Babi Badalov, Nuage [Cloud], 2009. Collage from a journal. Courtesy the artist
In conjunction with the exhibition “Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module,” an experimental archive of tranzit’s ten-year history, this network of organizations presents a symposium featuring talks by noted international curators and artists, all of whom they have collaborated with in the past. The exhibition mobilizes the metaphor of outer space to present utopian or dissenting visions by artists. Coextensively, each speaker in the symposium has endeavored to create a rupture in the space-time continuum of their existing cultural system. Case studies will center on past projects that have aimed to recover or reveal muted social narratives and the unique, quasi-archaeological role that curators can play in excavating and displaying such sidelined histories. Spanish curator Xabier Arakistain will speak on his work developing feminist policies at the Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea in Spain, French curator Guillaume Désanges will discuss how his curatorial practice intertwines with psychoanalytic study, architect Catarina Simão will discuss her ongoing efforts to make public the Mozambique Film Archive, and the Technical Assistant of the Museum of American Art will present the history of his institution, which opened in Berlin in 2004.
Biographies & Abstracts
Xabier Arakistain is a feminist curator and art critic. He was Director of Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, from 2007 to 2011, making it a pioneering institution in the development and application of feminist policies in the fields of contemporary art, thought, and culture. Previously, Arakistain carried out a range of projects that incorporated the sex quota as a curatorial criterion, and has curated retrospective shows devoted to the US collective Guerrilla Girls and to the British artist Leigh Bowery. In addition, he curated “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 86 steps in 45 years of Art and Feminism” at Museo de BBAA, Bilbao, and “The Furious Gaze” (co-curated with Maura Reilly) at Montehermoso.
Abstract from Arakistain’s “Reflections on a Feminist Model for the Field of Art, Montehermoso, 2008-2011”:
This talk sets out the conceptual framework underpinning the project of production, exhibition, and diffusion of contemporary art and thought that was carried out at the Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea, in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, from 2008 to 2011. This project incorporated women in all its programs and activities in parity for the first time in Spain, and considered feminist thought as a crucial source of knowledge for understanding contemporary artistic practices and the societies that produce them. In fact, Montehermoso itself was the result of taking up the principal critical contributions made by feminism in the field of contemporary art since women became massively and continuously involved in art practice and theory in the third wave of feminism, just forty years ago.
Guillaume Désanges is a freelance curator, art critic, and Founder and Director of Work Method, a Paris-based agency for artistic projects. He organizes international exhibitions, projects, and lectures. Recent projects include “Concrete Erudition,” Le Plateau, Frac Île-de-France, Paris (2009–11), “Wander,” Centre Pompidou Metz (2011), “Amazing! Clever! Linguistic! An Adventure in Conceptual Art,” Generali Foundation, Vienna (2013), “Gestures of the mind,” La Verrière, Brussels (2013), and “A Universal Exhibition, documentary section,” Louvain-la-Neuve Biennial, Belgium (2013).
Abstract from Désanges’s “The Dark Side of the Form”:
“The Dark Side of the Form” will explore, from a recent position of art critic and curator, the hidden, repressed, or even ashamed part of the mechanisms that bring a person to contemporary art. To uncover these, I had five sessions with a psychoanalyst, asking her to adapt her dialectical practice, focused only on one topic: a past and present specific relationship to contemporary art. A relation that has always been and remains to be problematic, indefinable, irresolute. It tackles questions of fascination and repulsion, fantasy and disappointment, social and intellectual ascension, will and sexual projection; but also love, astonishment, and cruelty.
Catarina Simão is a Lisbon-based artist and independent researcher. Her practice is built upon long-term research-based projects that entail collaborative partnerships and many different forms of presentation to the public. Simão is known for her essay-like displays, using documentation, writing, video, and drawing. “Off-screen Project – Mozambique Film Archive” has been Simão’s longest art project, where she deals with the nature of perception and encoded memories built up through archival conceptions. Her work has been presented at the Serralves Museum, Portugal, Manifesta 8, Africa.cont, Lisbon, and Kino Arsenal, Berlin, among many other institutions across Europe as well as in Mozambique, Beirut, and Zagreb.
Abstract from Simão’s “Ghost danse: a meeting with the Mozambique Film Archive”:
One limitation of history as a research discipline is that the physical persistence of primary sources makes it blind to the need for its resurrection. Cinema production in post-independence Mozambique shows how memory production based on its colonial past was constantly resuscitated so as to give meaning to the present of revolution and prepare for forthcoming wars. Occasionally, a descriptive work on a document does not aim to inscribe it on a new linear temporality. Working with the Mozambican film archive has been a way to learn how some images can counteract Western mitigation policies over its imperialist past. In that case, the violence does not come from its specific content, but rather from the perception that images made many years ago seem to reveal something to come, like the return of a ghost or a puzzle configuration that cannot be solved with the epistemological tools with which we are familiar.
Technical Assistant of the Museum of American Art
The Museum of American Art is primarily dedicated to assembling, preserving, and exhibiting memories of the early Museum of Modern Art and its circulating exhibitions of American art that traveled throughout Europe during the 1950s. These exhibitions helped to establish the first common European cultural postwar identity based on modernism, internationalism, and individualism.
Abstract from the Technical Assistant of the Museum of American Art’s “Museum of American Art – A Story”:
This presentation will take us through the permanent exhibitions of the Museum of American Art, which opened at Stalinallee 91, Berlin, in 2004. The theme of the Museum’s Dorothy Miller Gallery is the 1958 exhibition “The New American Painting,” organized by the MoMA International Program. The Alfred Barr Gallery presents a pre-WWII Museum of Modern Art—an American invention based on European artifacts—with four exhibitions of American art shown in Europe after the war. In addition to the permanent installation, the talk will introduce a few collections that have been presented in temporary exhibitions.