joi, 2 noiembrie 2017

refugee art art with and about refugees

Engaging with refugees and migrant experiences - Counterpoints arts.

I specifically found interesting the idea of creating art in a truck/ van - mobile exhibitions, see the work of Alketa Xhafa-Mripa - 'Refugees Welcome' at Tate Modern - and more...

miercuri, 21 iunie 2017

Things fall appart and other strange exhibitions at

the Chemical Heritage Foundation. 315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. The museum is free and open Tuesday - Saturday (so, closed on Monday).

visit to the Museum at CHF is a journey through the weird and wonderful world of matter and materials.

marți, 20 iunie 2017

Liar's Poker: Representations of Politics, Politics of Representation by Brian Holmes

Retrieved from: on 20th of June 2017

Liar\'s Poker
Representation of Politics/Politics of Representation
Brian Holmes

Basically, what I have to say here is simple: when people talk about politics in an artistic frame, they\'re lying. Indeed, the lies they tell are often painfully obvious, and worse is the moment when you realize that some will go forever unchallenged and take on, not the semblance of truth, but the reliability of convention. In a period like ours when the relationship to politics is one of the legitimating arguments for the very existence of public art, the tissue of lies that surrounds one when entering a museum can become so dense that it\'s like falling into an ancient cellar full of spider webs, and choking on them as you struggle to breathe. Now, the mere mention of this reality will make even my friends and allies in the artistic establishment rather nervous; but it is a reality nonetheless. And like most of the political realities in our democratic age, it has directly to do with the question of representation.

Picture Politics

Does anyone doubt there exists a politics of representation? Such people have clearly not looked at the television during a political campaign. But worse, they have not looked at social movements. They have not witnessed the endless capacity of people who do not occupy positions of elite power, and who do not enjoy direct access to major media, to project their messages nonetheless, by means of signs, images and gestures. Nor have they realized how effectively artists can work in such »outside« contexts: one need only think of Gran Fury, amidst the New York Aids activism of the eighties; of Ne Pas Plier, with the jobless people\'s movements in Paris in the nineties; or of the many artists who have participated in recent counter-globalization demonstrations and campaigns. Artists can play a vital role in this kind of »picture politics«.

At the same time, it is easy for artists to heed the injunction of the museum, the magazines and the market, which say: »Picture politics for me.« Do a picture or a sculpture of politics, carry out the representation of political conflict, as in the installation piece by Thomas Hirschhorn, Wirtschaftslandschaft Davos, shown at Kunsthaus Zürich when Hirschhorn won the prize for »Young Swiss Art« in 2001. This work uses model houses, toy soldiers, real barbed wire and other ready-made materials to represent the besieged Swiss valley where the world\'s most powerful people annually meet. Hirschhorn\'s style can be referenced to »dadaist collage«, observes one critic; but his major source is »the practice of excluded people who know perfectly well how to get their messages across, by using whatever they find.« [1] In this case the excluded people are those who confront the barbed wire at the World Economic Forum. And since counter-globalization has been a hot subject, representing them is a perfect way to become popular in a museum.

Hirschhorn goes further, though, because he turns a bit of ordinary life into a representation of politics, with his Bataille Monument in a Turkish quarter of Kassel. This life-sized library, snack bar and makeshift TV studio is a participatory project, whose effects in the neighborhood itself I won\'t presume to judge from a distance. What concerns me is the way he manages its relations to the artistic frame. On the »taxi stand« where visitors awaited to be ferried from the Documenta 11 to the site of the monument, Hirschhorn placed a quotation from the American artist, David Hammonds: »The art audience is the worst audience in the world. It\'s overly educated, it\'s conservative, it\'s out to criticize, not to understand and it never has any fun... So I refuse to deal with that audience, and I\'ll play with the street audience. That audience is much more human, and their opinion is from the heart. They don\'t have any reason to play games, there\'s nothing gained or lost.« Hirschhorn claims to have abandoned the framing structures of contemporary art, for a more authentically engaged social practice. But if that\'s the case, why the taxi, why the exposure of the site to visitors\' eyes, which turns the social project into a representation? What kind of game is he playing?

In his case there are certainly things to be won - like the prize for Young Swiss Art, or the Marcel Duchamp prize for the promotion of French artists, awarded to Hirschhorn by the ADIAF association in the year 2000. The Duchamp prize is sponsored by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a transnational consulting company, specializing in mergers and acquisitions. Kunsthaus Zürich, where Wirtschaftslandschaft Davos was shown, is regularly funded by the Private Banking subsidiary of Crédit Suisse, which ranks 31st on Fortune\'s Global 500 list. Documenta 11 was sponsored by Volkswagen, Deutsche Telekom and Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe. Does all this sound familiar? In the contemporary art game, the picture of excluded people\'s politics is worth a lot to the included - including transnational corporations. Of course I\'m aware that the prize commissions are independent, just like exhibition curators. Their independence supports the notion of an autonomous artistic sphere, separate from the economic nexus that sustains it. These kinds of separations, between abstract financial decisions and their substantive effects, are exactly what the protestors at the Davos meetings refuse. Hirschhorn retains an interest in the artistic frame he claims to leave behind. Yet he seems particularly uncomfortable there; and it\'s intriguing to see how he ups the symbolic stakes in the Davos piece, formulating a direct critique of transnational capitalism even as he is pursued and courted by the corporate-backed prize commissions.

