International Contemporary Art

Call for papers on The Politics of African Contemporary Art – Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics

seismopoliteRecent approaches to African contemporary art often celebrate the advent of a global contemporary art scene in which they see an abolition of the provincialist and historicist concepts that were imposed by the West during the colonial period. One assumes that by taking part in new and post-historical/ post-national networks of exchange, facilitated by large-scale international exhibitions, biennials and fairs, artists can express themselves more truly as they are no longer doomed to wrestle with the notions of the pre-colonial/ colonial; to be measured against Western art-historical paradigms, or to be defined via enduring fictions about their own parochialism.

This issue of Seismopolite aims to assess the validity of this perspective and to further inquire into the possibilities and limitations pertaining to the global contemporary art scene in terms of addressing political issues in, and rewriting the history and future of African societies (as well as African art history) in a consequential way through art.

In particular we wish to shed a critical light on how the contemporary art economy influences the political agency and interaction of artistic expression in African societies, and reversely, how African art, although it may be free to address political issues, can retain or represent such a political agency once it has become part of the global contemporary.

Contributors from diverse disciplinary backgrounds are invited to submit essays, exhibition reviews or interviews that address the theme “The politics of African contemporary art” through a high variety of possible angles.

Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

  • The role of art and artists in the rewriting of (art) history and political geography.
  • The development of international contemporary art venues/ festivals/ biennials in African countries, and their impact on the societal function and meaning of art in these contexts.
  • The agency and potential of art to stimulate new future trajectories in precarious socio-political situations.
  • Political activism and post-colonial consciousness in art and art communities under colonial rule.
  • The relationship between cultural politics/ geopolitics and international contemporary art venues/ festivals/ biennials in African countries.
  • Changes to the role and the economy of the artist in African societies.
  • Processes of translation in the global mediation of African contemporary art.
  • Aesthetics and politics of art in ‘African diaspora’.

We accept submissions continuously, but to make sure you are considered for the upcoming issue, please send your proposal, CV and samples of earlier work to submissions@seismopolite.com within February 20, 2013. Completed work will be due March 8, 2013. Commissioned works will be translated into Norwegian and published in a bilingual version.

Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics is a bilingual English and Norwegian quarterly, which investigates the possibilities of artists and art scenes worldwide to reflect and influence their local political situation.

Current issue: www.seismopolite.com

Previous issues: www.seismopolite.com/artandpolitics

Contact: submissions@seismopolite.com

2ND KUMASI BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM: COMMUNITY ARTS IN FOCUS

Date: July 16 -August 6, 2011 Venue: Kumasi and the Nearby Village of Abetenim in Ashanti Region of Ghana

The problem the symposium addresses is the widening gap between contemporary African artist and the community in changing times. There is an obvious social disconnection; yet, the fine arts and craft are viewed the same by the general public, including deep in the village. How can we meaningfully engage the rural sub-Saharan population in the contemporary artistic process? How can we broaden the scope of the Curio Kiosks project of the first Kumasi Symposium that was a successful attempt to bring international contemporary art to the general public who might not normally come to art galleries and museums?

In light of these questions and social concerns, the 3-week event will focus on community arts practice, as a response to the growing problem. We define community arts, also known as “participatory arts” or “community-based arts,” as the world of artistic processes and forms made by, with, or for a community setting that may emphasize community involvement and collaboration. Most often, it involves engagement with the issues and practices for communal bonds and empowerment for grassroots social change. We will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural sites such as market places, local schools, village centers, and others as laboratories for workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific installations, lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world.

Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. We aim that the participants will be inspired by one another’s work.

Registration for the 3-week event will be $520 / €395 / £328 in Ghana or equivalent in local currency; and early registration is $466 / €350 / £305 (till April 17, 2011). Participants are responsible for the costs of travel and materials; and we will provide you with a letter of candidature for your sponsor. Hotel accommodation or homestay for cultural immersion can be arranged within your budget. Dinner will be by cooperative kitchen in which we all work together in sharing the planning, cost, shopping and cooking; the estimate is $7-9/day. It has been more of a dinner party, a time to come together to sample national cuisines, have fun at the table and bond as a community. The symposium opens with a 2-day seminar. It will close with a Community ArtsFest, which will involve two days of exhibitions and screenings of project results along with food and performances by indigenous music and dance troupes from surrounding villages. Prizes to the winners of the “GHANA: 2011 OPEN ARchiTecture CHALLENGE” (International art+architecture Design Competition) will be awarded at the closing banquette.

