the production (by UNAMA and the transitional Afghan administration), experience (by delegates and observers both elected and appointed) and depiction (by the international media and by Ghani herself) of the constitutional assembly. “Kabul: Constitutions” resists the construction of any linear narrative of the events of the assembly, instead choosing to examine the political process through the space in which it unfolded, a multi-million-dollar tent complex constructed specifically for the two jirgas, or “grand councils,” held between 2002 and 2004 to reimagine the fundamental architecture of the Afghan state, in that “open moment” when previous structures and assumptions had been swept away by war, invasions and migrations.

Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, and teacher. Her videos and installations have been exhibited internationally, most recently at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel and Kabul, MoMA in New York, and the Sharjah Biennial 10. Her public and participatory projects have been staged in Berlin, Amsterdam, Buffalo, Detroit, New York and online. Her texts have been published in, among others, Mousse, Pavilion, Filmmaker, The New York Review of Books, and the Radical History Review. Her ongoing collaborations include work with media archive pad.ma, choreographer Erin Kelly, anthropologist Ashraf Ghani, and artist Chitra Ganesh, as the roving archive Index of the Disappeared. She is currently a visiting scholar at NYU’s Asian Pacific Institute.

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Does Democracy Have a Visual Culture?

Jennifer Gonzalez (US)

Political theories of democracy generally define the term abstractly according to a set of relations among people that are cultural, legal, participatory and voluntary. Over the past decade we have seen repeated claims that democracy also has a visual component, that, in fact, democracy looks like something. Activists and government officials make this claim; artists and historians substantiate this claim. It seems possible to argue, therefore, that a visual culture of democracy exists. If democracy looks like something, what does it look like? Who gets to decide? How and where do bodies appear, or disappear? What can we learn from looking at early visualizations of the democratic process? What is at stake, politically, in the current battle over articulating new visual forms of democracy? How is the look of democracy tied to the feel of democracy, and why might this connection be important?

Jennifer A. González
is Associate Professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her critical writings have appeared in numerous periodicals and journals including Frieze, Bomb, and Art Journal. Her book Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art (MIT Press, 2008) was a finalist for the Charles Rufus Morey book award. She teaches in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, NY, and has received numerous fellowships, including from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Ford Foundation. In 2012-2013 she is affiliated with the Centre de l’histoire et theorie des arts, EHESS, Paris.

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Absolute Transfutures

Miguel López (PE)

An “absolute democracy” requires us to shape our own histories. Any radical transformation of the system demands that we establish new territories and narratives for subjectivities and bodies that have been, for a long time, outside history. I would like to consider here one of the most remarkable examples of this rewriting of the past: the “Museo Travesti del Perú” (“Transvestite Museum of Peru”), founded by the artist and drag queen Giuseppe Campuzano (b. 1969). This museum is a portable collection of objects (masks, wax Virgins, high heels), appropriated images, press clippings and artworks. The project, halfway between performance and historical research, proposes a critical rereading of the so-called “History of Peru” from the perspective of mixed-race transvestite natives. Here transgender, transvestite, transsexual, intersex and androgynous figures are posited as central actors and the main political subjects for any construction of genuine and democratic futures.

Miguel A. López (Lima, 1983) is writer, artist and researcher. He is an active member, since its foundation in 2007, of the Southern Conceptualisms Network / Red Conceptualismos del Sur (RCS). He has published his writing in newspapers and periodicals such as Afterall, ramona, Manifesta Journal, Tercer Texto, The Exhibitionist, Artecontexto, and Papers d’Art. He is co-curator (with RCS) of “Perder la Forma Humana. Una imagen sísmica de los años 80 en América Latina” at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2012–2013), among others. During 2012-2013 he is guest-curator at Lugar a Dudas, an independent art space in Cali, Colombia.

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Communal Living
Nikolay Oleynikov (RU)

Several years ago, Nikolay Oleynikov initiated a series of obshchezhitie projects grounded in collective creative living [obshchezhitie is Russian for “communal living”]. Since then, bringing together practitioners from different fields and organizing temporary communities in constant dialogue, has become an essential element of his artistic practice. This initiative was elaborated and developed in the work of the Chto Delat group and supported by other collectives, and have now taken the shape of experimental non-stop seminars, congress-communes or learning plays. At this stage it makes sense to summarize the experiences we have had and to attempt to examine the different perspectives for this experiment, which has offered “creative workers” and “workers in the field of cultural production” a direction for making sense of their position in society, given them the impulse to engage in critical self-education at a local level, and to reframe the question of a rapprochement between political and creative practices.

