CURATORIAL ACTIVISM
AND THE POLITICS OF SHOCK

 

About the Summit

On November 18, 2017, the Curatorial Practice master’s program at the School of Visual Arts presented a day-long international summit organized by Steven Henry Madoff on curatorial activism in light of the rise of nationalism and radical conservatism, and their programmatic attacks on civil rights, environmental protections, scientific research, and free speech, as well as the reduction and rescinding of cultural funds to suppress diverse expression. How must we think about the programs and publics of institutions, both locally and globally, under these political conditions? How can institutions define, present, and perform an ethics or, more pointedly, a polemics in reaction? And if they seek to be polemical, how can they do this within the strictures of governments and commercial powers? In fact, the question must be asked: What is their autonomy and what is their complicity? What can curators within institutions and outside of them do in response to the radical shift now altering our possibilities as individuals, citizens, artists, thinkers, and producers of a (once) liberal culture? And therefore, what is to be done in terms of resistance, sanctuary, and counter-forms of advocacy in the specific political and cultural situations that we work and live in as the 21st century unfolds in ways echoing fascisms of nearly a century ago, hatreds hundreds of years old, and technologies still advancing toward mechanisms of massive fraud and new formations of surveillance?

 

These are the subjects of curatorial activism that face the politics of shock today, and some of the world’s leading curators and thinkers about museums and exhibitions gathered in New York for a public reading and discussion of manifestoes and declarative talks written specially on these topics for this extraordinary event.

 

Speakers were: Defne Ayas, Director, Witte de With, Rotterdam; Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore & Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Nicolas Bourriaud, Director, La Panacée, Montpellier; Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director, Castello di Rivoli and GAM, Turin; Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Curator of Contemporary Art, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York; Joshua Decter, independent curator and writer, New York; Clémentine Deliss, independent curator, Berlin, former Director, Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt; Irmgard Emmelhainz, independent scholar, Mexico City; Elena Filipovic, Director, Kunsthalle Basel; Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University and Senior Research Fellow, Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design; Hou Hanru, Artistic Director, MAXXI, Rome; Maria Lind, Director, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm; Antonia Majaca, curator and researcher, IZK Institute for Contemporary Art, Graz University of Technology; Gabi Ngcobo, founding member, NGO (Nothing Gets Organised), Johannesburg and curator, 10th Berlin Biennale; Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Gallery, London; Jack Persekian, Director, Al Ma’mal Foundation, Jerusalem; Pi Li, Senior Curator, M+, Hong Kong; María Belén Sáez de Ibarra, Director of Cultural Heritage and Director, Museum of Art, National University of Colombia; Terry Smith, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, and Professor in the Division of Philosophy, Art and Critical Theory at the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee; Mick Wilson, Director, Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg; and Tirdad Zolghadr, Artistic Director, Sommerakademie Paul Klee, Bern; Associate Curator, KW Institute, Berlin. Moderators: Adrienne Edwards, curator, Performa, New York; Brian Kuan Wood, Director of Research, SVA MA Curatorial Practice and editor, e-flux journal, New York.

 

A publication will follow from Sternberg Press, edited by Steven Henry Madoff.

 

The summit took place at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, New York, New York, on Saturday, November 18, 2017, from 10 am to 5 pm.

 

Speakers

Pi Li
María Belén Saéz de Ibarra
Terry Smith
Mick Wilson
Brian Kuan Wood (Moderator)
Tirdad Zolghadr
Show More
Defne Ayas
Ute Meta Bauer
Nicolas Bourriaud
Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev_2010
Sofía Hernandez Chong Cuy
Joshua Decter
Clémentine Deliss
Adrienne Edwards (Moderator)
25c6e4_a89b406f6b574e2385fa2f74ccca7045-mv2
Elena Filipovic
Boris Groys
Hou Hanru
Maria Lind
Steven Henry Madoff (Organizer)
Antonia Majaca
Gabi Ngcobo
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Jack Persekian
Show More

Summit Agenda

Introduction

10:00-10:10 AM


Steven Henry Madoff, Chair, SVA MA Curatorial Practice

 

 

Presentations, Part 1

 

10:10 AM What Is Indestructible in You? Defne Ayas, Director, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam

 

10:18 AM Slow Down, Stay Focused, and Evaluate What’s at the Core,” Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

 

