Talks and conversations

10 February 2018

Propositions #3: Art as Commitment

Photo made by Tom Janssen during Propositions #3: Art as Commitment on Saturday 10 February 2018

Propositions #3: Art as Commitment takes De Bruijne’s exhibition title as its starting point. The Spanish compromiso político translates not to a “political compromise” as one might assume, but rather a “political commitment” or even a “political obligation.” For De Bruijne, this playful translation gap opens space for inquiring into true political commitment in and through art. Building on his practice of working simultaneously within social movements and the context of art, De Bruijne puts the term “socially engaged art” under pressure. This genre is, he believes, structurally flawed by its compromise: it tends to bend to art by circulating the aesthetics of the struggle within the art canon rather than committing to the day-to-day reality of the social and political movement. How can we, instead, think and enact an artistic practice committed to both political movement and art? What are the relations between the positions of artist, audience, and visual language in a political movement? How to avoid appropriation while working with/in social movements? Is it possible to call an artwork within art institutions “political” when it uses a language that is illegible outside these institutions?

Propositions #3: Art as Commitment is the third convening platform in BAK’s long-term research series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020), prompted by the dramatic resurfacing and normalization of historical and contemporary fascisms in our present. The gathering and exhibition take place in a makeshift environment amid the renovation of BAK’s new venue and bring together diverse publics to take on the pressing concerns of our time.

Propositions #3: Art as Commitment is developed in a collaboration between BAK and artist Matthijs de Bruijne in the framework of the BAK 2017–2018 Fellowship Program, with contributions by the artist and De Bruijne’s co-researcher Cecilia Vallejos.

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The Return of Religion and Other Myths is a large-scale multifaceted project, consisting of the exhibition The Art of Iconoclasm, a discourse program taking place in early 2009 titled On Post-Secularism, and the publication of a BAK Critical Reader on the subject in 2009. The project explores the popular assumption of the return of religion to the public sphere, contemporary politics, and the media in the West as a constitutive “myth.”

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Curating (Beyond) Exhibitions: Critical Curatorial Practices and Contemporary Society

Master course organized by Utrecht University and BAK. The course, structured as a series of lectures and seminars, explores the dynamic field of curating vis-ŕ-vis the challenges that artistic and intellectual practices are presented with by contemporary society, and takes the year 1989—which marks the end of the Cold War—as a starting point from which to explore the practice of curating.