Conviviality and the Institutional is the first activity of 4Cs taking place in Lisbon and it presents a series of institutional practices geared towards establishing ongoing work with local communities that are facing conflict situations. The main points of this conference are, on the one hand, to stimulate new approaches to the understanding and interpretation of the social role of cultural and art institutions, and, on the other hand, to audit and identify new directions for academic research and cultural production within conflict situations.
The aim of this conference is to reflect and encourage more research on the role of cultural and art institutions in conflict and post-conflict situations at a local level while being aware of the global reality we live in. At a more practical level, this series of 4Cs conferences – of which Conviviality and the Institutional is the first – seeks to involve doctoral students in both research and practical activities as well as to foster international collaborations and the exchange of good practices.
Deliveries – comprising the presentation of institutional practices from different contexts and realities in order to create a series of dialogues – will be followed by informal open discussions.
4 DEC - MAAT
11.00 – 15.40: Free Entry at MAAT
15.45: Conference Opening and Presentation of the 4Cs Project by Luísa Santos
16.15 – 17.45: Session chaired by Pedro Gadanho
16.15 – 16.45: Pedro Calado – As Plural as the Universe
16.45 – 17.15: Ilya Budraitskis - Conservative turn and the contradictions of the Russian cultural sphere
17.15 – 17.45: Nina Power - Art, the Public, and Thought
17.45 – 18.30: Roundtable
5 DEC - UNIVERSIDADE CATÓLICA PORTUGUESA
11.00 – 12.45: 4Cs – From Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture by|por Luísa Santos, Peter Hanenberg, Nelson Ribeiro
12.45 – 14.00: Lunch
14.00 – 16.00: Session chaired by Luísa Leal de Faria
14.00 – 14.30: Jonas Staal – Art in Conflict
14.30 – 15.00: Katerina Gregos - When ethics and aesthetics meet politics
15.00 – 15.30: Michaela Crimmin – Choices
15.30 – 16.00: Roundtable
16.00 – 16.30: Coffee-break
16.30 – 18.30: Session chaired by Luísa Leal de Faria
16.30 – 17.00: Ariel Caine – Granular Realism: Emerging activist possibilities within the changing spatial condition of photography
17.00 – 17.30: João Ribas – The Public Life of Art
17.30 – 18.00: Miguel Amado - ‘What Is to Be Done?’: Curating as an ‘Organic Intellectual’ Practice or Art without Art for the Undercommons (A Post-Artistic Response to Post-Political Times)
18.00 – 18.30: Roundtable
High Commissioner for Migrations, Lisbon, Portugal
As Plural as the Universe
The permanent search for both the individual and collective identity of a people is a part of the fundamental exercise of understanding ourselves within the frame of society and of the world. As those answers are sought, borders are redrawn and new “others” and new “us” are discovered in the multiple layered experiences through which a culture is built. The retrospective search for identity in a people’s history helps to highlight not just how much identity is a changing thing but also how there is more of the “others” in us than we previously thought.
In recent decades, we have witnessed a global paradigm shift regarding the importance that culture can take on as a transformative agent of territories and populations. Some authors underline a role of integration and social cohesion in this view of culture. This results in what can be called “action-culture” – as opposed to “ornament-culture” – which assigns a relevant role to participation in artistic and cultural activity, a role that promotes social changes in various scopes of individual and collective life within a community. At the center of this “new” conception of culture we find the assignment of a higher responsibility to this sector in the fight against social exclusion. Or, if one prefers – and in a more positive tone – in promoting inclusion.
This presentation will seek to reflect on the relation between culture and inclusion. Firstly, I will attempt to expatiate on the Portuguese intercultural legacy. Then, I will analyze the integration of migrant professionals within the arts sector, highlighting the distinctive, defining aspects of that integration as compared to the integration of migrants in other work environments. Lastly, we will cover some artistic and cultural projects for community intervention, underlining their role in the integration of migrants.