How does picture politics work, when it is associated with a proper name and presented within the contemplative frame of the art institution? Invariably it produces statements like these: »I represent the people«, or »I represent a social movement«, or »I represent the excluded« - which are the classic lies of representative democracy, when it serves to conceal private interests. [2] Of course, this root fact makes myself, a self-styled »critic« writing in catalogues and magazines about the relations of art and politics, into one of the baldest liars of them all. And for some perverse reason I want to tell you how it\'s done.

Rules of the Game

Liar\'s poker is easy to play. The deck is composed of kings and aces. One person draws, and names the card in his hand; the other judges if he\'s telling the truth. If you draw an ace, it\'s easy: you have no choice but to say it\'s an ace. If you draw a king, then the game begins: because you can always bluff. Each time you claim to hold an ace, the other player must look in your eyes and decide if it\'s real. If he thinks it\'s not, he calls your bluff; and if he\'s right he wins a dollar, or ten, or a hundred, depending on how high you\'ve set the stakes. If he\'s wrong, you win the same. And if he doesn\'t do a thing, he loses fifty cents, or five bucks, or fifty dollars, and the card goes back into the pack, so that no one ever knows if you were telling the truth.

For our purposes, the artist draws the cards, and the public calls the bluffs. Nowadays, of course, the artist often plays as a team with the curator or the critic; so those relations are never entirely certain. As for the cards, the ace is political reality, and its image in the museum is highly attractive. This gives the artist a great advantage: because to prove an ace is a bluff, you have to go out looking, whereas the public prefers to stay inside the museum. The artist, however, also has a great disadvantage, which is that the house - I mean the people who run the game, the founders, the funders, the boards and directors - actually can\'t stand aces, and if they think the artist really has one, they will never let him or her set foot inside the museum. So in both cases the artist has to bluff his way through, either claiming political engagement to live like a king inside the white cube, or hiding it to siphon off money, resources and publicity for use by a social movement. Occasionally, when the lie is too grotesque, the public will call the bluff; and then the artist has to give up some cultural capital. Even more rarely, it turns out that the artist is really involved in a social movement, in which case he or she is soon fated to disappear from the museum.

Now there\'s an obvious question: Why would anyone want to play such a game? In fact the question can be asked about anyone playing by the unbearable rules that hold in almost every social field today. These are the rules of inequality, exploitation, domination - those nasty realities we have to lie about in polite democratic society. When Pierre Bourdieu developed his theory of the semi-autonomous, rule-governed social fields, he first had to ask why people participate. He pointed to different forms of interest. Individuals can have a monetary interest in participating in a given field, they can do it to acquire economic capital. They can also have an interest in the relations to be formed with powerful people, so they play to acquire social capital. But in the highly professional world of art, even more than in most other fields, social capital is at least partially acquired through the accumulation of cultural capital, which can be conceived as the ability to produce and display the very specific types of signs, images and gestures which are most valued within a given field at a particular period. Accumulating cultural capital means mastering complex fetishes of meaning which have been constructed and transformed over time. Thus it becomes apparent that a powerful function of belief is at work. You must believe that these fetishes are really valuable, or ›interesting‹. Bourdieu came to call this belief illusio, which he defines as »the fact of being invested, caught up in and by the game.« »Being interested«, he continues, »means ascribing a meaning to what happens in a given social game, accepting that its stakes are important and worthy of being pursued.« [3] In the game we are discussing, the fundamental interest (or illusion) is the attainment of autonomy: a historical ideal whose terms are open to endless struggle. [4] There is a passion of this illusio without which it would be impossible to understand what happens in the artistic field today - in particular its lies, its bluffs, its representations.

Can the illusio that accounts for the very coherency of the field be transformed, gravitationally shifted, so that its prestigious objects - the signs, gestures and images - are reevaluated? Such a result could only come about through a shake-up in the system of positions occupied by specific players. This is what we are now witnessing. In the artistic game of liar\'s poker, certain players are increasing the stakes, and steering the conventional bluff of picture politics to the point where the contract that holds together the artist, the curator, the public and the house - that is to say, the museum as a social institution - finally breaks. When you can bluff your way to a very dramatic break, then there is the possibility of changing the field itself, of beginning to play a different game.

Upping the Stakes

Let\'s recall certain wagers that link the 1997 Documenta (dX) to the 2002 edition (D11). The former attempted to reknit the ties between poetics and politics, within a history considered on a world scale. Its major innovation - the 100 Days lecture program organized by Catherine David - was a Napoleonic conquest of neoliberal globalization as an object for artistic discourse. Indeed, the exhibition as a whole could be criticized for using intellectuals and historical artists to represent a protagonism that the consensus of the European scene could not offer. An essay in the catalogue by Masao Miyoshi, illustrated with a geopolitical map by the late Oyvind Fahlström, sums up the equation. Entitled »A Borderless World?«, it gives a detailed account of the rise of the transnational corporation and the attendant changes in the hegemonic functions of culture. Miyoshi asks the key question: »Are the intellectuals of the world willing to participate in transnational corporatism and be its apologists?« [5] But what no one said is how the world\'s artists, critics and curators could convincingly answer, in the negative.