Oleynikov likes to think about collective practices as a sort of dance. The aesthetic power of the body language common to public gatherings, protests and assemblies is a kind of “dance” logic, very similar to “contact improvisation.” As Oleynikov was thinking about his “performative” presentation for “Absolute Democracy,” the memory of his Soviet past came to mind and specially the practice of “industrial gymnastics.” Everyone was obliged to make some easy warming-up physical exercises during the work day, despite what industry the worker was involved in, or whether they did physical or intellectual labor, were service workers or creative workers. During his presentation at this conference the audience will make a collective industrial ballet together. A volunteer will lead a simple and slow exercise sequence as Oleynikov talks about collective practices, durational seminars, learning plays, learning murals and the Soviet tradition of communal life practices.

Nikolay Oleynikov (1976) is a Moscow-based artist and activist and member of Chto Delat, an editor of Chto Delat’s newspaper, and co-founder of the Learning Film Group and the May Congress of Creative Workers. He is known for his didactic murals and graphic works that draw on the traditions of the Soviet monumental school, comics, Surrealism and punk culture. Represented worldwide by his solo projects as well as by a number of collective works, Oleynikov has had numerous international shows at such venues as Fargfabriken, Stockholm; Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris – MAM/ARC; Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; Museo dell Arte Contemporaneo Luiggi Pecci, Prato; the X Baltic Triennale, Vilnius; Welling School, London; the State Tretyakov Gallery and Paperworks Gallery, Moscow.

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Carlos Motta (Introduction/Moderator) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has been presented internationally in venues such as New Museum, Guggenheim Museum and MoMA/PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá; Serralves Museum, Porto; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; San Francisco Art Institute; and Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin. Motta is currently working on a performative event, which will premiere on February 2013 at Tate Modern, London. Motta is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program; he was named a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in 2008 and received a Creative Capital Foundation Grant in 2012. He teaches at Parsons The New School of Design and The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.

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Session 2: Thinking Politics Freed From the State

Introduction/Moderation: Oliver Ressler (A)
Nicoline van Harskamp (NL)
Isabelle Fremeaux & John Jordan (F/UK)
Sofía Olascoaga (MX)
Marco Scotini (I)

“Thinking Politics Freed From the State” is a session devoted to presentations that imagine new democratic models independent from the State and that envision new understandings of governance and self-determination.

Yours in Solidarity
Nicoline van Harskamp (NL)

Nicoline van Harskamp will talk about the theoretical tradition of anarchism as it applies to artists with an ambition to be somehow instrumental in the world, or more specifically as it applies to herself and her work Yours in Solidarity, on show in < rotor > in Graz from September 29th, 2012.

The work of Nicoline van Harskamp (Netherlands, 1975) addresses the function and power of the spoken word, and its ability to influence perception and shape thought, both of which are instrumental to politics. Her most recent and ongoing project Yours in Solidarity, addressing the contemporary history of anarchism through a correspondence archive, was presented in different stages of completion at the Museo de Arte Contemporanea Universitario in Mexico, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Hillary Crisp Gallery in London, Manifesta 9 in Genk, Belgium and the Shanghai Biennale. Nicoline van Harskamp was trained at the KABK in Den Haag (BA) and the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London (MA). In 2009 she won the Dutch Prix de Rome. She is a faculty member at the Sandberg Institute Amsterdam and a board member at Witte de With in Rotterdam.

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Paths Through Utopias: Everyday Life Despite Capitalism
Isabelle Fremeaux & John Jordan (F/UK)

As the storms of the financial crisis began in 2007, we set out on a journey across Europe to experience examples of post-capitalist living. For 7 months we traveled through 11 communities and projects, all of which used horizontal forms of organizing and direct forms of democracy. This ranged from a direct action climate camp to squatted villages, a free love commune to self-managed factories, an anarchist school to land reappropriated by precarious agricultural workers.

