Actually, the Dead Are Not Dead
Exhibitions and Events: 5.9.–10.11.2019
Opening Days: 5.–8.9.2019
Hans D. Christ and Iris Dressler, the artistic directors or conveners of the upcoming Bergen Assembly, have invited ten artists, curators, theorists and activists to form with them a core group that develops the contents and formats of the Bergen Assembly 2019 in a collective process: Murat Deha Boduroğlu, Banu Cennetoğlu, María García, Hiwa K, Katia Krupennikova, Viktor Neumann, Paul B. Preciado, Pedro G. Romero, Simon Sheikh, and Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa.
The members of the core group conceive the programme in the form of individual, shared and overlapping projects to which further artists and contributors from other fields will be invited. The projects include workshops, “parliaments,” film screenings, performances, discursive programs and exhibitions. These take place at different times and in different locations in Bergen.
Bergen Assembly originates from a critical approach to the biennial format. The point of departure for the core group’s joint work towards the 2019 edition is the concept assembly itself, which is critically examined both in terms of its political dimensions and aesthetic practices. What does it mean when a biennial (or in this case a triennial) is called an assembly? What expectations of art and the curators does this articulate? The focus is on the general frameworks and techniques of collective political or emancipatory action – and the questions how, in what form and with whom we intend to develop and shape these practices in the context of an art project.
Out of the discussion process three positions regarding the assembly, or the relationship between art and political action, have crystallised: the parody of political institutions through the inversion of their order (Assembly of Idiots); the exploration of the resistive and emancipatory potential inherent to the arts (Doing Assembly); “hauntology”—the integration of those who are no longer or do not yet exist within the living political present (Assembly of Phantoms). These three approaches will form the more or less tangible, overlapping undertones of the Bergen Assembly 2019.
Phantoms or spectres, the “not presently living” (Jacques Derrida), are important allies in the process of emancipation and in the struggle for justice—which is always a justice-to-come (à-venir, Derrida) based on the recognition of and responsibility to the past (no longer) and the future (not yet). As the writer and filmmaker Alexander Kluge (in dialogue with dramatist Heiner Müller’s spirit) says, it is a mistake to think that the dead are dead. He proposes listening and talking to them, sharing their experiences: for example in regards to long gone, buried and unused moments of possible emancipation that enable the imagination of another present and future.
The Bergen Assembly 2019 titled Actually, the Dead Are Not Dead addresses the spectre, a “being-with” the not presently living (Derrida). This attention paid to the dead—to our responsibility towards those who are no longer or not yet here—is also understood as an act of rejecting reigning necropolitics, the subjugation of life to the power of death (Achille Mbembe). Necropolitics deny the past and the future. They destroy the material basis of life for large portions of the population, approving and accepting the physical and social death of workers, the poor and refugees. They hazard the survival of the planet, involving wars and weapons of mass destruction as well as the violence against “other bodies.” They form the roots of slavery and colonialism: the basis of Western capitalism.
Necropolitics are behind the many lives that do not count and the deaths that are not mourned, those whom Judith Butler calls the ungrievable and Mbembe the living dead. How to mourn collectively for the ungrievable? Mourning in Western cultures has the function of ensuring that the dead do not return. In contrast, Actually, the Dead Are Not Dead calls for a form of mourning that evokes the return of these dead: for the sake of life.
MURAT DEHA BODUROĞLU is an independent lawyer dealing with criminal law, human rights, intellectual property rights, administrative law, labour law and environmental law. He is part of the defence team of several ongoing criminal cases in Turkey where artists, cultural actors and others who question political developments in Turkey are imprisoned. Murat Deha Boduroğlu lives and works in Istanbul.
BANU CENNETOĞLU’s artistic practice explores the political, social and cultural dimensions of the production, representation and distribution of knowledge, how this forms a society’s collective thinking and is addressed in a society’s ideology. In 2006, she established BAS, a project space in Istanbul focusing on the collection and production of artist books and printed matter. Recent solo shows include Chisenhale Gallery, London (2018), Bonner Kunstverein (2015) and Kunsthalle Basel (2011). Her work was presented at, among others, 10th Liverpool Biennial (2018), Stories of Almost Everyone at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018), documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel (2017), The Restless Earth at Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan (2017), 10th Gwangju Biennale (2014), Manifesta 8 in Murcia (2010) and the Turkish Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009). In 2016, she was a guest at the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program. Banu Cennetoğlu lives and works in Istanbul.
