Under the title Other Survivalisms, on 16 and 17 May 2014 BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht hosts the second installment of its public editorial meetings geared towards the realization of the forthcoming FORMER WEST publication. It is the second in an ongoing series of public editorial meetings, which form the trajectory of the culminating phase of BAK’s flagship collaborative research program FORMER WEST (2008–2016). These small-scale gatherings take the editorial meeting as their model for informal (re)negotiations of the living knowledge brought together through the course of the project. The public exchanges take place in cultural and geopolitical contexts both within and outside of the so-called “former West” and bring together a great number of collaborators from the project’s past and current investigations, including artists, writers, theorists, curators, activists, students, as well as our various publics. The series is developed and curated by writer, cultural critic, and translator Boris Buden, curator, organizer, and artistic director of BAK, Maria Hlavajova, and curator and writer Simon Sheikh.
Following the initial Berlin public editorial meeting at FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in 2013, the Utrecht edition coincides with BAK’s current research inquiry into Future Vocabularies and its opening entry on conceptual itineraries of “survival.” One strand of inquiry explores the question of the commons as a mode of ensuring the survival of the notion of the public. Taking as its example the so-called “public” institution of art and culture, which has lost its emancipatory potential at the present moment as state and private interests reveal themselves to be conditioned by the same (market) forces, this trajectory looks at modes of instituting-in-common, examining not only how they place pressure on dominant forms of ownership and governance, but how the art institution itself might be transformed into an agent of political action. How do we wish to organize ourselves? Is self-instituting an effective means of survival, now that the state seems to be withering away? The second current within this gathering tackles the prospects of survival through economic and environmental perspectives and catastrophes, asking, amidst the rupture within the present interregnum (much in the Gramscian sense of a period in which “the old is dying and the new cannot be born”), how do we survive “otherwise”? The third trajectory deliberates upon survival through the notion of “afterlife,” which evokes a temporality different than the logic of “post-ism” that has long monopolized our historical imagination, be they concepts of the post-political, the post-utopian, or post-history. Beyond a perpetual repetition of “post-isms,” this last trajectory gestures towards a critique of the ideologies behind them.
Other Survivalisms consists of a number of moderated meetings with artists, theorists, and activists on Friday, 16 May, 13.30–20.00 hrs, and on Saturday, 17 May, 09.30–20.00 hrs, at Het Utrechts Archief, located opposite from BAK on Hamburgerstraat 28, Utrecht.