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Who is afraid of the Public?


Dorothee Richter <[log in to unmask]>


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Fri, 26 Apr 2013 08:59:44 +0000





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Dear All, maybe someone could drop in?

ICA London

"Who's afraid of the public?" Symposium 4th May 2013   11:30am – 7:30pm

Despite all the yearning for new publics and the attempts to include ever wider and more diverse audiences, one has to suspect that these are mere gestures of inclusion driven by the desire to produce the visiting numbers of an audience rather than constituting a public. A public that would not be just a distracted critique, as Walter Benjamin put it.

If participation is the new spectacle, as Diedrich Diedrichsen once provocatively stated, how are we then to go beyond the given proliferation of art communication, mediation and education? When participation has both become an apt strategy of governmentality falling in place with the discourse of the fear of the public and is constantly generated by communicating via social media and its constant flow of information and relations at a fast pace, what are then the potentials to open up a new discourse on what public and participation in its constitution means in the 21st century? How has neoliberal, developer driven urbanization teamed up with the logics of the spectacle and the taming of the public? What is the role that art and its communicative potentials can play as a critical force that is implied in these contexts? How can public agency be performed?

How can one remain true to achieving the seemingly more and more utopian idea of political agency for all, of access, distribution, representation and education? How can we constitute and live both subjectivity and community? What kind of social relations, aesthetic representations and potentials of self-expression have both the desire for reclaiming physical public space and new digital media from emails to blogs to twitter produced? What kind of different ideas about access to and production of knowledge and representation have they fostered? Did they impact on political agency and are these spaces of self-representation and self-mediation more accessible? Is the being-with of entities profoundly changed through the digital space?

Concept: Elke Krasny (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna/ University of Reading), Dorothee Richter (Postgraduate Programme in Curating, ZHdK Zurich / University of Reading), Silvia Simoncelli (Postgradute Programme in Curating, Zurich.)

Moderator: Elke Krasny


11.30am – 12.15pm

Simon Sheikh, Curator and Programme Director of the MFA Curating at Goldsmiths, University of London

12.15pm - 1pm

Marie Luise Angerer, Professor at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne

1pm – 1.30pm


1.30pm - 2.15pm

Sergio Edelsztein, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv and Curator of the Israel Pavilion at the Venice Biennial 2013

2.15pm - 3pm

Aria Spinelli, critic/curator based in Milan

3pm - 3.45pm

Liza Fior, muf architecture, London

3.45pm - 4.15pm


4.15pm - 5.30pm

Film Screening curated by John Canciani, Director of Winterthur Short Film Festival.

Simon Sheikh:

How do institutions institute social relations and produce subjectivity? How do they conjure up the phantom that is the public? This presentation will look at the public role of the institution not through public policies or even politics of aesthetics, but through how they institute through imaginary address, but set into form through the formatting of the institution itself. The institution will be seen not so much as a place, but rather as a mode of address, which thus also offers the possibility for addressing differently, and addressing difference as a political concept, implying notions such as alignment, alienation and antagonism.

Marie Luise Angerer:

Who's afraid of the public? or Art as Self enhancement

Culture and art have turned into a tool of self enhancement. Culture and art have become a major field of investment, economically and psychically. Sustainability and effectivity, affective entertainment, sensual discourse and the “audience as prosumers” are the buzzwords for this process of economisation of art. These aspects have already been analysed by researchers and theorists, but the relatively new tendency of affectization as a strategy of power — concerning art making, art exhibition and the audience – needs further attention. Therefore the relationship of de-framing (the image), the bio-mediated body, time and movement as a matter of affect will be analysed as a new dispositif.

Sergio Edelsztein

A Trojan Horse or A Fig Leaf? On the Unbearable Lightness of Curating Political

The presentation will try to summarize some thoughts that have been growing in my mind in the last years, as I became more and more aware of a basic contradiction in the political consequences of some aspects in my curatorial practice.

This refers to my on-going practice of programming and showing video works by Israeli artists (mostly Jewish) that deal with the political reality within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and its consequences. These works are extremely critical of the policies of different Israeli governments. However, several of the works also reflect on the impact that the on-going friction has inside the Jewish population itself.

