Exhibition

11 March–21 May 2017

To Seminar

  • Tiong Ang in collaboration with Sebastián González de Gortari, Ola Hassanain, Jan Yongdeok Lim, Winston Nanlohy, Andrés Novo, Kristina Országhová, Alejandro Ramírez, Heekyung Ryu and Robert Wittendorp, Sleeper, 2017. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), sketch for The Mother Mountain Institute, 2017

  • Camila Sposati and Falke Pisano, Lundu (Rugendas), 2017

  • Tiong Ang in collaboration with Sebastián González de Gortari, Ola Hassanain, Jan Yongdeok Lim, Winston Nanlohy, Andrés Novo, Kristina Országhová, Alejandro Ramírez, Heekyung Ryu, and Robert Wittendorp, , 2017. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • Art Works on Commission, Free

  • Jeremiah Day, education is what enables every person to judge for themselves what secures or endangers their freedom, 2017, banner. Photo: Tom Janssen

  • Irit Rogoff at the 3rd Former West research congress in Vienna, 2012

  • Sarah Pierce, Campus, 2017, photo: Tom Janssen

To Seminar—an exhibition evolving over time through a series of performative and discursive public meetings—inquires into the practices of learning about, with, and through art today. It asks how we can move beyond the present-day ramifications of the so-called educational turn in contemporary art and toward a collective pursuit of learning with a real relation to social praxis.

The project unfolds as a contemporary reading of philosopher Roland Barthes’ essay “To the Seminar” (1974). Engaging with the notion of the seminar—as a concept and as an intimate and complex practice—as something pivotal for learning today, To Seminar transforms the noun into a verb in an attempt to activate its “unpredictable rhythm,” proposing it as a tool for intervention into the settled practices of education today; in art and beyond. For what was once celebrated as the “educational turn” today turns far too often into either routine initiation into a knowledge economy or cognitive capitalism, or into the placatory emptying of the meanings of “knowledge production,” “community,” and “method.” If, like Barthes’ time of writing, ours is a present immersed in “a certain apocalypse in culture,” the true task of learning is not to normalize this present’s morbid symptoms as has become customary, but rather to collectively think through and act out alternative imaginaries. With artists, theorists, and other cultural practitioners, To Seminar reengages the three conceptual spaces that intersect when a seminaring takes place—institution/transference/text—and seeks to recompose them into a balanced comradeship for renegotiating the conditions of the contemporary.

A series of public gatherings—performances, talks, screenings, etc.—takes place in the course of this exhibition-as-seminar.

To Seminar has been conceptualized by Henk Slager. Seminars are realized with contributions by numerous graduate art programs in the Netherlands and beyond. A publication will be published by Metropolis M Books in summer 2017. To Seminar has been made possible through the collaboration between BAK and MaHKU (HKU University of the Arts, Utrecht).

 

 

Program

performance
10.03.2017, 16.30 hrs
Sleeper

panel discussion
21.03.2017, 19.00 hrs
Institution

performance
23.03.2017, 19.00 hrs
Co-Action Device. I rather laugh

panel discussion
30.03.2017, 19.00 hrs
Text

panel discussion
06.04.2017, 19.00 hrs
Transference

exhibition
13.04.2017, 17.00 hrs
Art Works on Commission, Free

lecture-performance
18.04.2017, 19.00 hrs
Education is what enables every person to judge for themselves what secures or endangers their freedom

lecture
20.04.2017, 19.00 hrs
Reflection on Knowability

performance
18.05.2017, 15.00 hrs
Campus

Works

A series of intensive discussions between curator Henk Slager and artists Tiong Ang, Falke Pisano, Camila Sposati, and Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide) form the foundations of the To Seminar project. The collaborators have developed a contemporary interpretation of Roland Barthes’ concept of the seminar, a concept that requires a dynamic rethinking of the triangular relationship between institution, transference, and text in education. To Seminar proposes an activation—seminar as a verb.

For the project, each artist has departed from one of the relational spaces—institution (Sara Sejin Chang), transference (Tiong Ang), and text (Falke Pisano and Camila Sposati)—in order to develop a new work. Collectively, the artists have created a multi-purpose stage on the ground floor of BAK (a stage as well as a space for workshops, discussions, display, and performances), with a spatial and lighting design by Tiong Ang in collaboration with Andrés Novo.

