Art – How Much is it Still an Idea for the Future?


6 December, 13:00–19:00, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana
Clémentine Deliss, Zoran Erić, iLiana Fokianaki, Ana Janevski, Nomaduma Masilela, Cuauhtémoc Medina González, Lívia Páldi, Marjetica Potrč, Marcelo Rezende, Adam Szymczyk

The conference focuses on the concept of contemporary art, especially on the question of how much it is able to shape ideas for the future. If modernism was to a large extent oriented towards the future and postmodernism towards the past, then we would like to know which temporality determines contemporary art. Further on, we will discuss what it actually means when we say that contemporary art is global art. Is it a concept co-shaped by subjects from different parts of the world or a construct of the global art system that has boomed after 1989, when the “old first world” triumphantly spread the doctrine of neoliberal capitalism across the globe?


13:00–13:15 → Welcome by: Zdenka Badovinac (MG+MSUM) and Urška Jurman (Igor Zabel Association)

First panel – What is Global Art?
Nowadays, the big world museums are more frequently presenting art on the basis of geographical diversity. But what has actually remained a common denominator in this advocating of heterogeneity? The latest documenta, for example, advocated global diversity by stepping beyond art and also exhibiting the traditional practices of the local cultures of indigenous communities, on which colonialism imposed a Western concept of art and culture. Furthermore, what do the various local spaces get from these representations of diversity and to what extent can such a treatment of diversity avoid the mechanisms of capital and its culture industries? To whom are the critical voices formed by international exhibitions speaking?


13:15–14:00 → Marcelo Rezende: The Inner Scar (keynote speech)
Globalism-fin-de-siècle-global museum-global discourse-global art? Did it happen this away, the promise of the brighter days to come? However, as the philosopher Louis Althusser is always reminding us, the future lasts forever.
Marcelo Rezende is a critic, curator and writer, who is currently the co-director of Kunstarchiv der Avantgarden in Dresden and former director of the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia (2012–15). He is based in Salvador and Berlin.

14:00–14:20 → Cuauhtémoc Medina: Long Live the Synecdoche! In Defence of Biennials and Globalized Art
This paper departs from the experience of the current Shanghai Biennale to make an apology of biennial art and globalized art, in relation to the way they represent the experience of particulars involve in global synecdoches without the mediation of generalization or universalism.
Cuauhtémoc Medina González is an art critic, curator and art historian based in Mexico City. He was the first associate curator of the Tate Modern’s Latin American collection and is chief curator for the 12th Shanghai Biennale (2018).

14:20–14:40 → Nomaduma Rosa Masilela:"becomes strange when"
How can ideas of the incomplete and strange serve to think through contemporary art, its temporality and narratives? What is the place of intimacy and scale in framing what is said and unsaid across the platforms of contemporary art?
Nomaduma Rosa Masilela is a writer, historian and artist based in New York City. She was a member of the curatorial team for the 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art.

14:40–15:00 → Adam Szymczyk, A Future of Certain Illusion?
We can imagine a multitude of communal futures and pluriversal knowledge, instead of thinking in singular – however progressively global this singularity should become. The seeming-real, received terms of "modern" and "contemporary art" are systemically produced and reproduced within the Western-originated apparatus comprising institutions, agents-stakeholders and rituals of culture and knowledge production. The terms of engagement are implicated in coloniality of power. Unlearning is a prerequisite for delinking.
Adam Szymczyk was artistic director of documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel in 2017. He was director at Kunsthalle Basel (2004–14) and co-curator of the 5th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art in 2008. Currently he is based in Basel, Switzerland.

15:00–15:15 → Break

15:15–16:00 → Discussion moderated by Ana Janevski
Ana Janevski is currently curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Second panel – Art, an Idea for the Future
Although contemporary art frequently describes the future as dystopian, there are many art projects that do not describe time, but merge with it, last in it, develop with it, and thus, in their own way, co-create the future. The present has become embedded in the very tissue of art and it therefore seems that art also has a greater chance of changing reality. Even though contemporary art is an important social agent and a vibrant platform for various micropolitics, we nevertheless have to ask what real impact it actually has and further on, how much of an effect should art have in reality? Which experience of art then provides the most important basis for the future?


16:15–17:00 → Clémentine Deliss: Recalibrating Arts Institutions Towards an Ecology of Remediation, Subjectivity and Autonomy
In today’s Europe, arts institutions have to recognise their role in creating and maintaining sheltering structures for artists and students to meet, exchange and develop self-engineered and trans-border forms of collectivization. Faced with increasing standardization, control checks, redundancies and budget cuts, today’s art institution needs more than ever before to be metabolic, subjective and vigilant.
Clémentine Deliss is a curator, publisher and cultural historian. Between 2010 and 2015, she directed the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt. She is currently professor of Curatorial Theory & Dramaturgical Practice at the University of Arts & Design, Karlsruhe.

17:00–17:20 → Zoran Erić: The Concept of Contemporaneity in Socialist Yugoslavia
A few key interpretations of the concept of contemporaneity were in Socialist Yugoslavia considered as formative for the construction of the model of self-management in socialist society, most notably in its cultural sphere. In the artistic practice, the light motive for these arguments can be discerned from the manifesto of the group EXAT 51.
Zoran Erić is currently chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade. His research fields include the meeting points of urban geography, spatial-cultural discourse and the theory of radical democracy.

17:20–17:40 → iLiana Fokianaki: The Future States of Art  Instituting in the Age of Authoritarian Statism
Fokianaki will explore how institutional and curatorial practices respond to the current economic and socio-political shifts in the West as well as the shift of liberal democracies towards what Nicos Poulantzas has named authoritarian statism. She will investigate how art can utter its future existence through action and change, vis-à-vis an ideological landscape.
iLiana Fokianaki is a writer and curator based in Athens and Rotterdam. In 2013, she founded State of Concept Athens and is the co-founder of the research platform Future Climates. Fokianaki is currently a lecturer at the Dutch Art Institute.

17:40–18:00 → Marjetica Potrč: New Knowledge, High Hopes
The Soweto Project: Socially engaged practice in a real-world situation creates a new vocabulary centred on people. Participatory practice in action to construct a hopeful future against the neoliberal present.
Marjetica Potrč  is an artist and architect based in Ljubljana and Berlin. From 2011 to 2018, she was a professor of social practice at the University of Fine Arts/HFBK in Hamburg, where she taught Design for the Living World, a class on participatory practices.

18:00–18:15 → Break

18:15–19:00 → Discussion moderated by Lívia Páldi
Lívia Páldi is the curator of visual arts at Project Arts Centre in Dublin.

The conference is free of charge; it will be held in English.

Conceived and organized by: Moderna galerija, Ljubljana in collaboration with the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory and the ERSTE Foundation