Organization, artistic agency and lived utopias

Nora Sternfeld & Gregoire Rousseau, Jeppe Ugelvig, Kunstteater (Mathias Dyhr W/ Michiel Tange van Leeuwen), Peter Borum, The Pawn Broker (Villiam Miklos Andersen, M.B. Pedersen & Lauge Floris Larsen), Honza Hoeck, Sally DalgaardNora Sternfeld & Gregoire Rousseau, Jeppe Ugelvig, Kunstteater (Mathias Dyhr W/ Michiel Tange van Leeuwen), Peter Borum, The Pawn Broker (Villiam Miklos Andersen, M.B. Pedersen & Lauge Floris Larsen), Honza Hoeck, Sally Dalgaard

Seminar

Friday 28 October 2022

Kunsthal Aarhus

This seminar, presented in collaboration between Kunsthal Aarhus and Jutland Art Academy, offers new perspectives on organizational strategies in contemporary art. Following this summer’s much debated documenta fifteen in Kassel the seminar program gathers artists, curators, theoriticians, educators and students in an effort to reflect on the business of collaboration and organization in relation to questions of artistic agency and notions of the utopian. The seminar will be in English.

The seminar is supported by Salling Fondene and Aarhus Kommune.

Introduction

With the collectivist indonesian artist group ruangrupa’s curation of documenta fifteen having taken place in Kassel this summer, questions regarding organizational work as artistic strategy have been on the agenda in quite a few contexts in the field of contemporary art in recent years. As outlined in the opening remarks of the issue of Texte Zur Kunst titled Collectivity:

“Cooperation and collaboration are buzzwords in the globalized art world. It’s no wonder, then, that artist collectives seem to be everywhere at the moment: from Documenta to the Turner Prize to the protest movements at museums, one is hard-pressed to find a major art event that isn’t characterized by collaborative practices and the invocation of solidarity.”

Besides attesting to the recent attention being bestowed on artist collectives, this passus also demonstrates an unassumed a priori in play when perspectives of collaborative artistic practices are being discussed: that organizational types of artistic work are seamlessly connected to explicit struggles for social justice. In the last decades, however, a different perspective on the relation between organization and contemporary art has emerged, namely that of art & management research. This field of research approaches artistic practices as models to be tapped for the purposes of renewing strategies of management in the field of business.

Both of these discourses focus on changes in the social fabric, but in very different areas of application and with varying allegiances in regard to political standpoint. What they do share, however, is a postautonomous perspective on their hopes for the outcomes of art, namely, that art functions in the tangible service of either communities or businesses. A diagnosis expressed in Sebastian Olma’s essay Art and Autonomy as a central feature of contemporary art itself:

”[ …] while the idea of the genius as the personification of autonomy might have survived until recently in some (Warholesque) form or another, today it is being thoroughly exorsiced by the increasing emphasis placed on collaboration, participation, technology, and indeed entrepreneurship. In light of these developments, isn’t it only logical to conclude that art has moved into its postautonomous period?”

The seminar program aims to shed light on types of artistic practices utilizing organizational strategies that, despite the recent interests in the field, have not been discussed in great detail up till now, since they seem to fall either outside of, or indeed to traverse, the ideas most often associated with organizational artistic strategies; the distinctly collectivist/activist or the business-oriented focus of art & management research. Practices following different paths of action that seem to blur the distinctions between art and society by means of organization, and in that process also question asumed models of autonomy and utopia.

Within this range of presentations we hope to identify and explore dynamics that apply in practices where the artist subject is in various ways dissolved or re-organized and inquire into which spaces of agency these strategies propose for the artwork, the artist, and the audience, and how these in turn set the relation between contemporary art and society.

Program organizer & chair - Honza Hoeck

Program

09:30 registration

10:00 Welcome & introduction

10:15 - 11:30 Nora Sternfeld & Gregoire Rousseau / keynote:

Take a deap breath in. “Museum as Praxis” inaugurated in October 2035. A lecture-sound-performance with lumbung radio

11:45 - 11:55 Kunstteater / Baby’s show and tell extravaganza (part I)

11:55 – 13:00 lunchbreak

13:00 - 13:45 Peter Borum / Institution and programming - different logics

13:55 - 14:25 The Pawn Broker / The rise and fall of The Pawn Shop

14:40 - 14:50 Kunstteater / Baby’s show and tell extravaganza (part II)

15:00 - 15:45 Honza Hoeck / Pre-individual action and spectral agency

15:45 – 16:15 break

16:15 - 16:35 Sally Dalgaard / Logistique - no show without a flow!

