BUT … IS THIS ART?
9th INTRODUCTION TO ART TODAY COURSE
WEDNESDAYS, 15 FEB-5 APR 15 2017
Aimed at anyone interested in the art of today. No prior knowledge required
This edition of But… Is this Art? wishes to set in place a framework that will provide room for a sensation that we wish to share after the path we have travelled so far: our astonishment at art’s power to express itself in an infinite multiplicity and to invent various ways of making and of expressing itself. Instead of mythicizing art by believing it to be inaccessible, we will take a look at all the places where it exists and where it is possible to find it. The question then becomes more of an affirmation:But… this is Art!
To this end we propose a constellation of narratives on some of its infinite possibilities, with the hope that it will provide the spirit and tools to dispel calamity with a sense of rejoicing. A course to defend art from the system.
CA2M organises educational activities on contemporary art and thinking that can be framed within the tradition of community colleges, aimed particularly at young and adult students. The courses it offers address some of the key issues for a proper understanding and interpretation of art today, to use it to think. These activities can be divided into two parts: the first consists of the presentation of a theme by a guest speaker and the second part involves a debate open to the audience. The sessions at CA2M are complemented with individual work by the persons enrolled in the course with texts handed out before the beginning of each session.
Directed by Selina Blasco
ART AND THE MATERIAL QUALITIES OF THE TEXTILE
The world of textiles (fabrics, embroidery, textures, stitching, sewing, darning, split seams) is, like art’s capacity for reinvention which we are exploring in this course, a never-ending world. A whole range of suggestions just perfect for an opening session.
Selina Blasco lectures in Art History at the School of Fine Arts at Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
WHAT THE WORLD IS NOT. DOCUMENTARY FICTIONS AND CONTEMPORARY ART
Thanks to new audiovisual formats like auteur documentaries or non-fiction film, we have seen how, in recent decades, the already blurred boundaries between fiction and non-fiction have completely dissolved, and the same can be said for contemporary art and other adjacent or more or less differentiated fields. Formal hybridisation is here to stay.
However, though the number of this type of audiovisual productions keeps on growing, they are still generally works that are removed from the habits of the larger public and mainstream commercial circuits, which in principle restricts access to them and limits them to minority distribution channels.
What transdisciplinary lessons can these audiovisual projects teach us? How can we gain access to and make the most of them? How can we incorporate them into our ways of seeing, in our classes, in our artistic, intellectual, political and affective practices?
Sally Gutiérrezis a visual artist who works with expanded formats in a hybrid field between contemporary art, visual essays and documentaries.
ART AS SOCIAL PROCESS
Today the question of the social function of art transcends the classic notion of public art, by configuring new scenarios of negotiation, action and thinking that generate social processes related with other disciplines and modes of cultural production. In this session we will explore some of the experiences that have led to a displacement of symbolic production towards notions such as collaboration and participation. For this reason, we will start out from some classic cases and also explore local experiences from within the context of the city of Madrid.
Francisca Blanco Olmedo is a cultural researcher and producer and a member of the Intermediae Matadero curatorial team.
LISTENING TURNED ON ITS HEAD
In 1961, with his usual provocative and ground-breaking style, John Cage asked if a truck that drives by a factory is more musical than a truck that drives by a music school, bringing us face to face with the prejudices we have on what is musical and not, and in doing so trying to open our ears to everything that produces sound.
We want to take a walkthrough of sound and music practices which, since the twentieth century, have posited a drastic change in the relationship with sound and what we believe to be music, bringing into play how we perceive and how we use sound. Altering perception brings with it an alteration in the possibility of accessing different and highly varied ways of thinking and with them other ways of making worlds. Therein lies the political potential of listening. We usually think that perception is passive and natural, that the eyes and the ears are mere orifices through which visual images and sounds simply pass into our brain. Neoliberalism and particularly advertising know full well that this is not the case: they are experts in playing with varying levels of perception, affect and the unconscious.
