The public seminar Organization, artistic agency and lived utopias offers new perspectives on Danish and international organizational strategies in the field of contemporary art. Following the much debated documenta fifteen, which took place this summer in Kassel, Germany, it gathers together artists, curators, theoreticians, educators and students who will reflect on issues regarding the organization of artistic agency (in collaborative practices) and how they relate to the notion of utopias.
Speakers and participants: Nora Sternfeld & Gregoire Rousseau, Jeppe Ugelvig, Kunstteater (Mathias Dyhr, in collaboration with Michiel Tange van Leeuwen), Peter Borum, The Pawn Broker (Villiam Miklos Andersen, M.B. Pedersen & Lauge Floris Larsen), Honza Hoeck, Sally Dalgaard.
The seminar is organized by Jutland Art Academy in collaboration with Kunsthal Aarhus, and generously supported by Salling Fondene and Aarhus Municipality (Hjælpepakke til kulturlivet 2022 - Puljen til større kulturaktører).
Fee: 50 kr.
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You can buy a ticket and a lunch ticket via tikkio.
On the public seminar
In recent years, questions regarding organizational work as artistic strategy have been on the agenda in many contexts, including in the field of contemporary art. A recent event exploring these issues took place this summer at documenta – an important, large-scale international exhibition which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. This year, at documenta fifteen, audiences had the opportunity to experience works curated by the Indonesian artist collective ruangrupa.
As outlined in the opening remarks of "Collectivity”, an issue of the German art magazine Texte Zur Kunst: "Cooperation and collaboration are buzzwords in the globalized art world. It's no wonder, then, that artist collectives seem to be everywhere at the moment: from Documenta to the Turner Prize to the protest movements at museums, one is hard-pressed to find a major art event that isn't characterized by collaborative practices and the invocation of solidarity." (Katharina Hausladen and Genevieve Lipinsky De Orlov, December 2018, p. 4).
Besides the recent attention given to artist collectives, this text demonstrates an assumed imperative which is in play when perspectives of collaborative artistic practices are discussed: that organizational types of artistic work are seamlessly connected to explicit struggles for social justice. In recent decades, a different perspective on the relation between organization and contemporary art has emerged, particularly in the academic field of art and management. This approaches artistic practices as models which can be tapped into in order to renew management strategies in the field of business.
Both of these discourses focus on changes in the social fabric. However, they have very different areas of application and varying allegiances in regard to their political standpoint. What they do share, though, is a postautonomous perspective on their hopes for the outcomes of art: namely, that art should function in the service of either communities or businesses. In fact, in Sebastian Olma's text Art and Autonomy, this is expressed as a central feature of contemporary art: "[ ...] while the idea of the genius as the personification of autonomy might have survived until recently in some (Warholesque) form or another, today it is being thoroughly exorcised by the increasing emphasis placed on collaboration, participation, technology, and indeed entrepreneurship. In light of these developments, isn't it only logical to conclude that art has moved into its postautonomous period?" (S. Olma, Art and Autonomy, V2_Publishing, Rotterdam, 2018, p. 7)
The seminar program aims to shed light on types of artistic practice which utilize organizational strategies that don't strictly identify with the ideas most often associated with organizational artistic strategies; namely, the distinctly collectivist/activist or the business-oriented focus of art and management research. Such practices follow different strategies of action that seem to blur the distinction between art and society by means of organization, and in that process also question assumed models of autonomy and utopia.
Within the broad spectrum of the presentations, the seminar intends to identify and explore dynamics applying to practices where individual artists dissolve under the umbrella of a group and/or re-organize in other ways. It will also examine which spaces of agency these strategies propose for artworks, other artists, and audiences, and in turn how these shape the relationship between contemporary art and society.
The seminar is organized and chaired by Honza Hoeck, Professor and Director of Studies at Jutland Art Academy.
10:00 Welcome and Introduction
10:15 - 11:30 Nora Sternfeld & Gregoire Rousseau, keynote:
Take a deep breath in. "Museum as Praxis" inaugurated in October 2035. A lecture-sound-performance with lumbung radio
11:45 - 11:55 Kunstteater: Baby's show and tell extravaganza (part I)
11:55 – 13:00 Lunchbreak
13:00 - 13:45 Peter Borum: Institution and programming - different logics
13:55 - 14:25 The Pawn Broker: The rise and fall of The Pawn Shop
14:40 - 14:50 Kunstteater: Baby's show and tell extravaganza (part II)
15:00 - 15:45 Honza Hoeck: Pre-individual action and spectral agency
15:45 – 16:15 Break
16:15 - 16:35 Sally Dalgaard: Logistique - no show without a flow!
