Talk: I CAN'T WORK LIKE THIS – On the Political agency of Withdrawals and Boycotts in Contemporary Art

6 September 2017, 19:00–21:00

Behzad Khosravi Noori, Michele Masucci and Joanna Warsza in conversation.

Throughout history artists and curators have been confronted with the the political an ethical consequences of participating in specific contexts. The meaning of engagement or disengagement is always tangible in a field of work where the symbolic meaning and future reception permeates every gesture. The necessity to reflect on the political agency of our decision making within contemporary art seems ever more pertinent.

The starting point for this discussion will be the reader I Can’t Work Like This. A Reader on Recent Boycotts in Contemporary Art, edited by Joanna Warsza together with students from the the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in 2015. Looking at a number of contemporary examples from 2013 to 2015, such as the biennials in Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Sydney, and São Paulo, these demonstrate that in certain conditions curating and art production can’t just carry on as if nothing had happened.

With collective political acts such as withdrawals, strikes, protests or boycotts, silent consent becomes a political statement of alliance to the status quo. How does withdrawal and protest in contemporary art become politically effective? How is collective political organisation and professional collaboration related. How should we untangle the material and political conditions of withdrawal in art as compared to other fields?

Behzad Khosravi Noori is an artist, writer and educator based in Stockholm and Tehran. In his art research based, he focuses on multiple identities within the discourse of European/global multiculturalism and hyperpoliticized socio-political environments. Currently he is holding a PhD position at Konstfack/KTH in Stockholm.

Michele Masucci is a guest lecturer at CuratorLab, Artist, Writer and PhD candidate at Karolinska Institutet and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Masucci is a frequent writer fro Paletten Art Journal, and translator of Italian political philosophy into Swedish, including Paolo Virno’s Grammar of The Multitude. He is interested in the political history of withdrawal, refusal and sabotage as practiced and theorised within social and workers movements.

Joanna Warsza is the head of CuratorLab at Konstfack and currently artistic director of Public Art Munich 2018. She was the curator of the Georgian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, curator of the public program at Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg, and associate curator of the 7. Berlin Biennale. She recently edited the reader I Can’t Work Like This. A Reader on Recent Boycotts in Contemporary Art.

The talk is part of Index ongoing series of talks with artists and curators. “I Can’t Work Like This” is organized in collaboration with Konstfack CuratorLab.