BLOCC web launch:the closing event of the Sommerakademie Paul Klee 2017-19
Work made by students of the Bern University of the Arts HKB during a BLOCC workshop in November 2018.
The first two-year cycle of the restructured Sommerakademie Paul Klee 2017-19 is coming to an end and we would like to invite you to the closing event 25 April 2019 in Bern, where BLOCC will launch their new educational platform.
BLOCC (Building Leverage Over Creative Capitalism) derives from ‘block’: a component of building material, a neighborhood or partition within a city, or a deliberate obstruction of an opponent's intentions. It is an educational strategy that seeks to tackle the relationship between Contemporary Art and gentrification. Through generic infrastructures, rationalized public spaces, and homogenized public spheres, late capitalism produces a global monoculture which undermines the city as a social form. How, then, to confront a single planetary development alongside its many local manifestations? How, in other words, to forge international alliances when our legitimacy, and working knowledge stem from particular neighborhood materialities? By way of continuous erasure of its boundaries into life, the field we know today as Contemporary Art holds a strong enmity to determining its own conventions and rules of inclusion. Yet, how do we survive complicity in a moment when developers, city planners, and non-profits are instrumentalizing artists who participate in the violent process of displacement? Does Contemporary Art even have the capacity to catalyze, exploit, amplify, or capitalize on the phenomenon of gentrification?
During this web launch BLOCC will present their position - a system of learning, a chimera. It tackles the relationship between Contemporary Art and gentrification by building on an initial curriculum - the BLOCC curriculum - tapping into and inviting local possibilities and struggles. The system reflects a new way of teaching, templates are introduced from afar, adapted to any setting, and remain open-ended as the process builds. As the project teaches and learns from collective experience, its form crystalizes differently in various environments. The idea is to alter Contemporary Art’s relation to gentrification through education, one generation at a time.
BLOCC’s public web launch will take place on Thursday, 25 April 2019 at 6 p.m. at the Grand Palais (Thunstrasse 3 in Bern) where BLOCC will present their joint educational platform. The Fellows will discuss their educational strategies, experiences, and future plans for BLOCC with artistic director Tirdad Zolghadr.
We hope to see you there!
BLOCC consists of Johanna Bruckner, Crystal Z Campbell, Luiza Crosman, Alexandros Kyriakatos, Alexis Mitchell, Bahar Noorizadeh, Heather M. O’Brien, and Jonathan Takahashi. BLOCC is an international cohort that includes a geographer, a social worker, organizers, artists, filmmakers, designers, scholars, and educators based in Belgium, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Lebanon, Switzerland, and the USA. They met in summer 2017 and 2018, as Fellows of the Sommerakademie Paul Klee 2017-19 in Bern.
Realty is the name of the first thematic building block, and a framework for the collectively authored event in April 2019. It focuses on the role of Contemporary Art in recent histories of urban development and gentrification. The latter is a stark and grisly example of art’s leverage today, and finding a productive response to gentrification has evolved into something of a holy grail within the field internationally. In order to bypass the melancholia, and avoid theorizing our failures yet again, our references must go beyond the usual scope of Euro-American art and academia. To what extent can we speak of a planetary development? If the term “gentrification” implies a multiplicity of often underestimated factors, what does this mean for possible rules of engagement? In order to address these and other questions, Realty will need to take stock of legal implications as well as artist initiatives, urban regeneration policies, chronospatial mythologies, art and/as architecture, and more.
The Summer 2017 program included contributors speaking to broader possibilities of artists reclaiming their professional future and working conditions, including Philippe Bischof, Tashy Endres, Adelita Husni-Bey, Renzo Martens, Dieter Lesage, Suhail Malik, Enno Schmidt, Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.), and Leonardo Vilchis.
The Sommerakademie Paul Klee 2018 took place from 30 July to 19 August 2018 in Bern and included public lectures and workshops with Rival Strategy (Benedict Singleton and Marta Ferreira de Sá) and Jaya Klara Brekke.The closing event in April 2019 will provide the point of departure for the subsequent SPK cycle (2019/20), featuring new residents and a new curatorial framework. Its actual format may range from the realistic to the preposterous; either way, the hope is to transcend the status of self-critical polemic, and work towards a model worth replicating.
→ July 30:
PROGR Zentrum für Kulturproduktion, room 369, Speichergasse 4, Bern
2 pm: Lecture by Tirdad Zolghadr
A Cheerful Nature is an Utterly Ruthless Thing.How Contemporary Art might come to grips with gentrification after allFor well over a year, the REALTY program has been exploring answers to Contemporary Art’s complicity with gentrification. And by now, it has even spawned some ideas of its own. By and large, if we really expect art to stop servicing real estate, we need to fundamentally reinvent Contemporary Art – or surpass it altogether. As it stands, broke artists cannot be expected to resist cheap studio space wherever they find it. Art schools will not teach resistance if they think ambiguity is a best-case scenario. And the Right to the City cannot be taken seriously when unending mobility remains so crucial to our careers. This lecture will trace some fundamental misunderstandings concerning the role of art within the financialization of space. But it will also argue why there may be cause for stubborn optimism after all.