Historian and Activist, Moscow, Russia
Conservative turn and the contradictions of the Russian cultural sphere
Today, it is common to contrast the statism of today’s Russia with the Western order, which is based on the primacy of political and economic freedom. Nevertheless, the conservative rhetoric holding sway in Russia today, including attacks on market “individualism”, is organically combined with neoliberal practices in the Kremlin’s socio-economic policies. Isolationism, clericalism and authoritarian political methods do not meaningfully contradict the neoliberal principles of subordinating all spheres of social life to the logic of competition and market effectiveness, but create an overall hybrid ideological construct.
The cultural domain in Russia in recent years has been both the place in which this hybrid ideology has been produced and the place of its application. This situation creates a new challenge for those working in the cultural domain, who must defend their independence in the face of conservative ideological offensives and the logic of the market, guided in equal measure by an authoritarian state. In my presentation I’m going to analyse the particular features of Russian authoritarian neoliberalism’s cultural politics, the changing place of contemporary art in the existing ideological set-up.
Philosopher, University of Roehampton / Royal College of Art, Roehampton / London, UK
Art, the Public, and Thought
This talk will discuss the paradoxes of art in a period in which the ‘public’ has been forcibly disappeared by privatization and austerity. What kind of public is constructed by art today? Does art contribute to an understanding of oneself as a critical, thinking, citizen, or has art too been co-opted into regimes of exclusion and gentrification? Using various discussions of the current political status of art in the UK, as well as drawing on various thinkers of contemporary art and public space, I will present a balanced but critical examination for the possibilities of conviviality, and other modes of collective belonging, both in and outside the institution.
Artist, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Art in Conflict
Present-day conflicts are often portrayed as external to the European context. The refugee crisis for example, all too often is mediated as an ahistorical event: refugees “suddenly” appeared at our borders, with either economic or religious motives, if not a combination of the two. Far more rare is an analysis of the refugee crisis that acknowledges the role of European countries in the War on Terror, amongst others through the invasions in Iraq and Libya, with mass killings and mass movements of civil populations as a result. What is the role of art in making visible the processes underlying conflict situations, and in what way can art consequently address root causes rather than symptoms of these crises?
Chief curator of the First Riga Biennial, 2018, Schwarz Foundation, Munich/Samos, Germany/Greece
When Ethics and Aesthetics Meet Politics
Curating the political involves the work of artists who are in one way or another committed to, or affected by pressing social or political questions, such as nationalism, migration, economic inequality and freedom of expression. It entails a constant weighing of socio-political meaning vis-à-vis the aesthetic value of the artwork, as well as a certain ethical responsibility as regards the politics of representation. The refugee crisis, for example, has spurred many exhibitions and artistic projects, some stemming out of a genuine interest and involvement, others having been opportunistic and subject to criticism of exploiting the 'pain of others'. Images of poverty and precariousness can give rise to sensational images in the media as well as in art, which are should be anathema to critical art practices.
How can curatorial and artistic practice avoid the pitfalls and trappings of sensitive and contested subject matter such as the refugee crisis? What are the ethical issues that arise in such circumstances, and how does go about dealing with the problems of representation and cultural appropriation that are inherent to curating such topics and particularly identity politics? “About them, without them” is one of the traps to avoid in such cases. What does genuine involvement mean, and when does it turn into sheer exploitation? Who has the right to represent whom and why? What are the artistic and curatorial ethics that need to be taken into consideration?
We are affected by what we see in exhibitions. They influence the way we look at and interpret the world. This means that curator and artist have a shared responsibility towards society that goes beyond the creation of images to be consumed. On the basis of three projects* Katerina Gregos has curated, she will talk about how art exhibitions can be made into powerful agents to address urgent socio-political issues, such as division, oppression and exclusion and how to negotiate the fine lines of other peoples’ plight or trauma.
*Leaps of Faith: the first international arts project that took place on the UN-controlled Green Line and the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus, building a cultural bridge between the Turkish and the Greek community of the city; Speech Matters the Danish Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, an exhibition on freedom of speech; A World Not Ours: two exhibitions on the refugee crisis, the first at the Schwarz Foundation on the island of Samos in Greece, and the second at La Kunsthalle Mulhouse in France.
