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Simon Sheikh | A Conceptual History of Exhibition-making

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Location Venue (1)
Main Building
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Schillerplatz 3
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1010 Vienna

Lecture (English) within the framework of the WWTF/Art(s) & Sciences research project "Troubling Research. Performing Knowledge in the Arts"

Since 1989, we have notonly seen (geo)political and cultural changes in Europe, former west and eastalike, but also a renewed interest in the exhibition as the main vehicle forcontemporary art, not only in terms of presentation, but also production: theexhibition as medium. We have also seen the specialization of exhibitions, intowhat can be characterized as instituted genres of exhibitions. We musttherefore ask ourselves not only what a history of exhibitions will tell usabout art, but also about history, and about how it is written and read,rewritten and re-read. And whether such histories are necessarily alwayswritten by the victors - short term as long term, internationally asnationally?

This talk will look at afew examples, both canonical and non-canonical, in order to sketch out how atypology of exhibitions must be established, but also to ask what makesexhibitionary articulations readable and translatable, and indeed successfuland unsuccessful within their parameters and strategies…In other words, thequestion is whether it possible to predetermine the effects and affects ofexhibitions within their chosen type and/or efforts to not conform to type? Andwhat are its relation to histories and counter-histories, i.e. what sort ofhorizon is set up by a given exhibition in its types, forms and articulations? Inother words, how do exhibitions produce and reproduce bodies of knowledge, andhow can the activity itself be a field of research?

Simon Sheikh is a freelancecurator and critic. He is a correspondent for Springerin, Vienna, and acolumnist for e-flux Journal, New York. He is a researcher for the on-goingFormer West project, initiated by BAK in Utrecht. He was Coordinator of theCritical Studies Program, Malmö Art Academy in Sweden, 2002-2009. He wasdirector of Overgaden – Institute for Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, 1999-2002and Curator at NIFCA, Helsinki, 2003-2004. Editor of the magazine Øjeblikket1996-2000, and a member of the project group GLOBE 1993-2000.

Curatorial work includesexhibitions such as Exclusion, Consul, Århus, 1993, I Confess, Nikolaj –Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, 1995, Escape Attempts in Christiania,Copenhagen, 1996 (with GLOBE), Do-It-Yourself – Mappings and Instructions,Bricks+Kicks, Vienna, 1997, In My Room, Nordic Video, Musee d’Art Moderne de laVille de Paris, 1998, Models of Resistance, Overgaden, Copenhagen 2000 (withGLOBE), Naust Øygarden, Bergen, Norway 2000, Circa Berlin, Nikolaj – CopenhagenContemporary Art Center, 2005, Capital (It Fails Us Now) at UKS, Oslo, 2005 andKunstihoone, Tallinn, 2006, and Vectors of Possibility, BAK, Utrecht, 2010.

Recent publications includethe anthologies We are all Normal (with Katya Sander), Black Dog Publishing,London 2001, Knut Åsdam (monograph), Fine Arts Unternehmen, Zug, 2004, In thePlace of the Public Sphere?, b_books, Berlin, 2005 and Capital (It Fails UsNow), b_books, Berlin, 2006. A collection of his essays is forthcoming fromb_books. His writings can also be found in such periodicals as Afterall,AnArchitectur, Open, Springerin and Texte zur Kunst. Lives in Berlin and Copenhagen.