Former West – Other Survivalisms

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Under the title Other Survivalisms, on 16 and 17 May 2014 BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht hosts the second installment of its public editorial meetings geared towards the realization of the forthcoming FORMER WEST publication. It is the second in an ongoing series of public editorial meetings, which form the trajectory of the culminating phase of BAK’s flagship collaborative research program FORMER WEST (2008–2016).

On Demand Video’s – Other Survivalisms

These small-scale gatherings take the editorial meeting as their model for informal (re)negotiations of the living knowledge brought together through the course of the project. The public exchanges take place in cultural and geopolitical contexts both within and outside of the so-called “former West” and bring together a great number of collaborators from the project’s past and current investigations, including artists, writers, theorists, curators, activists, students, as well as our various publics. The series is developed and curated by writer, cultural critic, and translator Boris Buden, curator, organizer, and artistic director of BAK, Maria Hlavajova, and curator and writer Simon Sheikh.

Other Survivalisms consists of a number of moderated meetings with artists, theorists, and activists on Friday, 16 May, 13.30–20.00 hrs, and on Saturday, 17 May, 09.30–20.00 hrs, at Het Utrechts Archief, located opposite from BAK on Hamburgerstraat 28, Utrecht.

Contributors to the project include: Boris Buden, writer, cultural critic, and translator, Berlin; T.J. Demos, art historian and critic, London; Mark Fisher, theorist, writer, and editor, London; Maja & Reuben Fowkes, art historians and curators, Budapest and London; Katherine Gibson, theorist and writer, Sydney; Maria Hlavajova, curator and cultural organizer, artistic director of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht; Brigitta Kuster, artist and writer, Berlin; Massimiliano Mollona, theorist and writer, London; Alexei Penzin, philosopher and writer, London and Moscow; Andrea Phillips, theorist and writer, London; Poka-Yio, artist and curator, Athens; Simon Sheikh, curator and theorist, Berlin and London; and Marina Vishmidt, writer, editor, and critic, London.

Location: Het Utrechts Archief
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3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part Two

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Following the deliberations during Part One titled Beyond What Was Contemporary Art (19–20 April 2012, Vienna), Part Two of the 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress bases its discussions on a question ushered in—somewhat unexpectedly—by theorist and curator Irit Rogoff in her closing keynote address for Part One: “What on earth do they mean when they say art?” Admittedly a question that is as difficult as it is intriguing, it seems to be a critical one to pose and also to begin to answer as the hegemonic formations that held the imagination of the future hostage for the last 20-odd years are being dismantled. The chasm opening up before us is yet to be filled through a negotiation of meanings and (im)possibilities. At stake is the redefinition of the space of art beyond what we came to know as both product of—and propaganda for—neoliberal capitalism.


With contributions by Marion von Osten (artist and cultural researcher, Berlin/Vienna), Bassam el Baroni (curator and art critic, Alexandria), Delaine Le Bas (artist, London), Mihnea Mircan (curator and writer, Bucharest), Rasha Salti (curator and writer, Beirut), Jonas Staal (artist, Rotterdam), and Stephen Wright (theorist, writer, curator, and researcher, Paris), among others. Part Two of the 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress follows the opening of the exhibition How Much Fascism? at BAK, curated by What, How and for Whom/WHW.

The 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part Two is developed by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst and co-curated by What, How and for Whom/WHW and the FORMER WEST curatorial team. The 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part Two is realized in collaboration with Utrecht School of the Arts. It is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam and the EU Culture Programme, Brussels.

Location: Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, Mariaplaats 28, Utrecht
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3rd Former West Research Congress

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19—21 April 2012
The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Secession, Vienna (AT)

The 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part One: Beyond What Was Contemporary Art takes place on 19 and 20 April 2012 at Secession, Vienna and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, respectively. Consequently, the Congress deliberations are reflected upon in an open session on 21 April 2012. The Congress is envisioned as a discursive platform aiming at offering a space to speculate about possibilities for art vis-à-vis the increasing forces of antagonism across the world and the emerging imaginaries that accompany them.


