Collectivities Otherwise: Party Lines, Counterpropositions and (Post-)Socialist Spaces
9, 10, 18 NOVEMBER 2022
When: Wednesday 9 November, 17hr
Where: Spui 25 (University of Amsterdam Academic-Cultural Centre)
Picking up on a series of conversations spanning Kassel and Amsterdam around the recent documenta fifteen, Collectivities Otherwise is presented on the anniversary of the opening of the so-called Iron Curtain (9 November) and offers a historical context for thinking about collectivity in this historical context and in critical relation to media technologies and socialist memory / memories of former East Germany, post-socialist Europe and Central Asia.
The event opens with a lecture from feminist art historian and curator Susanne Altmann, which is developed from her When Technology Was Female, a two-year research project (2022-23) currently underway with If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution. In the project, Altmann traces the resonances (and dissonances) between collective production and thinking of the post-revolutionary, soon-to-be Soviet territories (c.1918) up through the 1980s when new generations of artists — specifically female artists — in East Germany and the broader Eastern Bloc began taking up the tenants of Soviet avant-garde media experimentation but critically devoid of the promises of the Communist machine age. Parallel to her tracking of artists’ shifting relations to these promises of technology, Altmann also examines how entangled notions of “the collective” were reclaimed and re-articulated out- and alongside its status as an ideological tool of the socialist party apparatus. Following her talk, Altmann engages in a roundtable discussion with Professor Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes (University of Amsterdam), Eszter Szakaćs (co-founder, OFF Biennial Budapest) and Robbie Schweiger (Research Collections, Stedelijk Museum) on the contested notions of collectivity operative across (post-)socialist spaces then and now. The conversation is moderated by If I Can’t Dance programme curator Megan Hoetger.
Collectivities Otherwise: Party Lines, Counterpropositions and (Post-)Socialist Spaces is co-organized by If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution and the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture with generous support from the Faculty for Humanities. The event is a part of Susanne Altmann’s When Technology Was Female, a research project commissioned by If I Can’t Dance and curated by Megan Hoetger.
White Papers of Dissent, PhD Defense Ceremony Barbara Cueto
When: Thursday 10 November, 10hr
Where: Agnietenkapel (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 229-231, 1012 EZ Amsterdam)
Barbara Cueto is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and will introduce and publicly defend her project White Papers of Dissent, which investigates blockchain as a tool for radical imagination and aims to collectively practice the making of the world otherwise, thinking through the technology to rehearse new social and political imaginaries.
In her project, Cueto moves away from the economic discourse surrounding blockchain to understand the technology as a social apparatus from two complementary angles: the politics within the technology and its aesthetic experimentations. On the one hand, she delves into how the different uses of the technology develop new political imaginaries, forms of subversion and new forms of digital activism. On the other hand, Cueto explores how artists working with blockchains give rise to new forms of aesthetic resistance – they become rehearsals of the not-yet that formulate new meanings of social structures and prepare new spaces of autonomy. Through panel discussions, participatory events, artist talks and a podcast, White Papers of Dissent examines how blockchain can articulate new ways of organising in a community, circumventing hegemonic economic principles like the accumulation of capital and the focus on productivity, and, thus, reformulating the notion of value beyond the market. In this way, the project investigates how the particular characteristics of the technology can potentially re-address power structures and create alternative forms of governance adapted to the shared goals and wishes of a community. As a discursive project, it explores technology as a tool to concoct new elsewheres and otherwises: new forms of utopia with a biopolitical production adjusted to the characteristics and desires of the post-digital society.
Barbara Cueto, during the viva, will be questioned by: Prof.Dr. Gregory Sholette (Queens College, NYCU), Dr. Massimiano Mollona (Goldsmiths College, University of London), Prof.Dr. Nishant Shah (ArtEZ), Prof.Dr. Jeroen de Kloet (UvA), Prof.Dr. Margriet Schavemaker (UvA), Dr. Paula Albuquerque (Rietveld Academy). Supervisors of the project were Prof.Dr. Emilie Sitzia and Prof.Dr. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes. More information on the committee can be found here: http://www.gregorysholette.com/; https://www.gold.ac.uk/anthropology/research/staff/mollona-massimiliano/; https://www.artez.nl/en/nishant-shah-new-dean-of-artez-university-of-the-arts-graduate-school#; https://www.uva.nl/content/nieuws/hoogleraarsbenoemingen/2012/10/dhr.-dr.-ir.-b.j.-de-kloet.html; https://www.uva.nl/profiel/s/c/m.schavemaker/m.schavemaker.html; https://rietveldacademie.nl/en/page/1321/paula-andrade-da-silva-albuquerque.