10:26 AM The New Relational Landscape: Towards a Poly-Subjecthood,” Nicolas Bourriaud, Director, La Panacée, Montpellier

 

10:34 AM A Nine-Point Charta,” Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director, Castello di Rivoli and GAM, Turin

 

10:42 AM Of Caretakers and Advocates,” Sofía Hernandez Chong Cuy, Curator of Contemporary Art, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York/incoming Director, Witte de With

 

10:50 AM Politics Burned a Hole Through My Heart,” Joshua Decter, independent curator and writer, New York/faculty, SVA MA Curatorial Practice

 

10:50 AM Manifesto for Rights of Access ,” Clémentine Delissindependent curator, Berlin; former Director, Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt

 

 

Panel Discussion 1

11:10-11:30 AM


Ayas, Bauer, Bourriaud, Christov-Bakargiev, Hernandez, Decter, Deliss, in conversation, moderated by Brian Kuan Wood

 

 

Questions from the Audience

11:30-11:50 AM

 

 

Break for Lunch

11:50 AM-12:50 PM

 

Nearby Places for Lunch

 

 

Introduction to Part 2

1:00 PM

 

 

Presentations, Part 2

 

1:10 PM How Can We Rise Above All That Is Dying,” Irmgard Emmelhainz, independent scholar, Mexico City

 

1:18 PM Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise,” Elena Filipovic, Director, Kunsthalle Basel

 

1:26 PM The Curator as Bureaucrat of the Utopian State ,” Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University and Senior Research Fellow, Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design

 

1:34 PM Against ‘Good Morals’ Activism,” Hou Hanru, Artistic Director, MAXXI, Rome

 

1:42 PM More of the Same: Self-Determination, Survival Technologies, Sovereignty, and Speculation,” Maria Lind, Director, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm

 

1:50 PM Institutional Inhumanism? Antonia Majacacurator and researcher, IZK Institute for Contemporary Art, Graz University of Technology

 

1:58 PM I’m Not Who You Think I’m Not,” Gabi Ngcobofounding member, NGO (Nothing Gets Organised), Johannesburg and curator, 10th Berlin Biennale

 

 

Panel Discussion 2

2:10-2:30 PM


Emmelhainz, Filipovic, Groys, Hou Hanru, Lind, Majaca, Ngcobo, in conversation, moderated by Adrienne Edwards

 

 

Questions from the Audience

2:30-2:50 PM

 

 

Break

2:50-3:10 PM

 

 

Introduction to Part 3

3:10 PM

 

 

Presentations, Part 3

 

3:20 PM A Common Future,” Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries, London

 

3:28 PM A New Story for Cultural Institutions: Local and Global," Jack Persekian, Director of Al Ma’mal Foundation, Jerusalem

 

3:36 PM When Political Correctness Is Not Correct,” Pi Li, Senior Curator, M+, Hong Kong

 

3:44 PM Cosmopolitics of the Living,” María Belén Saéz de Ibarra, Director of Cultural Heritage and Director, Museum of Art, Nationa University of Colombia

 

3:52 PM Against Rogues: Curating Our Contemporaneity,” Terry SmithAndrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, and Professor in the Division of Philosophy, Art and Critical Theory at the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee

 

4:00 PM What Is to Be Done? Negotiations in the Political Imaginary of the Interregnum,” Mick Wilson, Director, Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg

 

4:08 PM Choke Chain,” Tirdad ZolghadrArtistic Director, Sommerakademie Paul Klee, Bern and Associate Curator, KW Institute, Berlin

 

 

Panel Discussion 3

4:20-4:40 PM


Obrist, Persekian, Pi Li, Saéz de Ibarra, Smith, Wilson, Zolghadr, in conversation, moderated by Steven Henry Madoff

 

 

Questions from the Audience

4:40-4:50 PM

 

 

Closing Remarks, Steven Henry Madoff

5:00 PM

 

 

SVA MA Curatorial Practice Info Session at front row of SVA Theatre

5:05-5:20 PM

 

              Steven Henry Madoff, Brian Kuan Wood

 

Location

SVA Theatre

333 W 23rd Street

New York, NY 10011

Directions

 
 
 
 
 
 

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MA Curatorial Practice 
School of Visual Arts


132 W. 21st Street, 10th Floor 
New York, NY 10011-3203

 

Tel: 212.592.2274
Fax: 212.592.2555

Email: macp@sva.edu