16:45 - 16:55 Kunstteater / Baby’s show and tell extravaganza (part III)

17:00 - 17:45 Jeppe Ugelvig / The business of collectivity

17:55 - 18:40 Panel discussion

18:40 thank you & goodbye

Presentation

Nora Sternfeld & Gregoire Rousseau

Take a deap breath in. “Museum as Praxis” inaugurated in October 2035.

A lecture-sound-performance with Lumbung Radio

What would happen if one day we were to not only occupy this museum, but also direct it? Ever since we occupied the small museum from the year 2025 onwards and after the authoritarian turn, we have discussed this question time and time again in working groups. However, we decided to back down from the idea, because we did not want to or, rather, could not bring ourselves to take part in the turn and perhaps because we did not have enough courage to fight against it. Nonetheless, we were agreed that our occupation of the museum should not simply be about constantly reacting to news about which we despaired. So we set up our working groups and ensured that they addressed speculative questions that we wanted to answer-not exclusively, but primarily on the basis of historical research. One of these questions was simply: what would happen if one day we were to not only occupy this museum, but also direct it?

In the lecture-sound-performance with Lumbung Radio a narrative prefiguration meets moments of real utopia recorded at documenta fifteen.

Kunstteater (Mathias Dyhr)

Baby’s show and tell extravaganza

In Kunstteater’s new work Baby’s show and tell extravaganza, we meet the three meter tall infant, Baby, who has only just learned to walk. Baby is a born dandy who loves to look in the mirror and dress up chique. In front of the mirror, Baby always meets new friends; they too are well dressed and just as talkative as Baby, despite the fact that they don’t have any language either. Toys are displayed and dances are exchanged. Laughing and crying are contagious when there are two of you! Based on the infant Baby’s show and tell extravaganza plays with how innate personality or character traits operate before a child’s self-awareness, ego and language are developed.

Concept & director: Mathias Dyhr

Performer: Michiel Tange van Leeuwen

Costume: Michiel Tange van Leeuwen & Mathias Dyhr

The Pawn Broker (Villiam Miklos Andersen, M.B. Pedersen & Lauge Floris Larsen)

The rise and fall of The Pawn Shop

In the winter of 2020, the two indonesian curators Iswanto Hartono and Reza Afisina moved with their families to Kassel to initiate an artistic experiment in a discontinued shopping center, which would eventually become the focal point for the development of documenta fifteen. In the same winter, we traveled to Kassel, where we presented our visions of establishing a pawn shop inside the centre.

This is a presentation about how a conceptual artwork developed into something completely different from the original idea.

Peter Borum

Institution and programming - different logics

Of the difference between institutions and laws, Gilles Deleuze wrote in 1955 that whereas laws were basically limitations on action, institutions were basically models of action. Since then, the proliferation of a cybernetic model of organization - organization as programming - has spread a notion of organization in which action is exhausted in the act of programming.

Jeppe Ugelvig

The business of collectivity

This presentation will consider art-historical examples of artist collectives from the past 40 years who have organized following business structures. From artist-run shops to pr-type agencies and fashion brands, the presentation will reflect on the critical, performative, and materialist concerns underscoring the mimicry of non-art business, and how artists are uniquely positioned to not only interrogate, but prototype forms of work as it develops in broader cultural economies.

Honza Hoeck

Pre-indivual action and spectral agency

This presentation argues that the agency of the artist can be seen as having always been an outcome of collaborative processes. As in the genius artist that functions as a medium communicating the insights of higher powers and thus becoming a delegate of these, or through a more contemporary consultant mode of cultural producer, whose network of colleagues affords them the position from which they speak. Through Gilbert Simondon’s concept of the pre-individual a speculative notion of spectral agency is developed, attempting to locate artistic work as being a-priori in between individuals.

Sally Dalgaard

Logistique - no show without a flow!

Logistique is a consultation service that is specialized in dealing with art-related logistical situations. It is hard to describe the work of Logistique in general terms; partly because each logistical solution provided by Logistique is as specific as its problem - partly because there seems to be some fundamental issues with our way of understanding logistical “solutions” and “problems” whatsoever.