Grand Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Mitsuru Hamada, Architect, Tokyo, Japan)

Second Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Giuseppe Calabrese, Architect, Sydney, Australia)

Third Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Claire Taggart, Architect, London, UK)

Interested individuals and collaborative groups should apply by submitting the abstract of your paper (200 words maximum) for the seminar or project proposal in English with a brief biography (200 words maximum) of the presenter to info@nkafoundation.org. The submitter should include title of the contribution and author(s) information such as name, affiliation, address, phone contact, and e-mail. Upon acceptance, author(s) can decide to publish the full text or only the abstract in symposium proceedings. The deadline for the full text submission is July 1. If submitting full paper (6,000 words maximum in APA format) e-mail it to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. For additional information go to www.nkafoundation.org

(Press Version)

2ND KUMASI BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM: COMMUNITY ARTS IN FOCUS

Date: July 16 -August 6, 2011 Venue: Kumasi and the Nearby Village of Abetenim in Ashanti Region of Ghana

The 3-week event will focus on community arts practice, as a response to the growing problem of widening gap between contemporary African artist and the rural community. We will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural sites such as market places, local schools, village centers, and others as laboratories for workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific installations, lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world. Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. Project is open to only serious applicants. For additional information or registration e-mail to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. Project web site is www.nkafoundation.org.

 

KUMASI CURIO KIOSKS II

(Arts+ Architecture Social Experiment)

Kumasi Curio Kiosks II is a part of the 2nd Kumasi Biennial Symposium that will run from July 16 – August 6, 2011, as a response to the growing problem of widening gap between contemporary arts practitioners and the broader public across the sub-Sahara. As arts+ architecture social experiment, project is to bring together arts specialists, architects, and social interest groups from diverse parts of the world in a transnational platform to trade in cultural capital with the local public who might not normally come to art galleries and museums.

In the project, we will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural spaces such as market places, local schools, and village centers, as empirical sites for curio kiosk workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world. Each participant or collaborating team will created own curio kiosk; the size/design is open to the subject-specific needs and site-specific necessities. We use the term “curio kiosk” in anticipation that the outward design or content will invoke curiosity and bear special attraction to the public.

Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. Project is open to only serious applicants; submissions will be reviewed until July 8, 2011. Submit your curio kiosk proposal (sketches/description) to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. Project web site is www.nkafoundation.org. And we seek as we go, nominations for the Project Curator and an expert in filmmaking/media arts, to do the DVD and create the e-publication.

Photos from the 2009 Kumasi Curio Kiosks

Slipper Kiosk Project by Patrick Tagoe-Turkson, Ghana

Portrait Shop by Brigitte Mulders, The Netherlands (portrait painter)

For additional information on the 2009 Kumasi Curio Kiosks, see:

(1) http://www.artinprocess.com/Kiosks this is a 05:56 minute video on Curio Kiosks Project.

(2) Photo Documentary, 500 photos on Flickers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artinprocess/sets/72157621992680241/ and

(3) http://www.wandsbektransformance.de/news.html to download the Artists’ Catalogue.

Leonardo On-Line: Global Warning Symposium / 01SJ Biennial

The GLOBAL WARNING Symposium is organized by ZER01: The Art and Technology Network, City of San Jose Public Art Program and CADRE Laboratory for New Media at San Jose State University in collaboration with LEONARDO/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, and with additional support from the Montalvo Arts Center.

The two-day symposium examines the interconnectedness of ideas and actions and the current relationships between art-making, science and ecology. A group of distinguished artists, scientists and policy-makers will present and examine case studies of collaborative environmental projects. A session highlighting environmental policy and an overview of activist environmental art will provide context for scientist-artist dialogues engaging active audience participation. Three teams selected to develop designs for the Climate Clock—a landmark public art project that incorporates Silicon Valley’s measurement, data management and communications technologies to aid the understanding of climate change—will present their work. Public policy, urban planning, sustainable design and civic cultural/economic development strategies serve as platforms for a look at how public art can stimulate community dialogue about these issues of critical importance.

Day 1 of the Global Warning Symposium will be sponsored by Leonardo/ISAST. Participants include: Meredith Tromble (Moderator), Stephen Schneider, Gail Wight, Karen Holl, Andrea Polli and Marisa Jahn.

2010 01SJ BIENNIAL OVERVIEW

The 01SJ Biennial is a multidisciplinary, international contemporary art festival that focuses on the intersection between art, technology and digital culture. The 3rd 01SJ Biennial will take place September 16–19, 2010 in venues throughout downtown San Jose, CA.