In this context, Job Koelewijn, René Francisco, and İnci Eviner develop intensive workshops, the outcomes of which are gradually integrated into the exhibition. Furthermore, artists Mick Wilson, Jeremiah Day, and Sarah Pierce propose additional perspectives on text, transference, and institution, respectively.

 

Art Works on Commission, Free
by René Francisco

René Francisco, Art Works on Commission, Free, 2017, video, 60 min, photo: Tom Janssen

René Francisco’s works are part of his project Pedagogía Pragmática (2010–ongoing). The didactic method of this project, shown in the videos, takes place outside the art academy in unexpected locations in Havana’s urban landscape, such as a deserted home or a posh swimming pool. The workshop in Utrecht from 4–13 April 2017 deals with similar artistic group processes, the awareness of a community of action, and reinterpretations of the relations between doing, seeing, and saying. The borders between author, artist, spectator, and also those between professor and student have been diluted, as similitudes have had to be acknowledged and novel forms of research have come into being.

A new edition of Pedagogía Pragmática, called Art Works on Commission, Free, is realized in Utrecht from 4–13 April 2017 with a final presentation on 13 April. From 19 April, documentation of this project becomes part of the exhibition.

 

Campus
by Sarah Pierce

Sarah Pierce, Campus, 2017, curtains, documentation, performance, photo: Tom Janssen

Campus emerges from Sarah Pierce’s ongoing interest in the college campus as a space of community predicated on shifting levels of presence and participation. The performance, taking place at BAK on 18 May 2017, develops from a workshop conducted with a group of students from the Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem in the presence of an audience. As the group learns the performance, the techniques of teaching, learning, and observing merge with other acts that involve “seeing” and “doing.” The curtains are part of the exhibition as of 25 April.

 

Co-Action Device. I rather laugh
by İnci Eviner

İnci Eviner, in collaboration with Sırma Öztaş, Adnan Devran, Iris Ergül, Buse Aktaş, Şafak Çatalbaş, Ecem Sarıçayır, and students from MaHKU Fine Art and the MA program in scenography at HKU, University of the Arts, Utrecht, Co-Action Device. I rather laugh, 2017, video, 1 hr. 14 min., photo: Tom Janssen


İnci Eviner, in collaboration with Sırma Öztaş, Adnan Devran, Iris Ergül, Buse Aktaş, Şafak Çatalbaş, Ecem Sarıçayır, and students from MaHKU Fine Art and the MA program in scenography at HKU, University of the Arts, Utrecht, Co-Action Device. I rather laugh, 2017, video, 1 hr. 14 min.

İnci Eviner’s project Co-Action Device involves a methodology developed during a group process: a performative way of working together while translating a clearly defined, institutional space into an experimental working stage, ignoring didactic and declarative parameters. Thus a collaborative practice emerges, hovering in the interstitial space of artistic research and artistic production, causing it to extract from the hierarchic and descriptive restrictions of a coercive, curricular structure.

From 14–23 March 2017, a new version of Co-Action Device takes place at BAK, with a final presentation on 23 March. From 28 March, documentation of this new project becomes part of the exhibition.

 

Dónal Óg
by Mick Wilson

Mick Wilson, Dónal Óg, 2017, booklets, photo: Tom Janssen


Dónal Óg
 comprises a small booklet and an audio recording of a traditional Irish/Scottish song of disputed antiquity and complex genealogy. The song is performed in four versions, which are played intermittently in short bursts. These versions of the song are novel and do not conform to established practices. They draw upon existing variants in performance from Irish, Scottish, and English performers. The booklet provides variant lyrics of the song, and some variant source details as well. It obliquely connects the song to the question of orality within the contexts of colonial modernity.

This work is part of a series entitled Rhetor that is an ongoing inquiry into rhetorical modes and forms of address. The specific focus for this work is the hailing effects of the song, which consist of a series of direct and indirect calls and addresses: “o Dónal go…”; “whistled and called you . . . twelve times repeating”; “my mother will ask you to name your people.”