No one on the center stage, that is. But part of the dX bluff was to include a cutting edge, the so-called »new technologies«. The Hybrid Work Space would be inhabited, among others, by artist-activists making their first uses of the Internet, for a ten-day workshop called »[über die grenze]«. I quote from an interview with Florian Schneider that appeared on the sans-papiers website founded by a French social movement shortly after the occupation of Saint-Bernard Church in Paris in 1996:

Q: »About the Documenta, here, you can talk about illegal people in a very famous art exhibition. I think it is not so easy to do such things in France. Do you think it\'s easier in Germany, or is there something special here, at the Documenta? You\'re talking about illegal people!...«

A: »Yes, sure, we are also a little bit surprised. On one hand we obviously have a fool\'s license here, we can declare everything, we can also nearly practice everything. On Sunday, we opened a passport exchange office, and we asked people to give us their passport to pass it on people who need it much more, which are undocumented or so called illegal people. A policeman appeared, and he asked ›Is this art or not? what are you going to do with the passports?‹ And we asked him for his passport. He refused to give us his passport, but he promised us to talk with his superiors about the action, and that was what we wanted to reach. So it seems that we could do everything we want. It\'s great and very funny, but in the same way, it makes me nervous a little bit, because there is even no reaction by the other side. That\'s the main problem in the art context. We decided to use the possibility to make politics here because it\'s very important at this moment to spread the campaign we started, and to spread the aims we have, spread them very widely.« [6]

The participants of »[über die grenze]« broke the conventional contract with the art institution, by refusing to stop at the borders of representation. Taking literally the corporate rhetoric about freedom of movement under globalization, they used dX as a physical and virtual platform to spread a new campaign, indeed, a new form of self-organization: the social movement »Kein Mensch ist illegal«, which over the last five years has not ceased to grow and metamorphose, continually changing names, languages, spokespeople, participants, tactics... D11 recognized the importance of this autonomous, non-representational politics by inviting Florian Schneider to speak at the first of its »Platforms«, held in April 2001 under the title »Democracy Unrealized«. [7] A year later, a »No Border«-camp was organized by activists in protest against the Schengen Information System in Strasbourg, while D11 raked in the tourist crowds in Kassel.

Personally, I had entirely missed the Hybrid Work Space in 1997. But I did take part in the recent »No Border« camp with the conceptual group »Bureau d\'études«, distributing a cartographic work - or what you might just call a »tract« - entitled »Refuse the Biopolice«. One of the best encounters in Strasbourg was the Publix Theater Caravan bus, with a multimedia laboratory inside, a traveling café on top and a theater troupe performing anti-deportation interventions in public space. A week after the camp I found myself in Kassel, amazed to see a tremendous spectrum of precise and moving artworks, whose focus, in the majority of cases, was either oppression and imprisonment, or even more often, the contemporary border regime. The activist pretensions of an experimental group in 1997, and the direct action of a social movement today, seemed to be justified, extended, deepened by almost every piece in the immense exhibition.

By searching across the world, D11 found the artists to support the critique that had been formulated in the previous edition. After watching Amar Kanwar\'s video on the Indo-Pakistani conflict, including fascinating shots of the ritual closing of the militarized border, I stepped out into the sunlight to discover none other than the Publix Theater bus, parked in front of the Fridericianum. But the next surprise was a police officer ordering the bus to leave, under the guidance of a Documenta security manager. The troupe chanted over their PA system, »Thank you, thank you to the German police for this beautiful performance, free speech is being silenced everywhere, thank you, thank you.« And then someone walked up to the manager and the chief cop and handed them »Refuse the Biopolice«. Both proceeded instinctively to roll it up into the form of a military man\'s baton - as though artworks, in the hands of power, could only be a weapon and nothing more. [8]

Playing the Ace

»Artistic freedom is a fundamental right. And we feel free to promote it«, proclaims the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe in the pages of the D11 catalogue. You wonder how they feel about all the artists participating in the current round of social struggles. Take one example: Las Agencias, a group which came together shortly before a week-long conference and workshop in October 2000 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, with an impressive list of picture-politicians (®™ark, Reclaim the Streets, Kein Mensch ist illegal, Ne pas plier, Communication Guerrilla, London Indymedia...). The program was called »On Direct Action as One of the Fine Arts«. Held at the public\'s insistence outside the museum, in an anarchist union hall, it was a great success. Work continued for months thereafter on subjects like free money, activist fashion design, the practical use of pictorial shields, and a traveling »Show Bus« to bring culture to the people. Then, on the day of huge demonstrations organized against the World Bank in March 2002 - when 500,000 people took to the streets of Barcelona - the local police came to raid the bar of the MacBa, used by Las Agencias. And in the weeks after this event, the Show Bus was attacked and destroyed in broad daylight - undoubtedly by undercover police. It goes without saying that the breaking point had been reached: Las Agencias could no longer be funded by the museum. Pursuing their détournement of consumer ideologies, the group started a new campaign around the theme Yo Mango, a slogan referring to a trendy fashion brand - but which also translates as »Just Nick It«. Yo Mango practices redistributive shoplifting, in the spirit of thousands of unemployed Argentineans whom the international banking system left with no other choice but to steal their dinner, ransacking transnational supermarket chains. Is this artistic freedom? Yo Mango has become a social movement, crossing the border of representation. But from time to time - to the rage of some former members - they still exhibit in museums. Meanwhile the MacBa continues, more legitimately and subversively than ever, its inquiry into the relations of art and politics.

