Social dimensions in contemporary art

October 26th, 2006 § Comments Off § permalink

A one-day seminar on political art 
 26 October 2006 in Umeå
Moderator: Jan-Erik Lundstrom, director of Bild Museet, Umeå University.

Tone Olaf Nielsen is a curator, presently working for NIFCA, Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art. She is a co-founding member of the artist-curator collective, Goll & Nielsen, and the curatorial platform Kuratorisk Aktion. Her curatorial practice is strongly politicized and unfolds in the field between art and activism, aesthetics and political mobilization. She lives and works in Copenhagen and Los Angeles.
In her talk, Tone Olaf Nielsen will discuss the possibilities of using the medium of exhibition as an activist tool for social change and present four of her recent exhibition projects: Democracy When?! Activist Strategizing in Los Angeles (Los Angeles, 2002); Minority Report: Challenging Intolerance in Contemporary Denmark (Aarhus, 2004); Niagara Falls Artist Host Program (Toronto, 2004); and Rethinking Nordic Colonialism: A Postcolonial Exhibition Project in Five Acts (Reykjavik, Nuuk, Tórshavn, Rovaniemi, 2006).
Iratxe Jaio was born in Basque Country, but lives currently in the Netherlands.

Klaas van Gorkum is Dutch, but has lived in Africa for most of his youth. As partners from different geographical and social backgrounds, they share between them a sense of dislocation, and a keen interest in what makes up cultural identity. Their work is an investigation into the conflict between individual and collective identity, using documentary methods to visualize the relation between people and their social, cultural and physical contexts.
Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum will in their talk reflect on the promise and pitfalls of representation and the instrumentalisation of art. They will focus on the artistic strategies they employed while working on OpTV, a site-specific and community-based project that took place in Transvaal, a working-class area in Den Haag, that is marked for large-scale demolition in favour of urban renewal. OpTV is a video channel, that has been playing outside, on a special screen attached to a house in the neighbourhood, until it was torn down.

Its aim was to be a window on the transformation processes of Transvaal, connecting experiences of daily life on the ground to developments in society, and placing them within a broader framework of changing political policies. The program for the channel has been assembled along themes such as social control, cultural confrontations, urban planning and its consequences on the private life of Transvaal inhabitants. It was made up of art video, protest video, real estate advertising, government propaganda, archival footage and contributions from the local community. Read more on www.parallelports.org

Katarina Pierre is curator at Bildmuseet. She was the project director of Visual Cultures in Dialogue, a multileveled two-year exchange program with South African academy and art institutions. She recently completed an MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. At Bildmuseet, she has been responsible for many exhibitions of international contemporary art. She works with the project The Relational Museum.

The Relational Museum is a project at Bildmuseet, in collaboration with artist/architect Apolonija Sustersic, which aims to investigate and develope the various kinds of relationships between the contemporary art institution and its audience and local environment and community.

Joanna Rajkowska is an artist living and working in Warszaw. Public space and community exchanges have been recurrent themes in her artistic praxis, such as her much recognized project Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue. See www.rajkowska.com.
“My presentation will focus on a political aspect of public art, political in a very fundamental way – understood as a relationship of an individual toward another individual in a social context. Precisely – I would like to talk about few public projects of mine that were based on my disbelief in public discourse of any kind and conviction that common experience based on bodily pleasure, joy, silence, wonder or even dreams can produce a deep sense of an ephemeral ‘community’ of a group, of formulating a common message. What I propose is not an undervaluation of public art that proposes a rational discourse as a way of finding consensus but an idea to introduce an element of common experience that is based on primary acceptance of his/her physicality. In my opinion public art can create an environment, where people can stay together with no necessity to communicate, just through a mere acceptance that they are in the same place – toward each other.”
- Joanna Rajkowska

Johan Tirén and Runo Lagomarsino are artists living and working in Malmö and Stockholm.
They have for some time, both together and individually, been working with art that takes a focus on political structures. Their artwork circles around critical analyses of who writes history and how history itself is identified.
In their work they have looked into the connection between the political agenda of extreme nationalistic groups and the “normal” political structures. They have also worked with the concept of universalism and how it relates to European colonialism.
Runo Lagomarsino’s last exhibitions include Time Space and Disorientation at Borgovico 33 in Como

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