Future Vocabularies event, BAK, Utrecht

Artist talk: Instituting for the Contemporary, BAK

As part of BAK’s Future Vocabularies project, I particpated in an Artist Talk/public editorial meeting alongside Simon Sheikh and Ewa Majewska, April 11, 2016 from 19.00–22.00 hrs,  Utrecht’s BAK, basis voor actuele kunst.

Details:

In the first of three Public Editorial Meetings held towards the publication of the new critical reader Instituting for the Contemporary, Ewa MajewskaRachel O’Reilly, and Simon Sheikh will present draft contributions in response to one of the reader’s eight guiding concerns: “compositionalism”; “not not art, not not politics”; and “care to power” respectively.

These terms bring to question the methods of, and resistance to, the institution. They raise a number of considerations: the transversal assemblies of contemporary organization and its forms (compositionalism); the slippage between categories and methodologies in such practices (not not art, not not politics); and the intertwining issues of care and interlocution in relation to the institution (care to power).

Ewa Majewska’s presentation outlines her proposal for a non-heroic “weak resistance,” that poses the question of an institution of the common. This new form of institution would be one rooted in the resistant composition of singularities that make up feminist, post-colonial, and so-called “periphery locations’ debates on the commons and its political agency.

Drawing on her ongoing project “The Gas Imaginary,” Rachel O’Reilly presents a selection of interventions, images, and vernacular texts, useful for reading the historical present of “extractivist realism” alongside counter-politics, their limits, and the convergences between the aesthetic tactics of contemporary industry and neoliberal culture sectors.

Simon Sheikh connects the notions of care (for the self), through the capacity for speaking of truth to power, to a consideration of the question of how to institute anew. If the speaking of truth has long informed the artistic political critique of institutional critique, the coupling of care to power proposes that the position of speaker — produced as an audience, and speaking for this body — be central to thinking institutionality, and indeed governmentality today.

More on the program: BAK Future Vocabularies

Gas Imaginary at Encountering Australia: European Australian Studies Conference, Prato 2014

Abstract: The Gas Imaginary is an artistic research project incorporating poetry, photomedia
documentation, archi-poetic diagrams and essayistic labours exploring the aesthetic languages, mechanical ideology, speculative economics, and technocultural patterning surrounding the large-scale install of ‘unconventional’ gas extraction. Through this technology and industry, indebted state and national governments cause disenfranchised rural but increasingly urban populations to speculate on their own health and futures: through compensatory leasing arrangements, temporary industry employment and privatized infrastructure delivery and sponsorship aimed at the social licensing of investment in environmental injustice and dispossessions from common bioheritage.

virtuosity_of_Fracking

In this paper I will work through the main organizing indices and analytics of the project, which also structure the narrativity of the animated script (in-progress) that I will screen for the conference alongside installation images. This artistic research draws on the writer’s own genealogical connection to the industrial harbour town of Gladstone, Central Queensland, and to the eco- and labour politics of a city which has an ongoing and prominent, but critically under-documented role in the export of Queensland’s mineral wealth. To performatively ‘exhibit’ this story is to both concretize and allegorize certain ‘executive’ and psychically distanciated urban/e) investments in a very specific extraction practice, amidst boomtown ethoi and technocratically managed non-encounters with the environmental injustices that this corporate technology in-volves.

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