As part of the Dutch contribution to the 52nd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2007, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst and Utrecht University initiate a new master course in Experimental Curating in the Age of Mobility. The course consists of the following three parts: eight introductory seminars, a series of (public) lectures organized by BAK and Studium Generale, Utrecht University and follow-up seminars at BAK and Van Abbemuseum. This course, a pilot project with ambitions for a long collaboration between BAK and Utrecht University, aims to connect a space for contemporary art to an institution of higher learning and vice versa, to offer the academic world a vista into the world of cultural practice that is firmly embedded in critical theoretical thinking.
The course is part of the ‘extension’ of the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. It is envisioned as a platform for debating and discussing issues related to contemporary art and other disciplines by means of discussion groups, seminars, lectures and conversations. Contemporary art here is understood as a site where larger networks of cultural, political and social discourse intersect, thus creating new possibilities; a site where ideals that could potentially counterbalance problematic developments in the public sphere can be re-imagined.
Introductory seminars take students from a basic introduction into the principles of curating artistic projects that deal with social and political issues. Examples of such curatorial practice are considered, with particular focus on discursive models of public engagement and the relation between the public art space and democratic models or possibilities. The institutions of the museum and ‘kunsthal’ are scrutinized to examine their potential today. This introduction is followed by more specific analysis of two particular case studies – Citizens and Subjects, the Dutch contribution to the 52nd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia and Be[com]ing Dutch, a current project organized by Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.
Maria Hlavajova, artistic director, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst and Charles Esche, director, Van Abbemuseum, lead the seminars and are joined by other curators and artists from the Netherlands and beyond. These include: Bart de Baere (director, MuHKA), Will Bradley (writer and curator), Annie Fletcher (critic and curator), Teresa Gleadowe (writer and curator), Aernout Mik (artist) and Mario Rizzi (artist). Participating students are asked to sketch out their own curatorial project and present their ideas in the eighth seminar. Dates: every Tuesday from 11 September till 30 October 2007, 15.15–18.00 hrs, Utrecht University.
Participating students are expected to attend the (public) lectures within the series Citizens and Subjects: Practices and Debates, organized by BAK and Studium Generale, Utrecht University in collaboration with the Treaty of Utrecht. The keynote lectures are delivered by scholars, artists and curators engaged with issues such as citizenship, immigration, the religious concerns of today’s society and the fear stemming from these issues in the contemporary social and political context of the West. Speakers include: Zygmunt Bauman (sociologist), Rosi Braidotti (philosopher), James Kennedy (historian), Aernout Mik (artist), Paul Schnabel (sociologist) and Tariq Ramadan (Muslim scholar and activist). Dates: 25 October, 1 November, 8 November, 15 November, 22 November, 23 November 2007, 20.00 hrs, Utrecht University Aula.
Finally, students attend follow-up seminars organized after the keynote lectures. In a group with invited participants from the field of art, concrete projects and issues are analysed in detail in an animated discussion group. Among those invited to present their projects and ideas are Kathrin Rhomberg (curator), Marion von Osten (artist/writer/curator), Thomas Hirschhorn (artist), Rutger Pontzen (art critic and writer) and others. Dates: 26 October, 2 November and 9 November 2007 at BAK, Utrecht, 16.00 hrs and 16 November and 30 November 2007 at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 11 hrs.