On Horizons: Art and Political Imagination is the second in the series of Former West Research Congress and revolves around the theoretical notion of the ''horizon'' and its place within artistic production and political imagination today. A group of remarkable artists, curators, and scholars gather in Istanbul to engage in a conversation about these issues.
The second in the series of FORMER WEST Research Congresses, takes place on 4–6 November 2010 at Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul. The Congress revolves around the theoretical notion of the "horizon" and its place within artistic production and political imagination today.
If, as it is commonly assumed, the global political and cultural changes of 1989 left the world bereft of a sense of politics as striving towards a future—a horizon as it were—then we are left with the perpetual caretaking of the existing state of things. Given this apparent endgame of liberal democracy, how can we insist that it is possible to imagine and to realize another world, to posit the horizon anew?
In this context, the project FORMER WEST is a proposition for speculating—in the field of contemporary art—about a possible horizon. For, can it not be argued that art works, exhibitions, and their discourses inherently set up a horizon, offering a proposal of what can and cannot be imagined? This horizon links aesthetics with politics, creates an image of possible futures, yet also marks a limit that cannot be surpassed as it recedes with each move toward it, offering a sense of both possibility and that which remains out of reach.
In the 2nd FORMER WEST Research Congress, a group of remarkable artists, curators, and scholars gather in Istanbul to engage in a conversation about these issues. On the first day, 4 November, lectures and dialogues by Julie Ault (artist and writer, New York), Boris Buden (cultural critic and writer, Berlin), Peter Osborne (philosopher and writer, London), Caglar Keyder (sociologist, Istanbul/Binghamton), and Simon Sheikh (curator and critic, Berlin) explore the notion of the horizon in art and critical theory, examine concrete artistic and discursive practices, and consider the particular context of the hosting city (Positing the Horizon in Art, Philosophy, and Political Theory).
Under the title Horizontality Enacted, contributors to the second day, 5 November, Beatriz Colomina (architecture historian and theorist, New York), Jodi Dean (political theorist and writer, Geneva, NY), Bülent Diken (social theorist, Lancaster), Vasif Kortun (curator and writer, director of Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul), Lisette Lagnado (curator and writer, São Paulo), Vivian Rehberg (art historian and critic, FORMER WEST research curator, Paris/Utrecht), and Shuddhabrata Sengupta (artist and writer, member of Raqs Media Collective, Delhi) deliberate on practices related to architecture, urban design, experimental geography, and spatial production in the framework of horizontality.
On 6 November, the concluding day of the Congress, entitled Reclaiming a Horizon—Art as Political Imagination, the question as to how the horizon is imagined, speculated upon, visualized, and materialized through contemporary art will be unpacked by TJ Demos (art historian and critic, London), Ernesto Laclau (political theorist, Buenos Aires/London), Gerald Raunig (philosopher and art theorist, Zürich), Robert Sember (artist and activist, member of Ultra-red, New York), Hito Steyerl (filmmaker and writer, Berlin), and Dmitry Vilensky (artist and activist, member of Chto Delat/What is to be done?, St. Petersburg).
The 2nd FORMER WEST Congress is part of a series of public forums aimed at rendering visible and furthering the artistic, curatorial, and academic research in which the project FORMER WEST is grounded. The Congress is developed by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and SKOR, Foundation Art and Public Space, Amsterdam and co-curated by FORMER WEST research fellow Simon Sheikh. It is realized in collaboration with IKSV Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts Istanbul and hosted by Istanbul Technical University.
The language of the Congress is English; simultaneous translation into Turkish is provided. Admission to the Congress is free, however registration is required due to limited seating. A Registration Form is available online at: www.formerwest.org. Please submit the completed form no later than 3 October 2010 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Program updates can be found on our website. Congress proceedings can be followed via live stream, and will be archived on the FORMER WEST digital platform.
FORMER WEST is a contemporary art research, education, publishing, and exhibition project (2008–2013) aimed at a critical reinterpretation of our recent post-1989 histories and at speculating about our global future by casting new light on contemporary art in relation to developments in society and politics. It is realized with a dense international network of researchers and institutional partners and curated by Charles Esche (curator and writer, director Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven), Maria Hlavajova (curator and writer, artistic director BAK and FORMER WEST), and Kathrin Rhomberg (independent curator, Vienna).
The 2nd FORMER WEST Research Congress has been made possible by support from the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam; ERSTE Stiftung, Vienna; and the Consulate General of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Istanbul.
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Positing the Horizon in Art, Philosophy, and Politics
On its first day, the Congress explores the notion of the horizon in contemporary art and critical theory. Taking as our starting point the idea that the horizon is what frames our sense of direction of possibility and impossibility, the contributors speculate along two lines of orientation. On the one hand, the question of how and where the horizon must be situated in order to be effectual is considered. On the other, the issue of the horizon as an image is explored, in order to connect political imaginaries and artistic production. In this sense, the horizon is produced in the intersection between aesthetics and politics.