→ August 8:
Bern University of the Arts HKB, Fellerstrasse 11, Bümpliz
10 am: Presentation by Rival StrategyContemporary Strategy
Benedict Singleton and Marta Ferreira de Sá are partners at Rival Strategy, which they co-founded in 2016 to address the question: “what is contemporary strategy?“ Rival’s work focuses on this question through projects to maximise the strategic potential of services, technologies, places and organisations. While in Bern, Benedict Singleton and Marta Ferreira de Sá will present emerging questions of their work and explore new ones in conversation with the fellows. Some of the thoughts they will be bringing with them concern:- Creative optics—how the strategic presence of different kinds of actor is changing- Platform design—deleting common myths and poor understandings of its internal logic- Playable organisations—institutions that are configured like technologies- Hard forking the art world—shifts in the artistic landscape, considered as an industry
→ August 15:
Kunsthalle Bern, Helvetiaplatz 1, Bern
7 pm: Lecture by Jaya Klara Brekkeas part of Eric Golo Stone’s curated program „Contractual Situations We Live By“ at the Kunsthalle BernStrategies for understanding the power, politics and ethics of blockchain and smart contractsBlockchain is a new technology proposing a decentralized method for establishing ownership and scarcity. This within an otherwise infinitely replicable space of digital information. Conversely, previously offline forms of property might be assigned digital identities with the potential incorporation into new rights management technologies. The ramifications of which may soon be visible even in a real estate context where ownership traditions have remained unchanged for centuries. (It is no coincidence that one of the first Ethereum smart contract start-ups produced physical locks.) We will collectively work through the many ways in which blockchain transforms understandings and practices around property, from smart contracts and automated enforcement to tracing provenance, production methods and other questions of mattering.
→ August 18:
PROGR Zentrum für Kulturproduktion, erlesen - Raum für gedruckte Feinkost (access through the PROGR courtyard), Speichergasse 4, Bern
5 pm: Closing Event of the Sommerakademie Paul Klee 2018with the Fellows 2017-19, Tirdad Zolghadr and Andreas Vogel
You may think there’s nothing wrong with gentrification. Or you may think you have nothing to do with it. You’re just painting in your studio, no harm done. Or perhaps you think capitalism does what it does, nothing you can do.
BLOCC can sort you out. Come join us for an aperitif, August 18, 5 pm.BLOCC (Building Leverage Over Creative Capitalism) was formed 2017, by the eight artist Fellows of the Sommerakademie Paul Klee in Bern. August 18, we’ll present the first blueprint of our teaching template, and show you an amusing, short video. Or maybe just a video. BLOCC seeks to alter the relationship between Contemporary Art and Gentrification, one generation at a time. By means of an experimental, adaptable teaching method. In essence, BLOCC reflects an entirely new way of learning art. On the one hand, it places art’s relationship to city politics at the very center of formal training. Right alongside feminism, critical theory, Harry Szeemann, Paul Klee and all the rest. On the other hand, it introduces a teaching template that is introduced from afar, but remains open-ended as it builds, crystalizing differently in different cities.So, you know... Be part of the alternative. It’s already here.The Fellows 2017-19:Johanna Bruckner, Crystal Z Campbell, Luiza Crosman, Alexandros Kyriakatos, Alexis Mitchell, Bahar Noorizadeh, Heather M. O'Brien and Jonathan Takahashi
Rival StrategyBenedict Singleton and Marta Ferreira de Sá are partners at Rival Strategy, which they co-founded in 2016 to address the question: “what is contemporary strategy?“ Rival’s work focuses on this question through projects to maximise the strategic potential of services, technologies, places and organisations. Their team’s current projects include designing a new global art institution, consulting on the strategic relationships of design and finance for a leading investment bank, and creating new platforms and infrastructure for a luxury car brand in anticipation of a world of different vehicle technologies and ownership models. Alongside Rival, both the founding partners are on the faculty of the New Normal programme at the Strelka Institute, Moscow, and teach at the Royal College of Art, London.
Jaya Klara BrekkeJaya Klara Brekke writes, does research and speaks on the political economy of blockchain and consensus protocols, focusing on questions of authority, politics and power in decentralized systems. She is based between Durham University, UK, where she is writing a PhD titled 'Distributing Chains, Three Strategies for Thinking Blockchain Politically’; London where she spends much of her time with the InfoSec research group at UCL Computer sciences department; and Vienna as collaborator of RIAT, Institute for Future Crypto-economics and is the author of the Satoshi Oath and B9Lab ethical training module for blockchain developers.
Tirdad Zolghadr is a curator and writer. His most recent book is Traction, Sternberg Press 2016. Zolghadr is artistic director of the Sommerakademie Paul Klee in Bern and associate curator at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. Curatorial work includes biennial settings as well as numerous long-term research-driven projects. He teaches at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem.