02 March 2020 Games.Fights.Encounters | OnCurating Space - Zurich | 07–28 March 2020
Exhibition and mediation project on art and activism.
The exhibition assembles the politically engaged practices of artists and practices of activists, whose work is directly concerned with taking up political positions and engaging in interventions, ground work and various forms of activism. The exhibition aims to become a contact zone where different publics are invited to actively negotiate what has to be done, and in what way.
The project will take place at the OnCurating Space and elsewhere in March 2020, and will include an extensive event programme with various encounters, series of talks, lectures and discussions as way of examining these intersectionalities and sharing an expanded public space.
You will find the detailed programme of events here: https://oncurating-space.org/games-fights- encounters/
With video works by Paloma Ayala, Baltensperger + Siepert, Daniela Brugger, Luke Ching, Chto Delat, Enar de Dios Rodríguez, Harun Farocki, Jeff Hong, Marc Lee, Yoshinori Niwa, Dima Nechawi, Mohamad Omran, Uriel Orlow, Ursula Palla, Robert Schlicht + Romana Schmalisch, Jonas Staal.
And with participation of activist groups and cultural projects: Architecture for Refugees Schweiz, Autonome Schule Zürich, The Creative Memory of The Syrian Revolution, „le peuple qui manque – a people is missing (Kantuta Quiros, Aliocha Imhoff), Love Lazers, Libreria delle Donne, foodwaste.ch/OGG Bern, Progetto Oreste, Stadtlücken, Video Activism, Warsaw Biennale, Who writes his_tory?, The Media Office of Kafranbel.
The presence of political discourse in contemporary art has been firmly established for decades, with its intense and important interventions. In our current political climate, where in many states and nations the raging economics of global capital and its outcomes have in many instances been followed by reactionary votes and support for age-old heteronormative and identitarian fundamentalisms, the necessity of the influence of political art and a range of voices dramatically increases. The accelerating success of populist rhetoric and increasingly concerning consequences of global warming only add urgency to the matter. It is fair to state that art and activism on their own are not enough to open up minds and affect the fundamental ground level change necessary to realise a fairer and more equal global society.
Therefore, we are inspired to use the idea of “chains of equivalence” as theorised by Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau as a starting point, in order to present positions of shared interests of activism, art practice and curating, and everything that happens in between, in a conversation about how these spheres affect the creating and reshaping of society towards justice and norms of equality, and how these respective practices negotiate their roles to have an effect in societies.
The exhibition developed for the OnCurating Project Space aims to make encounters possible without levelling off the essential differences between artistic and political activism. It simultaneously attempts to enhance a condition of plurality and display a variety of voices grounded in different realities and which claim disparate urgencies. The exhibition is designed to withstand the ensuing tension, and through juxtaposition, to create a conflict zone of the existing artistic and activist approaches in all their ambivalence, where new connections can be formulated.
Curatorial direction and organization: Dorothee Richter, Ronald Kolb
Curatorial team: Marco Arrigoni, Alina Baldini, Maya Bamberger, Myriam Boutry, Jose Cáceres, Anastasia Chaguidouline, Gözde Filinta, Giulia Frattini, Beatrice Fontana, Annick Girardier, Arianna Guidi, Salome Gviniashvili, Abongile Gwele, Daniela Hediger, Noémi Jeunet, Nur Kaya, Rafia Kodmani, Ronny Koren, Eveline Mathis, Courtney Meier, Domenico Roberti, Tea Virolainen, Elena Vogiatzi, Noriko Yamakoshi, Patrycja Wojciechowska.
The presence of political discourse in contemporary art has been firmly established for decades, with its intense and important interventions. At the present time when the pervasive and raging economics of global capital and its outcomes, has in many instances been followed by reactionary votes and old-aged heteronormative and identity fundamentalisms, the need for resonance of politically driven art and polyphony of positions only increases, and makes diversity something to be wished for. The accelerating success of populist rhetoric and increasingly concerning consequences of global warming only add the urgency to matter.
The limitations of impact of political art and activism voices is to be understood, on their own they are not enough to open up minds and affect the fundamental ground-level change necessary to accomplish a more equal global society. In our decision to take this initiative and investigate what can be achieved with politically driven artistic works and activist practice, we have decided to use the idea of “chains of equivalence” as theorized by Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, as starting point, in order to present positions of shared interests of activism, art practice and curating, and everything that happens in-between. The intent is to initiate a conversation of how these spheres affect the creating and reshaping of society towards the just and norms of equality. And how these respective practices negotiate their roles to affect societies.
