[artinfo] "Curating Under Pressure" international symposium

Art&Education edu-news at mailer.e-flux.com
Thu Oct 1 13:26:53 CEST 2015

International symposium:
"Curating Under Pressure"

5-8 November 2015

University of Canterbury
Ilam Campus
Room 101 in The Undercroft
New Zealand


  In September 2010, Christchurch's SCAPE Biennial 
of Public Art was three weeks away from opening 
when the city was struck by a magnitude 7.1 
earthquake, damaging the city and halting the 
sixth biennial. Half a world away, a biennial had 
been founded in New Orleans in 2006 precisely 
because of the catastrophe caused by Hurricane 
Katrina and the ensuing political and social 
debacle. In both places, two different concepts 
of what art can do in times of pressure and 
disaster are at work, but both instances raise 
questions about the role of art in extreme 
situations-whether caused by natural disasters, 
extreme political pressure, oppressive regimes or 
terrorist threats.

As Christchurch continues to come to terms with 
the series of massive seismic events five years 
ago, it will host the international symposium 
"Curating Under Pressure."  It was initiated by 
Leonhard Emmerling, Goethe-Institut, and Elke aus 
dem Moore, ifa (Institut für 
Auslandsbeziehungen), realized in partnership 
with Creative New Zealand and the University of 
Canterbury, and is supported by the Federal 
Foreign Office of Germany.

Bringing together a rich cohort of curators, 
artists and theorists, the symposium will focus 
on the audience and the ethics surrounding the 
biennial structure. Is there a responsibility 
towards the audience, and if so, how could it be 
described? What are art's promises towards the 
audience? Does art have the power to heal trauma 
and to build resilience against hardship and 
disaster? Does art have the power to instigate 
change-political or social? And if not: What are 
the consequences for cultural producers, artists, 
curators and exhibition organizers?

Over four days, a variety of speakers will 
explore these questions via prepared 
presentations, panel discussions, guided tours, 
public gatherings, and loosely programmed 
encounters and conversations. The first day will 
contextualize the post-quake Christchurch 
situation as experienced by locals in relation to 
the city's multiple histories. The second day 
explores other significant natural disasters, 
including those that have occurred in Japan and 
Indonesia, and the responses to these events in 
the artistic and wider communities. The third day 
addresses political pressure, asking-among other 
things-how biennials can avoid servitude to 
states and governmental organizations seeking 
cultural tools to conceal oppressive politics. On 
the final day we will seek a way forward: in 
close group discussions, participants will be 
asked to contribute to a working manifesto of 
curatorial ethics.

"Curating Under Pressure" is a free symposium 
that takes place in Christchurch, New Zealand 
between 5-8 November 2015. To register, find out 
more information, and for press inquiries, go to 
<http://www.curating-under-pressure.com>www.curating-under-pressure.com or 
email Jamie Hanton, Project Coordinator, at 
<mailto:curatingunderpressure at canterbury.ac.nz>curatingunderpressure at canterbury.ac.nz.

Invited contributors:
Brooke Davis Anderson (Director, Prospect, New 
Orleans), Russell Brown (media theorist, New 
Zealand), Sorcha Carey (Director, Edinburgh Art 
Festival), Zasha Colah (Independent Curator, 
India), Marina Fokidis (Co-Curator, documenta), 
Blair French (Curator, SCAPE 7), Gabriele Horn 
(Director, Berlin Biennial), Miyamoto Katushiro 
(architect, Hyogo Province), Rona Kopeczky 
(Artistic Director, OFF-Biennále Budapest), Azar 
Mahmoudian (independent curator, Teheran), Sarah 
Murray (Curator, Canterbury Museum), Gabi Ngcobo 
(Curator/Director, Center for Historical 
Reenactments, Johannesburg; Co-Curator, São Paulo 
Biennial), Melanie Oliver (Director, The Physics 
Room), Elvira Dyangani Ose (Curator, Göteborg 
Biennial), Alisa Prudnikova (Commissioner / 
Artistic Director, Ural Industrial Biennial), 
Lara Strongman (Senior Curator, Christchurch Art 
Gallery), Shannon Te Ao (Artist / Lecturer, 
Massey University), Sophie Davis, Sophie Bannan, 
Grace Ryder (Co-Directors, North Projects), Chloe 
Geoghegan and Ella Sutherland (Former 
Co-Directors, Dog Park Project Space), artists 
and activists from Christchurch

ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and 
Goethe-Institut are independent cultural 
institutions promoting the international art and 
culture exchange through art exhibitions and 
dialogue programs. "Curating Under Pressure" will 
be the sixth edition in the ifa conference series 
Biennials in Dialogue, which aims to generate 
discussions amongst all the participants involved 
in the growing business of biennial culture. 
Previous conferences in this series focused on 
the perspectives of directors and organizers of 
biennials; later editions have asked curators, 
researchers, and artists to raise new questions.

The conference in Christchurch was initiated by 
Leonhard Emmerling, Goethe-Institut, and Elke aus 
dem Moore, ifa, realized in partnership with 
Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand 
Toi Aotearoa and the University of Canterbury, 
and is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of 

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