Political involvement is popular in art right now, and for good reasons. How do art professionals maneuver in this environment, between pressures from the public on the one hand, and from the financial backers of the institutional »house« on the other? What kind of game do they play? Bourdieu has this to say about moments of aesthetic transformation: »Revolutions in art result from the transformation of the power relations constituting the space of artistic positions, a transformation which itself is rendered possible by a coincidence between the subversive intentions of a fraction of the producers and the expectations of a fraction of their public.« [9] We have seen this type of situation emerging over the past few years, as the globalized, flexibilized economy shakes up the hierarchy of social positions, rendering new alliances imaginable. And it is clear that some art professionals are playing the beginnings of a transformative game. But it would be naive to think that others do not see these situations unfolding. The art of maintaining social balances through the management of cultural trends has long been developed by the European social democracies, and is being taken over by the privatized institutions. [10] In other words, we must suppose that a fraction of those in power seek to manipulate the public, by instrumentalizing the cultural producers who play their tricks for them.

Our problem is to account for the strange duplicity of art institutions. Consider Documenta again. Why did the people who run what used to be the ideological set-piece of »Western art«, created during the Cold War less than fifty kilometers from the East German border, with the transparent aim of exalting the abstractions of subjective freedom in the face of socialist realism, suddenly decide to pick as curator, first a French woman with a lingering Marxist mentality and a strong interest in Brazil, then a Nigerian man with an intense investment in postcolonial theory and historiography? The only realistic answer I can find is that those who make the decisions saw that the first post-89 edition, curated in 1992 by Jan Hoet - a chic, friendly and mildly patronizing art-world type with »good taste« and a willingness to have fun without rocking the boat - was perceived within the artistic field as a gigantic flop. Just more of the same, looking paunchy and overprivileged. How then could Documenta remain at the cutting edge? If the Cold War was over, shouldn\'t the flagship »Western« exhibition now somehow engage with globalization? Did not that first entail finding out something about what globalization is (Catherine David\'s highly intellectual show), then diving right into and producing its multicultural legitimacy by actually exhibiting living artists from outside Germany, England, Italy, France and the USA - people who had never made the cover of »Flash Art« or »Artforum«?

The institutional »house« now seeks its interest in a complex game, which alone can reconcile the economic nexus it provides with the cultural capital its seeks among the more radical factions of the artistic field. It must ask its cultural producers for the ace of politics, while proving all the while (with the help of the police, if need be) that this ace is merely a bluff, that it is really a king (the sovereign power of illusion in representative democracies). And yet it is through this double game that new symbolic possibilities for conceiving and shaping the ways we live - what Nietzsche might have called »the transvaluation of all values« - can be distributed on the scale that an exhibition like Documenta offers. The Nietzschean dance happens not in some glorious void of the contemplative intellect, but in the real world. You have people whose genuine radicality is also a beckoning chance for career advancement, being instrumentalized by others wanting to add legitimacy to a globalized society facing a groundswell of critique. And the instability of the game - the depth of its gaping contradictions - has rarely been so great as today, while the corporate rhetoric unravels and everyone must face the reality of their positions in the contemporary economy, with its proliferating borders.

An example of how these contradictions unfold was the ad hoc »Platform 6«, called for 24 hours on the lawn in front of the Fridericianum, by No Border again, in collaboration with Rom people facing expulsion from Germany. This time the obvious parallels between the activist demands and the artistic arguments developed within the show itself helped overcome the resistance of the security team. Just imagine, for a moment, the different kinds of cultural capital that suddenly appeared on the table: »Okwui Enwzor, künstlerischer Leiter der Documenta, rief aus New York an. Die Kuratorin Ute Meta Bauer und andere MitarbeiterInnen und KünstlerInnen unterstützten und vermittelten. Thomas Hirschorn und andere KünstlerInnen und Documentas diskutierten aufgeregt über Documenta-Hierarchien und das Sicherheitssystem. Eine aufgeregte Nacht alles in allem.« [11] The institutional struggle becomes visible at unexpected moments like these, when everyone involved must take a public stand on the value of the symbolic cards they are playing.

Beyond Representation

These observations are pragmatic, based on personal experience. The truth is that the strategies of liar\'s poker are inevitable today, as cultural institutions both public and private try to mediate between the logic of profit and prestige and the desire for alternative valuations. But that can be put more bluntly: in the age of corporate patronage and the neoliberal state, art is becoming a field of extreme hypocrisy. [12] And so it directly reflects the crisis of the representative democracies. The temptation is then to cease playing the game (the anarchist solution), or to simply exploit the museum\'s resources for other ends (»radical media pragmatism«). Both positions are justified, from the activist point of view. But there are disadvantages to leaving entire sectors of society to rot, as each new swing to the neo-authoritarian right is there to prove. The most interesting question within the artistic field then becomes: How to play the exhibition game in such a way that something real can actually be won?

The very notion of cultural capital shows how domination operates through forms that need no longer have anything to do with rarity or accumulation. And the beauty of art in its turn away from the object is precisely that you can give it away: Dinero Gratis, as the Yo Mango group proclaims. Art today is one of the few fields open to experimentation with the technologies, habits and hierarchies of symbolic exchange, fundamental to a media-driven society. But these experiments can only take on a transformative power in the open, evolving context of a social movement, outside the cliques and clienteles of the artistic game. Which is why even the work of someone as outwardly radical as Thomas Hirschhorn appears so dubious. How can anyone be sure of its success, when the reception is dominated by his proper name?

The rising fortunes of interventionist art, the multiplication of exhibitions devoted to sociopolitical issues and activist campaigns, are proof enough that something political is at stake in the artistic field. And the stakes keep rising, as artists, curators and critics vie for radicality, relevancy, effectiveness and meaning. But one must constantly question what kind of currency we\'ll get when the chips are cashed in. The only way to go beyond the small change of individual prestige on the institutional market is to radically reverse the valuations effected by the critical gaze. And this requires an effort from a great many players of the game: a transformation of the very definition of cultural capital, a shift in the illusio of the artistic field. What is ultimately at stake is the very definition of autonomy, which can no longer be established in the sphere of representation alone.

Right now, the greatest symbolic innovations are taking place in self-organization processes unfolding outside the artistic frame. And it is from the reference to such outside realms that the more concentrated, composed and self-reflective works in the museum take their meaning. The only way not to impoverish those works, or to reduce them to pure hypocrisy, is to let our highest admiration go out to the artists who call their own bluffs - and dissolve, at the crisis points, into the vortex of a social movement.

1 »Thomas Hirschhorn, Wirtschaftlandschaft Davos«, by Patrick Schaefer, in L\'art en jeu, online magazine:
2 Cf. Bureau d\'études, »Cadavre de l\'autonomie artistique«, in Autonomie artistique et société de communication 1 (Paris, 2002).
3 Pierre Bourdieu, Réponses (Paris: Seuil, 1992), p. 92.
4 Bourdieu devoted an entire work to the historical constitution of the ideal of autonomy, and to the field of struggle it opens up: Les Règles de l\'art (Paris: Seuil, 1992).
5 Politics/Poetics, Documenta X – The Book (Ostfildern: Cantz, 1997), p. 193.
6 At
7 Video available at
8 Cf. the press release at I am told that an Israeli delegation, visiting that day, had asked for maximum security. But of course this precise request is part of the worldwide security and border system.
9 Bourdieu, Réponses, p. 81. For a full development, see the last chapter of Homo Academicus (Paris: Minuit, 1984).
10 In Europe, the most relevant model of this takeover process is Third-Way cultural policy in Britain; see former culture minister Chris Smith\'s book, Creative Britain, and the discussions in Julian Stallabrass, High Art Lite (London: Verso, 1999), chaps. 6 and 7.
12 Gregory Sholette offers a precise observation about the »fool\'s license« given to a certain kind of critical art: »What has been revealed by the institutional critique is one persistent and disturbing fact: many cultural institutions are led by the private interests and personal tastes of an invisible elite, rather than by their stated philanthropic and educational mission. Yet while the institutional critique has directly focused significant attention on this cultural contradiction for the past thirty years, it now appears to provide a degree of closure by reinforcing the notion that the museum offers an uncompromising democratic zone for engaging in civic dialogue.« »Fidelity, Betrayal, Autonomy: In and Beyond the Post-Cold War Art Museum«, Third Text, Summer 2002.

sâmbătă, 13 mai 2017

Visualising the Voices of Migrant Women Workers​
Visualising the Voices of Migrant Women Workers was an exhibition curated in Hong Kong, featuring materials collected from different parts of the world. The exhibition was based on collaboration between reserchers in University of Hong Kong, activists from different associations like Refugee Women and Voices of Migrant Women Workers Association, and migrant women workers themselves.

The footage presented on you-tube was aired on TVB Pearl HK. It intriduces the exhibition from minute 1.03 up to 5.50.

Research with similar associations working with migrant women workers in UK, HK, Canada (as discussed in the work of Geraldine Pratt, Deirdre McKay and other researchers writing about Filipina migrant workers) show similar interests in empowering migrant women workers. It seems a trend now  - in trying to make migrant workers learn how to become leaders, managers, make films and even exhibitions about themsleves...

marți, 2 mai 2017

A personal in making list of contemporary researchers doing and writing about exhibition making

Paul Basu
Exhibition Experiments

Horia Bernea and Irina Nicolau

Philippe Bourgeois

David Crowley

Craig Campbell

Jean Gabus - performance, journalism and exhibition making

Jacques Hainard

Julie Ham
The University of Hong Kong


Kirshenblatt Gimblett

Sharon Macdonald

Horia Bernea and Irina Nicolau

Alexandra Schussler
Villa Sovietica

Kevin Walker, Royal College of Art

marți, 21 martie 2017

Again about exhibiting Archives

As a reminder to myself, more than anything else: Christian Boltanski's installations of every day photographs (1968, 1988).

For a more detailed analysis of Boltanski's installations:

Image result for boltanski archives 1988

marți, 21 februarie 2017

Exhibition: Visualizing the Voices of Migrant Women Workers

Visualizing the Voices of Migrant Women Workers - HKU Exhibition

Organizer: Hong Kong University, Department of Sociology
When: 11 February- 5 March 2017

This exhibition features stories of journeys, work abroad and letters home as visualized by migrant women including migrant sex workers, domestic workers, marriage migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, women who have been trafficked, and informal workers. These participatory media projects with women in The Netherlands, India, Nepal, Taiwan, Indonesia and Hong Kong are based on Dr. Vivian Wenli Lin’s research project for Voices of Women (VOW) Media, Visualizing Our Voices: Self-made Audiovisual Media by Women from Social, Economic and Cultural Margins in the Era of Global Migration.
This collaboration with Dr. Vivian Wenli Lin (Voices of Women Media) and Dr. Julie Ham (Department of Sociology, HKU) is supported by the HKU Knowledge Exchange Fund granted by the University Grants Committee.

