Maria Hlavajova | From Art Institution to Community Portal
Let us think of instituting otherwise as a process of institution-making that unfolds through a succession of interconnected “instituent” events, engaging simultaneously with disruption and sustainability, proximity and distance, and movement and transition. This process presupposes solidarity with a community of cultural practices and forms of life which, driven by a deep disenchantment with the conditions of the collapsing world, holds the institution to account and pressures it to “always newly start again.”
The present, defutured by perpetual catastrophes of racial and extractivist capitalism, poses a particular set of challenges to this process. If instituting otherwise is clearly less about institution than about creating conditions for how to be together otherwise, the task ahead is to envision and actualize the pathways toward another future. Could we, then, imagine the art institution as a community portal, an interstice, a tiny intervening space of rehearsal for moving between one world and the next, between the present and the not-yet? And can they be not merely prefigured and rehearsed, but also lived, as if that were possible?
Speaking from within these aesthetico-political experimentations underway at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, Maria Hlavajova will share tentative notes that issue from a collective, collaborative process and ongoing conversation within the BAK community. She will further draw on learnings from BAK’s ongoing research itinerary Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–ongoing), and in particular the project Trainings for the Not-Yet (2019–2020), co-convened with artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, as well as a continuing exchange with BAK’s 2020 Fellows.
Maria Hlavajova is founding General and Artistic Director of "basis voor actuele kunst" (BAK) Utrecht, since 2000. In 2008–2016, she was Research and Artistic Director of the collaborative research, exhibition, and education project FORMER WEST, which culminated in the publication Former West: Art and the Contemporary After 1989 (which she co-edited with Simon Sheikh, 2016). Hlavajova has instigated and (co-)organized numerous projects at BAK and beyond, including the series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–ongoing), Future Vocabularies (2014–2017), New World Academy (with Jonas Staal, 2013–2016), among many other international (research) projects. Her curatorial work includes Call the Witness, Roma Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale, 2011; Citizens and Subjects, Dutch Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice, 2007; and Borderline Syndrome: Energies of Defense, Manifesta 3, Ljubljana, 2000. Among publications she edited are Toward the Not-Yet: Art as Public Practice (with Jeanne van Heeswijk and Rachael Rakes, forthcoming 2021); Deserting from the Culture Wars (with Sven Lütticken, 2020); Propositions for Non-Fascist Living: Tentative and Urgent (with Wietske Maas, 2019).
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