From this experience came a film-book, Pfade durch Utopia fusing reflective travel writings with an attached DVD. Whilst the book is travelogue, analyzing the communities, their practices and their histories, the film is a magic-realist road movie set in an imagined post-capitalist future. Our presentation will briefly outline the experience and how it changed our own lives and practices. Pfade durch Utopia has just been published in German by Nautilus.
http://www.edition-nautilus.de/programm/politik/buch-978-3-89401-763-7.html

Isabelle Fremeaux was a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College-University of London (2002-2011) until she deserted the academy. Her action research explores popular education, storytelling and creative forms of resistance.
John Jordan is an art activist. He co-founded the direct action groups Reclaim the Streets and the Clown Army, worked as a cinematographer for Naomi Klein’s The Take, co-edited the book We Are Everywhere: the irresistible rise of global anti-capitalism (Verso 2004) Together they co-founded the The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, and co-authored the film-book Pfade durch Utopia (Nautilus, 2012). They are in the process of setting up a school of art activism and Permaculture within the new collective La r.O.n.c.e (Resist, Organise, Nourish, Create, Exist) on a farm in Brittany, France.

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Between Utopia and Failure

Sofía Olascoaga (MX)

Between Utopia and Failure is an active research project-in-progress, assessing the productive tension of intentional community models developed in Mexico in past decades. The project traces the work and influence of radical thinker Ivan Ilich, through CIDOC, the intellectual community he started in Cuernavaca, and the role that model has played in the practice of many Mexican and international thinkers and artists. It also looks at Gregorio Lemercier and Sergio Méndez Arceo, who pioneered communal models of education, psychoanalysis and social movements. This critical reassessment focuses on the current relevance of the ideas and forms of organization generated between the fifties and eighties, and on their influence on several generations. The research includes the activation of dialogical platforms with direct participants, scholars, and with younger cultural producers influenced by these experiences, to discuss the pertinence of looking back at them, as a way to respond to Mexico’s disrupted social tissue.

Sofía Olascoaga (b. Mexico City, 1980) works in the intersections of art and education by activating spaces for critical thinking and collective action. Through museum education, artistic practice, and curatorial initiatives seeks to engage in productive ways of questioning and experimenting on art’s social role. Olascoaga is a Curatorial Research Fellow at Independent Curators International, and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program as a Curatorial Fellow in 2010. She received her BFA from La Esmeralda National School of Fine Arts (MX). From 2007 to 2010, she was Head of Education at Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, and was Clinics Director for SITAC X Symposium in Mexico City in 2012.

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Autonomia, for example
Marco Scotini (I)

Contemporary forms of social mobilization breaking out everywhere across the planet these days assert that “there are no alternatives” possible within representative democracy. From the WTO protests in Seattle to those currently enacted by the international Occupy movement, from Zapatista to the Arab insurrections, there is an identical tension (global, chaotic, plural) transforming the world that has never ceased to act. The insurgent movements respond to the irreversible decline of the political model based on representation, to the neoliberal economy’s new hegemony and the reigning police forces, with a devastating political experimentation that dislocates the classic methods of exercising power and resists the logics of representation (political parties, ruling classes, the State). The refusal to delegate the representation of what divides us (property, wealth, power) to political parties and labor unions, and the representation of what we share (citizenship, community) to the State, has its origin in a new concept of political action brought forward by the revolution of the Seventies.

Marco Scotini is art critic and independent curator based in Milan. Director of NABA Visual, Multimedia and Performing Arts Department and M.A. of Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies. He is a Director of Gianni Colombo Archive in Milan and editor-in-chief of the magazine No Order: Art in a Post-Fordist Society, published by Archive Books, Berlin. Co-founder of Isola Art Center. His writings have been published in magazines like Springerin, Flash Art, Domus, Moscow Art Magazine, Brumaria, Fucking Good Art, Kaleidoscope and Manifesta Journal. Recent exhibitions he has curated include Gianni Colombo, Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, 2009; A History of Irritated Material, Raven Row, London, 2010. Since 2005 he has been a curator of the traveling exhibition Disobedience: An Ongoing Video Archive, exhibited in Berlin, Mexico DF, Eindhoven, Nottingham, Riga, Atlanta, Boston, Umea, Copenhagen, etc.

