The TransCuratorial Academy (TCA) is an initiative of KfW Stiftung with the aim of advancing international knowledge transfer, networking and the development of the transcultural and transdisciplinary curatorial discourse. It is directed by Beatrice von Bismarck and Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer. The academy is structured in three chapters (Berlin, Mumbai, Phnom Penh), each of which is centered on a keyword in a five-day programme.
'Hospitality' is the keyword of the TCA Mumbai, which is realised in collaboration with Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai. By inviting Lawrence Liang as the keynote speaker, the TCA follows its aim to introduce vital terms from neighbouring disciplines to the curatorial discourse. Furthermore, the programme includes presentations by the eight participating curators, workshops with the curators Ute Meta Bauer and Ranjit Hoskote and excursions to local art institutions. Participants of the TCA Berlin will join the programme as alumni.
Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, 18-22 September 2017
Merve Bedir, Istanbul/Rotterdam/Hong Kong
Carolina Cerón, Bogotá
Kristina Dziedzic Wright, Seoul
David Frohnapfel, Berlin
Behzad Nejadghanbar, Tehran
Marina Reyes Franco, San Juan
Sumitra Sunder, Bangalore
Gintani Swastika, Yogyakarta
Lawrence Liang, professor of law at the School of Law, Governance and Citizenship at Ambedkar University Delhi
Ute Meta Bauer, curator and founding director of NTU CCA Singapore
Ranjit Hoskote, independent curator and writer, Mumbai
Alumni of TCA Berlin:
Mariella Franzoni, Barcelona/Cape Town
Roger Nelson, Phnom Penh
Ying Tan, Manchester
Carlos Quijon, Jr., Manila
Iaroslav Volovod, Moscow
Keynote by Lawrence Liang
Law transacts, even if invisibly so, with affective figures such as the insider, the outsider, the guest and the stranger. How does the law produce, visibilize or invisibilize these relational figures, and what would it mean to legally foreground these figures and the conceptual universes they inhabit at a time when there could not be a greater demand for legal hospitality even as we are witness to the greatest forms of legal inhospitality. The Muslim ban promulgated by the Trump administration is just one instance of the challenge we face. If the law has been inherently spatial and territorial, where then to turn to if we are to articulate a radical politics of belonging: Is the Kantian ideal of a cosmopolitan right to hospitality a solution or only a bigger problem in her liberal times? In this talk, which is by way of a set of exploratory wanderings, I shall set up a few problems of thinking of the overlap between law, hostility and hospitality.
Lawrence Liang is a professor of law at the School of law, governance and citizenship at Ambedkar University Delhi. A founder of Alternative Law Forum, a collective of public interest, Lawrence’s work and interests lie at the intersection of law and culture. He has also collaborated with groups such as Sarai Delhi and Camp in Mumbai on research and archival initiatives.
September 18, 2017
Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai
K. Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda
Mumbai 400 001
Merve Bedir, Istanbul / Rotterdam / Hong Kong
Vocabulary of Hospitality
“[...] the foreigner is first of all foreign to the legal language in which the duty of hospitality is formulated, the right to asylum, its limits, norms, policing, etc. He has to ask for hospitality in a language which, by definition is not his own, the one imposed on him by the master of the house, the host, the king, the lord, the authorities, the nation, the State, the father […]. This personage imposes on him translation into their own language, and that’s the first act of violence.”
Jacques Derrida, Of Hospitality, 2000
The ambiguous legal context of 'hospitality,' created by the constantly changing, and highly hierarchical (inter)national migration and asylum policies have treated migrants differently according to their identities and periods of arrival. This ambiguity has resulted in the emergence of an extensive vocabulary of language concerning migration, which reflects itself in urban space. Vocabulary of Hospitality explores this vocabulary, revealing the intertwined conceptions of ‘host’, ‘guest’ and ‘hospitality’. Conceptualized from Derrida’s texts as a departure point, this project looks at the complexity inherent in the relationship between the ‘guest’ and ‘host’, which encompasses several obligations and tensions. When are the guest and the host strangers to each other? When do they become visitors? In what context are they enemies or hostages of each other? How does guest become visible or invisible? When do hosts become guests, and the other way around? When are they in solidarity with each other? Is it possible to break off the hierarchy of hospitality, and create horizontal structures of solidarity? This project looks at the urban spaces that render these relationships visible. Dissecting its complexity; Vocabulary of Hospitality is a research and documentation project about temporary settlements, detention centers, major urban infrastructures such as football stadiums, parks, squares, other spaces collectively produced in solidarity, borders, refugee camps, and further. The project has so far focused on the route from Jordan towards France and the Netherlands. The aim forward is to explore the route between India and China. Here, the focus of the project will shift towards the spaces of hospitality among the nomadic peoples of high lands, and the seas.
