WEST: Notes from Berlin
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht
31 August–9 October 2013
On the occasion of Galerie Route Utrecht and Uitfeest—an inauguration of the new cultural season in Utrecht on 31 August and 1 September 2013—BAK, basis voor actuele kunst in Utrecht invites you to join FORMER WEST: Notes from Berlin. The presentation consists of a makeshift, impromptu composition of artworks and lectures put together specifically for our Utrecht publics as they are selected from FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects, a critically appraised major manifestation of BAK’s long-term multifaceted research, education, exhibition, and publication project FORMER WEST, realized in collaboration with Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin earlier this year. A special film program is presented from 13.00–18.00 hrs throughout the opening weekend.
Spontaneously assembled works in FORMER WEST: Notes from Berlin include contributions by artists, filmmakers, and artist collectives, such as Neil Beloufa (Paris), Chen Chieh-jen (Taipei), Josef Dabernig (Vienna), Manthia Diawara (New York), Nicolas Kozakis and Raoul Vaneigem (Liège and Brussels), Nástio Mosquito (Luanda), Rabih Mroué (Beirut), Marion von Osten (Berlin), Stefan Panhans (Berlin/Hamburg), Li Ran (Beijing), and Ultra-red (Los Angeles and other). Concurrently, the project’s rich discursive body of work is made publicly available, including the documented lectures, discussions, readings, and performances by Franco "Bifo" Berardi (Bologna); Homi K. Bhabha (Cambridge); Alice Escher, Boaz Levin, Stefan Träger, and Till Wittwer (Berlin); Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani with Dolores Zinny and Juan Maidagan (Berlin); Boris Groys (New York); Stefano Harney (Singapore); Adrian Heathfield (London); Ranjit Hoskote (Bombay); Louis Moreno (London); Marina Naprushkina (Berlin); Nikos Papastergiadis (Melbourne); Qiu Zhijie (Beijing); Irit Rogoff (London); Rasha Salti (Beirut); Praneet Soi (Amsterdam); Allan deSouza (San Francisco); and Hito Steyerl (Berlin). Not unlike its Berlin manifestation, FORMER WEST: Notes from Berlin is neither an exhibition nor a conference—it entails “no order in that sense, but rather rhythms and accidents; no certainty but rather a set of propositions; no script but rather an invitation to imagine the ‘what if’ scenario, and with it—the world otherwise.”
The Berlin iteration of FORMER WEST consisted of five currents: (1) Titled Art Production and conceptualized by Boris Groys, this part of the project included both theoretical and practical considerations of artistic work under the current conditions, while pondering upon the question as to how art’s desire to transform society might be realized; (2) Looking not only at the ways in which art is disseminated through its institutions, but into the much extended notion of Infrastructure, curator and thinker Irit Rogoff brought together artists and theorists to examine this notion and the extent to which it enables or confines us, and how we might envision new paths to understanding infrastructure otherwise; (3) Insurgent Cosmopolitanism, organized by poet and curator Ranjit Hoskote, considered how the polity—and thus also the art’s public—has been changing through recent insurgent upheavals and what this means not only in regard to the reception of art, but in fact what such new circumstances require from imaginative and intellectual labor itself. (4) Furthermore, Maria Hlavajova, BAK’s artistic director and curator Kathrin Rhomberg gathered together a number of works of art, talks, lecture-performances, workshops, readings, and other encounters to compose an assembly of sorts of what they consider to be Dissident Knowledges—makeshift, provisory, nomadic bodies of knowledge distributed through both time and space. (5) In parallel, Berlin-based writer and cultural critic Boris Buden set up an educational performance Learning Place with students from universities and academies from various contexts of the world to engage in a dense series of interactions and encounters, both through intimate closed meetings and public gatherings. As a space created to engage with what we understand to be the pressure points in the debates that connect the practices of art firmly to today’s geopolitical challenges, this part of the project is a model for a learning platform we are currently developing at BAK for the upcoming period of three years. For full information and to view the contributions at the Digital Platform of FORMER WEST, please see: www.formerwest.org.
During FORMER WEST: Notes from Berlin at BAK, a
number of gatherings will be organized to welcome new and returning students from
both Utrecht University and Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU). These gatherings
seek to allow the public to engage with the Utrecht art scene, as well as to
offer an introduction to the artistic and research urgencies considered in