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Oliver Ressler (Introduction/Moderator) produces exhibitions, projects in the public space, and films on issues such as economics, democracy, forms of resistance and social alternatives. His projects have been in solo exhibitions at the Berkeley Art Museum, USA; Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul; Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid; Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum, Egypt; Bunkier Sztuki Contemporary Art Gallery, Krakow and The Cube Project Space, Taipei. Ressler has participated in group exhibitions at MASSMoCA, USA; Itaú Cultural Institute, Sao Paulo; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven and at the biennials in Prague, Seville, Moscow, Taipei, Lyon and Gyumri. For the Taipei Biennale 2008, Ressler curated an exhibition on the anti-globalization movement, A World Where Many Worlds Fit. A show on the financial crisis, It’s the Political Economy, Stupid, co-curated with Gregory Sholette, is currently presented at Centre of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki.

Artists involved in the “Absolute Democracy” conference will also participate in the related exhibition “Absolute Democracy” at < rotor > association for contemporary art.

Opening of the exhibition: Saturday, September 29, 2012, 12 noon
Opening speech by Gerald Raunig

Participating artists: 
Julieta Aranda & Anton Vidokle, Petra Bauer, Lenin Brea & Nuria Vila, Miklós Erhardt & Claudio Feliziani, Isabelle Fremeaux & John Jordan, Mariam Ghani, Carles Guerra, Nicoline van Harskamp, Jim Hubbard, Vladan Jeremic & Rena Rädle, Alejandro Landes, Nikolay Oleynikov, Fernando Solanas, Ultra-red

Curated by: Carlos Motta & Oliver Ressler

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Launching the ArtLeaks Gazette (Call for Papers)

art-leaks.org

On the urgency of launching the ArtLeaks Gazette

Artleaks was founded in 2011 as an international platform for cultural workers where instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation are exposed and submitted for public inquiry. After over a year of activity, we, members of the collective ArtLeaks felt an urgent need to establish a regular on-line publication as a tool for empowerment in the face of the systemic abuse of cultural workers’ basic labor rights, repression or even blatant censorship and growing corporatization of culture that we encounter  today.

Namely: radical (political) projects are co-opted under the umbrella of corporate promotion and gentrification; artistic research is performed on research hand-outs, creating only an illusion of depth while in fact adding to the reserve army of creative capital; the secondary market thrives as auction houses speculate on blue chip artists for enormous amounts of laundered money, following finance capitalism from boom to bust, meanwhile, most artists can’t even make a living and depend on miserly fees, restrictive residencies, and research handouts to survive; galleries and dealers more and more heavily copyright cultural values; approximately 5% of authors, producers and dealers control 80% of all cultural resources (and indeed, in reality, the situation may be even worse than these numbers suggest) ; certain cultural managers and institutions do not shy away from using repressive maneuvers against those who bring into question their mission, politics or dubious engagements with corporate or state benefactors; and last but not least, restrictive national(ist) laws and governments suppress cultural workers through very drastic politics, not to mention the national state functions as a factor of neoliberal expression in the field of culture.

Do you recognize yourself in the scenarios above? Do you accept them as immutable conditions of your labor? We strongly believe that this dire state of affairs can be changed. We do not have to carry on complying to politics that cultivate harsh principles of pseudo-natural selection (or social Darwinism) – instead we should fight against them and imagine different scenarios based on collective values, fairness and dignity. We strongly believe that issues of exploitation, repression or co-optation cannot be divorced from their specific politico-economic contexts and historical conditions, and need to be raised in connection with a new concept of culture as an invaluable reservoir of the common, as well as new forms of class consciousness in the artistic field in particular, and the cultural field more generally.

Recently, this spectrum of urgencies and the necessity to address them has also become the focus of fundamental discussions and reflection on the part of communities involved in cultural production and certain leftist social and political activists. Among these, we share the concerns of pioneering groups such as the Radical Education Collective (Ljubljana), Precarious Workers’ Brigade (PWB) (London), W.A.G.E. (NYC), Arts &Labor (NYC), the May Congress of Creative Workers (Moscow) and others (see the Related Causes section on our website). The condition of cultural workers has also recently been theorized within the framework of bio-politics, in which cognitive labor is implicitly described as a new hegemonic type of production in the context of the global industrialization of creative work.