HANS D. CHRIST and IRIS DRESSLER have been the directors of the Württembergischer Kunstverein (WKV) in Stuttgart since 2005. One of their priorities is the exploration of collaborative, transcultural and transdisciplinary practices of curating. They have presented solo exhibitions by artists such as Imogen Stidworthy (2018, with Katia Krupennikova), Alexander Kluge (2017, with La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona, at La Virreina and WKV), Ines Doujak (2016), Pedro G. Romero (2012, with Valentín Roma), Teresa Burga (2011, with Miguel Lopez and others), Peggy Buth (2009), NOH Suntag (2008), Daniel G. Andújar (2008), Anna Oppermann (2007, curated by Ute Vorkoeper) and Stan Douglas (2007, with Staatsgalerie Stuttgart). Recent group exhibitions include 50 Years after 50 Years of the Bauhaus (2018), Tito’s Bunker (2017, with Biennial of Contemporary Art Sarajevo, at Tito’s Bunker in Konjic and WKV), The Beast and the Sovereign (2016, with MACBA, Paul B. Preciado and Valentín Roma, at WKV and MACBA), Acts of Voicing (2012, with a core group of twelve co-curators) or Subversive Practices (2009, with a core group of thirteen co-curators). At WKV they have created an open platform for the activities of local activists and artistic groups. Christ and Dressler both teach regularly and have published widely on contemporary art and its political and theoretical contexts. In 1996 they founded the Hartware MedienKunstVerein, which they directed until 2004.
MARÍA GARCÍA is a visual artist and independent researcher investigating the production and representation of territory through the articulation of hybrid narratives between image, writing and action. She curated Machines for living: Flamenco and architecture in the occupation and eviction of spaces in Palau de la Virreina in Barcelona (together with Pedro G. Romero and Valentín Roma, 2018). From 2015–16 she was Research Fellow in Residence at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. Her artistic work was presented at the Vienna Secession (2014), MUSAC in Leon (2018), and Fabra i Coats in Barcelona (2018), among others. María García lives and works in Barcelona.
HIWA K’s sculptures, videos and performances draw on personal memories to explore the tension between the individual and the collective and to tell stories of ongoing global crises: war, migration and the effects of neoliberalism and colonialism. His work often involves participatory dimensions and collaborations with a wide cast of players. Recent solo exhibitions include S.M.A.K. Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent and Kunstverein Hannover (both 2018), KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2017), De Appel, Amsterdam (2017), Konsthall C, Stockholm (2015) and Serpentine Gallery, London (2010). Hiwa K’s works have been included in major group exhibitions at documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel (2017), the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), New Museum, New York (2013) and Manifesta 7 in Bolzano (2008), among others. In 2016, he received the Schering Stiftung Art Award, as well as the city of Kassel’s Arnold-Bode-Preis. Hiwa K lives and works in Berlin.
KATIA KRUPENNIKOVA is a curator and art critic. She is a docent at MA HKU, Utrecht (2018–19). Through her projects Krupennikova attempts to transform existing social and political constructs into critical artistic models, within which existing relations can be mimicked, criticised, distorted, displaced and revised. In 2015 she won the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition. The exhibition Post-Peace, intended to take place in Istanbul, was censored by the host institution; it subsequently opened in an extended form at Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart (2017) and at Nest in The Hague (2017). In 2013–14 Krupennikova worked at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw. Her recent projects include Dialogues with People, a solo show by Imogen Stidworthy co-curated with Hans D. Christ and Iris Dressler at Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart (2018–19) and It Won’t Be Long Now, Comrades!, co-curated with Inga Lāce at Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2017). Katia Krupennikova lives and works in Amsterdam.