BUILD YOUR OWN WORLD

The theme of the 3rd 01SJ Biennial, “Build Your Own World,” is predicated on the notion that as artists, designers, engineers, architects, corporations and citizens we have the tools to (re)build the world—in both large and small ways. It is about how powerful ideas and innovative individuals from around the world can make a difference and come together to build a unique, citywide platform for creative solutions and public engagement. It is about the inspiration needed to build a world we want to live in and are able to live with.

Leonardo On-Line: Global Warning Symposium / 01SJ Biennial.

Isolation is the essence of Land Art (WDM)


It has been over 20 years since I was in New Mexico. When I considered why this was, I realized that most of the places I’ve traveled to for art events in the US have been where CAA, AAM, or AFTA conferences usually take place, like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, and New York City. I guess a city needs to have at least 1,500 contiguous hotel rooms adjacent to a conference center to host a large conference, which Albuquerque does not have (yet). In general, most people travel to Santa Fe to see the opera, go to galleries and in the last decade to visit Site Santa Fe, an international contemporary art biennial that began in 1995. This is a town that boasts over 250 galleries with under 150,000 residents! With so much focus on the arts, it seems like there should be more of an “art world” presence. Even Lucy Lippard, Nancy Holt, and Bruce Nauman call New Mexico home (out of approximately 1 million people in the entire state). And, it is the home to Walter De Maria’s The Lightening Field.

Last spring I was invited to give a lecture in November at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque by Bill Gilbert, artist, professor and founder of The Land Arts of the American West program (2000). I had seen a call for artists for a LAND/ART New Mexico project in fall 2008 and was curious who all was involved. When the program was formally announced and I saw that they had organized multiple events, exhibitions, site-specific installations, lectures, and plans for a publication, I was very impressed with the scale and proud to be included. The program began in May and will wrap up in November. Over 25 organizations in New Mexico have participated with 516 Arts, Suzanne Barge – Project Coordinator, taking the lead. Formally titled Land Art: Art Nature Community, a collaborative exploration of land-based art in New Mexico, the program has exhibited work by international artists including the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Patrick Dougherty, Andrea Polli (the new Director of the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media (IFDM) Program at UNM), Eve Andrée Laramée, Erika Blumenfeld and important art and ecology artists from New Mexico including Basia Irland, William Gilbert, and Catherine Harris (recently appointed Art & Ecology professor at UNM). The list of guest speakers included Rebecca Solnit, Nancy Holt, David Abrams, and a performance and discussion with Laurie Anderson, just to name a few. The program was a herculean effort and is to be commended. I would highly suggest getting a copy of the culminating LAND/ART New Mexico book due out in December including an essay by Lucy Lippard. And, add to that list the recently published book Land Arts of the American West documenting the program of the same name by William Gilbert and Chris Taylor.


One of the highlights of my trip was going to The Lightening Field (TLF). It was on my list of things to do for many years and seemed the right time to do it being in New Mexico for the Land Art program. When I arrived into Albuquerque Airport there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground. Driving to TLF from Albuquerque takes about three hours, south and west towards the Arizona border. In the small town of Quemado you sign in at the DIA Foundation office. Here you leave your car and Robert Weathers, TLF manager, drives you out into the middle of nowhere to a WPA era cabin about 45 minutes away. After checking out the rustic chic accommodations (great sheets/towels and Hudson Bay blankets), and getting to know my cabin mates (Stevie Famulari, Assistant Professor at NDSU and environmental artists, and Paul Socolow, a Bay Area de-employed Land Art aficionado), we three ventured out into the field to take a look. This was Stevie’s second trip to TLF and she was well versed how to experience the work. About an hour before sunset she prompted us to get outside (it was around 30 degrees, expecting to drop below 20 at night). As we walked out into the poles the sunlight was shining bright on the stainless steel tips which were not as tall as I had imagine and lighter and more flexible than I would have thought. The rounded tips looked so sculptural and rocketship like. It took a while to get it, but walking inside of the field of poles is when you feel like it is an artwork, not looking at it from the distance like it is an object. It expands the longer you walk inside the poles, it seems to gain another row and another row as the darkness sets in and the setting sun reflects on the poles. We were walking in mud and snow, which was building up on our shoes while noticing rabbit holes and horses hoof prints along the way. It was a full moon, the sky was clear, although hard to see the poles after the sun had set. In the morning as the sun comes up the poles to the west are most visible, in reverse of last night where the eastern portion of the field was most visible at sunset. TLF was installed September – October in 1977. In fact October 31st, the next morning after staying over night was the 32nd anniversary of TLF and the last day of the season for staying over night until next April.



