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Basis voor Actuele Kunst - BAK

Public Institution
Former West Research Meeting and Seminar at Reina Sofía, Madrid
  BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht is pleased to announce a research meeting with the curators, partner art institutions, and research advisors of the long-term international project Former West, hosted by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid on 24-26 June 2009. The meeting's aim is to further the discussion on the project's research themes, the common denominator of which is art in relation to the social and political changes after 1989 in the so-called West. These are in focus during the first phase of the project, and include an examination of seminal art works, projects, and art practices; the post-1989 history of art discourses and exhibitions; transformations in art institutions; developments in non-institutional collaborations and art activism; the expansion and fluctuations of art markets, etc.

On 24 June 2009 from 18.00-21.30 hrs, a public seminar takes place at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid on the occasion of the research meeting. The seminar is centred around two keynote presentations by Jorge Luis Marzo, independent art critic and curator, Barcelona, entitled "The Concept of Citizenhood in Public Artistic Policy" and Marcelo Expósito, artist, writer, and Professor at the PEI, MACBA, Barcelona entitled "Fitful Dreams. Essays on the new Political Imagination." Within the context of the seminar, Former West curators Charles Esche, Maria Hlavajova, and Kathrin Rhomberg discuss the premises of the project and the project's Research Advisors Claire Bishop (art historian and critic, associate professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), New York); Boris Groys (philosopher, art historian and curator, professor of Aesthetics, Art History, and Media Theory, Center for Art and Media Technology, Karlsruhe); Piotr Piotrowski (professor and head of the Institute of Art History, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan'); Georg Schöllhammer (editor, author and curator, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Springerin, Vienna); and Simon Sheikh (art critic and curator, assistant professor of Art Theory and coordinator of the Critical Studies program, Malmö Art Academy, Malmö) make informal interventions about their current research connected to the project.

The research meeting continues with closed sessions on 25 and 26 June 2009, and includes an informal round table titled "Spain, for example," conceived as a follow-up to the public seminar, in which to gather and debate insights into the example of the developments of art in the particular circumstances of Spain after 1989. There the project team is joined by Jorge Luis Marzo, Marcelo Expósito, Nuria Enguita Mayo (curator and writer), and Asier Mendizabal (artist). Both the seminar and the round table are moderated by Jesús Carillo, director of Public Programs, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Filmed registrations of both activities will be presented at a later stage as part of the Digital Archive of Former West.

Former West is a long-term, multifaceted research, education, publishing, and exhibition project involving a variety of institutions and contexts with the aim of articulating a critical reflection on the transformation of artistic forms in the "West," prompted by the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Former West counteracts the more common term "former East" and starts with the following question: What impact do the events of 1989 have on the art, culture, and politics of the European West? What is the memory and the imprint of this critical event in art and cultural production?

Through a series of seminars, of which the Madrid meeting is a starting point, Former West begins a reflection on the artistic and cultural production of the new world order. In this sense, it searches out a re-activation of the antagonistic practices in our contemporaneity, replacing the axis of reflection around the 1968 "society of the spectacle" with the transformations of models of production and collective practice from 1989 onwards.

The research meeting in Madrid has been made possible through the support of the Sociedad Espan'ola de Conmemoraciones Estatales (SECC) and by Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.

At this stage of the project Former West we also gratefully acknowledge the endorsement of the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam and NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) [Dutch Organization for Scientific Research] Research Program Transformations in Art and Culture, The Hague. In addition we are sincerely appreciative of grants awarded to Former West from the EU Culture Programme, Brussels and the European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam.

Former West is coordinated and produced by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht. For more information on the project please visit
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