Opening hours

Open Tuesdays – Sundays, between 10:00 am – 5:45 pm
Venue: MC3 @ 702 Creative Space, 7/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Launch and panel event

A special launch event will take place on 10 February 2017, 6-9pm, with a panel talk starting at 7pm featuring the following panellists:
  • Lin Chew, Executive Director, Institute for Women’s Empowerment
  • Pooja Pant, Co-Director, Voices of Women Media – Nepal
  • Eni Lestari, Chairperson, International Migrants Alliance
  • Freya Chou, Curator of Education and Public Programmes, Para Site
  • Dr. Ju-chen Chen, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong

joi, 10 noiembrie 2016

Artists as cultural workers

Jonas Staal (n.1981), is a Rotterdam- based artist whose works include interventions in public space, exhibitions, lectures, and publications that interrogate the relationship between art, democracy, ideology, politics and propaganda.

Propaganda against what New Word Academy in Holland calls 'cultural imperialism' - meaning the effects of neo-liberalism on poor countries...
Isn'it ironic that such discourses are written down and thought in countries such as Holland itself?

joi, 11 februarie 2016

Red Africa


Are you interested in getting to know more about USSR's friendships among African Countries?

The Red Africa Exhibition (4 February  - 3 April 2016 ) takes place at the Calvert22 Gallery in London.

This exhibition can be seen also in relation to the bigger project Socialism Goes Global.


vineri, 30 octombrie 2015

CfP: Artistic re-enactments as Vehicles of Cultural Transfer in Eastern European Performance Art

AAH2016 Annual Conference and Bookfair
University of Edinburgh
7 - 9 April 2016

Artistic Re-enactments as Vehicles of Cultural Transfer in Eastern European Performance Art, 1960–present

Amy Bryzgel, University of Aberdeen,
The re-enactment of artistic performances and actions is a topic that has garnered much attention in recent years, most notably catalogued in Amelia Jones’ and Adrian Heathfield’s substantial publication Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History (2012). Given the fact that, in many cases, artistic transfer from one generation to the next did not occur in the traditional manner – through the academies – in Eastern Europe, re-enactments of artistic performance can function, in the region, as a witness to the forgotten past, functioning as a vehicle of cultural memory. Additionally, it can facilitate the transfer of ideas, history and practice from one generation to the next.
This panel invites papers that discuss artistic re-enactments of performances from across the former communist and socialist countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe in recent artistic practice. The papers in the panel should interrogate some of the following questions: What are the various functions of artistic re-enactments of performances in Eastern Europe? How do these functions compare with current understandings of re-enactment in the West? How can re-enactments be used to access a lost or inaccessible history (such as performance art in Eastern Europe)? Also welcome are papers that consider revisiting culturally relevant or historically significant places by artists or within the context of artistic re-enactments.

Email paper propsals to the session convenor(s) by 9 November 2015. Download a Paper Proposal Guidelines

luni, 27 iulie 2015

reassembling rubbish

I love rubbish:
- the sound of the metal bins thrown on the pavement of Eastern European cold cities in autumn early mornings (more specifically 5,30 a.m.),
- the incredibly rich conversations one can have with people who sweep the streets of towns. Once I heard more women sweeping the streets in a neighbourhood of Bucharest shouting at each-other across the street: 'Hey you! [in Ro: Ce fa!] Do you want to get to clean the streets in the city centre?!'
Folowed by laughter. Ambition is everywhere.
-the tones of garbage thrown in some huge pits and the screams of the seagulls. Dust and diamonds at the same time, and not only because of the dark aesthetics, but also because of the great profit made by garbage companies all over the world.
-the life of those people who manage to live with little - that little which remains from those who have too much.
-the sadness and to a certain degree, the despair of those who have too much and who start living surrounded by things they do not like any more.
-an exhibition I have missed - on waste - somewhere in London.
- a film I love: Les Glaneurs and la Glaneuse.
-this project: - and maybe some others more

miercuri, 17 iunie 2015

Art and Tourism

That Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world, is not a new thing to say. It has its peculiarities, though. It is based on a major economic inequality: some people have money to travel, some others have barely some to cope with living, and consequently encounter tourists (generally) with a lot of appreciation and happiness.
From this economic and affective juxtaposition some artists manage to draw subjects of inspiration.
Marcus Coates is one of them. I am going to write about two of his projects. One is entitled the Trip, and was commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery in London as part of the project Skills Exchange. It deals with the artist' work for outpatients as St John's hospice asking the question 'What can an artist do for you?' Those who responded suggested various things, among which a trip to the Amazon. Coates did the trip, filmed part of it, screened it and talked to the people who commissioned it - about this journey that he did for them, about fears and strengths, about how much you can push yourself, about meeting the Amazon people through an intermediary - but still feeling great, about storytelling.
The Interview and long conversations between the artist and one of the patients in the hospice were touching in their simplicity and curiosity: what those people were eating, the effects of entering in contact with the white men, etc. At the end of the interview there is an artist's note: That the person who commissioned this trip died not long after this interview. In our last conversation we continued to talk about our trip. He said that he often went down the river into the jungle when de needed to.

The other project of Marcus Coates is the following performance he did in front of an audience of old people living in a block of flats: Trip to the Lower World.

The second artist I want to write about is Martin Parr's collections of postcards. Some of them were exhibited in Barbican's exhibition: Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector.
His books with photos taken by him are just great. Mass Tourism, Small World (a critique of  or From Home and Abroad is one of them.

