“…how it is to be critical and what are the modes of performing our criticality?”

Gdansk 2009 Aneta Szylak fot. Michal Szlaga


Today guest curator Aneta Szyłak inquires how artists are implicated in the condition of the academy, in relation to economic reality and the urgencies of the political momentum. The question of education and research is not only what kind of knowledge can be obtained but more importantly how it is delivered and what is the organisation of this delivery. What is the coming form of social innovation that can break though the calcified forms we used to submit ourselves to?

Irit Rogoff explores the role of self-education in global resistance movements and possibilities created by non-institutional relation to knowledge. Hiwa K talks about his practice which at the time of his formal art education became the series of conjunctions modifying the academy from within. Miguel Robles-Duran contributes his insider knowledge on spatial organization and circulation of speech in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Franco Berardi (Bifo) dedicates his talk to the urgency of knowledge becoming autonomous from the pressures of market economy and new forms of alienation and asks for the embodiment of General Intellect. The day ends with an open rehearsal of Chicago Boys While We Were Singing They Were Dreaming - an ongoing project conceived and initiated by Hiwa K, that is both the 1970s revival band and research group on the neoliberal concept that shaped the reality questioned today.

Education appears to be central matter for the new social movements. It is not only being out on the streets and squares, but about the continuous intellectual labour of producing and circulating knowledge. Today we seek knowledge not only in information we can possess but also in the modes of operation we perform. Different occupy movements we recently observe or take part in are not only voiced disagreement but the become forms of social experiments. The time has come perhaps to ask, what kind of formation these movements can potentially produce?

What does it mean to be a part of it as an artist, bearing in mind the irresolvable autonomy/engagement dialectics? Hence, how is to be critical and what are the modes of performing our criticality? The speakers will from different perspective engage with memory, representation, formation and intervention in relation of protest. Through this session we are trying to look at the moment of protest as a research in action, through which new relationalities, engagements and forms of knowledge distribution are made possible.

At the same time the proposed film and video material (interspersed throughout the program or to be seen in the Shadow Cabinets Cinema) creates the installational ambient of the event and multifaceted ethical concerns connected to the decisions taken or delayed in the very political momentum.

Aneta Szyłak is a curator and art theorist, co-founder and currently the director of the Wyspa Institute of Art—an intellectual environment for contemporary visual culture in the former Gdańsk Shipyard, and the Artistic Director of Alternativa.

Her projects are characterized by powerful responses to cultural, political, social, architectural and institutional specificities and include in 2011 “Labour and Leisure” and “Estrangement” (with Hiwa K) at Wyspa.

2010 Estrangement’ (with Hiwa K) at The Showroom, London,
2009 Over and over again 1989–2009’, at Wrocław Centennial Hall,
2008 Translate: The Impossible Collection at Wyspa; Chosen’ in Digital Art Lab in Holon (Israel), in collaboration with Galit Eilat,
2006 Ewa Partum: The Legality of Space at Wyspa, and the group show, You Won’t Feel a Thing: On Panic, Obsession, Rituality and Anaesthesia’ in Kunsthaus Dresden (Germany).
Earlier projects include: Dockwatchers (2005, Wyspa), Palimpsest Museum (2004, Łodź), Health & Safety (2004,Wyspa), Architectures of Gender (2003, Sculpture Center, New York).
She has lectured at many art institutions including Copenhagen University, Bard College, New School University, Queens College and NYU, both in NYC, and worked as a guest professor at the Akademie der Bildende Kunste in Mainz, Germany.
She is currently pursuing her PhD titled “Curating Context” in the Curatorial/ Knowledge programme, in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths College, London and Copenhagen University.