Presentation of Segunda Vez at The Royal Institute of Art Stockholm September 15, 2017

Curating NoThing. On Notions of Dematerialization in the Exhibition Context

 Symposium 15 September 2017, 10.00 – 17.00 The Royal Institute of Art Stockholm

PARTICIPANTS: Ivana Bago, Daniel Birnbaum, Dora García, Annette Jael Lehmann, Ana Texeira Pinto, Sven-Olov Wallenstein,

How can an exhibition, the traditional arena for curated things, be a medium to reflect the implications of information and virtuality in art and society? With art’s own interest in processing and communicating information and transferring data, the physical and visual appearance of classical exhibition formats has been challenged. The concept of ‘dematerialization’ was introduced to the arts in the late 1960s in connection with conceptual art practices. Mainly in the U.S., in Argentina, Brazil and Eastern Europe, the reduction of the materiality of art works was connected to a political agenda. According to the critic and curator, Lucy Lippard, conceptual artists placed “the idea above the material” as a way “to reflect on or stimulate a Utopian extreme” in times of protesting the Vietnam war and struggling for minority rights. The Argentine writer Oscar Masotta, however, relates the dematerialization of the art object to the potential for mass communication to mobilize a large group of people to rise up against military dictatorship.

By exploring the relations among new information technologies, objects and the human being, the conceptual exhibition Les Immatériaux at the Centre Pompidou in Paris 1985, curated by Jean-Francois Lyotard and Thierry Chaput, could be regarded as a link between a conceptually and a digitally evoked process of dematerialization.

Today digital technologies produce an omnipresent reality, which takes place to a large extent in virtuality. Artists are not only using digital media as a matter of course, but also thematize the digitized existence of the economy and social relations in their works. In addition, a turning toward dance and theatre can be observed, which likewise require new curatorial approaches as well as institutional structures and exhibition formats that go beyond the traditional role for performative arts to framing exhibitions with occasional events.

In this context, the conventional format of exhibitions as a relational composition of objects is at stake and several fundamental questions arise: What function does the art institution and its collection take on in a world of big data? And in a world of conflict, can we imagine a dematerialized art institution as a political arena, offering a safe space to rethink a “Utopian extreme”? And finally: Do artists still need the exhibition as a format? The symposium aims at opening this discussion on the changing roles of exhibitions, institutions and curating in the context of dematerialization. 

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As for Segunda Vez intervention, here is the info:

Title: Buenos Aires Is Not A Swedish City
Using a system similar to catechism teaching (question – response), Victoria Durnak, Nora Joung and Dora García, will expose the reflections originated in their research project “Segunda Vez” around the work of author and psychoanalyst Oscar Masotta. Masotta and Lippard coined simultaneously the term “dematerialization”, one in the art periphery and in Spanish, the other in the art center and in English. But what does it mean to dematerialize in times of political urgency?

Drawing Dora García for the Symposium, “the imagined museum”