Merve Bedir is a designer, researcher, and curator. She is partner at Land and Civilization Compositions, and a PhD candidate at TU Delft. She is a member of Matbakh-Mutfak, a kitchen initiative by a transnational women collective in Gaziantep, and a founding member of MAD [Center for Spatial Justice] in Istanbul. She also teaches for Future+ / Aformal Academy, an independent graduate program for urbanism and public art in Shenzhen. Her book Vocabulary of Hospitality will be published by Dpr-Barcelona (2017).
Carolina Cerón, Bogotá
‘Soft curating’ is a term coined by Colombian artist Gustavo Zalamea that explores the idea of non-conventional curatorial practices and the curator as an unstable figure in tension. As Zalamea points out: “[…] soft curating assumes the event as a collective creation by intensifying the intrinsic power of each of the particular works through affinities or contrasts”. I will relate the idea of ‘soft curating’ to the notion of hospitality as an understanding of the curatorial. This involves a wider perspective: the differentiation of the activity of curating as organizing exhibitions, and the curatorial as a concept that understands the activity of curating as an event of knowledge in itself. The curatorial involves many fields and disciplines, as well as a live and attentive component, as an organism in a symbiotic relationship with the world. The two projects I will be presenting are: Portable Art Encounters and Encounters at Montes de María. The Portable Art Encounters approach the ideological, aesthetic and theoretical constellations that surround portable work. Closely linked to the minimum, the contingent, they constitute a reflection on the symbol of the portable and its relation to space and scale. Each artist brings, according to their own means and criteria, the work or works they choose with the only condition that they can be contained in a suitcase, hence their portable nature. The Encounters at Montes de María is a project whose purpose was to promote the appropriation and strengthening of the cultural infrastructure called ’La casa del pueblo’ (‘house of the village’), through a series of meetings and activities with the community of the village of El Salado, Bolívar.
Carolina Cerón works and lives in Bogotá, Colombia. She holds a BFA from the art program of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, a postgraduate diploma in design of exhibition formats of the Elisava School, Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and a MA in Culture Industry from Goldsmiths College, London University. She is currently assistant professor at the Universidad de los Andes and has been associate professor in the cultural management department at Universidad EAN in Bogotá. She is interested in initiatives on experimental ephemera and alternative sites for curatorial discourse. She also performs, from an eminently self-reflexive position, the task of organizing, exposing, interpreting, curating, reading and writing about art.
Kristina Dziedzic Wright, Seoul
Korea/Kenya: Transcultural Conversations through Art
I will present my recent efforts to develop a series of workshops and accompanying exhibitions between Korean and Kenyan artists whose work interrogates concepts of national identity and/or comments on effects of globalisation. As Asian investments in business and infrastructure increase exponentially throughout Africa, new opportunities for cultural contact are arising. With the intersection of these different worlds, the arts provide a form of imaginative engagement that can help people better appreciate their differences and hopefully develop a framework of hospitality for cross-cultural encounters. Scholars and practitioners of development have comparatively studied South Korea and Kenya because they had the same GDP when they gained independence, but Korea has since developed into one of the world’s top fifteen economies and is the first aid recipient in the OECD to become a donor nation. In 2010, almost half of South Korea’s humanitarian aid budget was devoted to Africa, and the Korean government’s strategy for African overseas developmental assistance (ODA) focuses on advancing the arts and culture as a means of exerting ‘soft power.’ Along with bilateral aid from the government, Korean businesses are seeking new opportunities for growth in many African countries, and former Korean president Park Geun-Hye visited Nairobi in May 2016 to promote business ventures between the two countries. Increasing contact between Kenya and Korea has not, however, brought mutual understanding and appreciation for what makes each culture unique. Many Kenyans remain suspicious of what they perceive as neo-colonial endeavours on the part of Asian corporations and governments while understandings of Africa amongst the general South Korean population tend to vacillate between ‘poverty porn’ and exoticization. The exchange I’m developing will provide an opportunity to bring varied perspectives into conversation with one another and explore the shifting relationships and disjunctures between culture, politics and socioeconomic factors that are characteristic of globalisation.
Kristina Dziedzic Wright has master’s degrees in rhetoric and art history from the University of Illinois, Chicago and is a PhD candidate in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She has taught writing and art history in South Korea since 2011, works as an independent curator and is currently consulting on a project at the National Museums of Kenya to develop a comprehensive collections management system and create a public outreach website.
David Frohnapfel, Berlin
Politics of Non-Availability at the Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince
“Sometimes the repetition of good sentiment feels oppressive.”
