14 Jun 2012 /

The Artists’ Congresses: A Congress / Day 4: The Participative Structure: Artistic Research at the Core of the Political Public Sphere: Julie Ault: That Was Then, This Is Now

CONFERENCE / SEMINAR / 11:00 14 JUN 2012 / Ständehaus
The Artists’ Congresses: A Congress
Day 4: The Participative Structure: Artistic Research at the Core of the Political Public Sphere

Event page

11:00 – 11:15: Introduction by Chus Martínez and Rafal Niemojewski

11:15 – 12:00: Keynote 1 – Renate Lorenz: No Past! - Some Ways of (Re) Claiming the Art Space for Political Debate in the Early 1990s (Cologne, Düsseldorf, Berlin)

12:00 – 12:45: Keynote 2 – Khwezi Gule: An Exploratory Investigation into Discursive Environments in the Late 1980's and Early 1990's with Respect to the Role of Arts in South Africa

12:45 – 13:45: Lunch break

13:45 – 14:30: Keynote 3 – Julie Ault: That Was Then, This Is Now

14:30 – 15:15: Keynote 4 – Tang Da Wu: In an Artist’s Heart, Everyday is a Revolution

15:15 – 16:00: Keynote 5 – Søren Andreasen: The Collective as an Escape and a Monster

16:00 – 16:30: Coffee break

16:30 – 18:00: Conversation

18:00 – 18:30: Q&A

18:30 – 19:00: Summary by Chus Martínez

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


Søren Andreasen is an artist, curator and writer—practices that he sees as complementary and interchangeable— based in Copenhagen. From 1989 to 1993, he was part of the art-collective Koncern and has produced texts for various magazines and publications. Andreasen was professor at the Jutland Academy of Fine Art, Aarhus, Denmark from 2004 to 2010.

Renate Lorenz is an artist and independent author, mostly in the fields of queer and gender art and theory based in Berlin. During the 1990s, she was a member of the artists' group Büro Bert and engaged in numerous collaborative art practices and political interventions. She is professor of art and research at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

Tang Da Wu is an artist based in Singapore. He founded The Artists Village, the first artist-run center and community to be established in Singapore, which aimed at encouraging artists to work experimentally. Tang himself adopted performance and installation early on, and is a pioneer of these practices in his native Singapore. He is particularly concerned with social, political, and environmental issues.

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