Education is what enables every person to judge for themselves what secures or endangers their freedom

by Jeremiah Day

Jeremiah Day, education is what enables every person to judge for themselves what secures or endangers their freedom, 2017, outside banner and performance, photo: Tom Janssen


From a letter by Thomas Jefferson written in 1810: “I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain its strength. 1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom. 2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be in reach of a central school in it.” In his work as a researcher and artist, Jeremiah Day gives a contemporary imagining of Jefferson’s program for the preservation of local, participatory democracy through the works of Fred Dewey, H. R. Shapiro, and Hannah Arendt.

Exercising Verticality
by Job Koelewijn

Job Koelewijn, in collaboration with Susan Jenkins, Haoran Kang, Konstantinos Milonas, Elena Pietrini Sánchez, Tereza Teluchova, Chao Wang, and Li Zhengqing, Exercising Verticality, 2017, books, audio


Seven students of the MaHKU (Utrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design, Utrecht) Fine Art program—Susan Jenkins, Haoran Kang, Konstantinos Milonas, Elena Pietrini Sánchez, Tereza Teluchova, Chao Wang, and Li Zhengqing—were each challenged to propose a book of their choice and to translate it into an audio book, the read texts serving as point of departure for the audio sketchbooks. The experience of using one’s own voice has been a significant part of the process, bringing to practice the French poet Charles Baudelaire’s (1821–1876) maxim, “If you want to understand a word, repeat it a thousand times and the word will open itself like a flower.”

LUNDU
by Falke Pisano and Camila Sposati

Falke Pisano and Camila Sposati, Coimplication (thinking with the other is the only way that we can see anything), 2017, wood, digital print on fabric, photo: Tom Janssen


The conversational research project LUNDU takes the Brazilian dance and music of lundu to think through questions of the body, space and context, colonialism, and the ways we relate to and deal with the complexities of historical and contemporary relations. The works presented in the exhibition depart from two illustrations of lundu from 1835, and have been developed through conversations with dancers, musicians, and theorists. Reflecting on how the relation between subject and object determines our thought, the works propose to think and unfix these positions through the lens of coimplication.


Sleeper
by Tiong Ang

Tiong Ang, in collaboration with Sebastián González de Gortari, Ola Hassanain, Jan Yongdeok Lim, Winston Nanlohy, Andrés Novo, Kristina Országhová, Alejandro Ramírez, Heekyung Ryu, and Robert Wittendorp, Sleeper, 2017, installation, various objects, video, 36 min., spatial design, opening performance, photo: Tom Janssen


Sleeper is composed of the interconnected elements of a spatial design (the stage, the horizon), a video installation with objects, a new collection of lyrics written by artists, and a group performance. The object on the stage, consisting of six pillars, alludes to the idea of diversity within human relations and emotions. The work is accompanied by a video showing song titles and still images of music groups and protests, placed over an abstracted, spinning theater, with the image of an Asian woman displaying intangible objects forming a silent counterbalance. The performance took place during the opening of To Seminar on 10 March 2017 at BAK and featured a group of artists performing songs written by other artists about artistic agency and the time of conflict in which we live.

The Mother Mountain Institute
by Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide)

Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), The Mother Mountain Institute, 2017–ongoing, installation, drawings, audio, photo: Tom Janssen


The Mother Mountain Institute
 inquires how, in the constellation of international and interracial adoption—with its various stakeholders, like the adoption agency, the government, the adoptee, and the adopting parents—the life of the birth mother is often forgotten or overlooked. This project aims to bring together different stories from such mothers, looking at how these mothers, often pressured by the state, the church, criminal traffickers in an underlying patriarchal society, may see little or no prospects for the children and themselves to have positive futures.

The mountain in this project is evoked as a spiritual entity who might provide answers to impossible questions that transcend rational thought. The drawings have been made over the years during walks on several mountains known for their spiritual qualities in Poland, India, and South Korea.

The script for the mother is based on an interview that took place in February 2017 in South Korea. Voice of mother: Alexandra Coutts; voice of mountain: Agnieszka Polska; text for mountain by: Sara Sejin Chang (Sara van der Heide), Agnieszka Polska, head monk of the Seon Monastery of Mihwangsa, South Korea, the woman who can see the future and the past, South Korea.

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