Given the difficult circumstances, the Sommerakademie Paul Klee is postponing the summer program in Bern, and will be continuing conversations in virtual form over the weeks to come. Now, in terms of immediate programming, we have restricted the public component to two online events, which both continue to address last year’s curatorial theme of STATECRAFT within the context of Contemporary Art:
→ July 22:
5 p.m. CET
Meeting-ID: 946 0121 8061
Online lecture by Will Stronge
followed by Q&A and conversation
The world of work is in transition. Demographic and technological transformations, exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, are being met with new policy proposals, like a shorter working week or a Universal Basic Income. In particular the crisis of work and posited responses point to a break-down of the traditional divisions between leisure and work, employed and unemployed, worker and pensioner. They also underline the particular tensions and conflicts around freedom and inequality that capitalist societies produce. Will Stronge will present the questions that the future of work poses to our habitual ways of being and thinking and will outline what strategies, demands and proposals should be put to the fore.
Will Stronge is co-director of Autonomy, an independent think tank focusing on issues relating to the future of work. He is the co-author, with Helen Hester, of the forthcoming primer Post-Work: what it is, why it matters and how we get there (Bloomsbury, 2021).
→ August 5:
6 p.m. CET
Meeting-ID: 936 4919 4783
Experiment in online formatting
with residents 2019/20 and Tirdad Zolghadr, artistic director Sommerakademie Paul Klee
Residents of the Sommerakademie engage in a remote viewing experiment, testing the potentials of online formats which are bound to play a growing role in the way we work and engage with one another in the near future. On account of momentary travel restrictions, we as a Sommerakademie can no longer pursue our conversations by the banks of the Aare River. But we can take advantage of our geographic disparity in other ways, wherever we happen to be stranded during the ongoing pandemic.
Taking up to 15 minutes each – either live on location, or by way of recent footage – residents address a physical space within their immediate material surroundings that speaks to the ongoing discussion at the Sommerakademie: What role do national boundaries still play? How do international debt economies and new legal instruments define the rapport between Contemporary Art and statecraft more recently? How can one create the conditions of production that might make a sustained discussion possible - across space as well as time? From divestment to institution building to propaganda: Which strategic means have been successfully deployed by artists and curators, and which ones continue to make strategic, aesthetic and political sense today?
→ August 4:
PROGR, room 369 (3rd floor), Speichergasse 4, Bern
10 a.m.: Work presentations by Residents Felipe Castelblanco, Olivia Abächerli
1:30 p.m.: Work presentations by Residents Tracy Rosenthal, João Enxuto & Erica Love, Aarti Sunder
→ August 5:
10 a.m., Bern University of the Arts HKB, Fellerstrasse 11, Bümpliz/Bern
Lecture by Tirdad Zolghadr
An introduction to the working premises of the Sommerakademie in light of this year’s theme: STATECRAFT. Up to a point, Contemporary Art’s liberal investment in open dialogue has served it surprisingly well. But given the increasingly uncomfortable stakes on a global scale, perhaps the dialogical needs to be reconsidered as dogma, and deployed as one option among many instead. When it comes to art, what could be the benefits of measured antagonism and lines in the sand? What’s to be gained in shifting the epistemic, curatorial and artistic goalposts here and now?
→ August 6:
4 p.m., PROGR, room 369 (3rd floor), Speichergasse 4, Bern
Statecraft Art is not Contemporary Art
Lecture by Suhail Malik
Suhail Malik addresses why Contemporary Art in its current configuration cannot rise to the challenge of statecraft. Examining what the criteria for a statecraft art have to be, Malik outlines how a statecrafting art has to operate otherwise that Contemporary Art. In particular, given the 'future-oriented' approach of the Sommerakademie, what are the relevant time-signatures of art, of action, of the state itself?
Reinventing the role of the architect, through the story of an immigrant who eventually practised architecture in Belgium, and who returned to Romania some 20 years later, to play a key role in a brand new political party. From property law to the renewal of Europe, an engagement in public policy can indeed build on a background in architecture. If in ways that are not exactly straightforward.
→ August 15:
3 p.m., Bern University of the Arts HKB, Fellerstrasse 11, Bümpliz/Bern
Christopher Roth in conversation with Tirdad Zolghadr
On the benefits of storytelling, myths and imagination, all without the need for any heroes in particular. This with the help of Hyperstition, and of Brecht’s Alienation Effect. But also of Kafka’s last piece, Josephine Singer or the Mouse Folk: "When we are in a bad way politically or economically, her singing is supposed to save us, nothing less than that, and if it does not drive away the evil, at least gives us the strength to bear it."
→ August 17:
4 p.m., Schwobhaus, Falkenhöhenweg 15, Bern
Katharina Morawek in conversation with Tirdad Zolghadr
Over the period of 2015-2016, the Shedhalle Zürich hosted "Die ganze Welt in Zürich“ (The Whole World in Zurich). The project successfully anchored Urban Citizenship debates within a Swiss context – even as it approached the topic through the political agency of art specifically. "Die ganze Welt in Zürich" not only reached a broad audience via a publication and a show. It aimed for a concrete intervention within Swiss migration policy, and to marking discrimination debates within Switzerland in long-lasting fashion.
Join us afterwards for a drink in the garden of the Schwobhaus!