The question then emerges, what is creative work today? To structure this undifferentiated categorizations, we will begin by addressing in our journal all those “occupied” with art who are striving towards emancipatory knowledge in the process of their activity. As the contemporary art world more and more envelops different areas of knowledge as well as the production of events, we considered it a priority to focus on this particular field. However, we remain open to discussing urgencies related to other forms of creative activity beyond the art world.

Through our journal, we want to stresses the urgent need to seriously transform these workers’ relationship with institutions, networks and economies involved in the production, reproduction and consumption of art and culture.  We will pursue these goals through developing  a new approach to the tradition of institutional critique and fostering new forms of artistic production, that may challenge dominant discourses of criticality and social engagement which tame creative forces. We also feel the urgency to link cultural workers’ struggles with similar ones from other fields of human activity – at the same time, we strongly believe that any such sustainable alliances could hardly be built unless we begin with the struggles in our own factories.

Announced Theme for the first issue: Breaking the Silence – Towards Justice, Solidarity and Mobilization

The main theme of the first issue of our journal is establishing a politics of truth by breaking the silence on the art world. What do we actually mean by this? We suggest that breaking the silence on the art world is similar to breaking the silence of family violence and other forms of domestic abuse. Similarly as when coming out with stories of endemic exploitation form inside the household, talking about violence and exploitation in the art world commonly brings shame, ambivalence and fear. But while each case of abuse may be different, we believe these are not singular instances but part of a larger system of repression, abuse and arrogance that have been normalized through the practices of certain cultural managers and institutions. Our task is to find voices, narratives, hybrid forms that raise consciousness about the profound effects of these forms of maltreatment: to break through the normalizing rhetoric that relegate cultural workers’ labor to an activity performed out of instinct, for the survival of culture at large, like sex or child rearing which, too are zones of intense exploitation today.

Implicit in this gesture is a radical form of protest – one that does not simply join the concert of affirmative institutional critique which confirms the system by criticizing it. Rather, breaking the silence implies bringing into question the ways in which the current art system constructs positions for its speakers, and looking for strategies in which to counteract naturalized exploitation and repression today.

At the same time, we recognize that the moment of exposure does not fully address self-organization or, what comes after breaking the silence? We suggest that it is therefore important to link this to solidarity, mobilization and an appeal for justice, as political tools. As it is the understanding of the dynamic interaction between the mobilization of resources, political opportunities in contexts and emancipatory cultural frames that we can use to analyze and construct strategies for cultural workers movements.  With summoning the urgency of potentia agendi (or the power to act) collectively we also call for the necessity to forge coalitions within the art world and beyond it – alliances that have the concrete ability of exerting a certain political pressure towards achieving the promise of a more just and emancipatory cultural field.

Structure of publication

The journal would be divided into six major sections.

A. Critique of cultural dominance apparatuses

Here we will address methodological issues in analyzing the condition of cultural production and the system that allows for the facile exploitation of the cultural labor-force. Ideally, though not necessarily, these theoretical elaborations would be related to concrete case studies of conflicts, exploitation, dissent  across various regions of the world, drawing comparisons and providing local context for understanding them.

B. Forms of organization and history of struggles

Cultural workers have been demanding just working conditions, struggling over agency and subjectivity in myriad ways and through various ideas about what this entails. In this section we will analyze historical case-studies of self-organization of cultural workers. Our goal is not to produce a synthetic model out of all of these struggles, rather to examine how problems have been articulated at various levels of (political) organization, with attention to the genealogy of the issues and the interaction between hegemonic discourses (of the institution, corporation, the state) and those employed by cultural workers in their respective communities.

C. The struggle of narrations

In this section we will invite our contributors to develop and practice artistic forms of narration which cannot be fully articulated through direct “leaking”. It should be focused on finding new languages for narration of systemic dysfunctions. We expect these elaborations can take different form of artistic contributions, including comics, poems, films, plays, short stories, librettos etc.

D. Glossary of terms

What do we mean by the concept of “cultural workers”? What does “gentrification” or “systemic abuse” mean in certain contexts?  Whose “art world”? This section addresses the necessity of developing a terminology to make theoretical articulations more clear and accessible to our readers. Members of ArtLeaks as well as our contributors to our gazette will be invited to define key terms used in the material presented in the publication. These definitions should be no more that 3-4 sentences long and they should be formulated as a result of a dialogue between all the contributors.

