Learning Place

Learning Place: Art Amid The Contemporary Disquiet

educational program with students from MAR/KABK, The Hague

BAK, Utrecht (NL)

During the fall semester 2014, from the beginning of October till mid-December, BAK’s key platform of learning and talent development, Learning Place (LP), unfolds as an inquiry into a variety of artistic, theoretical, and activist positions vis-à-vis contemporary global mobilizations of resistance. Part of BAK’s research series Future Vocabularies and its year-long inquiry into the notion of “survival,” and titled Art Amid the Contemporary Disquiet, this fall course attempts to think through the multiple discontents experienced and expressed globally across the world today. Embodying what is somewhat superficially labeled as the “time of crisis” and manifesting itself in multiple ways at once—environmentally, politically, socially, militarily, economically, culturally, aesthetically, and otherwise—the global disquiet offers itself as a starting point for a series of analyses and speculations about the possibilities of art in the face of our conflict-ridden present.

We begin by considering the writings of, among others, political thinker Antonio Gramsci, philosophers Hannah Arendt and Giorgio Agamben, and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in order to test whether the thesis of the interregnum is applicable to our contemporary condition. Following Gramsci’s definition of the term as a crisis that lies “precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born,” we ask whether our current moment—a moment at which we are parting from the legacy of the modern—is not in fact uncovering the deep structural contradictions of global capitalist democracy. This question is further probed by reflecting on the practices of a selection of artists and conducting close readings of their works, namely Tania Bruguera, Renzo Martens, Aernout Mik, Rabih Mroué, Christoph Schlingensief, Jonas Staal, Hito Steyerl, and Artur Zmijewski. The manifold global class recompositions and their relationship to newly-forming constellations of what we used to call the “public” or “audience” are also taken into consideration, based on the readings of figures such as economist Guy Standing, curator and theorist Irit Rogoff, and social anthropologist David Graeber .

The participants of the fall semester 2014 are members of the Art and Politics research group in the Master in Artistic Research (MAR) program at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK), The Hague: Pierfrancesco Gava, Fela Kim, Mamoru Okuno, Sissel Marie Tonn-Petersen, Natasha Taylor, Anne-Marie Twigge, and Marieke Zwart.

The day-long sessions take place in 2014 on the following dates (at KABK, The Hague): 9 October, 16 October, 17–19 October (during the three-day session of New World Academy at BAK), 3 November, 13 November, 24 November, 4 December, and 18 December.

  • Part of Future Vocabularies long-term research and propositional trajectory rethinking art’s conceptual lexicon