Masterclass Workshop with Susanne Altmann: Socialist Collectivity and the Aesthetics of (Dys)Functionality
When: Thursday 10 November, 13–17hr
Where: OMHP (oudemanhuispoort) E2.01
Building Soviet socialism was the first attempt in the history of modernity to put utopian theory into large-scale practice. From the onset, this experiment was based on the participation of the masses. The concept of “the collective” was introduced as a means of coordination and management of broad infrastructures across the fields of economics, education, housing and elsewhere. Collectivism not only served as an organizational tool on a pragamatic level, but it also served as an ideological formula. Very soon after 1918, the radical climate of the immediate post-revolutionary period compelled visual artists, writers and architects to vigorously promote the idea of the collective aesthetically, as well as re-imagine the terms of social relationality and, in turn, develop new forms of cultural interaction.
With this as its backdrop, the Socialist Collectivity and the Aesthetics of (Dys)Functionality workshop, moves between textual and filmic materials spanning the early Soviet and late GDR periods, inviting participants to think with Altmann about the shifts/ruptures in artistic understandings of and relations to collectivism and “the collective” as they were entangled with ideologies of industrialization and technology. Prior to the workshop, participants will receive a selection of texts and excerpts from a range of writers, including Karl Popper, Anton S. Makarenko and Susanne Altmann, which will be engaged alongside a selection of films. Beginning with excerpts from Soviet films produced in 1920s, the workshop tracks from that early optimism up through the rigidification of such narratives in the decades following WWII and Stalin’s death – both in the Soviet Union, as well as in the visual language of socialist East Germany during the 1970s and 80s. The directors and artists under discussion are: David Maryan, Lev Kuleshov/ Aleksandr Rodchenko, Kira Muratova, Jürgen Böttcher, Evelyn Richter and the Erfurt Women Artists’ Group (Künstlerinnengruppe Erfurt).
Socialist Collectivity and the Aesthetics of (Dys)Functionality is open to 20 participants. All participants are asked to commit to the full four-hour workshop, as well as to give at least one hour outside of the workshop to engage with the reading materials. Interested individuals are asked to submit a 250-word motivational statement, which describes their interest in the workshop. Please submit your statement to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 23 October 23.59hr CET. Statements will be reviewed and applicants notified by 28 October.
The Socialist Collectivity and the Aesthetics of (Dys)Functionality workshop forms part of Susanne Altmann’s research project When Technology Was Female, a commission of If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution curated by Megan Hoetger as part of the If I Can’t Dance Edition IX – Bodies and Technologies biennial programme. For more on Altmann’s project, visit: https://ificantdance.org/artist/susanne-altmann/.
Principles of Internet Criticism: Aesthetics and Social Imaginaries, Geert Lovink
When: 18 November 2022, 16:30
Where: University Aula (Singel 411)
To accept his appointment as Professor of Art and Network Cultures in the Chair group of Modern and Contemporary Art History, Faculty of Humanities, UvA, Professor Geert Lovink will deliver his Inaugural Lecture. It will depart from an overview of INC’s activities and outline current relevance of the INC themes (Image Culture, Urgent/Hybrid/Digital publishing, Revenue Models in the Arts / Moneylab, Multidisciplinary Engagement, Design, and Knowledge Production), as well as stake a claim for how the entanglements of networks (collectivities) and technology can be both thought and acted out in art, social practice and academic work into the future.
The Institute of Network Cultures (INC) analyzes and shapes the terrain of network cultures through events, publications, and online dialogue. Our projects evolve around urgent publishing, alternative revenue models, critical design and making, digital counter culture and much more.
