The 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part One: Beyond What Was Contemporary Art takes place on 19 and 20 April 2012 at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Secession, Vienna. Consequently, the Congress deliberations are reflected upon in an open session on 21 April 2012. The Congress offers a space to speculate about possibilities for art vis-à-vis the increasing forces of antagonism across the world and the emerging imaginaries that accompany them.
If we imagine Contemporary Art to be a historical period that emerged from 1989 in parallel to other hegemonic formations such as global neoliberalism, could it be argued that, in sync with the current seismic shifts in society, politics, and economy, it has now reached a dead end? Is Contemporary Art—art in and of the epoch of neoliberalism—on its way out, together with the system that made it possible? What kind of challenges and possibilities might then lie before us in the space of art in times when “business as usual” is no longer an option? Can we speculate collectively on how to move beyond the present confines of Contemporary Art’s normalized and normalizing practices, and articulate what can appear from Contemporary Art’s “formerness?”
The first part of the Congress puts forward a number of propositions to engage with these questions during a two-day gathering of artistic and cultural practitioners in Vienna. Shaped by these discussions, Part Two unfolds in Utrecht in Autumn 2012. The first part of the 3rd FORMER WEST
Research Congress is developed by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and co-curated by FORMER WEST
research advisor Marion von Osten