Sara Ahmed, On Being Included, 2012
Sara Ahmed describes processes of inclusion of racialized bodies in ‘white’ institutions through the logic of ‘conditional hospitality’, where acts of inclusion maintain the form of exclusion. Haitian artists are often welcomed in ‘Euro-North American’ institutions but under very self-serving interests. The socially engaged art festival Ghetto Biennale(GB) was founded by British photographer, filmmaker, and curator Leah Gordon in collaboration with the members of the Haitian artist group Atis Rezistans in Port-au-Prince in 2009 and intends to reverse the logic of ‘conditional hospitality’ by making Haitian artists from weak socio-economic strata hosts of their own art event. Although the GB doubtlessly brings many fruitful new opportunities and global attention to the Haitian artist community, I realized during the co-curation of the 3rd GB in 2013, that the art event became also a mechanism through which a group of Haitian artists are capable to examine in close proximity the consequences of ‘whiteness’ and privilege within the artistic milieu in comparison to their own artistic careers. Thus, many Haitian artists question who is benefitting from this art event that touts to be “the most radical art event in the last decade” (Leah Gordon) in curatorial self-descriptions. Gratefulness and availability remain affective responses expected from Haitian artists in inter-racial and inter-class relationships during the GB. Following decolonial activist Audre Lorde, I understand angriness, conflict, and non-availability as important mechanisms to counter inequality and systems of domination. I show in my paper that Haitian artists resist dependencies and affirmative readings of the GB as a successful inter-class community project through their anger. These critical voices are often silenced because the anger these artists articulate make them “affect aliens” (Sara Ahmed) to the happiness, optimism, excitement, and heroic entitlement the GB as a socially-engaged art project intents to produce within its visiting milieu of traveling art activists.
David Frohnapfel studied Art History, Comparative Literature and Religious Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and at the Universidad de la Habana in Cuba. In 2017 he finished his PhD with the title Disobedient Musealities: Dialogue and Conflict in the Art Scene of Port-au-Prince at Freie Universität Berlin. He was a fellow in the research group Objects in the Contact Zone at the Max-Planck-Institute in Florence in Italy. He also worked as curator of The 3rd Ghetto Biennale: Decentering the Market and Other Tales of Progress in Port-au-Prince and curated the exhibition NOCTAMBULES: the hidden transcripts on queer visualities on occasion of Le Forum Transculturel d’Art Contemporain in 2015.
Behzad Nejadghanbar, Tehran
Seeking the Possibility of Experiencing the Chaos: Regarding Contemporary Art in Iran
The main concern of the art space Emkan was shaped in confrontation with a fundamental issue in Iranian art scene: the old struggle between two discourses of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity‘. With the commence of what we recall as beginning of modernism in Iran, the issue of identity crisis was born and despite many attempts, it still exists with the same strength as before. Feeling that in most of these attempts one can find a trace of pre-assumed identities, Emkan as a project looked at all these solutions with a shadow of doubt. We believe that it really does not differ whether we call the ‘East’ a host that has been raided by an unexpected parasite guest or with a humble manner, consider the ‘East’ a guest to a feast that the ‘West’ has pre-organized. Instead, we have been constantly seeking for those attempts in Iranian art that begin from a totally different concern. Avoiding fighting in a battle field in which each side has a defined identity, they experience modernity as an event that shakes up all defined concepts and identities, and it is in this chaos that new experiences and the creation of the new could occur. When we started Emkan we did not know to what extent we will achieve. It is interesting that, after almost two years of not limiting ourselves to specific mediums or movements, we have been able to highlight streaks of a recognizable taste or flow in Iranian art, as our audiences and even our critics admit. If this, no matter how properly, could have happened, one can at least be sure that such ‘possibility’ has existed and has been experienced in the very heart of Iranian art itself: the experience of modernity as a way to be free from predefined identities. At this stage we need to pursue this search with more seriousness.
Having his master in Dramatic literature, Behzad Nejadghanbar initially entered the art scene as a writer and critic for art magazines. His part-time involvement with the art world helped him to become an art consultant for a couple of collectors, while he was lucky to start working as one of the editors of a significant art magazine in Iran and also curating a few exhibitions for galleries in Tehran. His experiences in various fields such as teaching, writing and curating as well as his enthusiasm to highlight a certain taste and approach toward Iranian art, invoked the idea of opening an art space of his own, Emkan, founded in September 2015.
