Readings for Art Users #4
The Ethnographic Turn in Contemporary Art: How to Follow the Social?
Illustration: Krzysztof Pyda
The team of the Free/Slow University of Warsaw welcomes you to a new series of seminars accompanying the exhibitions "Making Use", "Bread and Roses" and "Why We Have Wars". With reference to the legacy of flying universities, F/SUW organizes a series of self-educational meetings for users of art. Readings' participants will assemble a theoretical toolkit, which will enable them to operate freely within a vocabulary and concepts crucial for understanding the role and position of art in the contemporary world.
The point of departure for this seminar is the canonical text by Hal Foster “The Artist as Ethnographer,” in which Foster criticizes the superficial fascination with the Other (defined by ethnicity or class), so popular among artists working during the 1990s. Discussion on the text will lead to further analysis of ethnographically-inspired artistic activities, namely those which try to reach toward social and geographic peripheries. The seminar will refer to the practice of Alicja Rogalska, Łukasz Skąpski, and Łukasz Surowiec, among others, with the analysis to focus on the cognitive and ethical tensions between art and anthropology. This in turn will enable a closer reading of the idea of ethnographic conceptualism in contemporary anthropology, and the artistic-ethnographic methods that provide novel and unique ways of describing social reality.
The texts for the seminar are: Hal Foster “The Artist as Ethnographer”; Alicja Rogalska This is not a love song. Akcja artystyczna z zespołem Broniowianki; the interview with Łukasz Skąpski by Magda Ujma Hand-made Ready-made; and Łukasz Skąpski O urządzeniach z Broniowa i Ostałówka.
The texts in Polish will be distributed a week before the seminar in response to an e-mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org titled Czytanki dla Użytkowników Sztuki. In addition, printed copies will also be available at the front desk of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. The meeting will be conducted in Polish in the auditorium located at the first floor of Emilia Pavilion.
The team of the Free/Slow University of Warsaw invites to a new series of seminars accompanying the exhibition "Making Use: Life in Postartistic Times"about Readings for Art Users. With reference to the legacy of flying universities, F/SUW organizes a series of self-educational meetings for users of art. Readings' participants will assemble a theoretical toolkit, which will enable them to operate freely within a vocabulary and concepts crucial for understanding the role and position of art in the contemporary world.
Seminars will refer directly to the exhibitions organized simultaneously at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw ("Making Use. Life in the Post-Artistic Era", "Why We Have Wars. The Art of Modern-Day Outsiders", "Bread and Roses. The Strategies of Class Identification"), grounding theoretical reflection in the most recent curatorial and artistic developments.
The cycle will serve as a discursive platform, taking on such questions as:
- What is the use value of art?
- Is art purposeless?
- What does making use mean in such a context?
- Are we living in postartistic times?
- Does an avantgardistic dream of fusing art with life remain an unreachable horizon?
- Can art facilitate radical changes in society and everyday life?
- What is artistic competence?
- How does this extend to other domains of life?
- What kind of plausible art worlds are there?
- What is the value of institutions sustaining artistic autonomy?
- Is the art world capable, and under which conditions, to empower disenfranchised communities?
- What brings together DIY enthusiasts with hackers?
- What kind of work is being conducted by users of social media?
One of the main texts to resurface over the course of several seminars will be "Towards a Lexicon of Usership" by Canadian philosopher Stephen Wright. This work is to be juxtaposed with canonical texts (Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Friedrich Schiller) and contemporary positions (Howard Becker, Hakim Bey, Claire Bishop, Yann Moulier Boutang, Peter Bürger, Guy Debord, Hal Foster, Miwon Kwon, Lucy Lippard, Jerzy Ludwiński, Jacques Rancière, McKenzie Wark).