Seminar 74 // 6, 7, 8, 9 March 2019 // London


Curatorial/Knowledge Seminar, 7 – 9 March 2019



Thursday, 7 March 2019, 11am – 4.45pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, room 325

11am – 1.30pm:

Research Presentation by Ofri Cnaani (PhD Curatorial/Knowledge):

Moving from a terminology of the ‘Global’ to the one of the ‘Planetary’ (as Gayatri Spivak describes it) I would like to invite us to contemplate the abstraction of the ‘collection’ in relation to, or within the atmosphere of, the planetary-scale data aggregation living condition, and suggest that the (institutional) ‘collection’ no longer needs to be understood as a closed system that can be indexed but rather as a set of interfaces between many collected artefacts that are forming a new set of relations, often activated by the visitor/user.

My question, therefore, will be: If the (institutional) collection is situated in relation to other hard and soft systems of data collection and is no longer defined by its fixed index of items but by interfacing capacities, then what conceptual tools can we use to understand and to mediate it? The ancient tool of navigation will be considered in order to describe a new kind of sense of space and of meaning-making. Navigation will be thus discussed both as a way to think about the problem with collections and as a set of methods to communicate it.

- Reza Negarestani ‘Navigate With Extreme Prejudice (Definitions and Ramifications)’, in Encyclonospace Iranica, Access Gallery, Vancouver Access Artist Run Centre Publisher 2013.

1.30 – 2.30pm: Lunch Break

2.30 – 4.45pm:

Irit Rogoff & Stefan Nowotny:

‘An ecology of practices does not have any ambition to describe practices “as they are”’, writes Isabelle Stengers: ‘It […] does not approach practices as they are […] but as they may become.’ Following a series of presentations of, and different encounters with, practitioners from various fields during the last three seminars, we will continue to discuss Stengers’s ‘Introductory Notes on an Ecology of Practices’ in this afternoon session – in the interest not only of a continued reflection on previous seminars, but also of addressing the stakes and concerns of an ecology of practices.

An important entry point into this discussion might be provided by the very question concerning the relationship between presentations and encounters. Or again, by Stengers’s call for caution: ‘Approaching a practice […] means approaching it as it diverges, that is, feeling its borders, experimenting with the questions which practitioners may accept as relevant, even if they are not their own questions, rather than posing insulting questions that would lead them to mobilise and transform the border into a defence against their outside.’

- Isabelle Stengers, ‘An Ecology of Practices’

Thursday, 7 March 2019, 5 – 7pm
Location: Professor Stuart Hall Building, LG02

Thom Davies & Arshad Isakjee – Title to be confirmed

Part of the Visual Cultures Public Programme, Spring 2019, Hostile Environments:

In May 2012, the then UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced in an interview the introduction of new legislation in the field of immigration control aiming to ‘create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration. […] Work is under way’, she further explained, ‘to deny illegal immigrants access to work, housing and services, even bank accounts’. The aim of this public program is not so much to discuss the horrific effects of that specific piece of legislation (even if we want to touch upon that too), but rather to ask more generally the question of what happens when the environment, understood here more as a political-economic effect rather than a simple ‘natural’ background to human action, starts to become not only a site of power, but rather one of its mode of operations.

Series organised by Lorenzo Pezzani and Nishat Awan, in collaboration with the Migrant Research Network



Friday, 8 March 2019, 11am – 5pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, room 325

11am – 1.30pm:

Research Presentation by Racha Itani (PhD Curatorial/Knowledge):

Innumerable ‘setbacks’ experienced in the history and present of the Middle East resulted in confining the treatment of Middle Eastern modernity within the bounds of two restricted approaches. The first approach limits it to an identifiable sets of social, political and discursive practices imposed by the European project. The second approach relies strictly on the framework of postcolonial theory for engaging with Middle Eastern modernity. The application of these inadequate approaches have reduced modern and contemporary art practices from the region to sociological accounts and abolished their complexity when exhibited within the realm of international art institutions.

In this presentation, I would like to invite us to think of an alternative approach to understanding the peculiar temporality of Middle Eastern modernity by drawing on the similitude between the nature of flirtation and Middle Eastern modernity and by connecting the temporality of Middle Eastern modernity to the temporality of flirtation. Middle Eastern modernity, like flirtation, becomes understood as an ongoing practice and not as a possession. This analogy allows sensing the potential for artists in gliding towards modernity instead of reducing their work into sites of resistance that obstruct the propulsion of modernity in the region.

- Jalal Toufic, The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster, pp. 11–17.

1.30 – 2.30: Lunch Break

2.30 – 5pm:

Stefan Nowotny: On Translation as Practice

I would like to address, in this session, the question of translation: as an instantiation of social and historical relations, as a politics, as a practice. Curiously, one might argue that the more translation has been understood as merely auxiliary and secondary – in relation to a primary text, creation, truth, etc. – the more it appeared as ‘nothing but’ a practice, of low value in itself and perhaps soon to be replaced by technologies of automation. Conversely, however, we could ask: What is the value of translation, precisely as a practice?

We will be looking at different instances of translation today – and at Gayatri Ch. Spivak’s text ‘Translation as Culture’, which should resonate in multiple ways with other discussions of this seminar.

- Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Translation as Culture’



Saturday, 9 March 2019, 12 – 4pm

Location: Richard Hoggart Building, room 325

Reading Group, chaired by Silvia Caso (MRes Curatorial/Knowledge) and Lalthlanchhuaha (Thlana Bazik) (MRes Curatorial/Knowledge)

Genesis and vaginas

This session will be centered on an orally-transmitted genesis myth from India, myth in which the woman’s sexual organs have the role of the aggressor. To respect the oral tradition that preserved the story, the myth will be narrated at the beginning of the class rather than included in the readings. Our supporting text, to be read instead, is an extract from a book of the controversial feminist scholar Camille Paglia, and it explores Paglia’s take on the apparently obvious link between nature and female sexuality, a link she constructs through mythology via an excursus on male dominance and reproductive organs. We hope to open a discussion on the female body and on the idea of the predatory, transcending the binary gender opposition recently portrayed by the media in regard of the latter.

- Camille Paglia, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism, pp. 14–22.



Seminar Dates: 
Wed, 06/03/2019 - 14:00 - Sat, 09/03/2019 - 16:00