E. Education and its discontents

The conflicts and struggles in the field of creative education are at the core of determining what kind of subjectivities will shape the culture(s) of future generations. It is very important to carefully analyze what is currently at the stake in these specific fields of educational processes and how they are linked with what is happening outside academies and universities.  In this section we will discuss possible emancipatory approaches to education that are possible today, which resist pressing commercial demands for flexible and “creative” subjectivities. Can we imagine an alternative system of values based of a different meaning of progress?

F. Best practices and useful resources

In this section we would like to invite people to play out their fantasies of new, just forms of organization of creative life. Developing the tradition of different visionaries of the past we hope that this section will trigger many speculations which might help us collect modest proposals for the future and thus counter the shabby reality of the present. This section is also dedicated  to the practices which demonstrate  alternative ethical guidelines, and stimulate the creation of a common cultural sphere. This would allow cultural workers to unleash their full potential in creating values based on principles of emancipatory politics, critical reflections and affirmative inspiration of a different world where these values should form the basis of a dignified life.

On Practicalities

Our open call addresses all those who feel the urgency to discuss the aforementioned-issues. We look forward to collecting contributions until the 31st of December 2012. Contributions should be delivered in English or as an exemption in any language after negotiations with the editorial council. The editorial council of Artleaks takes responsibility of communicating with all authors during the editorial process.

Please contact us with any questions, comments and submit materials to: artsleaks@gmail.com. When submitting material, please also note the section under which you would like to see it published. 

The online gazette will be published in English under the Creative Commons attribution noncommercial-share alike and its materials will be offered for translation in any languages to any interested parties.

We will publish all contributions delivered to us in a separate section. However, our editorial council takes full responsibility in composing an issue of the journal in the way we feel it should be done.

Editorial council for the first issue will consist of: Corina L. Apostol, Vladan Jeremić, Vlad Morariu, David Riff and Dmitry Vilensky.

 

 

 

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I Will Never Talk About the War Again (Maribor)

I Will Never Talk About the War Again

Opening: Friday, June 8, 2012, 8 pm

This exhibition is open until August 30, 2012.

Venues: KIBLA at Narodni dom Maribor and KIT at Glavni trg 14, Maribor, Slovenija

Performance during the opening of the exhibition

Alma Suljević, Holy Warrioress – Interference

Artists: Lana Čmajčanin, Chto Delat, Igor Grubić, Adela Jušić, Nikolay Oleynikov, Shadow Museum/Jaroslav Supek, Alma Suljević

Curator: Vladan Jeremić

The exhibition I Will Never Talk about the War Again will be presented for the first time in Slovenia as a part of the programme created by KIBLA for the manifestation Maribor 2012: European Capital of Culture. The exhibition has been produced by KIBLA and Biro Beograd, with the support of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia, Maribor 2012 Institute – European Capital of Culture, and the City Council of the Municipality of Maribor.

The exhibition I Will Never Talk about the War Again presents the works of artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia and Russia focused on critical social analysis and testimonies of violence and trauma connected with recent wars in the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

Under a heavy burden of wars, ethnic nationalisms and socioeconomic stratification processes, generated by neoliberal capitalism’s ideology, almost all states formed after the destruction of Yugoslavia suffer from neocolonial dependency imposed by global capital and permanent crisis at the European economic periphery. In such a constantly antagonistic social and political context there are certain popular positions in which testimonies of war trauma are represented, manifested and interpreted. That is why many representations in the field of cultural production and contemporary art don’t succeed in escaping from stereotypes.

The exhibition I Will Never Talk about the War Again deals with the question of whether contemporary artistic practice can find a language with which it would be possible to speak politically about individual and collective war and post-war experiences, without slipping into exoticization. Is it possible to find an adequate artistic formula, and is it always necessary to create empathy in the process of understanding? Silence and amnesia are the most common reactions to trauma; does art in this sense actually also remain silent by using only the symbolic language of images and sounds, staying in the field of mediation and symbolism?

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the video performance I Will Never Talk about the War Again, by two artists from Sarajevo, Adela Jušić and Lana Čmajčanin.

I Will Never Talk About the War Again is a modified version of the initial exhibition presented in 2011, as a collaborative effort of Biro Beograd and Center for Art and Architecture from Stockholm Färgfabriken, under the title Psychosis 1 – I will Never Talk About the War Again.