VIKTOR NEUMANN is an art historian and curator. He has curated exhibitions and projects for institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Bildmuseet Umeå, Kunstmuseum Bonn, National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Yekaterinburg, The Kitchen in New York, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart and Gdańsk City Gallery. He was Curatorial Assistant for documenta 14 Public Programmes (2017), Assistant Curator for the 3rd Moscow International Biennale for Young Art (2012) and a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (2015–16). He has held a number of international lectureships, including a periodical engagement at the Institute for Time-based Media at the University of Arts in Berlin since 2013. He has been a contributor for periodicals such as Flash Art magazine and Starship Magazine. Together with Paul B. Preciado, he is co-curator of The Parliament of Bodies, currently collaborating with the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw and the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne. He has been awarded the upcoming *Kurator stipend by the Gebert Stiftung für Kultur 2019–20. Viktor Neumann lives and works in Berlin.
PAUL B. PRECIADO is a philosopher, curator and activist in the fields of gender and sexual politics. He is the author of Countersexual Manifesto (Columbia University Press, 2002), Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics (The Feminist Press, 2013) and Pornotopia (Zone Books, 2014), for which he was awarded the Sade Prize in France. Preciado teaches Philosophy of the Body and Transfeminist Theory at Université Paris VIII-Saint Denis and at New York University. He has been Curator of Public Programmes at documenta 14 (2017) and Head of Research as well as Director of the Independent Studies Programme (PEI) at MACBA in Barcelona. He has curated numerous exhibitions and interventions, such as The Passion According to Carol Rama at MACBA and others (2013–16), IM/MUNE at Emmetrop in Bourges, Cuir International at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (both 2011) and PornPunkFeminism at Arteleku in San Sebastián (2008). He is the curator for the Taiwanese Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019). Paul B. Preciado lives and works in Paris.
PEDRO G. ROMERO works across the fields of art, theory, literature, film, music, theatre and dance. He is an art and literature critic, publisher, essayist and flamenco expert. Since 2000 he has been working on the ongoing Archivo F.X., linking documents of anticlerical iconoclasm during the Spanish Civil War with avant-garde and contemporary artistic positions, and on Máquina P.H., realising various formats of artistic collaborations in flamenco performance. Romero’s projects have been presented at, among others, documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel (2017), 31st Bienal de São Paulo (2014), Manifesta 8 in Murcia and Cartagena (2010), the Catalan Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009) and SculptureCenter in Long Island City (2008). He has written numerous choreographies for flamenco dancer Israel Galván and curated exhibitions such as Poesía Brossa at MACBA in Barcelona (together with Teresa Grandas, 2017–18), Tratado de Paz for DSS2016 in San Sebastian (2016) and The Spanish Night: Flamenco, Avant-Garde and Popular Culture at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (2007). Pedro G. Romero lives and works in Seville.
SIMON SHEIKH is a curator and theorist. He is Reader in Art and Programme Director of the MFA Curating at Goldsmiths, University of London, a correspondent for Springerin, Vienna, and a columnist for e-flux Journal. Recent publications include the anthologies We are all Normal (with Katya Sander, Black Dog Publishing, 2001), Knut Åsdam (monograph, Fine Arts Unternehmen, 2004), In the Place of the Public Sphere? (b_books, 2005), Capital (It Fails Us Now) (b_books, 2006), On Horizons (with Maria Hlavajova and Jill Winder, BAK, 2011), Former West: Art and the Contemporary After 1989 (with Maria Hlavajova, MIT Press, 2016) and Curating After the Global (with Paul O’Neill, Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson, MIT Press, 2019). He is currently working on a book about art and apocalypse entitled Its After the End of the World. Simon Sheikh lives and works in Berlin and London.
EMMA WOLUKAU-WANAMBWA studied Literature at Cambridge University and Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. Formerly a participant in the LUX Associate Artist Programme and a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie, she is currently a doctoral candidate in Fine Art at the University of Bergen and Convener of the Africa Cluster of the Another Roadmap School. Wolukau-Wanambwa works in a wide range of media, formats and contexts. Recent / current exhibitions include: 62nd BFI London Film Festival (2018), Women on Aeroplanes at The Showroom Gallery in London and Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (both 2018–19), 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2018), A Thousand Roaring Beasts: Display Devices for a Critical Modernity at Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo – CAAC in Seville (2017) and Kabbo Ka Muwala at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Makerere University Art Gallery and Kunsthalle Bremen (all 2016). Her essay Margaret Trowell’s School of Art or How to Keep the Children’s Work Really African has recently been published in The Palgrave Handbook of Race and the Arts in Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa lives and works between London and Bergen.