The field of network cultures revolves around the interaction between new forms of media, and the users of such new forms. With a strong focus on the transdisciplinary nature of new media and its DIY and open source components, the INC gives equal attention to the artistic, political and technical aspects of the internet and other emergent media. As such, the INC’s area of research extends to design, activism, art, philosophy, political theory, and urban studies and is not confined to the internet alone. Indeed, the INC maintains that the internet can only be understood at the conjuncture of these various fields and lines of inquiry. ‘Network cultures’ is seen as a strategic instrument to diagnose political and aesthetic developments in user-driven communication. Network cultures rapidly assemble, and can just as quickly disappear, creating a sense of spontaneity, transience, even uncertainty. Yet these forms are here to stay. However self-evident it is, collaboration is a foundation of network cultures. (https://networkcultures.org/about/)
Programme Participant Bios
Susanne Altmann is an independent feminist art historian, curator and leading scholar in the contextualisation of women’s artistic production in former East Germany. Recent projects include the landmark exhibition The Medea Insurrection: Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain, Albertinum, Dresden State Art Collections, 2018 and the Wende Museum, Los Angeles, 2020; the exhibition Pants Wear Skirts: The Erfurt Women Artists’ Group 1984–1994 (co-curator), neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin, 2021; and a literary transcription of British artist Monica Ross’s text- based work Valentine (2022).
Barbara Cueto is digital curator of C/O Berlin and curator of the recent White Papers on Dissent at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. She is interested in the intersection of activism, new technologies and contemporary art. Cueto has convened and curated projects internationally at institutions like MMOMA Moscow for the 6th Moscow Biennale for Young Art in Russia; the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Bétonsalon, Paris, Marres, Maastricht, Impakt Festival, Utrecht, and de Appel arts centre, Amsterdam. Cueto’s PhD committed is comprised of a range of artists, curators and researchers, including: Paula Albuquerque, Jeroen de Kloet, Massimiliano Mollona, Nishant Shah, Margriet Schavemaker and Gregory Sholette.
Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History, University of Amsterdam and academic director of the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture. She is interested in social art practices, performance, post-War art histories and art(istic) research. Her books include: Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland: Word, Image and Institutional Critique (ed., Valiz 2017); Post-War Germany and ‘Objective Chance’: W.G. Sebald, Joseph Beuys and Tacita Dean (Steidl 2011); Joyce in Art (Lilliput 2004); and James Joyce als Inspirationsquelle für Joseph Beuys (Olms 2001). She has curated internationally.
Megan Hoetger is a performance historian, curator and researcher. She holds a PhD in performance studies and, since 2019, is a programme curator with If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution. She was a 2021-22 BAK Fellow, Utrecht, and has previously held fellowship and researchpositions at Ghent University and the Dresden State Art Collections. From 2019-22 she was a contributor to the Whole Life Project at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Her work focuses on transnational distribution infrastructures and event cultures.
Robbie Schweiger has worked as a curator, researcher, writer, and educator. He studied art history at the University of Amsterdam and Russian and Eurasian Studies at Leiden University. Since 2019 he has been affiliated with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam as a researcher of collections (archive, library, and art collection). For his research on artist networks in Central Asia he received a NWO museum grant in 2021.
Eszter Szakács is a curator, researcher, and Ph.D. candidate at ASCA at the University of Amsterdam, where she is taking part in the project IMAGINART. Eszter is on the curatorial team of the grassroots art initiative OFF-Biennale Budapest, with which they are lumbung members and documenta fifteen participants. She was a member of the East Europe Biennial Alliance team that collectively curated the Kyiv Biennial in 2021. Eszter’s research and writing revolve around grassroots art organizing outside state art infrastructures.
Geert Lovink is a media theorist, internet critic and the author of several books, including: Uncanny Networks (2002); Dark Fiber (2002); My First Recession (2003); Zero Comments (2007), Networks Without a Cause (2012), Social Media Abyss (2016); and Sad by Design (2019). From 2004-2012 Lovink was associated professor in the new media program of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam; and from 2007-2017 he taught at the European Graduate School (Saas-Fee/Malta). 2005-2006 he was a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin. Since December 2021 he holds a position as Professor of Art and Network Cultures at the Art History Department, Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam.