Propositions #10: Instituting Otherwise is a one-day public symposium on the civic practice of art institutions, organized by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht on Saturday 7 December 2019, from 13.00–21.00 hrs. The symposium probes the question of how to institute spaces for art in the face of the pressing urgencies of the present.
Driven by these urgencies—such as environmental violence, persistent racism, systemic inequalities, as well as fascisms and micro-fascisms—the symposium engages with the proposition of the art institution as a microcosm of a world centered on social and ecological justice. In this proposition, the practices of the art institution are the actualization of the collective alternative imaginings of the “not-yet”: of “another world” and “another future.” Key to such an imaginary are the constituencies the institution serves, and the consequent re-compositions of institutional practice not only with regard to what western modernity used to call “audiences,” but across all institutional processes. The symposium discusses challenges related to such a repurposing of the art institution, and considers notions of civic practice, collaborative learning and radical pedagogy, solidarity and mutual care, as well as the fallacy of institutional politico-ideological neutrality.
The notion of “instituting otherwise” has been an adage since the inception of BAK in 2000, which has driven its practice as a basis where art, research, theory, and social action meet in coalition to imagine and actualize alternatives to today’s world. Over the past twenty years, BAK has been developing this notion through various multifaceted programs, research, and publications, as well as in intensive collaborations with its multi-talented, poly-vocal constituencies. “Instituting otherwise” is a method of continuous interrogation of the conditions of the world,with and alongside these constituencies, and a way of confronting the injustices in the world collectively and propositionally. It is at the same time a systematic move away from institutions as they persist—specifically in the west and in ways redolent of the colonial era—as custodians of power engaged in depoliticizing and neutralizing the possibility of art as aesthetico-political experimentation geared toward another future. Instead, this method moves toward a concrete, tactical realization of alternatives to the world we know today.
With contributions by: Yasmin Ahmed (activist, Amsterdam), Isshaq Al-Barbary(writer and researcher, Amsterdam), Barby Asante (artist, curator, and educator, London), Matthijs de Bruijne (artist and union organizer, Amsterdam), Mitchell Esajas (anthropologist, curator, and social entrepreneur, Amsterdam), Jeanne van Heeswijk (artist, Rotterdam), Maria Hlavajova (General and Artistic Director of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht), Triwish Hanoeman (musician and cultural entrepreneur, Utrecht), Nicoline van Harskamp (artist, Amsterdam), Natalia Kulik(public speaker, moderator and project coordinator, Utrecht), Andrea Phillips (theorist and writer, London), Laura Raicovich (curator and writer, New York), Shay Raviv (social designer and researcher, Utrecht), Jun Saturay (artist, Utrecht),Mustapha Seray Bah (trainer, organizer, discussion leader, Utrecht), and others.
Propositions #10: Instituting Otherwise is a temporary spin-off from Trainings for the Not-Yet (14 September 2019–12 January 2020) currently taking place at BAK, and is the tenth iteration of BAK’s long-term research series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–ongoing), which seeks to collectively think and act out ways of being together otherwise. The symposium is preceded by a series of workshops for fellow art institutions, funds, and policy makers in the Netherlands, held at BAK on 6 December 2019. Both these events are part of BAK’s commitment to public practice and aim to share preliminary learnings from Trainings for the Not-Yet, specifically at the point where many art institutions in the Netherlands are finalizing their policies for the forthcoming four-year funding period.
Saturday 7 December, 13–21 hrs, including dinner from 17.45–19 hrs in the Basic Activist Kitchen