Artwork (above) by Nikolay Oleynikov

Download the exhibition booklet here.

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1st ArtLeaks Working Assembly 2012 (June 3, Berlin)

art-leaks.org

ArtLeaks invites you to a public working assembly around the issues that are at the core of the group’s mission – exposing instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation in the art world. This is the official public launch of our platform, which began to operate in September 2011, and will be followed by a series of debates and workshops in the near future. These present a unique opportunity to engage more directly with conditions of cultural work that affect not only artists but creative workers in general: those from the traditionally creative fields as well as those generally involved in cultural production.

Members of ArtLeaks will present on the problematic politics of sponsorship in contemporary culture, the intense exploitation of cultural labor, the marketization of public space dedicated to so-called independent initiatives, the appropriation of culture under the umbrella of disreputable corporation and last but not least, what possibilities we may envision for transversal alliances and activism against cases of abuse and corruption of cultural managers and institutions.

We invite to the discussion all those of you who have experienced abuses of your basic rights to be paid for your work, those who have struggled against subjugation under the dictates of galleries who cater to a wealthy minority, those who regularly take on other jobs to finance projects that may never be realized. Join us in forwarding the conversation from a critique of the status quo to formulating strategies on how to make real changes in the system – changes that would benefit the vast majority of creative workers, allowing them to unleash their full potential to bringing about a better world.

To this end, the evening will be divided between a first part dedicated to interventions by members of ArtLeaks, while in the second we would like to engage the public in a conversation and brainstorm on solutions, models and positions in response to concrete problems, concerns, urgencies.

Currently ArtLeaks is working on formulating a new regular publication entirely dedicated to issues of cultural workers’ rights and related struggles. This journal will be unique in focusing specifically on the challenges we face in the field today, related to wide-spread mistreatment, (self)exploitation and corruption and how these may be over-come through strategies of self-organization, solidarity and collective action. ArtLeaks will launch a call for papers at this public meeting.

ArtLeaks members that will facilitate this working assembly: Corina Apostol, Vlad Morariu, David Riff, Dmitry Vilensky, Raluca Voinea. We will have interventions via Skype from Vladan Jeremic and Société Réaliste.

Berlin, Sunday, June 3rd, 19:00h, Flutgraben

Address:
Am Flutgraben 3
12435 Berlin
+49 30 5321 9658
www.flutgraben.org

Directions to Flutgraben: http://www.kunstfabrik.org/Anfahrt_Kunstfabrik_engl.pdf

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Artists Challenge the “True Finns”

www.kunstkritikk.com
December 9, 2011
Challenging the Finns
By Taru Elfving

Fatmir Mustafa-Carlo, Muharremi, Muharremi, Xhaferi, Bajrushi, Xhyla, Shkurija, Hava, Nurije, Halimja, Rifadija, Faiki, Bashkimi, Besijana, Fatlumja, Marigiona, Zarifja, Valbona, Shpresa, Kujtesa, Enesi, Altina, Endriti, Olsa and Lejana, 2011

Birdhouses modeled after European detention centers for asylum seekers by Otto Karvonen. A large photographic portrait of his extensive Kosovan family displayed in the busy heart of Helsinki by Fatmir Mustafa-Carlo. A refugee camp set up at the city centre as a live action game by Johanna Raekallio, JP Kaljonen and Haidi Motola.

These artists’ projects were powerful and urgently needed contributions to the public debate in Finland this Autumn following the parliamentary elections that shook the country in April 2011. The right-wing populist party The True Finns hijacked media attention. Their election programme posited culture as the first main topic, before social welfare, EU, taxation etc. They demanded an end to the public funding of “postmodern fake art”: art should be supporting national identity. Finnish intellectuals pointed out all the weaknesses in these arguments and laughed. The party then won by a landslide to become the third biggest party in the parliament with about 20% of the votes (up from 4% in the previous election).

Otto Karvonen, Birdhouse

How have the arts responded to this party, which recently changed its English name simply to The Finns, in line with their claim to represent the “people”? The election has been followed not so much by changes in arts funding but considerable toughening of the public discourse on immigration and multiculturalism. Research recently published in the main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat shows that people are aware of increasing racism, yet it seems that many do not recognize the racism underlying their own beliefs (14% admit to racist attitudes yet a whopping 29% agree at least partly that certain races do not fit into modern societies). Meanwhile Finland continues to have extremely low refugee quota and minimal immigration compared to most European nations.