Mouffe and Laclau give an insight into nature of political activity, they describe how political identities form, and most importantly stipulate the process of effort to gain political influence, as based on “chains of equivalence”, while advocating political space defined around agonistic struggle. The space of political is a space of conflict, of complex strategies and transformations, where distinctively different political identities form alliances in order to challenge dominant hegemony and change existing power relations. The public space, or rather public spaces are spaces of dissensus as Chantal Mouffe advocates. It is a dynamic landscape filled with opposing forces and active leagues directed on extending the logic of equivalence and seeking new equalities. It is ever changing, tectonic struggle against common adversary.
The exhibition developed for the OnCurating Project Space, aims to make encounters possible without leveling off the essential differences between artistic and political activism. It simultaneously attempts to enhance a condition of plurality and display a variety of voices grounded in different realities and which claim disparate urgencies. The exhibition is designed to endure the ensuing tension, and through careful positioning, to create a conflict zone of the existing artistic and activist approaches, an arena where both breaks and continuities may take place, giving hopefully shape to new connections.
As Oliver Marchart claims, a public sphere can emerge and be effective only if a debate, potentially conflictual, takes place. Therefore, the breakdown of a languid and widespread consensus is needed and a state of constructive antagonism is even demanded for an actual social change and a contingent re-addressing of democracy. Antagonism is thus to be understood as a condition for possibilities to become manifest, to be broaden and propagated, so to delineate a counterpart to all those taken for granted assumptions and latent ideologies that lie in the “muddy waters of social struggle” (O. Marchart).
One could say that political art practice similarly to political activism is a form of mapping, of claiming a site, as place of discourse and agency, that leads to building new connections. Hence, the exhibition aims to chart a piece of that map and show the turmoiling network of places, artists, groups and individuals who claim a political identity and right to speak up and intervene into the real, by marking their presence.We invited politically engaged artists together with activists and NGOs, whose work is directly concerned with taking up political position, interventions, ground work and various forms of activism. Artists videos are shown alongside information material, such as printed statements, newspapers, flyers, partial archives from past initiatives, websites etc., from local and international activist groups which intervene directly in social processes and are led by political agenda.
Combining an intangible practice and way of reception with a more tactile one, is intended as a way of showing different forms of activism and agency.
The project puts together various voices and attitudes on what activism and political art might be. It is set in motion by a diverse groups of people with different cultural backgrounds, therefore starting on the subjective positions of these individuals. We seek to investigate their methodology and forms of expression, and liminal zone where activities and attitudes blur and mix. We want to offer a space for a new generation of political groups, activists and artists pursuing to appropriate forms of practice in which the use of specific media and means of communication play a significant role.
The method behind display strategy and lexical communication is presented through the multiplicity of voices and shown in a network of keywords along with glossary and bibliography presented within exhibition materials, and embedded in understanding of curating as activity invested in not only what is being shown, but also in what can happen, in creating possibility of an action. The exhibition is to take characteristics of public space with aim on equal and active assembly, knowledge production and state of learning activated by encounters made possible. To reflect, explore, investigate, intervene and imagine. The exhibition aims to become a contact zone, where different publics are invited to actively negotiate about search for new solutions and formulas, with a lively events program, in order to create a further space of exchange and to encourage the public to take a stand.
“games.fights.encounters” is a first tentative to build and present a map of diversity of voices which acts and responses through political engagement and artistic practice.
It attempts to look at nature of activism, its position within political and social and its relationship to culture and art, trying to explore the dynamics behind these possibilities.
The aim of the Oncurating Project Space in Zurich is to provide a platform for new formats in a realm embracing contemporary art, activism, theory, performance, music and curating. We conceive of visual culture as an ensemble of processes in the formation of a society’s social space. As a form of praxis and criticism alike, art provokes thought about society, politics, life and the private sphere by bringing together knowledge from a wide range of disciplines.
The focusses of the OnCurating Project Space are “race”, class, gender politics and, in connection with those themes, migratory movements, post-democracy and infrastructural changes, but also the digital realm and how it impacts society. Ideally, contemporary art, curating and cultural analysis are understood here as a theory of praxis and a praxis of theory. In this context we regard curating as a meta discourse that permits new and freer forms of meaning production while at the same time offering impulses for ongoing critical reflection. With the declared aim of providing a transit space where cooperation with local, national and international projects and partners gives rise to an ever broader network, the new venue is backed by the registered association OnCurating.org as well as artists, filmmakers and curators.At the same time, the proximity to the artists in the Visarte studio building represents a vital link to the Zurich art scene. In analogy to the shared space OnCurating provides on the web for discourse among widely different players, the OnCurating Project Space is intended as a space of possibility that takes a fundamental curatorial stance as a point of departure for cooperation of many different kinds.