Winter Semester 2021

18 January 2022
Guest: Nataša Ilić’

On Work And Its Absence 

The seminar On work and its absence focuses on the notion of work and its centrality both for left emancipatory project and for capitalist reproduction and ideology. The seminar develops around the first conceptual outline of the international exhibition devoted to the issues of work and labor in contemporary societies, specifically relating them to the notion of unemployment and debates on ‘the right to useful unemployment’ (Ivan Illich), automation of labor and universal basic income. The exhibition will be rooted in the historical and present context of Vienna and expand internationally, will be based on research and documentary and educational material and will include newly developed and older artistic works. The focus of the seminar lies on the processes of translation of theoretical and political insights into the format of contemporary art exhibition and their embeddedness in the specific institutional setting of Kunsthalle Wien and city of Vienna. At the same time the notion of work and its value is taken as a challenge that disrupts standardization and normalization of institutional proceedings.

Nataša Ilić is a curator, a member of What, How & for Whom/WHW, a curatorial collective formed in 1999 and based in Zagreb, Vienna and Berlin. Since 2003 WHW collective has been running the program of Gallery Nova, a city-owned gallery in Zagreb. In 2018 WHW launched a new international study program for emerging artists called WHW Akademija, based in Zagreb. Since 2019 part of the collective (Ivet Ćurlin, Nataša Ilić and Sabina Sabolović) works as artistic directors of Kunsthalle Wien. WHW continues working in Zagreb, where activities are led by Ana Dević.

Since the first exhibition in 2000, WHW curated numerous international projects, among which are Collective Creativity, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, 2005; 11th Istanbul Biennial What Keeps Mankind Alive?, Istanbul, 2009; and One Needs to Live Self-Confidently…Watching, Croatian pavilion at 54th Venice Biennial, 2011. With the artistic leadership of curatorial collective What, How and for Whom / WHW, Kunsthalle Wien positions itself as a city institution attentive to recent cultural practices outside the centers of power and curious about Vienna’s multi-cultural past and present.

Reading/Listening list:

Marie Jahoda, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Hans Zeisel, Marienthal: The Sociography of an Unemployed Community, 1933 (book attached; to read: Introductions and Chapter 1)

David Graeber, On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs, 2013

Sarah Jaffe, Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone, 2021 (book attached; to read: Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 6)

Mladen Stilinović, Praise of laziness, 1993 The Nap Ministry, Tricia Hersey on why rest is a radical tool for resisting white supremacy, podcast, 2021

8 December 2021
Guest: Lars Bang Larsen

Documenta- Politics and Art. About the exhibition in Museum of German History in Berlin

In this workshop Lars Bang Larsen will discuss the exhibition documenta. Politics and Art (2021-2022) that he co-curated with Julia Voss, Alexia Pooth, Dorothee Wierling and Dorlis Blume at the Museum of German History in Berlin. The exhibition addressed the political history of the documenta in the 20th century. Founded by the artist, designer and art professor Arnold Bode in the (at that point West German) city of Kassel, documenta first took place in 1955, and soon became one of the most important exhibition events in the world, on a par with the Venice and São Paulo biennials, and it has played a major role in the institutionalisation of contemporary art until today. He will present the main research findings of our exhibition on documenta, including its focus on the continuities between the NS and the post war era, on documenta as an anti-Communist exhibition, and on how documenta conveyed the cultural and political programme of the West. After this he hopes that we can discuss issues such as (artistic and curatorial) methodologies for how to deal with exhibition history, and with the relation between politics and art.

Lars Bang Larsen is an art historian and writer who has produced a body of research and curatorial work at the intersection of the Western schema of the social and the aesthetic, connecting art to larger histories of ideas. He has tracked art made in the context of countercultures—including spiritualism, psychedelia, and activism—that has produced mixed and emergent forms of experience and (non-)knowledge. He is director of art and research at Art Hub in Copenhagen.

Required Reading:

Paz Guevara’s essay “Exhibition as Medium for Geopolitical Operations” (2021)

Caroline Jones: the chapter “Transnational Openings” from The Global Work of Art. World’s Fairs, Biennials, and the Aesthetics of Experience (2017)

The introduction and the chronology from the exhibition catalogue to documenta. Politik und Kunst.

Review of the exhibition documenta. Politik und Kunst.:

10 November 2021
Guest: Ruth Erickson

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-57. A Curatorial Case Study.

This seminar tells the story of making the acclaimed exhibition Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-57, and how the curators (Ruth Erickson and Helen Molesworth) attempted to translate the college’s radical experimentation into an exhibition more than 50 years later. With a particular focus on pedagogy, this presentation traces the ways that learning and living coalesced. Erickson will closely consider a range of examples, including class exercises, campus architecture, performance workshops, and artwork by Ray Johnson, Robert Rauschenberg, Ruth Asawa, and Merce Cunningham, to illuminate the culture of “making do” at the college, which, she argues, allowed for increased experimental ingenuity on the part of students and teachers.

Ruth Erickson is the Mannion Family Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, where she has curated solo exhibitions with artists Kevin Beasley, Mark Dion, Wangechi Mutu, and Vivian Suter, as well as traveling group exhibitions on Black Mountain College and another on contemporary art and migration. Her forthcoming projects include a group exhibition titled “A Place for Me: Figurative Painting Now” that registers the current wave of portraiture among artists of her generation as well as “To Begin Again,” an international and intergenerational survey of artists who’ve been inspired by childhood. She has presented and published her work widely, in venues from Jeu de Paume, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Armand Hammer Museum to Art in America and Framework. She received a BA in Art History from Carleton College and an MA and PhD in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania.

Required Reading:

BMC Catalogue (PDF link)