Moderator: Boris Buden (cultural critic and writer, Berlin)
* 12.00–12.55 Registration Desk open
* 13.00–13.15 Welcome by Maria Hlavajova (artistic director, BAK, Utrecht and FORMER WEST) and Fulya Erdemci (director, SKOR, Amsterdam)
* 13.15–13.45 Opening Remarks by Maria Hlavajova
* 13.45–14.00 Introduction to the day by Boris Buden
* 14.00–14.40 Expecting the Unexpected: Once more on the “Horizon of Expectations”
Lecture by Peter Osborne (philosopher and writer, London)
* 14.40–14.50 Questions
* 14.50–15.15 Coffee Break
* 15.15–15.55 Projects in the Absence of Signposts
Lecture by Çağlar Keyder (sociologist, Istanbul/Binghamton, NY)
* 15.55–16.05 Questions
* 16.05–16.45 Rear view Vision: History Enthusiasm and History Anxiety
Lecture by Julie Ault (artist and writer, New York)
* 16.45–16.55 Questions
* 16.55–17.15 Coffee Break
* 17.15–17.55 Vectors of the Possible: Art between Spaces of Experience and Horizons of Expectation
Lecture by Simon Sheikh (curator and critic, Copenhagen/Berlin)
* 17.55–18.05 Questions
* 18.05–19.30 Discussion with Julie Ault, Çağlar Keyder, Peter Osborne, and Simon Sheikh
Reviewer: Erden Kosova (art critic, Istanbul)
Friday, 5 November 2010
Whereas the metaphor of a horizon suggests an expansive outlook and a field of possibilities, the notion of horizontality is associated with being on a single plane with little sense of orientation. Is horizontality a form of spatial production driven by the principle of radical equality? How might this shift our understanding of the public and the commons? Contributors examine how various geographies of horizontality, both conceptually and in practice, are played out in urban forms, exhibition making, institutions and social organization. The enactment of horizontality is seen as the link between the “space of experience” and the “horizon of expectation.”
Moderator: Vivian Rehberg (art historian and critic, FORMER WEST research curator, Paris/Utrecht)
* 10.00–10.15 Introduction to the day by Fulya Erdemci (director SKOR, Amsterdam)
* 10.15–10.55 The Exhibition as an Archive
Lecture by Beatriz Colomina (architecture historian and theorist, New York)
* 10.55–11.05 Questions
* 11.05–11.45 Practicing Art. Imagining Politics
Lecture by Shuddhabrata Sengupta (artist and writer, member of Raqs Media Collective, Delhi)
* 11.45–11.55 Questions
* 11.55–12.15 Coffee Break
* 12.15–12.55 The Communist Horizon
Lecture by Jodi Dean (political theorist and writer, Geneva, NY)
* 12.55–13.05 Questions
* 13.05–14.30 Discussion with Beatriz Colomina, Jodi Dean, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta
* 14.30–16.00 Lunch Break
* 16.00–17.30 Conversation between Bülent Diken (social theorist, Lancaster) and Wouter Vanstiphout (architectural historian, Rotterdam)
* 17.30–19.00 Conversation between Vasif Kortun (curator and writer, director of Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul) and Lisette Lagnado (curator and writer, São Paulo)
Reviewer: Övül Durmuşoğlu (curator and writer, Istanbul/Berlin)
Saturday, 6 November 2010
Reclaiming a Horizon—Art as Political Imagination
How are new horizons imagined, speculated upon, visualized, and materialized through contemporary art? This question concerns not just the historical and conceptual connections (and divisions) that have long existed between aesthetics and politics, but also the political tendencies that can be found in artistic production after 1989. How is a particular kind of politics of representation and representation of politics articulated in contemporary artistic production, art theory, curatorial work, and through the production and dissemination of cultural discourses more generally? And how does this connect to the aesthetic dimension of contemporary politics? The task is not only to look at the relationship between art and politics, but to see art as political imagination.
Moderator: TJ Demos (art historian and critic, London)
* 10.00–10.15 Introduction to the day by TJ Demos
* 10.15–10.55 In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment
Lecture by Hito Steyerl (filmmaker and writer, Berlin)
* 10.55–11.05 Questions
* 11.05–11.45 Aesthetic Horizons
Lecture by Gerald Raunig (philosopher and art theorist, Zürich)
* 11.45– 11.55 Questions
* 11.55–12.15 Coffee Break
* 12.15–12.55 On Horizons and Discourse
Lecture by Ernesto Laclau (political theorist, Buenos Aires/London)
* 12.55–13.05 Questions
* 13.05–14.30 Discussion with Ernesto Laclau, Gerald Raunig, and Hito Steyerl
* 14.30–16.00 Lunch Break
* 16.00–17.30 Conversation between Robert Sember (artist and activist, member of Ultra-red, New York) and Dmitry Vilensky (artist and activist, member of Chto Delat?/What is to be done?, St. Petersburg)
* 17.30–18.00 Wrap up and Conclusions by Maria Hlavajova and Simon Sheikh
* 18.00 Closing Reception
* 19.30 Congress concludes
Reviewer: Pelin Tan (sociologist and art historian, Istanbul)
Contact details Congress Desk
e: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the organizers of the 2nd FORMER WEST
Research Congress, please visit:
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, http://www.bak-utrecht.nl
SKOR, Foundation Art and Public Space, http://www.skor.nl
IKSV, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, http://www.iksv.org
Opening Thursday, 4 November 2010, h 13
Istanbul Technical University
Architecture Faculty, Taşkışla Campus 8:191 Room 109 Taksim-Istanbul
Admission free (registration is required)