Nina Möntmann, Rudi Laermans

Art, Society and Dematerialization

House of Literature, Bergen (Fossestova)
Østre Skostredet 5, Bergen Map

At 18:00

Nina Möntmann explores in her talk the shifting implications of artistic methods in dealing with the phenomenon of ‘dematerialization.’ She investigates the non-material character of digitalization and virtuality as a formative feature of current societal realities – against the background of an artistic method related to the phenomenon of dematerialization in conceptual art of the late 1960s and the 1970s.

The two periods she focuses on are crucial to art’s relation to dematerialization. In the late 1960s Conceptual Art looked to dissolve the artwork as a material object, in favour of an art formed of ideas and concepts, critical of the mechanisms of the art market and the modernist canon of large-scale abstract painting and sculpture. The notion of ‘idea as art’ was also directed against anti-intellectual sentiments at the time of the Vietnam War and minority struggles in the USA, as well as struggles against military regimes in Argentina and Brazil. Today a key concept of our digital society can be described with the term dematerialization: it refers to fundamental changes in work, economy and social relations. It is not only about making products and human activities less material, it is also about replacing physical things with digital substitutes. Naturally, artists are using digital media and at the same time critically exploring the power relations that are imposed through the use of big data, algorithms and surveillance.

On Rudi Laermans’ talk: In the 1990s French critics started to use the expression ‘non dance’ in relation to the work of Jérôme Bel and other choreographers whose works did not show versatile bodies making virtuoso movements. Not that so-called conceptual dance works are disembodied, yet they do position the body first and foremost as a text and articulate the act of performing as a discursive operation. Furthermore, they tend to include non-human bodies that are relatively non-substantial, such as smoke; and, particularly, to implicate the audience in various ways. In his talk, Rudi Laermans will relate these evolutions to the breakthrough of a cultural economy that is communicative- and experience-oriented and in which the collaboration between producers and ‘prosumers’ is a prime production factor.

Melanie Gilligan, The Common Sense, 2014. Exhibition view: Fluidity, Kunstverein, Hamburg 2016, curated by Nina Möntmann, Vanessa Joan Müller and Bettina Steinbrügge.

Nina Möntmann

Nina Möntmann is a curator, writer and Professor of Art Theory and the History of Ideas at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Curated projects include Fluidity, Kunstverein in Hamburg 2016; Harun Farocki, A New Product (Deichtorhallen Hamburg, 2012); If we can’t get it together. Artists rethinking the (mal)functions of community (The Power Plant, Toronto, 2008); The Jerusalem Show: Jerusalem Syndrome (together with Jack Persekian), 2009; Parallel Economies in India, (Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2006); and the Armenian Pavilion for the 52nd Venice Biennale. She participated in the long-term Israeli/Palestinian art and research project Liminal Spaces, and in 2010 was a research fellow at the Museo de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. She organized a number of symposia, such as Scandalous. A Symposium on Art & Ethics, 2010, and New Communities, 2008 (both at Moderna Museet in Stockholm); We, Ourselves, and Us at the Power Plant in Toronto, 2009, and ReForming India – Artistic Collectives Bend International Art Practices at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School in New York, 2007. Recent publications include the edited volumes Brave New Work. A Reader on Harun Farocki’s film ‘A New Product’, engl./dt. (Cologne, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2014); Scandalous. A Reader on Art & Ethics (Berlin, Sternberg Press, 2013); New Communities (Toronto, Public Books/The Power Plant, 2009) and Art and Its Institutions (London, Black Dog Publishing, 2006). Her essays have been published in numerous critical readers and catalogues. She is currently working on a long term research-project with the title The Dematerialization of Society and its Art Objects.

Rudi Laermans

Rudi Laermans is a senior professor of social theory at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Leuven. From 1992 until 2006, he was also in charge of the Centre for Sociology of Culture. Laermans was involved in the theoretical programme at PARTS, the international school of dance in Brussels led by A.T. De Keersmaeker, from its creation in 1995. He has been a guest lecturer at many art schools such as the Design Academy Eindhoven and the Willem De Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and the Malmö Art Academy. Laermans has published numerous essays and several books, nationally as well as internationally, on social and cultural theory, cultural policy and participation, contemporary dance and visual arts. He often deploys a sociological perspective, but just as often advances a wider view inspired by contemporary philosophy and political theory. His most recent books are Moving Together. Theorizing and Making Contemporary Dance (2015) and, in Dutch, a critical lexicon of the management jargon under-pinning neoliberalism.

Volt’s programme in 2017 is funded by the City of Bergen and the Arts Council Norway.

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