19 April 2012 (Thursday) 19.00–21.00, Secession, Friedrichstraße 12, Vienna

Beginning from the “Formerness” of Contemporary Art
Is it possible to think of so-called Contemporary Art as art—or an art historical period even—emerging from 1989 and developing in parallel to other hegemonic formations such as global neoliberalism? Could it then be argued that, in sync with the current seismic shifts in society, politics, and economy, it now also faces if not a dead end then a number of challenges that take it to task? Is Contemporary Art, as an iconographic source of the political architecture of the world of the last two decades on its way out so to speak, together with the system that made it possible? What kind of challenges and possibilities might then lie before us in the space of art in times like ours? Can we speculate collectively on how to move beyond the present confines of Contemporary Art’s practices, and begin articulating what can appear from its “formerness?” What are our responses to—and proposals for—the times ahead?

19.00–19.10 Welcome by András Pálffy (president, Secession, Vienna) and Eva Blimlinger (Rector, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)
19.10–19.30 Opening Remarks by Maria Hlavajova (artistic director, BAK, Utrecht and FORMER WEST)
19.30–20.30 Keynote by Nancy Adajania (cultural theorist and curator, Mumbai)
20.30–21.00 Questions

Play Video 3rd Former West April 19th
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20 April 2012 (Friday) 10.00–20.00, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, Vienna

10.00–10.05 Welcome by Andrea Braidt (Vice-Rector, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)
10.05–10.15 Welcome and Introduction by Maria Hlavajova (artistic director, BAK, Utrecht and FORMER WEST)
10.15–10.30 Introduction by Marion von Osten (artist and cultural researcher, Berlin/Vienna)

Organizing a Difference

In the context of a search beyond the confines of Contemporary Art, how does a difference get organized? What established and developing possibilities in the entangled field of artistic, intellectual, and activist practices are generating structures other than those that exist for research, production, and dissemination? How have the strategies of contemporary practitioners changed and how are new possibilities within and beyond the field of Contemporary Art constituted? Are new models of small translocal organizations already being created that are outside of the known forms of artistic self- organization, art institutions, and aesthetic disciplines?

10.30–11.15 CAMP (collaborative project and platform, Mumbai)
11.15–12.00 Respondent: Christian Höller (writer, Vienna)
12.00–12.30 Questions

Play Video 3rd Former West April 20th – part 1
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13.30–14.15 h.arta (artist collective, Timisoara)
14.15–15.00 Respondent: Ekaterina Degot (art historian and curator, Moscow)
15.00–15.30 Questions

Play Video 3rd Former West April 20th – part 2
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15.50–16.35 aaa/ Atelier d’architecture autogérée (urban research collective platform, Paris)
16.35–17.20 Respondent: Jesko Fezer (artist and architect, Berlin)
17.20–17.50 Questions

Play Video 3rd Former West April 20th – part 3
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Speculating Forward

The model of Contemporary Art has been taken to task not only for its complicity in the reality of the global neoliberal order, but by the serious challenges to it that come from within art. To what extent, for example, is the field still of relevance to the far-reaching practices of self-organized collectives? And how have these group initiatives changed the field themselves? What emerging propositions are being articulated in response to these modes of cultural production? How can we arrive at a deeper understanding of the possibilities at hand by looking at a set of concrete practices that function as meaningful interruptions of the business-as-usual model that has been established over the course of the last two decades?

18.10–18.30 Observations and Questions by Ruth Sonderegger (philosopher, Vienna)
18.30–19.30 Keynote by Irit Rogoff (theorist and curator, London)
19.30–20.00 Questions

Play Video 3rd Former West April 20th – part 4
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21 April 2012 (Saturday) 11.00 -12.30, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, Vienna

Open Forum: In Place of Conclusions

Led by Ruth Sonderegger (philosopher, Vienna), this open session includes both the contributors and participants to the 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part One. The session revisits the positions, statements, conversations, questions, and doubts that stem from the speculations about what lies “beyond what was Contemporary Art” in order to attempt to map the concerns and urgencies ahead of us. Instead of summarizing a set of conclusions, it is offered as a site of anticipation, as well as of collective thinking and action.

Play Video 3rd Former West April 21st – Soon Online…

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