Saturday 11/09/19 10AM-5PM
New Museum TheaterVisit Us
Convening · Exhibition-Related

All Systems Go: A Symposium on Art, Social Systems, and Cultural Action

Cover Image:

Child eyeing Hans Haacke’s Large Water Level, 1964–65. Installation view: “Miscellaneous Notions of Kinetic Sculpture,” Hayden Gallery, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, 1967. © Hans Haacke / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

A livestream of the conversations will be available here.

This daylong symposium will bring together artists, scholars, and cultural leaders—including Alexander Alberro, Andrea Fraser, Deana Haggag, Joan Jonas, Jae Rhim Lee, Tatiana Schlossberg, and Cecilia Vicuña—to investigate critical questions provoked by Hans Haacke’s work. The symposium’s keynote will feature Hans Haacke in conversation with Brian Wallis, currently of the Walther Collection in Neu-Ulm, Germany, and curator of the 1986 New Museum retrospective, “Hans Haacke: Unfinished Business.” The first panel, “’The Consciousness Industry”: Institutions, Ethics, and Economies,” will consider the legacy of Haacke’s institutional critique at a moment of heightened scrutiny around the ethics of funding cultural institutions. The second panel, “What Must Be Done: Ecological Systems and Climate Change,” builds from Haacke’s ability to convey the interconnectedness of humans, our economy, and natural environments to explore what systems aesthetics can teach us in the face of climate crisis. In addition to the keynote conversation and panel discussions, the symposium will include guided tours of “Hans Haacke: All Connected” and free Museum admission.

Symposium Day Pass, $40 / $30 Members:
Includes keynote, two panel discussions, option to RSVP for guided tour, and Museum admission.

1:30 PM Keynote, $20 / $15 Members:
Includes admission to keynote, option to RSVP for guided tour, and Museum admission.

10:30 AM Panel Discussion, $15 / $10 Members
3 PM Panel Discussion, $15 / $10 Members:
Includes admission to one panel discussion, option to RSVP for guided tour, and Museum admission.

Please see below for a full schedule of symposium events.

10 AM
Symposium registration opens.

10:30 AM
Panel 1: “The Consciousness Industry”: Institutions, Ethics, and Economies
When Hans Haacke first exhibited MoMA Poll in 1970, he posed a single question to museum visitors: “Would the fact that Governor Rockefeller has not denounced President Nixon’s Indochina policy be a reason for you not to vote for him in November?” Rockefeller was then the Governor of New York state and up for reelection; he was also a major trustee of the Museum of Modern Art. With this seemingly simple query, Haacke implicated the museum’s funding network in the violence of the Vietnam War. By asking the public to weigh in on Rockefeller’s political performance, moreover, he implicitly highlighted the complex, often invisible systems of political and economic power at play within the ostensibly neutral museum.

Taking its cues from the history of Haacke’s incisive institutional critique, the symposium’s first panel will invite Alexander Alberro, Virginia Bloedel Wright Professor of Art History at Barnard College; artist Andrea Fraser; Deana Haggag, President of United States Artists; and Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director of the New Museum, to consider the following questions: Can artists effect change with work that examines the institutions that house or support them? How might a museum be ethically funded? What does it mean for artists and institutions to be accountable—for whom, to what end, and why?

12 PM and 12:45 PM
The New Museum’s Teaching Fellows and trained docents will lead small group tours of “Hans Haacke: All Connected” for symposium participants, encouraging close looking and sustained discussion of the connections between Haacke’s work and issues that the panel conversations engage.

1:30 PM
Keynote: Hans Haacke in conversation with Brian Wallis
Artist Hans Haacke will be in conversation with Brian Wallis, currently of the Walther Collection in Neu-Ulm, Germany, and curator of the 1986 New Museum exhibition “Hans Haacke: Unfinished Business.”

3 PM
Panel 2: What Must Be Done: Ecological Systems and Climate Change
From Condensation Cube (1963–65) and Grass Grows (1967–69) to DER BEVÖLKERUNG [TO THE POPULATION] (2000–ongoing), Hans Haacke’s work has regularly asked us to consider the interconnectedness of human bodies, natural environments, political systems, and the economy. This panel, inspired by Haacke’s natural systems aesthetics, brings together artists, academics, and cultural critics to consider the complexity of the Anthropocene and the challenges of climate crisis.

This panel’s speakers—including artist Joan Jonas, designer Jae Rhim Lee, artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña, and science reporter Tatiana Schlossberg, author of Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have (2019)—will bring their own expertise to bear on questions about sustainability, art, and the environment. Beyond the aesthetic gestures of land art and eco-art, can creative cultural projects do more than simply reflect the realities of our changing planet? How can understanding geological and environmental systems help us mobilize for an uncertain future? And what can we learn from Haacke’s career-long refusal to think about the ecologies of society, politics, technology, and the natural world as discrete systems?

Real-time captioning (CART) will be available at this program.

The New Museum is wheelchair accessible; learn more about access services and amenities here. To request accommodations, please email or call 212.219.1222 ×235 at least three weeks in advance.


Lead support for New Museum Symposia is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This program is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

CART captioning services is provided, in part, by a grant from NYSCA/TDF TAP Plus.

Support for “Hans Haacke: All Connected” can be viewed here.

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