The Transformation of the Art Space as Politics?


Friday 2 October 2020, 14:00 -18:00
The transformation of the art space as politics?
by Stijn Van Dorpe, with presentations by Matthijs De Bruijne, The Post Collective, Magdalena Kwiatkowska & The Laundry Collective with Tomaš Kajanek (via skype), Reinaart Vanhoe
In English

14:00 -18:00
Seminar: The transformation of the art space as politics?
by Stijn Van Dorpe, with presentations by Matthijs De Bruijne, The Post Collective, Magdalena Kwiatkowska (via skype), Reinaart Vanhoe

In this seminar, we focus on the question of the meaning of the art space, conceived as an artificially constructed space that is usually considered as a place in which artistic actions, interventions, or presentations take place. The art space can take many forms: it can be very visible (such as the museum or the art gallery) or rather mental (such as an internalized frame of reference) and therefore we better speak of art spaces in the plural. The starting point is that these places, contrary to what they might make appear, are never or can never be neutral. They are always marked by values and powers.

We investigate how art workers, art collectives, and artists who attribute a strong social or political significance to art relate to these art spaces. My thesis is that when the relationship between art and society is taken seriously, art cannot ignore these spaces and must focus on transforming them. At the same time, these transformations should be approached as an artistic/aesthetic process. It means that artistic actions, interventions, or presentations do not really take place within an art space, but that they show the ambition to create new (art) spaces themselves, where other power relations apply.

Stijn Van Dorpe
is an artist, researcher, educator, and initiator of this seminar.

About the participating artists:
Matthijs de Bruijne
is a Dutch artist whose practice is built on and imbued with political commitment. With his work, he investigates relationships between economics, culture, and social life, with a view to critical collective consciousness. At some point, he concluded that creating awareness about social injustices among a small, specialized art audience is not enough to bring about change. He was looking for other ways to step outside the realm of art and in 2010 he started working for the Union of Cleaners of FNV Bondgenoten. About this, he said that it was not his priority to further develop his career as an artist. Above all, the work of art should support the union’s campaign (see: De Witte Raaf, edition 198)

Magdalena Kwiatkowska & The Laundry Collective – The Laundry Collective emerged from the collaboration of a group of homeless women, LGBTQ people, and the Polish artist Magdalena Kwiatkowska, living and working in Prague. From November 2019 to January 2020, she was a resident at INI Project, an independent platform for contemporary art in Prague. She used the exhibition space at her disposal to meet up with homeless and LGBTQ friends where together, they came up with Magdalena’s laundry project. In this way, they also found protection from the cold winter. Because the art residency required presentation moments, they organized small public moments such as a workshop ‘packing cigarettes’, or ‘exercises to warm the body after a cold night’. However, the owner of the building closed the project prematurely.

The Post Collective
 is a young collective that wants to create an autonomous platform of co-creation, co-learning, and cultural activism, set up by and for refugees, asylum seekers, sans-papiers, and accomplices. The aim is to create different artistic, cultural, and employment opportunities and to provide an overall collaborative environment for those involved, regardless of their legal status. The collective originated from the Open Design Course for Refugees and Asylum Seekers 2018 at the KASK school of arts in Ghent after some alumni and teachers decided to continue the collaboration. They want to facilitate a position in which they are not assimilated, but instead, together as a community, can critically re-conceptualize a future. The Post Collective is working on the development program of Kunsthal Gent in 2020.

Reinaart Vanhoe is an artist whose practice consists of all kinds of collaborations and in which teaching at the Willem de Kooning academy in Rotterdam has an important place. His working method contains elements that are similar to anarchistic ways of organizing. He conceived the concepts of Also-Space and (g)Locally Embedded Art Practise (gLEAP) as approaches that re-evaluate the production and positioning of the artist. “How can we develop an artistic practice that does not define itself as an ‘alternative’ or ‘in opposition’ to the society in which it exists, but rather as an integral part of the different communities in which the artist functions, produces or lives, and is therefore very much a part of? (Excerpt from Also-Space, From Hot to Something Else: How Indonesian Art Initiatives Have Reinvented Networking, Reinaart Vanhoe, about, among others, the Indonesian art collective ruangrupa).

This seminar is supported by Research Unit Image – Luca School of Arts.