11 Jun 2012 /

The Artists’ Congresses: A Congress / Day 1: From Secret Speech to Subversive Affirmation (Rafal Niemojewski)

CONFERENCE / SEMINAR / 11:00 11 JUN 2012 / Ständehaus

Event page

11:00 – 11:30: Introduction by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev & Chus Martínez

11:30 – 12:15: Keynote 1 – Rafal Niemojewski: The Artists’ Congresses: A Timeline

During the first week after the public opening of dOCUMENTA (13), June 11 – 15, 2012, The Artists' Congresses: A Congress gathers artists and scholars from the fields of art history, philosophy, and cultural studies to address questions related to the history of the artist’s voice. A series of five events delve into the genealogy of public institutional programming and the nature of the congress format as a platform for the production of meaning. Following a brief introduction to the day’s subject, the speakers present significant cases from the history of artists’ ideological and public congresses throughout the twentieth century, concluding with a roundtable discussion followed by an open Q & A session.

With the emergence of these platforms for artists, which evolved in tandem with the historical avant gardes, a new social reading and perception of  the artist developed: as producer rather than as outsider, genius, bohemian, or academic. These terms referring to the artist as an exception were replaced by a vision of the artist as an active participant in the construction of the social body. If the salon had earlier been the semi-public place in which conversations were activated, feeding the need of the upper classes to regard themselves as both patrons and receivers of artistic activity, the avant-garde positioned the street as a space and the artist as a maker of a new collective mind. This was a turning point where the subjective voice of the artist presented itself and its knowledge in a different arena: the meeting, and even the congress. A new syndicate of forces, as well as a different way of understanding the role and function of speech, and therefore language, started to appear in the realm of art exhibition.

How do the different morphologies, from the free academies that were initiated by artists from the late 1960s on, to the many temporary structures that they are inventing in order to present works and ideas today, affect the institutional life of art? How do they relate to the emergence—starting in the mid-1960s—of specific museum departments dedicated to the production of “parallel” discursive events? How does the programming of talks and conferences as part as the exhibition context, as documenta has done from its very first edition in 1955, affect the reception of art?

All sessions start with an introduction by Chus Martínez

Dawn Ades is a scholar of Surrealism and Latin American art. She has curated exhibitions and published extensively on Dada, Surrealism, women artists and Mexican muralists, amongst others. She teaches art history and theory of art at the University of Essex.

Ekaterina Degot is an art historian and a journalist. A specialist on twentieth-century Russian art and Moscow Conceptualism in particular, she has been a guest lecturer at American and European institutions and curated projects including the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. She has been a columnist and editor for the Kommersant Daily and senior editor for the independent site for art news, art criticism, and cultural analysis

Georges Didi-Huberman is an art historian. He has researched the structure of images and the stories ascribed to them, and advocates thinking about representation as a mobile process that often involves substitution and contradiction. He teaches at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

Rafal Niemojewski is an art historian and curator and the director of postgraduate studies in Curating at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Prior to this he worked as Curator of Public Programmes at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre. Niemojewski graduated in History of Art and Curatorial Studies from La Sorbonne and earned his doctorate from the Royal College of Art for his thesis on the proliferation of the contemporary biennial.

Avinoam Shalem is Professor of History of Islamic art at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich. His main fields of interest concern artistic interactions in the Mediterranean basin, migration of objects, and medieval aesthetics, as well as Islamic, Jewish, and Christian art. He has initiated the cultural program “Changing Views” (2010) and co-curated the exhibition “The Future of Tradition: the Tradition of Future” (2010) for Haus der Kunst, Munich.

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