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

The 3rd FORMER WEST Research Congress, Part One: Beyond What Was Contemporary Art takes place on 19 and 20 April 2012 at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Secession, Vienna. The Congress offers 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.

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?

In order to consider these questions, Part One of the Congress brings together artists, curators, and scholars including aaa/atelier d’architecture autogeree (urban research collective platform, Paris), Nancy Adajania (cultural theorist and curator, Mumbai), CAMP (collaborative project and platform, Mumbai), Ekaterina Degot (artist historian and curator, Moscow), Jesko Fezer (artist and architect, Berlin), H.arta (artist collective, Timisoara), Christian Höller (writer, Vienna), Irit Rogoff (theorist and curator, London), and Ruth Sonderegger (philosopher, Vienna). Part Two is scheduled to occur this autumn in Utrecht (dates to be announced). The Congress is developed by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst and co-curated by FORMER WEST research advisor Marion von Osten.

The notion of “former West” is proposed as a tool for seeking reflections and for imagining another possibility of being together in the planetary condition of our times in which the so-called West is envisioned differently than through its own narrative of domination. FORMER WEST is a 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 art in relation to developments in society and politics. It is realized with a dense international network of researchers and institutional partners and curated by Maria Hlavajova (artistic director of BAK and FORMER WEST), and Kathrin Rhomberg (independent curator, Vienna). The 3rd FORMER WEST Research 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 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: [email protected]. Program updates can be found on our website and Congress proceedings can be followed via live stream and are archived on the FORMER WEST Digital Platform.

For more information on the previous Congresses or to explore the research archive, please visit the Digital Platform:

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.

Venues for program activities:
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Schillerplatz 3
1010 Vienna

Friedrichstraße 12
A-1010 Vienna

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