Summer School

22-26 July 2019

BAK Summer School: Art as Politics

Workshop by Matthijs de Bruijne and Cecilia Vallejos during BAK Summer School: Art and Practice in the Otherwise at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2018, photo courtesy BAK 


The BAK Summer School: Art as Politics is a collaborative and intensive learning week at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst from 22–26 July 2019 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Application deadline: 1 May 2019


This course begins from the understanding that art has the potential to imagine and enact different ways of being in the world, and that this is intrinsically a political practice. As social, environmental, geopolitical, economic, and technological structures are rapidly rearranging, it is increasingly apparent that new forms of relations and livability, systems of value, modes and sites of distribution, etc. must be forged. With its critical and generative potential to address, create, and experiment, artistic imaginary shows to be a vital site and resource for such re-formations. And as ideas, practices, and meanings of resistance, coming together, identity, activist and artistic practice, and collectivity and closeness—as well as the notions of artistic production, the (art) institution, and the public—are transforming, many artistic practices develop as inextricable from the political.

The BAK Summer School: Art as Politics brings together practitioners involved in arts, academia, and social action to collectively think through, generate, and invigorate critical artistic practices that work to grasp and intervene into the present. Asking after the ways in which art is politics, the program centers artistic practices that live in the overlapping spaces amongst cultural production, art, aesthetics, and political domains often considered as separate. Through case studies, storytelling, theory, presentations, discussions, workshops, study groups, and exercises, the BAK Summer School: Art as Politics asks about and speaks to art as the cracks, fissures, hacklabs, loopholes, queerings, or illegibilities in which radical (re)workings can flourish. Concepts of alternative practice, contemporary constructions of “we,” institutional structuring, potentials of performative collectivity, etc. are discussed and practiced so as to think through the potentials when we conceive of and enact art as politics.

In order to address these subjects, the BAK Summer School turns to art practice, theory, and institutions that work at these ontological and material arrangements. Cultural practitioners involved in arts, theory, and social action convene workshops, presentations, study groups, screenings, and lectures. The program draws upon BAK research, including the current four-year trajectory Propositions for Non-Fascist Living; BAK Fellowship Program, which hosts 10 exemplary interdisciplinary fellows each year; FORMER WEST (2008–2016), which developed a critical understanding of the legacies of 1989’s radical resistance to power in order to reevaluate the global present and speculate about global futures; and Future Vocabularies (2013–2016), which attempted to act out concrete propositions that explore shifts in the existing conceptual vocabularies within artistic, intellectual, and activist practices.

This Summer School is organized and includes contributions by Maria Hlavajova, Founding General & Artistic Director and Whitney Stark, Curator of the Fellowship Program at BAK. Contributors include 2017/2018 BAK Fellow, researcher Isshaq Al-Barbary, 2018/2019 BAK Fellow, visual artist and activist Patricia Kaersenhout, among others.

The BAK Summer School: Art as Politics takes place from 22 through 26 July 2019 at BAK in Utrecht, Netherlands. Applications can be submitted via the Utrecht Summer School website by 1 May 2019. The fee for the course and materials, to be paid upon acceptance, is 450 EUR. Accommodation by the Utrecht Summer School is an additional 200 EUR, for which you can sign up during your application process. Fees exclude meals and travel. Limited fee reduction scholarships are available to exceptional applicants who would otherwise be unable to attend, deadline 15 April. For information on applying, please inquire at whitney@bakonline.org before 10 April 2019.

This is a discourse-driven course organized by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht in collaboration with HKU University of the Arts Utrecht and Utrecht Summer School.

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