Marina Reyes Franco, San Juan
The Visitor Economy
I would like to approach the term ‘hospitality’ from my own research into the effects of tourism on cultural productions, within the new colonial relationship that the tourism industry embodies. Specifically, I will present two recent curatorial projects, Watch your step / Mind your head, at ifa galerie Berlin, and The 2nd Grand Tropical Biennial in Loíza, Puerto Rico. In Watch your step / Mind your head (2017), Irene de Andrés and Sofía Gallisá Muriente present a selection of works developed in close conversation between 2015 and 2017 that ponder the question of who constructs the concept of paradise and who consumes it the most, as experienced from the Caribbean nation of Puerto Rico. Their work explores how cultural differences have been marketed within the new colonial relationship that the tourism industry embodies, particularly through the creation and circulation of images. In the exhibition, the artists examine and contest the visual economy of tourism and the representation of the Caribbean as constructed for tourists and investors. For The 2nd Grand Tropical Biennial (2016), co-curated with Stefan Benchoam, Radamés ‘Juni’ Figueroa and Pablo León de la Barra, we exchanged the white cube for the green, blue and sandy one of a beach. We brought together artists for an exhibition of works made or reinterpreted specifically for the setting, organized under the guise of the economy of friendship. Hosted by La Comay kiosk, a family run business in Loíza, a historically black town in the northern coast of Puerto Rico, the biennial presented a cohesive experience with artworks, workshops and performances that was very aware and paid homage of the place it was set in. The biennial introduces another way of conceiving biennials that are enjoyable, thoughtful and, above all, possible.
Marina Reyes Franco is an independent curator living and thinking from San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is co-founder and former director of La Ene in Buenos Aires. Recent projects include: Watch your step / Mind your head (curator-in-residence program of KfW Stiftung in collaboration with ifa-Galerie Berlin); The 2nd Grand Tropical Biennial; A Summer in Puerta de Tierra; Calibán and Sucursal, and numerous exhibitions at La Ene. Research interests include artistic and literary manifestations on the frontier of political action, new museology, and the impact of tourism in culture.
Sumitra Sunder, Bangalore
In my presentation I will interrogate the idea of hospitality in connection to the notion of inclusion. The aim is to look at the ways in which hospitality can engage the public and create more inclusive spaces for art. We exist in a digitally hyper-connected world and for a large section of the urban demographic, this existence has become normal. Moving from a ‘modern’ period that required physical manifestations of art, to a more ephemeral art practice, the curating of art has also begun to engage in this digital world. Our understanding of space and time has changed, with technology enabling us to reach across continents and countries. Exhibitions, however, are physical experiences. First of all, hospitality concerns the interpretation and mediation of exhibitions, but it also affects the accessibility of art spaces and venues. Hospitality here would appear as creating accessible and comfortable spaces for people to enjoy art and to interact. Creating an inclusive environment does not only mean to place a few benches and building ramps for the physically disabled, but also to provide gender-neutral toilets/rest rooms and to offer assistance to those who may require it. Discussions around this subject often lead up to the question of financial resources and priorities, but I argue that curatorial statements and spatial settings are interconnected. By giving some examples I will talk about situations in which inclusion could work.
Sumitra Sunder is an independent researcher and curator working on a doctorate in contemporary art practice from Manipal University, in Karnataka, India. Her PhD project locates the past 40 years of curating and resistance in art practice in South India, focusing on collectives in Bangalore, Karnataka and the Students’ Biennale at Kochi, Kerala. Sumitra also co-curated the Neralu festival in Bangalore in 2014, dedicated to the trees of Bangalore and a reflection on the ecology of the city. Beyond curating shows, she has been co-developing plays for local theatre collectives. Sumitra also works as a researcher and consultant for art and culture organizations in India.
Gintani Swastika, Yogyakarta
Art Needs Some Rest
Art projects have the ability to create a new social space. How is a new social space created through the presence of a guest (i.e. artist collective) in the neighbourhood? I will be addressing this issue based on my experience of initiating AceMart (2015-2017), a project which runs with my collective, Ace House. Ace House’s artistic vision aims to address the role and function of contemporary art in society today. This includes generating a project that uses imitation as methodology to represent an art form by using various interpretations of the everyday infrastructure, the surrounding institutions or trade bodies that are often encountered by Indonesian people. Through these forms, we try to invite audiences to experience an artwork as a form of ‘common’ activity, negotiating discussions around the concept of ‘social class’ experiences. AceMart is a site-specific, performative artwork, produced as a pop-up convenience store that engages the participation of the audience. It was realised on the premises of Ace House, which is situated in a residential area. It seeks to maximize the possibilities of a typical art gallery space, so that it does not only serve as a showroom, but acts as a fluid social space for artists and works of art to interact with the audience and the surrounding community. By offering a different experience and perspective to enjoy art, AceMart encourages the public, be it artists, art enthusiasts, or local residents, to participate in bridging the gap that occasionally occurs with the way artworks are presented in a conventional art space.
Gintani Swastika is an artist-curator based in Yogyakarta. She obtained her BFA from Indonesia Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta in 2010. In 2011, she initiated Ace House Collective, a young artists’ collective and artist initiative space. She was appointed as director for Kaleidoskop Project, a young artist biennale program since 2015. Furthermore, she has been involved in international projects, such as 7th Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course (2016), 4A Curators’ Intensive, Emerging Curator Forum, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney (2014), AIR on Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taipei (2013) and South East Asia Women Artist Forum, Yangon (2012). She is currently completing her Master in Religious and Cultural Studies at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, focusing on Indonesian women artist.