Lively discussions often erupt with the public after these presentations that present a more complex reality than people are used to see on the TV news. But often, the impression that stays with the public is a mirror image of what I intended to show, highlighting a public opinion debate that has virtually no impact on reality.

Aria Spinelli:

The constitution of resistance in independent curatorial praxis

Within the context of the inhabitants’ political struggle against the financial implementation to the urban re-qualification of Isola neighbourhood in Milan, Isola Art Centre found the core to its artistic and curatorial practice. Whilst renowned processes of re-qualification in cosmopolitan cities such as New York or Berlin engage in an initial repopulation of neighbourhoods on part of the creative class, thus helping real estate agencies buy and sell at higher prices, the artist and curators of Isola Art Centre activated forms of political and social representation of resistance against the on-going process of gentrification. In a close and almost daily contact with activists groups and institutions to legally re-obtain a public park, Bert Theis and Mariette Schiltz worked alongside generations of young artists and curators in order to raise awareness towards the on-going fight. Thus the use of the term, initially mentioned by Istanbul-based curator Vasif Kortun, and recently revisited by Bert himself, Fight-Specificity refers to a political practice in an art-historical and contemporary context.

Liza Fior:

Liza Fior will present Villa Frankenstein, muf's contribution to the Venice Biennale.

FILM PROGRAMME by John Canciani –

The public as an audience:

Play / Christoph Giradet , Matthias Müller / Germany / 2003 / 7’ / exp

Audiences in movies. In Play, the onscreen action can only be seen reflected in the facial expressions and gestures of the audience. In sequences of analogous reactions, individual behaviour condenses into collective behaviour. The event is transferred from the stage to the hall; audience members become the actors in an unpredictable drama.

The public as a critique:

Crni Film - Black Film / Želimir Žilnik / Jugoslavia / 1971 / 14’ / doc

One night Žilnik picks up a group of homeless men from the streets of Novi Sad and takes them home. While they enjoy themselves in his home, the filmmaker tries to “solve the problem of the homeless” bringing along a film camera as a witness. He speaks to social workers, ordinary people and policemen. They all close their eyes in the face of the problem.

The public as a society:

This is Alaska / Mårten Nilsson, Gunilla Heilborn / Sweden / 2009 / 11’ / fic exp

A group of people have moved to Alaska.
 They are searching for a higher level of freedom.

The public as an open source:

Bradley Manning had secrets / Adam Butcher / United Kingdom / 6’ / ani

The story of Bradley Manning, not as a Wikileaks ‘hacktivist’, but as a young American soldier simultaneously going through a crisis-of-conscious and a crisis-of-identity. Animated in a rotoscoped pixel-art style and using dialogue from Bradley’s online conversations, the film explores issues of personal and political secrets, digital identity and alienation.

The public as a division of classes:

Dizem que os caes veem coisas - Dogs are said to see things / Guto Parente / Brasil / 2012 / 14’ / fic

An omen. A shred of time. Suddenly the huge-bellied man jumps into the pool, holding a glass of whisky.

The public as a political movement:

Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of Rave) / Dan Halter / Simbabwe / 2005 / 4’ / Exp

In 1991 Rozalla’s single “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” was released. The film expresses a personal reality and the cultural gap between white and black that I was experiencing.

The public as an institution of ethics:

Geliebt – Be loved / Jan Soldat / Germany / 2010/ 16’ / doc

Life’s about two things: firstly, being loved, and secondly not being alone. “Geliebt” is not a film about the pros and cons of emotional and sexual relationships with animals, it shows about exploiting yourself and how to perceived by the public by showing it in a documentary. This film questiones the border of the society.

This film is rated 18 and can offend sensibilities


Conference and film programme organised by the Research Platform in Curating at the Department of Art at the University of Reading http://www.reading.ac.uk/art/pg-research/art-postgraduate-rsearch-zurich-phd.aspx  in association with Postgraduate Programme in Curating, University of the Arts Zurich www.curating.org



Institute of Contemporary Arts

12 Carlton House Terrace


SW1Y 5AHTickets / Information

020 7930 3647



Dr. Dorothee Richter

Head of Postgraduate Program in Curating

Institute Cultural Studies in the Arts

Zurich University of the Arts

Hafnerstr. 31

8005 Zürich

Skype: dorothee.richter

www.curating.org study program

www.on-curating.org webjournal

www.curatingdegreezero.org archive

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