'Leisure, consumption and communication are the concepts that Martin Parr has been researching for several decades now on his worldwide travels. In the process, he examines national characteristics and international phenomena to find out how valid they are as symbols that will help future generations to understand our cultural peculiarities. Parr enables us to see things that have seemed familiar to us in a completely new way. In this way he creates his own image of society, which allows us to combine an analysis of the visible signs of globalisation with unusual visual experiences. In his photos, Parr juxtaposes specific images with universal ones without resolving the contradictions. Individual characteristics are accepted and eccentricities are treasured.
Martin Parr sensitises our subconscious – and once we’ve seen his photographs, we keep on discovering these images over and over again in our daily lives and recognising ourselves within them. The humour in these photographs makes us laugh at ourselves, with a sense of recognition and release.' Thomas Weski
A model wears a piece from a capsule collection designed by House of Holland in collaboration with the photographer Martin Parr.

marți, 9 iunie 2015

Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in the Early Modern Period

From Riverbed to Seashore:

Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in the Early Modern Period

 June 12-13, 2015

New Europe College, Bucharest


[The Getty Foundation, Connecting Art Histories Initiative; Harvard University]



JUNE 12, 2015


Introductory Remarks


9:30-9:50 – Alina Payne (Harvard University, USA) 


Panel I. The Black Sea


9:50-10:20 – Cemal Kafadar (Harvard University, USA) “Vampire trouble is more serious than the mighty plague.” A Comparative Look at the History of Evil and Mischief, inspired by Evliya Celebi (1611-1684?)


10:20-10:50 – Nicole Kançal-Ferrari (Istanbul Şehir University, Turkey) Investigation in a

Shared Aesthetic Language: Architecture and Artistic Environment of the Golden Horde and

Early Crimean Khanate Period in Crimea (XIIIth – XVIth centuries)  


10:50-11:20 – Iván Szántó (Eötvös Loránd University, Institute of Art History, Hungary) Re-

Imagining Ottoman Space in the Age of Reason


11:20-11:50 – Coffee Break


11:50-12:20 – Diana Belci (University “Politehnica” Timisoara, Romania) Wood and Stone: Cultural Transfers in Early Modern Banat Architecture


12:20-12:50 – Tatiana Sizonenko (University of San Diego, California) Venetian Architecture for the Tsar: Alevisio Novy's Encounter with the Arts of Muscovy 


12:50-13:20 – Daniela Calciu (Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Romania)

Sociability Seeps: Coffee on the Lower Danube (Moldavia and Walachia) in the 17th and Early 18thcenturies


13:20-14:20 – Lunch Break


Panel II. Danubian Exchanges


14:20-14:50 – Vladimir Simić (University of Belgrade, Serbia) Printed Cyrillic Books Between Venice and the Danube in the First Half of the 16th Century 


14:50-15:20 – Jacek Bielak (University of Gdansk, Art History Institute, Poland) Amber Artworks and their Meaning in the Transcultural Exchange


15:20-15:50  – Alexander Osipian (Kramatorsk Institute of Economics and Humanities, Ukraine)

Oriental Carpets and Rugs as Complex Social Messages: Attitudes of Armenian Merchants, Polish Nobility and Catholic Intellectuals in the Seventeenth-Century Polish Kingdom


15:50-16:20 – Coffee Break


16:20-16:50 – Anna-Mária Nyárádi (Eötvös Loránd University, Institute of Art History, Hungary) Goldsmithery Made for the Cantacuzinos: How Şeytanoğlu’s Descendants Made Art Flourish in Wallachia


16:50-17:20 – Michał Wardzyński (University of Warsaw, Institute of Art History, Poland) On the Way to the ‘New Empire’: An ‘After-life’ of the Roman and Byzantine Marble and Porphyry's Traditions in Central Europe during the Early-Modern Era


17:20-17:50 – Stanko Kokole (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) “ut ad Imperatoriam sedem transmitterentur ...”: Ancient Roman Inscriptions on the Move within the Habsburg Empire of Charles VI



JUNE 13, 2015


The Adriatic 


9:30-10:00 – Ioli Kalavrezou (Harvard University, USA) The Reliquary of St. Niphon: Relations

Between Wallachia, Constantinople and Mt. Athos


10:00-10:30 – Darka Bilić (Institute of Art History, Center Cvito Fisković, Croatia) The Lazareto in Split Between East and West


10:30-11:00 – Elizabeth Kassler-Taub (Harvard University, USA) Early Modern Sicily and the Eastern Frontier


11:00-11:30 – Mirko Sardelić (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb, Croatia) Between Venice and the Levant: a 16th-Century Ship in the Adriatic


11:30-12:00 – Coffee Break


12:00-12:30 – Josip Belamarić (Institute of Art History, Center Cvito Fisković, Croatia) The Villa in Renaissance Dubrovnik: ars ubi naturam perfecit apta rudem  (where art has tamed the wild nature)


12:30-13:00 – Ana Šverko (Institute of Art History, Center Cvito Fisković, Croatia) Michele and

Giangirolamo Sanmicheli’s Fort St Nicholas in Šibenik in the Context of Adriatic Renaissance Fortifications


