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3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress | Beyond What Was Contemporary Art, Part One

Organisational Units
Location Description
and Secession, Friedrichstraße 12, 1010 Vienna
Location Venue (1)
Main Building
Location Address (1)
Schillerplatz 3
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1010 Vienna

The Congress is organized by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst in cooperation with Secession, Vienna and the Academy of Fine Arts.
The Congress is in English. Admission is free, however, due to limited seating registration is recommended.

Beyond What Was Contemporary Art , the first installment of the third in the series of FORMER WEST Research Congresses, offers a space to speculate about possibilities for art beyond the normalizing practices of what we have come to know as Contemporary Art.

Is it possible to think of Contemporary Art as art-or an art historical period even-emerging from 1989 and developing in parallel to other hegemonic formations such as global neoliberalism? Could it then be argued that, in sync with the current seismic shifts in society, politics, and economy, it now also faces if not a dead end then a number of challenges that take it to task? Is Contemporary Art, as an iconographic source of the political architecture of the world of the last two decades on its way out so to speak, together with the system that made it possible? What kind of challenges and possibilities might then lie before us in the space of art in times like ours? Can we speculate collectively on how to move beyond the present confines of Contemporary Art's practices, and begin articulating what can appear from its "formerness?" What are our responses to-and proposals for-the times ahead?


The Congress is envisioned as a discursive platform where artists, researchers, and public intellectuals are offered a space to speculate about possibilities for art vis-à-vis the increasing forces of antagonism across the world and the emerging imaginaries that accompany them. A detailed schedule is available online at: . Part Two, shaped by these discussions, unfolds in autumn in Utrecht.

19 April 2012, 19.00-21.00, Secession, Vienna

Beginning from the "Formerness" of Contemporary Art

Opening the Congress is a keynote by Nancy Adajania (cultural theorist and curator, Mumbai) introducing the Congress's focus on what lies beyond Contemporary Art, and the consideration of practitioners within and outside the field of art who risk their symbolic capital to explore new possibilities.

20 April 2012, 10.00 - 19.55, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Organizing a Difference and Speculating Forward

On day two, CAMP (collaborative project and platform, Mumbai), Christian H ö ller (writer, Vienna), h.arta (artist collective, Timisoara), Ekaterina Degot (art historian and curator, Moscow), aaa / Atelier d'architecture autogérée (urban research collective platform, Paris), Jesko Fezer (artist and architect, Berlin), Ruth Sonderegger (philosopher, Vienna), and a keynote by Irit Rogoff (theorist and curator, London)examine how a difference gets organized among artistic, intellectual, and activist practices, and the new structures of research, production, and dissemination that arise. Touching on how new possibilities are constituted within and beyond Contemporary Art, the session considers small translocal models that might already be outside known forms of art institutions, self-organization, and aesthetic disciplines.

21 April 2012 11.00 - 12.30, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Open Forum: In Place of Conclusions

Due to popular demand, registration for this session is no longer possible.
Please contact us if you want to get on the waiting list.

Led by Ruth Sonderegger (philosopher, Vienna), this session invites both Congress contributors and participants to revisit the positions, statements, conversations, questions, and doubts that stem from the speculations about what lies "beyond what was Contemporary Art" in order to attempt to map the concerns and urgencies ahead of us. Instead of summarizing a set of conclusions, it is offered as a site of anticipation, as well as of collective thinking and action.

The 3rd FORMER WEST Congress is part of a series of public forums aimed at rendering visible and furthering the artistic, curatorial, and academic research in which the project FORMER WEST is grounded. The Congress is developed by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and co-curated by FORMER WEST research advisor Marion von Osten. It is realized in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and Secession, Vienna.

Practical information:

The Congress is in English. Admission is free, however, due to limited seating registration is recommended to guarantee a seat. A registration form is available online at: . Please submit the completed form no later than 30 March 2012 to: . Program updates can be found on our website and Congress proceedings on 19 and 20 April can be followed via live stream and are archived on the FORMER WEST Digital Platform.

For the press:

Please send your requests for press visits, press images and more information to: Teuni Verploegh ( ) .


FORMER WEST is a contemporary art research, education, publishing, and exhibition project (2008-2014) aimed at a critical reinterpretation of our recent post-1989 histories and at speculating about our global future by casting new light on contemporary art in relation to developments in society and politics. It is realized with a dense international network of researchers and institutional partners. The project is initiated and developed by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht under the artistic directorship of Maria Hlavajova (artistic director BAK, Utrecht and FORMER WEST).

Part One of the Congress is realized in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Secession, Vienna and is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam; ERSTE Foundation, Vienna; and the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Vienna.