16:45 - 16:55 Kunstteater: Baby's show and tell extravaganza (part III)
17:00 - 17:45 Jeppe Ugelvig: The business of collectivity
17:55 - 18:40 Panel discussion
18:40 Thank You and Goodbye
Nora Sternfeld & Gregoire Rousseau: Take a deep breath in. "Museum as Praxis" inaugurated in October 2035. A lecture-sound-performance with Lumbung Radio
“What would happen if one day we were not only to occupy a museum, but also direct it? Ever since we occupied the small museum from the year 2025 onwards and after the authoritarian turn, we have discussed this question time and time again in working groups. However, we decided to back down from the idea, because we did not want to or, rather, could not bring ourselves to take part in the turn and perhaps because we did not have enough courage to fight against it. Nonetheless, we were agreed that our occupation of the museum should not simply be about constantly reacting to news about which we despaired. So we set up our working groups and ensured that they addressed speculative questions that we wanted to answer-not exclusively, but primarily on the basis of historical research. One of these questions was simply: what would happen if one day we were to not only occupy this museum, but also direct it?” (From the lecture-sound-performance of Lumbung Radio, a narrative prefiguration-meets- moments-of-real-utopia, recorded at documenta fifteen).
Kunstteater (Mathias Dyhr): Baby's show and tell extravaganza
Concept & direction: Mathias Dyhr
Performance: Michiel Tange van Leeuwen
Costume: Michiel Tange van Leeuwen & Mathias Dyhr
In Kunstteater's new performance Baby's show and tell extravaganza, audiences meet an infant named Baby who is three meters tall and has just learned to walk. Baby is a born dandy who loves to look in the mirror and is a chic dresser . In front of the mirror, Baby always meets new friends; they too are well dressed, and just as talkative as he/she is despite the fact that none of them have any language. Toys are displayed and dances are exchanged. Laughing and crying are contagious when there are two of you! The performance plays with the way that innate personality or character traits operate before a child's self-awareness, ego and language develop.
The Pawn Broker (Villiam Miklos Andersen, M.B. Pedersen & Lauge Floris Larsen): The rise and fall of The Pawn Shop
In winter 2020, Indonesian curators Iswanto Hartono and Reza Afisina moved with their families to Kassel, Germany, to initiate an artistic experiment in a discontinued shopping center. This would eventually become the focal point for the development of documenta fifteen. In the same winter, Villiam Miklos Andersen, M.B. Pedersen and Lauge Floris Larsen traveled to Kassel, where they presented their vision of establishing a pawn shop inside the mall. The presentation addresses how a conceptual artwork develops into something completely different from the original idea.
Peter Borum: Institution and programming - different logics
Arguing about the difference between institutions and laws, French philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote in 1955 that, while laws are limitations on action, institutions are models of action. Since then, the proliferation of cybernetic models of (self)-organization – e.g., organization of close circuits in programming – has propagated an idea of organization in which action can (self)exhaust in the act of making and/or programming.
Jeppe Ugelvig: The business of collectivity
The presentation considers art historical examples of international artist collectives active in the past forty years who have organized business structures, such as artist-run shops, communication and PR-type agencies and fashion brands. Ugelvig will reflect on the critical, performative, and materialist concerns underscoring the mime of non-art business, and how artists are uniquely positioned to not only question but also prototype forms of work that can take place in broader economies.
Honza Hoeck: Pre-individual action and spectral agency
The presentation argues that the agency of an artist can be seen as having always been an outcome of collaborative processes, even when the artist is conceived of as an individual. This can be seen in the genius artist who functions as a medium communicating the insights of higher powers and thus becomes a delegate of these, or through a more contemporary artistic approach as a consultant or cultural producer working in a network reality. The presentation develops, through Gilbert Simondon’s concept of the pre-individual, a speculative notion of spectral agency which attempts to demonstrate that artistic work is always between individuals.
Sally Dalgaard: Logistique - no show without a flow!
Logistique is a consultancy service which specializes in dealing with art-related logistical situations. It is hard to describe the work of Logistique in general terms, as each logistical solution it provides is as specific as the problem. There are fundamental issues with Logistique´s way of understanding logistical "solutions" and "problems".
