February 16, 2018

"Artists' Sayings in the Age of 'NewSpace'"

Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)

Carey Young, Body Techniques (after A Line in Ireland, Richard Long, 1974), 2007. Digital C-Type Print, 48 x 59 3/4 inches. © Carey Young. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery.

During the spring semester 2018, the Department of Art & Media (DKM) is inviting around twenty artists, two curators, and three theoreticians to publicly share their thoughts and ideas. In place of speculation, visions, or dreams of how things could be, the focus will be on how things are and what to do with the situation as it is, with those involved acting and reacting with amusement, resentment, playfulness, awkwardness, enthusiasm, and/or cynicism, analytically and instinctively. Don’t mourn, organize!

Starting with a talk by American artist Charles Atlas on February 19, made possible by a cooperation with the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, the DKM’s long, public discussion will close with a lecture by Irish human geographer and art critic Rory Rowan on May 14: “Enclosing the Cosmos: Neoliberalism, Extraction & Colonisation in the Age of ‘NewSpace.’” Bookended by these two events, the program will range from a talk on an artistic practice spanning more than four decades that was initially motivated by filming dance to a contemporary review of the political and historical dimensions artists are currently experiencing. In the process, a wide variety of speakers will be offered the floor and the microphone. “Global” has never been so specific, precisely located and full of particularisms.

Spring 2018 is an important moment of commemoration in the West, celebrating the events of May ’68 in Paris. More recently, the Arab Spring has profoundly changed a country like Egypt and its capital Cairo, a city where the Swiss curator Andrea Thal is working with the young Egyptian, North African, and Middle Eastern artistic scene. She will share the experiences she has had in a complex post-Revolutionary context on March 14, following a talk by Carey Young, on April 25. This Anglo-American artist is well known for her work on law. So much comment or analysis is possible on questions of rebellion, dissidence, and repression, and artists are constantly twisting and reshaping these phenomena in their work.

Yet, how do artists negotiate the dynamic zone between the specific criticality of their work (autonomy) and the given material frameworks—the “households”—within which they operate (heteronomy)? How do they appropriate environments or, indeed, create “ecologies” to enhance the impact of their practices? What desires and conditions, what assumptions and compromises, what crises and disillusionments, what decisions and coincidences determine their artistic life projects?

From April 26 to 28, the conference “Über Leben” considers what it means to live as an artist today, taking in both pragmatic aspects (überleben—to survive) and philosophical reflections (über Leben—about life). Artists and theoreticians will elaborate on their findings and models of a (self-determined) existence, producing insights that allow us to sharpen our own aspirations, ideas, and desires to create a life for, with, and within art. The guests include Tizza Covi & Rainer Frimmel, Verena Dengler, Diedrich Diederichsen, Jürg Egli, Matthieu Laurette, Elizabeth Lebon, Thomas Locher, Martina Mächler, Angela McRobbie, Rosalie Schweiker & San Keller, Christine Streuli, Lisa Tan, Übermorgen (Lizvlx & Hans Bernhard), and Carey Young.

On a final note, special mention should be made of the talks by artists Elodie Pong, on March 5, and Jonas Lund, on March 20, both DKM visiting faculty members. Complementing the practices of those two post-media and post-internet positions, Manon, a pioneering figure in performance art and photography in Switzerland, will also speak on March 13. While many of the DKM’s spring 2018 guests will be interacting with students, thanks to studio visits or open forums, Mirjam Varadinis, co-curator of Manifesta 12 in Palermo, will look forward, on April 24, to the biennial, which will unfold in South Italy from June 2018 on. A relevant example of professional art production and concretization.

Thank you!

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