Curator, Royal College of Art, London, UK
Dan Foster in his book ‘Bad New Days’ says that we must intervene in the given, turn it somehow, and take it somewhere else. Foster continues by suggesting that we should move away from a reading of history as merely traumatic toward one in which cultural memory is made productive, marshalled toward the creation of new associations and encounters. In responding to these calls for constructive change, a presentation to articulate the aims and the activities of Culture+Conflict, a not-for-profit, independent agency engaging in an ongoing inquiry into the role and value of art in the context of international warfare. In this session a range of work by artists will be discussed in relation to activism, and in contexts that feature alienation. The talk will close by referencing discussion from a preceding symposium, Working across Divides (4 November 2017, Goethe-Institut London), and its focus on artists and curators that have involved themselves in grassroots initiatives and inclusive cultural production; art projects that bring people together, that create dialogue and shared spaces, and that find small-scale solutions for global challenges. We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up, and help ensure the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place. (Noam Chomsky)
PhD Candidate, Center for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University, London, UK
Granular Realism: Emerging activist possibilities within the changing spatial condition of photography
Over the last decade, emerging forms of digital and computational imaging using depth registering capabilities have forged a new condition in photography – one in which the photographic functions not as a flat image to be viewed, but rather as a 3D environment to be navigated. 3D photo imaging in its various technological forms has permeated the fields of archaeology, architecture, civil engineering, and municipal and state planning as well as agricultural, geological and resource driven industries. Restructuring them from the inside, it is simultaneously opening new spaces for intervention and resistance.
This paper will center on Forensic Architecture’s work in the Israeli Negev Desert where for over six decades now, Imaging, surveying, mapping, land-forming and afforestation have been playing a central role in the ongoing expropriation of indigenous Bedouin. In our project, ‘Ground Truth’ we attend to these techno-professional forms of ethnic displacement by bringing forth visual strategies for human rights activism based on Do-It-Yourself (DIY), citizen-science, open-hardware and cutting edge approaches to computational photography in the production of political testimonies. Through this methodology, we offer a form of photographic practice that is diffused, collaborative, multiple and architectural. ‘Spatial Photography’ here is a volumetric palimpsest where space, image, navigation and testimony collapse, allowing us to challenge preexisting thresholds of visibility and civic participation and ‘hack’ into the current conditions for the production of truth in a state of visual and political colonization.
Curator, Museu de Serralves, Porto, Portugal
The public life of art
The public life of artworks and images is increasingly threatened and precarious today. From increasing acts of iconoclasm to increased forms of censorship, what we can see, hear, feel, and share in public is subject to ever more political, social, and spatial constriction---from both the violence of global terror and the repression of nationalist politics. What is the threat or conflict posed by images and sculptures that they should be the focus of contemporary forms of violence and crime, that the publicness of art should be so constricted? What defines our public, and critical hospitality to the images that live in our pockets and permeate our lives, that we touch and like, and the global art that fills the walls of the contemporary arts institution? Do we have a responsibility with caring for, and defending, the public life of the imagination?
Curator, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough, UK
‘What Is to Be Done?’: Curating as an ‘Organic Intellectual’ Practice or Art without Art for the Undercommons (A Post-Artistic Response to Post-Political Times)
As capitalism in its neoliberal form spreads worldwide and populism rises in all corners of the West, a period one could call ‘post-political’ is appearing. In this era, the social divide has produced a new class, people to whom civil rights seem not to apply. Instead of commons, they are ‘undercommons’.
To address this state of affairs, one needs to ask ‘what is to be done?’, as the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin put forward in his early twentieth-century political pamphlet. To answer that, I suggest curating as an ‘organic intellectual’ practice, one committed to the ‘undercommons’.
In this context, curating positions itself away from the aesthetic parameters, informed by modernism, that have been defining the mainstream narratives of art. With this vision, it offers a model that applies the principle of the post-artistic, inscribing itself in the legacy of a subaltern history of art as a mechanism for societal transformation.
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art has been implementing a civic agenda focused on use value, community building, activism and making. It is establishing itself as an institution that repurposes art as a tool for change, of which the programme responds to current urgencies.
If All Relations Were to Reach Equilibrium, Then This Building Would Dissolve illustrates this modus operandi. The exhibition was predicated on the fact that Middlesbrough is home to multiple refugee-background groups. It was generated with a service provision mentality and included opportunities for learning and discussion.