Yet not many voices have been raised in the field of contemporary art here in Helsinki. In anticipation of the election, a large cross-disciplinary festival, Rappiotaide (“degenerate art”), and the Fake Finn Festival of experimental live art gathered a multitude of critical voices this spring. Since then the debate has been mainly in the hands of individual artists who have tackled issues of nationalism and multiculturalism for some time already, such as Kalle Hamm and Dzamil Kamanger, Minna Henriksson and Sezgin Boynik, Pekka Niskanen, and Ykon group, to name but a few.

Institutions may not be able to react with the same speed, yet the anti-immigration climate has been felt for some time now. The Photography Museum did act swiftly in response to the election, when it focused the profile of its project space on multiculturalism for the year 2012. The opening of the large recurring international exhibition ARS 2011 at the Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum coincided with the election and thus gained unanticipated political resonance with its focus on Africa. It offered myriad perspectives on the vast continent with an emphasis on the interwoven historical and contemporary migrations. Take, for example, the intense stare of the young man in Ghana amidst the landscape of burning electronic waste from the West in Pieter Hugo’s photographs and videos: Seen in this context the work echoed a famous Finnish national romantic painting of poor peasants burn-clearing. Viewers were thrown between the unequal distribution of global wealth today and Nordic post-colonial myths.

The haunting encounter may well deepen the understanding of our own implication in global economy and mobility. Yet why did this, or the topical discussions organised alongside the exhibition, not enter a wider public debate? Why is it that art here rarely does?

Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2
Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2

The most visible of the recent art projects addressing the immigration debate broke out of the limitations of the museum walls. The weekend-long live game Dublin 2, part of Kiasma’s URB11 festival programme in August, staged a refugee camp at the heart of Helsinki, next to a busy shopping mall. It allowed the participants and passers-by to deal with the day-to-day struggles of asylum seekers through role-play. The unease caused by the privilege of play laid bare the problems of information and identification both in activism and in art.

The game touched some of the same raw nerves as the emergence of Romanian Roma beggars on the streets in Helsinki during the past few years. This has led to an outcry and calls for a ban on begging in the city. It has also reinforced preconceptions against the Finnish Romas. Of the minority groups the Roma are, according to the above-mentioned study, facing the most negative attitudes. In October, Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) presented a project by the Serbian artist Vladan Jeremic, who has researched the topic across Europe and thus offered a wider perspective beyond the specificities of the local case. In a two-day seminar at the Ateneum Art Museum, Jeremic brought together policy makers, artists and activists to discuss not only the severe human rights issues concerning the Roma, but also innovative solutions for the problems facing all migrant workers in need of temporary social housing.

Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2

The project by Jeremic emphasises how the question of Romas not merely concerns ethnicity but also reflects changes in contemporary global economic and political conditions. Art and its institutions are not untouched by these challenges, as was made clear by two lively public debates that coincided a couple of years ago: One had to do with the legal cases of a Russian and an Egyptian grandmother being sent back to their home countries despite the fact that their children lived in Finland and wished to take care of them here. According to Finnish law, grandparents are not part of the immediate family unit. This is in stark contrast to, for example, Mustafa-Carlo’s family portrait. The other case began to unfold, but quickly lost its poignancy, as an international applicant to the position of the museum director at Kiasma questioned the relevance of the museum in a newspaper interview. He did not stand a chance of getting a job interview since, according to the legislation, the director has to speak both of the nation’s official languages, Finnish and Swedish.

These two cases are interwoven in the paradoxical coexistence of the desire for internationalisation (in the arts and business alike) and the anxiety over multiculturalisation. This contradiction has been tangible also in the one-way model of the art export policies. Finnish artists are well supported to travel, but more in-depth and complex modes of exchange are needed, together with the recognition of the increasing multicultural presence in the arts and in the society at large. Otherwise the arts can hardly rise up to the challenge of the Finns.

Eero Järnefelt, Under the Yoke (Burning the brushwood), 1893
Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery, Central Art Archives / Hannu Aaltonen

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