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International Summit on Curatorial Activism and the Politics of Shock

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SVA Theatre

333 West 23rd Street

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International Summit on Curatorial Activism and the Politics of Shock


On November 18, 2017, the Curatorial Practice master’s program at the School of Visual Arts presents a day-long international summit organized by Steven Henry Madoff on curatorial activism in light of the rise of nationalism and radical conservatism, and their programmatic attacks on civil rights, environmental protections, scientific research, and free speech, as well as the reduction and rescinding of cultural funds to suppress diverse expression. How must we think about the programs and publics of institutions, both locally and globally, under these political conditions? How can institutions define, present, and perform an ethics or, more pointedly, a polemics in reaction? And if they seek to be polemical, how can they do this within the strictures of governments and commercial powers? In fact, the question must be asked: What is their autonomy and what is their complicity? What can curators within institutions and outside of them do in response to the radical shift now altering our possibilities as individuals, citizens, artists, thinkers, and producers of a (once) liberal culture? And therefore, what is to be done in terms of resistance, sanctuary, and counter-forms of advocacy in the specific political and cultural situations that we work and live in as the 21st century unfolds in ways echoing fascisms of nearly a century ago, hatreds hundreds of years old, and technologies still advancing toward mechanisms of massive fraud and new formations of surveillance?

These are the subjects of curatorial activism that face the politics of shock today, and some of the world’s leading curators and thinkers about museums and exhibitions will gather in New York for a public reading and discussion of manifestos and declarative talks written specially on these topics for this extraordinary event.

Confirmed speakers are currently: Defne Ayas, Director, Witte de With, Rotterdam; Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore & Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Nicolas Bourriaud, Director, La Panacée, Montpellier; Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director, Castello di Rivoli and GAM, Turin; Sofía Hernandez Chong Cuy, Curator of Contemporary Art, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York; Joshua Decter, independent curator and writer, New York; Clémentine Deliss, independent curator, Berlin, and former Director, Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt; Elena Filipovic, Director, Kunsthalle Basel; Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University, and Senior Research Fellow, Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design; Hou Hanru, Artistic Director, MAXXI, Rome; Maria Lind, Director, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm; Antonia Majaca, curator and researcher, IZK Institute for Contemporary Art, Graz University of Technology; Chus Martinez, Director of the Institute of Art, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel; Gabi Ngcobo, founding member, NGO (Nothing Gets Organised), Johannesburg, and Curator, 10th Berlin Biennale; Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Gallery, London; Jack Persekian, independent curator, Jerusalem, and former Director and Head Curator, The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit; Pi Li, Senior Curator, M+, Hong Kong; María Belén Sáez de Ibarra, Director of Cultural Heritage and Director, Museum of Art, National University of Colombia; Terry Smith, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, and Professor in the Division of Philosophy, Art and Critical Theory at the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee; Mick Wilson, Director, Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg; and Tirdad Zolghadr, Artistic Director, Sommerakademie, Paul Klee Zentrum, Bern, and Associate Curator, KW Institute, Berlin. Moderators: Adrienne Edwards, Performa, New York; Brian Kuan Wood, e-flux, New York.

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The summit will take place at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, New York, New York, on Saturday, November 18, 2017, from 10 am to 5 pm. It is free and open to the public. A publication will follow from Sternberg Press, edited by Steven Henry Madoff.

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333 West 23rd Street

New York, NY 10011

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