Factoids:

Stainless steel tubing

400 poles, 220 feet apart

5,280 East/West & 3,303 feet North/South

Tallest pole is 26.72 feet, average height is 20.62 feet

A few of the tallest poles have been replaced due to high winds

Each mile long row contains 25 poles

Total weight 38,000 lbs

In 1974 there was a test field in Northern Arizona (later owned by Virginia Dwan and donated to Dia unassembled in 1996). There were 35 stainless tell poles with pointed tips each 18 feet tall and 200 feet apart. The land was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine. It resided there from 1974-76, then was moved.

Robert Weathers has been the caretaker since 1980

Go to EcoArtSpace

The Unsustainable Art Market Bubble

The contemporary art bubble will surely go down as the vanity and folly of our age” was the concluding claim on Ben Lewis’ charming BBC4 documentary about the notoriously secretive artworld market. 

But before writing about last nights TV, I want to say that the inflated bubble refers to the private international contemporary art market, not the whole of contemporary art. It is a good thing that gallery attendance is at an all time high and more people are making and creating things in their spare time. But as Lewis said, ‘Billionaires are effectively hijacking art history’, or at least they were…

He explained that the art market has increased 800% in the last 5 years, it is largely unregulated, which allows collectors to monopolise certain artists’ work and price hiking is driven by a small number of dealers. So when the rest of the economy crashed ‘one bubble kept growing because billionaires turned it into a game that only they could play’. Last night’s TV show was a welcome addition to the small amount of material that introduces the private art market to the public. If you’re completely unfamiliar with the international artworld market, and would like to hear the sound of your jaw hitting the floor, it is worth reading anthropologist Sarah Thorton’s Seven Days in the Artworld or get a taste of the hard-edge glamour of the auction rooms in her recent posting on the Artforum’s scene and herd (the artworlds favorite gossip column).

Art professionals rarely talk about this publically, so it is left to anthropologists and occasionally critics to report on these dealings.  Although a mischievous artist made a promotional postcard for London’s 2006 Frieze Art Fair, that stated: ‘Art fairs are good places to meet retired arms dealers’.

So while government ministers expenses are eclipsing more rational discussions of democratic accountability, it is worth stating explicitly that media sensationalism is one of the reasons that arts professionals (a majority of whom don’t profit from this bubble) don’t point out the follies of the uber-rich in the art market –  because to flag up how bizarre the system is substantially distorts what people think art is for.*

The beliefs around the social value and economic value of the arts are messily intertwined. To put it simply(ish): focus on the artworld market portrays art as primarily existing to grant social status with unique art objects regarded as tangible assets. The counter position is that contemporary artists’ create provocative works that are of aesthetic and social value for whoever engages with them. However, to dismiss the arts because of distaste for one or other of those apparently contradictory understandings of art – social well-being verses objects as social status – throws the baby out with the bathwater.

Personally, my frustration with the art market, in its current form, is that it keeps the art system deliberately elite. The current system does not enable art to fulfill it’s potential role of being a fully engaging site that celebrates human creativity in the broadest terms. I am not making a purist anti-market point, I am making an anti-mega-elitism point. Like many others who work in this field, I am passionate about the arts and celebrating creativity (in all fields), which is why I think there needs to be more rational and open discussion of how art systems operate. 

Lewis’ programme concluded by reporting that the contemporary art bubble burst over the last few months and the artworld market is falling faster than any other, including loses of $60million by Sotheby’s. But as with the other major crisis and crashes at this time  – this dramatic shift also has the potential for transforming how the art system functions and opens up timely questions about what responsibilities artists and art professionals have in setting the arts agenda.

For a substanial account of the character of economic bubbles, check out the RSA event with Kevin Doogan , or read his article Not All that is Solid.

*Addressing Ben Lewis’ early criticisms of the art market in 2008, Jennifier Higgie, co-editor of Frieze magazine said: ‘Lewis seems to think that the art world is a single glitzy, corrupt entity inhabited solely by Damien Hirst, a few lucrative galleries and the auction houses. He doesn’t mention the hundreds of artists who work hard every day, often for many years, and barely manage to scrape a living. He doesn’t mention the myriad non-profit art spaces, run by sincere, informed people, whose only aim is to expand and explore art’s remit in contemporary society. He doesn’t mention the countless talented writers who work tirelessly, and often for little reward, simply because writing and thinking about art are integral to who they are… Lewis is simply perpetuating the kind of anti-intellectual resentment against art that is usually to be found in the tabloids.’ Discuss. 

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology