Exhibition

01 November–28 December 2014

In the Stomach of the Predators

In the Stomach of the Predators, a two-part exhibition by Berlin-based artists, curators, and theorists Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann, explores the predatory logic of advanced capitalism. Stemming from their joint research in the last several years concerning the privatization of the commons through the cases of seeds, land rights, and intellectual property, these two distinct bodies of work employ the methods and languages of theatrical and filmic stagings (Creischer) and pictorial tableaux (Siekmann).

The installation of Siekmann takes us to the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen where the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a project set up to “protect” all existing agricultural kernels in the world from eventual extinction, is based. We learn, however, that the seed bank is financed by the very same corporate lobbies that exercise interests and practices that threaten crop diversity, including, among others, genetic manipulation. These entangled complicities are uncovered through large movable panels with pictograms, reminiscent of the vocabulary developed by science philosopher and political economist Otto Neurath in cooperation with artist Gerd Arntz, who was a part of an anarcho-syndicalist movement in the 1920s in Cologne and Berlin, developing graphic icons specifically for proletarian agitations. The ordered, systematic, and meticulously structured succession of signs, symbols, and their visualized interconnections draw an alarming relational map of the economic and political aspects of biodiversity’s transfer into private hands that so accurately defines our global present.

Creischer’s work contains a cast of a number of whimsical, symbolically charged animal figures—the wolf, the hyena, the bear, and the jackal—each of them representative of a particular form of monopolization of what once was the common good. The animals are sent on a journey from Spitsbergen to Benin and Istanbul, during which they encounter situations that seem absurd and at times outright grotesque. Such surreal scenes are continuously stabilized, however, by an undercurrent of real gravity as the characters delve into the disquieting workings of the neoliberal condition. The creatures are emblematic of, and personify, acquisitive greed paired with injustice and devastation; through them multiple scripts unfold, delivered in a variety of vernaculars, at once resembling the Chaplinian slapstick handlings of despair and the theatrical experimentations of Bertolt Brecht. While addressing the apocalyptic questions of global gene pool heritage, land grabbing, the devastation of natural resources, and the fantastical “science” of financial speculation, art itself—and its possibility to counter systemic violence of such amplitude—is not spared questioning. Though the work tests art’s subversive potential, its complacency in the face of the flows of capital surfaces at least as often as the paradoxical meaning of survival in an era of human-engineered catastrophes.

In the Stomach of the Predators is presented as part of the year-long research into the notion of “survival” within the long-term series Future Vocabularies (2014–2016). The series inquires into the possibility of art to offer a space for developing a variety of itineraries for envisioning another future.

Suggestions from the archive

Discursive

18 October 2018–24 January 2019

Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods

Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods—the public program in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice and part of the BAK series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020)—expands upon the notion of forensic justice in a series of lectures, screenings, and workshops on methodologies for articulating claims within the multidimensional space of aesthetics, law, architecture, politics, and ecology.

Exhibition

18 October 2018–27 January 2019

Forensic Justice

Forensic Justice is an exhibition and a series of public programs with Forensic Architecture, a London-based independent and interdisciplinary research agency comprised of, among others, artists, scientists, lawyers, filmmakers, and architects.

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Exhibition

Lecture

Lecture Program

Discursive, Exhibition, Publication

11 January–01 March 2009

The Return of Religion and Other Myths

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.”

Lecture

Learning

10 February–31 March 2009

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.