Booking required.
Fee: 50 kr.
For booking, click here.
You can buy a ticket and a lunch ticket via tikkio.

Speakers

Nora Sternfeld is a curator and an educator publishing on contemporary art, educational theory, exhibitions, politics of history and anti-racism. She is professor of art education at the HFBK Hamburg and co-director of /Ecm - master program in exhibition theory and practice at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Sternfeld is part of free­thought, a platform for research, education, and production based in london w/ Irit Rogoff, Stefano Harney, Adrian Heathfield, Mao Mollona, Louis Moreno.

Gregoire Rousseau is an artist and educator based in Helsinki. He graduated both as an electrical engineer and master of fine arts, and is currently, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University with the research project »Commoning Education, Educating the Commons«. In 2020 he initiated Station of Commons - a platform of commoning practices within the technological space. Station of Commons is coordinating Lumbung Radio, an online community radio project that has its starting point at documenta fifteen.

Kunstteater is an interdisciplinary project founded in 2018 by visual artist and performance director Mathias Dyhr, who creates and stages productions with various artistic actors in a crossroads between visual art and theater.

Mathias Dyhr is a danish visual artist and theatre director who works and lives in Copenhagen. In 2018 Dyhr founded Kunstteater - a interdisciplinary project where he creates and stages productions with various artistic actors. Dyhr is also part of the artist duo Mathias & Mathias together with Mathias Toubro.

Michiel Tange van Leeuwen is trained as a nouveau cirque performer and works with aerial acrobatics and ballance art as a specialty. In addition, michiel is a self-taught costume designer and creates visually strong overall expressions that lean on both fashion and historical costumes. With his unique physical abilities, he gives life to various characters on stage.

Peter Borum studied french language and literature, wrote a Ph.d. on individuation and morphogenesis, translator, study lecturer at Jutland Art Academy. He has notably worked with questions of the relation between the singular form (an oxymoron) of the individual artwork, its field of conditions and the ensuing virtual transformations of that field (effects of reference, expression, territorialization, problematization).

The Pawn Broker is a community for people and things, connecting things with people, things with things, and people with people. The Pawn Broker was established by Villiam Miklos Andersen, M.B. Pedersen & Lauge Floris Larsen on the occasion of documenta fifteen.

M. B. Pedersen is a visual artist, educated at The Jutland Art Academy in Aarhus and the Hochschule Fur Gestaltung Und Kunst in Basel. In his work, he investigates various phenomena and the ambivalence of objects, and forms’ connections between fragmented narratives.

Villiam Miklos Andersen is a visual artist who lives and works In Frankfurt am Main. He is educated at the Jutland Art Academy, The Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Architecture and the Stadelschule. On a general level, his practice is characterized by an interest in the logistical systems of post-industrial society - how personal and private spheres of life are woven into and shaped by systems created by an economic logic. He wants to depict the life lived in large network systems and exponentially optimizing practicalities.

Lauge Floris Larsen is an architect who is entangled in the dimension between reality and utopian dream worlds. Lauge works both independently and participates in various collaborations around politics, architecture and art. His latest work has been exhibited at the Oslo Architecture Triennale.

Honza Hoeck is an artist and educator engaged in questions of the infrastructures of arts’ institutions, the organizing of the artist subject and of image circulation. He was a co-director of the artist run exhibition space and production unit TOVES from 2010-2017. Since 2018 he is a professor of contemporary art and director of studies at Jutland Art Academy and a board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde.

Jeppe Ugelvig is a curator, historian, and cultural critic based in California. He is a current Ph.D. Candidate at UC Santa Cruz. His criticism appears regularly in Artforum, Frieze, and Spike Art Quarterly, where he serves as contributing editor. He has contributed texts to various exhibition catalogs for MIT List Center, Pro Helvetia, The Hessel Museum, The Macro, and Kunsthal Charlottenborg. He is the founding editor-in-chief of Viscose, a journal for fashion criticism and analysis. His first book Fashion Work: 25 Years Of Art In Fashion was published by Damiani in 2020.


Sally Dalgaard is based in Aarhus and is a graduate student at Jutland Art Academy. She has been involved in a number of groups, projects and spaces based on art and sociopolitical work. Logistique, Dalgaard’s organization involved in logistical issues of the artfield, was established in 2021 and Storage, an exhibition space which is located in a closset in Dalgaard’s apartment, has been running since 2018.

View the full program as a PDF