Oana-Maria Bogdan is an architect and urban planner, co-founder of the international practice BOGDAN & VAN BROECK and former Secretary of State for cultural heritage in Romania. She is currently using this valuable experience in advocacy work in Europe and in active political construction in Romania. Her involvement in societal affairs, as well as in political debates, contributes to the raising of cultural awareness in the domain of architecture.
Suhail Malik is Co-Director of the MFA Fine Art, Goldsmiths, London, where he holds a Readership in Critical Studies, and was 2012-15 Visiting Faculty at CCS Bard, New York. Recent and forthcoming publications include, as author, ContraContemporary: Modernity's Unknown Future (Urbanomic, 2020) and 'The Ontology of Finance' in Collapse 8: Casino Real (2014). Malik is co-editor of The Flood of Rights (2017), a Special Issue of the journal Finance and Society on 'Art and Finance' (2016), Genealogies of Speculation (2016), The Time-Complex. Postcontemporary (2016), and Realism Materialism Art (2015).
Katharina Morawek is a cultural organizer and co-founder of the urban policy initiative Wir alle sind Zürich [We All Are Zurich]. She is also vice-director at INES - Institut Neue Schweiz [Institute New Switzerland]. Until 2017, she was the artistic director of Shedhalle Zurich, where she initiated The Whole World in Zurich. She has worked and published on issues of democratization, transformative artistic practice and political history. In 2017, she published the anthology Urban Citizenship. Democratising Democracy, co-edited with Martin Krenn.
Christopher Roth is a filmmaker and artist. His films Legislating Architecture and Property Drama (with architect Arno Brandlhuber) have been shown at the architecture biennials of Venice and Chicago. Part three – Architecting after Politics – is due autumn 2018. His feature film Baader won the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin Film Festival 2002. Hyperstition is a film addressing left accelerationism with Armen Avanessian; 80*81 What Happened? was a two-year research project with Georg Diez, leading to 13 books and 30 theater pieces and performances worldwide. Roth is represented by Esther Schipper and lectures at ETH Zurich. In March 2018, three collaborative web TV channels were launched as space-time.tv Featuring Realty-v (with Tirdad Zolghadr of the KW Berlin), S+ (with Arno Brandlhuber’s chair at ETH) and 42 with Fahrbereitschaft, Lichtenberg.
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.
Performance by "Generation Grundeinkommen" at Bundeshaus Bern, Switzerland, preceding UBI referendum in 2016. Photo by Stefan Bohrer
Given the enduring rise of neofascism, it’s no longer quite enough to be traumatized, critical, or cheeky. Speaking Truth to Power remains important. But proactively reclaiming the tools of governance has become a pressing imperative. To this day, art enjoys the freedoms of a court jester, as it has for millennia. But history does feature artists actually taking responsibility, every now and then. Arguably, even our own generation can grow up and learn from those examples, sometime soon.
What is statecraft; what are the entryways, terms and symbolics, tactics and prospects at stake? And in the name of which agenda might one put any statecraft to use? As far as Contemporary Art is concerned, many traditional values of the progressive Left – redistribution, regulation, accountability, social justice – have yet to regain the currency they once enjoyed within the field.
Which is why our discussion of statecraft would need to include the structural realities of our field itself, in a manner that is as level-headed and consequential as possible. For any serious shift to occur, among many other things, Contemporary Art would need to rediscover the benefits of polemical lines in the sand, and to revisit the art of measured antagonism. Up to a point, our liberal investment in open dialogue has worked well. But perhaps it needs to be reconsidered as dogma, and deployed as one option among many instead.
STATECRAFT will discuss art practices that have successfully resorted to strategies of governance, whether for progressive or reactionary ends. Be it in the name of decolonization, socialism, the Right to the City or otherwise. Which forms and formats allow for a future-oriented frame of reference, limited to neither commercial success, nor process-based research, treating both these traditions as means to bigger ends instead?
Our very location is perfect for the above conversation. Bern is national capital to the most extensive model of direct democracy currently available. While on a local level, it boasts institutions with a fairly shrewd sense of strategy. The Reitschule, a onetime squat, has survived four public referenda aiming to shut it down. Though its punk aesthetic is anathema to the artworld, in terms of coalition-building, we have everything to learn.
The program will also seek continuity in time, by building on the preceding edition of the Sommerakademie. This in terms of the experience of working with contributors of 2017-2019, whose BLOCC initiative easily demonstrates the massive potential of experimental teaching templates. For its part, STATECRAFT will in turn emphasize higher education as a cross-generational, public mandate, and draw on REALTY as a curatorial premise. This in terms of speakers and collaborators, as well as case studies too. Urban development will be addressed as a salient example of latter-day statecraft, from the promise of New Municipalism, to gentrification patterns across Europe and beyond.
Finally, with the turn of the Sommerakademie Paul Klee towards Bern University of the Arts HKB as its institutional partner and home base, the role of both academia and art academies is to be explored as scrupulously as possible. How does educational elite-formation feed into governance patterns on nationwide and global levels? Can the teaching machines of the humanities, social sciences, and Contemporary Art still be claimed as means to better statecraft? Possibly so.
– initial summer program: 3–18 August 2019
– optional extra time on-site (production): 19–23 August 2019
– teaching sessions at Bern University of the Arts HKB: December 2019, December 2020
– second summer program: July/August 2020