Nora Sternfeld is an Austrian curator and educator who has published work on contemporary art, educational theory, exhibitions, politics of history, and anti-racism. She is Professor of Art Education at the HFBK University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, and co-director of the /ecm – Master’s Program for Exhibition Theory and Practice at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Sternfeld is, along with Irit Rogoff, Stefano Harney, Adrian Heathfield, Mao Mollona, and Louis Moreno, part of freethought, a London-based platform for research, education, and production.
Gregoire Rousseau is a French artist and educator based in Helsinki, Finland. He is a Master’s graduate in both Electrical Engineering and Fine Arts, and is currently a PhD Candidate at Aalto University, Helsinki, where his topic of research is “Commoning Education, Educating the Commons”. In 2020, he initiated Station of Commons, a platform investigating commoning practices within the technological sphere. It coordinates Lumbung Radio, an online community radio project which was initiated under the umbrella of the exhibition documenta fifteen (2022).
Kunstteater is an interdisciplinary project founded in 2018 by visual artist and performance director Mathias Dyhr. Kunstteater creates and stages productions with various artistic professionals and institutions, standing at the crossroads between the fields of visual arts and theater. Together with Mathias Toubro, Dyhr is part of the artist duo Mathias & Mathias.
Michiel Tange van Leeuwen is trained as a nouveau cirque performer who specializes in aerial acrobatics and balance art. In addition, he is a self-taught costume designer who creates visually strong, expressive pieces that are influenced by both fashion and historical costumes.
Peter Borum is a Danish theoretician, translator and educator. He studied French Language and Literature, wrote a PhD on individuation and morphogenesis, and is a lecturer at Jutland Art Academy. Notably, he has worked on issues such as the relation between singular form (oxymoron) and individual artwork, its field of conditions, and the ensuing virtual transformations of that field (effects of reference, expression, territorialization, problematization).
The Pawn Broker was established in 2022 by artists Villiam Miklos Andersen, M.B. Pedersen and Lauge Floris Larsen, on the occasion of documenta fifteen. It is a community for people and things which connects things with people, things with things, and people with people.
M. B. Pedersen is a Danish visual artist educated at The Jutland Art Academy, Aarhus, and the Hochschule Fur Gestaltung Und Kunst, Basel. In his work, he investigates various phenomena and the ambivalence of objects, and formal connections between fragmented narratives.
Villiam Miklos Andersen is a Danish visual artist living and working in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He was educated at the Jutland Art Academy, The Academy of Fine Arts' School of Architecture in Copenhagen, and Staedelschule, Frankfurt am Main . His practice deals with logistical systems of post-industrial society, and how personal and private spheres of life are woven into, and shaped by, systems created by an economic logic. His works depicts life in large network systems and exponentially optimizing practicalities.
Lauge Floris Larsen is a Danish architect who works both independently and collaboratively, on themes around politics, architecture and art. His practice deals with the dimension between reality and utopian dream worlds. His latest work was exhibited at the Oslo Architecture Triennale.
Honza Hoeck is a Danish/Czech artist and educator who is engaged in questions around the structures of art institutions, forms of (self)-organization by artists and collectives, and image circulation. Between 2010 and 2017, he co-ran the exhibition space and production unit TOVES, Copenhagen. Since 2018, he has been Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of Studies at Jutland Art Academy, Aarhus. He is a board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde.
Jeppe Ugelvig is a Danish, Santa-Cruz-based curator, historian and cultural critic. He is a PhD candidate at University of California Santa Cruz, California, USA. His critical writings appear regularly in the international art magazines Artforum, Frieze, and Spike Art Quarterly, where he serves as Contributing Editor. He has produced texts for various exhibition catalogs for MIT List Center, Pro Helvetia, The Hessel Museum, The Macro, and Kunsthal Charlottenborg. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Viscose, a journal for fashion criticism and analysis. His first book, Fashion Work: 25 Years Of Art In Fashion, was published in 2020 by Damiani, Bologna.
Sally Dalgaard is an Aarhus-based Danish artist and graduate of Jutland Art Academy. She has been involved in a number of art collectives, projects and artist-run spaces based on art and socio-political practice. Logistique – Dalgaard’s organization which is involved in logistical issues associated with the art field – was established in 2021. She has also been running Storage - an exhibition space located in a closet in her apartment – since 2018.