Whoever listens will connect or be at cross purposes with what he hears: threading together and unpicking, tightening and loosening, confronting memories, expectations, affects, gestures, thoughts and relations, weaving them all together through experiences, conventions and habits in the world and time in which we live. Exposing oneself to listening is to take the risk that these threads might snap, fray, loosen, break or entangle. In this session we will take a look at experimental music and sound art that conceives listening as a political device.
Anouk Devillé and Susana Jiménez Carmona are members of Cuidadoras de sonidos.
RADICAL SYMMETRY. THE DIVISION OF TECHNOLOGY
To inhabit the present we urgently need to view the “world” as a composition produced and honed by a diversity of human and non-human agents. Observing our everyday coexistence in these object-based ecosystems, we can understand the politics, ethics and aesthetics that affect us each day, and accept that our most banal and often most unnoticed technological practices “make worlds”. What art forms can be deployed from this sensibility? What everyday insights inform us of the mutual configuration of subjects and tools? What would it mean to situate ourselves in a position of radical symmetry with respect to languages, infrastructures and media? Would such a gesture mean a division of potentials different to the contemporary digital norm?
Jara Rochais a mediator, curator, researcher and teacher who develops her practice in frameworks such as Possible Bodies, Infra-,Objetologías,The Darmstadt Delegationor projects for Bau Design College.
THE LONGEST ROAD
Many artists working today advocate a change in the effective way of making things, going for the most absurd and costly option only to arrive at the same point. That is why it is sometimes difficult to understand some artistic decisions that can create countless misunderstandings with the public. For instance, why does an artist spend many months building a boat inside a museum if the boat can’t fit through the door and will never set sail? In this session we will rethink together the reasons for these apparent nonsensical works by artists who challenge the logics of time and of productivity. We will use them to imagine new forms of making with other people and perhaps experimenting with the excitement of taking another path.
Vito Gil-Delgadois one of the heads of education at CA2M.
RECONSTRUCTING THE DANCES OF THE PAST
This conversation on performing art practices will analyse contemporary dance pieces which address the difficulty of reconstructing works of the past.
Recovering dances of the past may respond to two very distinct goals. The first one is nostalgic and is destined to cloud our vision of the present with an affirmation that all past times were better. The second, and polar opposite, has the goal of striking up a dialogue with the present.
Here we will take a look at contemporary choreographies that take on the challenge of reviewing their own history in order to detect fissures in the narrative line and to inhabit the folds in an intertwined exercise of memory and forgetting. In the practice, choreographies develop unsuspected ways of relating with the document, the archive, memory, corporal transmission or temporality.
We will address questions on Fabián Barba’s work on Mary Wigman or Olga de Soto’s work on Jean Cocteau, among others.
Isabel de Naveránis a researcher, lecturer, author, editor, coordinator and organizer of seminars, symposiums and/or programmes related with contemporary art practice, particularly experimental choreography.
WHEN ARTISTS LIVE TOGETHER: ARTISTIC COMMUNITIES AND COMMUNES IN EUROPE
At different moments in history, artists have decided to live together for reasons which are at once artistic and social. In consequence, the space of this kind of commune seeks to combine social ideals and the ambitions of artistic experimentation. However, despite its evident interest for different humanistic disciplines, this subject has barely been studied. Therein our interest in investigating ways of living that artists propose in their praxis. The basic question we want to answer is: What forms does utopian imagination and social experimentation take in art? Therefore, we will be exploring the bonds between art and utopia, materialised in the real space of artist communities.
Starting out with specific cases we wish to offer an overall view and a brief genealogy. We will pay special attention to how the various cases dialogue with their context, simultaneously relating with the various waves of communitarianism and with metropolitan artistic structures.
Julia Ramírez Blanco is an art historian and author of the book Utopías artísticas de revuelta. Claremont Road, Reclaim the Streets, la Ciudad de Sol(Cátedra, 2014), in which she explores the aesthetic and utopian dimensions of some social movements.
Attendance at any particular session is free, while places last