13:00-13:30 – Daniel Premerl (Institute of Art History, Zagreb, Croatia) Visual Propaganda for the Illyrian Cause in Urban VIII's Rome 


marți, 2 iunie 2015

Textile Fragments

I think it is always fascinating to think that museums have fragments of things, and not entire things. Like for example, in the Museum of the Romanian Peasant there is an entire store full of textile fragments, called MOSTRE. The display in the museum and artists such as Lena Constante took the idea of fragments and patchwork and made extremely powerful pieces of art.
This idea made me think of a conference on textile fragments, their use and display (in museums) held at the University of Wolverhampton in 2014.
But also, of the idea that sometimes clothes themselves contain fragments, and that the most useful form of textile fragment is the patch, especially the patches on the clothes of the poor. The following image comes from the Book cover of Vivienne's Richmond's book: Clothing the Poor, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

painting of a clothing seller

Are textile fragments so different from archives of image and text?
Does the closeness of the body impact in any way the way textiles are valued and displayed?
Can poverty be put on display? Maybe, an interesting way to put it would be through the work of patches...and textile fragments, the quintessence of need, care (love) and work.

luni, 18 mai 2015

'Stop and Go!' Bulgarian International truck drivers, stories from the Giurgiu/ Ruse border, Eastern European Migration

Bulgarian International Truck Drivers: A Methodological Approach

This is a post about a team of artists and researchers based in Eastern and Central Europe who investigate artistically on issues related with movement, migration, spaces, borders, fronteers.
The picture presented above comes from Emilya Karaboeva's research on Bulgarian Truck Drivers during the Cold War Era.

For more details on this project visit the following blog:

Nodes of Transformation and Transition focuses its research on the transformation of the informal hubs, nodes and terminals at the “PAN-European corridors” in Eastern Europe and Vienna that emerged parallel to the increase in traffic volume after the fall of Communism and moreover their impact on the public realm at the margins and even in the core of the cities.
When increasing numbers of people are obliged to spend increasing amounts of time in transit, when their vehicles serve increasingly as a form of personal shelter or home, then transition nodes along their primary route – where exchange between the actors en route happens – acquire ever-greater significance. The alternative models of urbanism that ensue from the paradigmatic shift at these spaces, are shaped by polyrhythmic densifications and the continual performance of difference such as also increasingly inform our everyday lives.
In a first step of developments of informal nodes so-called “leakage currents” and “ant (flying) vendors” give rise to their spatial and social structures (Karl Schlögel, 2009). Where trade takes place exchange happens and difference arises. If we follow Henry Lefebvre’s thesis that urbanity is no more defined by density but by the degree of difference performed at specific places then these nodes paradigmatically represent new forms of urbanity (Henry Lefebvre, 2003). Many of these informal gathering places over time might have been transformed into more formal and controlled territories, and new ones might have appeared. Examples of such transformations have already reached the peripheries and cores of many middle European cities and have had an impact on the process of their urbanisation (Regina Bittner, 2007) by the reconfiguration of the urban fabric and its social life.
Although spaces in general are considered to be socially produced – no matter if they are de jure private or public property – the very same spaces can be at different times featureless non-places (Marc Augé 1992) or lived spaces, where only private concerns of a few individuals can be negotiated, or even a wider public might encounter for discussions. In previous research projects informal nodes – especially illegal markets were investigated – but just as single entities and at one specific timeslot only. What remained largely unexplored so far was emphasising on these nodes as polyrhythmic ensembles, linked to their temporal adaptability – reacting on daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms of traffic flows – as well as their interdependence of one another.
The (geo-political) position of Vienna concerning the corridors is of our particular interest: In Vienna three of the major PAN-European corridors are intersecting in its wider metropolitan region. Vienna is the meeting point of decision- and policymakers and the seat of headquarters of several private companies involved in planning and executing the expansion and upgrading of the (traffic) infrastructure in Eastern Europe, as well as the source and target destination of humans, goods, capital circulating via these nodes and employees regularly visiting them.
The points of departure for our research therefore are three nodes arranged in a triangle, one of its corners represented by Vienna, while the other two are located close to each end of the north-south axis of the PAN-European corridors where (post-socialist) transformation unfolded against different geo-political backdrops: in the border and port cities of Rousse/Giurgiu (BG/RO), and in Tallinn (EST). The clusters differ radically owing to their historical and current geo-political location, the quality and degree of their regulation by the state and legal formalisation, and the design of the hubs and nodes.
In the light of current political discourse in the West, which fosters fear of an invasion of cheap mobile labour and goods from the East, via these very corridors, it seems pertinent to show our dependence on such networks, by recalling the extent to which these “imports” underpin our living standards. A re-evaluation of dualistic discourse about the so-called East and West is also implicit in this focus on the nodes of mobility networks and the diverse range of mobility streams that pass through them. In the view of those multi-local social actors who work or stop at these nodes, the centre is increasingly far-removed from the (former) West, and the definition of centre and periphery increasingly needs to be challenged.
The project draws extensively on theories from interdisciplinary mobilities studies (Tim Cresswell 2011), in our case inspired by cultural anthropology, human geography and urban studies, and on mapping discourses, which, although fairly well established in the English-speaking world, are still under-represented in the German scientific community. By introducing this synthesis of theories and methods from interdisciplinary critical mobilities studies and performative or even immersive spatial strategies of research and representation drawn from artistic research practice, the project is likely to impact theoretical production and practice in a number of fields. In seeking to integrate highly contested or even seriously disputed art-based research in established scientific community discourse, the project consciously fosters a paradigm shift.