Lecture

11 July 2014

Why Biennial?

Beginning with a diagnosis of the conflict zone that is the world today, Maria Hlavajova’s keynote lecture Why Biennial? addresses the urgent need to reevaluate how we think about the biennial. Instead of merely positioning the biennial within the history of exhibitions, curatorial concepts, artistic contributions, and event culture, Hlavajova maintains that it is crucial to ask questions about both how it is governed and how it governs. “As we hear the agonistic voices of artists, activists, and intellectuals intensify these days, from Sydney to St. Petersburg, Istanbul to Bussan, Athens, New York, and elsewhere, the biennial itself seems to have become (anew) a vital site of political contestations, though oft times it is its own politics that is questioned and questionable,” she argues. And while acknowledging that the turmoil in each of these cases arguably has its own rationale, Hlavajova emphasizes that they nevertheless call for continuous, ongoing attention to how the biennial functions as an institution. She proposes that the networked biennial institution can become not just a place for distributing the language of contemporary art within global flows of ideas and capital, but one through which to invest in an individual and collective ethics as well. This would require a political project of continuous instituting alongside, and in negotiation with, changes in society as well as a recognition of the radically shifting texture of “audiences” towards what she calls future publics. These publics are formed alongside the fault lines of global class recompositions, and by placing pressure on the ills of present-day aesthetic and political representation, they are both transformed by—and transform—the times in which we live. To effectively probe the question “Why Biennial?” at this point in history thus requires of us to find alternative tools through reciprocity and the mutualizing of spaces, concerns, resources, and competencies with these social actors. Hlavajova regards the biennial institution as among the best equipped for this task, yet only insofar as it manages to resist dissolution into neoliberal ideology, finding instead ways to constructively combine its flexibility in thinking through unorthodox solutions to present-day challenges with its vigorousness to push these solutions through.

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Summer School

22-26 July 2019

BAK Summer School: Art as Politics

BAK Summer School: Art as Politics brings together those involved in arts, academia, and social action to collectively think through, learn about, and imagine critical, politically-informed artistic practices that grasp and influence our dramatically changing times.

Lecture

Education Program

11 March–15 April 2019

Course: Art and Politics

The basic course of the BAK School for Art and Politics is organized from 11 March until 15 April 2019. In six weekly sessions, the participants learn about how contemporary art relates to the political in an accessible way. The course is taught by Maria Hlavajova, BAK’s general and artistic director.

Exhibition

17 March 2018–31 August 2019

Museum as Parliament. The People’s Parliament of Rojava at the Van Abbemuseum

The Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven opens a space inspired by The People’s Parliament of Rojava, a project of the Democratic Self-Administration in Rojava, Northern-Syria, designed in collaboration with artist Jonas Staal and his New World Summit team. This project would not have been possible without the work of the New World Academy (2013–2016), co-founded by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, and Staal.

Exhibition

Discursive

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture, Conversation

Learning

Lecture

Conversation