Symposium: A New Ethics?
The evolving responsibilities of creative practices in a changing world
Curated with Ellen Mara De Wachter
Saturday 20 January 2018 11-5pm
Free, booking essential
A New Ethics? is a day-long symposium seeking to examine notions of ethics and responsibility within contemporary creative practices.
The events of 2016 and 2017 highlighted a noticeable increase in authoritarianism, racism, sexism, environmental disasters and widespread economic hardship at local and global levels, as well as significant changes in the art market and art education. How are these factors influencing artists’ work? Are artists and cultural institutions now expected to respond to them by assuming new and evolving responsibilities within their communities?
Questions asked during the day will include:
How does a sense of responsibility figure in the way artists, designers, curators and institutions are responding to past, present and future issues, including local and global politics, human rights, economic injustice and cultural history?
What might constitute an ethical curatorial or artistic practice today? How important is such a goal to creative practitioners?
The question of ethics often comes up in relation to practices that are considered unethical or lacking ethics. In contrast to this: How are creative practitioners developing a positive sense of ethics through their work?
The symposium will be structured around three panel discussions focusing on examples, each followed by Q&A. It will conclude with a final session for group discussion open to members of the audience.
The symposium will be broadcast live on thisistomorrow.info
11am arrival for 11.30am start
11.30am – Introduction by Ellen Mara De Wachter and Stella Bottai
11.45am-12.30pm – Artist Barby Asante in conversation with Ellen Mara De Wachter
The conversation will focus on Asante’s ‘Baldwin’s Nigger Reloaded’, an ongoing project she developed in collaboration with sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, a collective of young artists, writers and activists. The project begins with Horace Ové’s 1969 film ‘Baldwin’s Nigger’, which records a dialogue with James Baldwin and Dick Gregory at the West Indian Student Centre in London in 1968. Baldwin’s polemic covers timely topics such as the legacy of slavery, black power and integration, the political conditions that led to race riots, religious extremism, and American Imperialism. A provocative question is posed from a member of the audience asking, where does Baldwin think the black man will be in 50 years time? Baldwin’s answer is optimistic, speaking of a black state of mind, a future sense of pride that could in turn bring forth a new kind of identity. ‘Baldwin’s Nigger Reloaded’ reflects on the question posed by that audience member, nearly 50 years down the line.
12.45-1.30pm – Miguel Amado, Senior Curator, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, in conversation with designers Eva Kellenberger and Sebastian White
London-based design agency Kellenberger-White were invited by Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art to develop a new brand. In recent years, the museum has proposed itself as ‘useful’, developing a civic agenda that seeks to reconnect the institution with a social function and promote art as a tool for change. In response to these aims, Kellenberger-White worked with the curatorial team to create a visual identity through a process of engaging with both the museum’s context (historical and geographical) and publics. Over the course of 2017, they conducted field trips, organised workshops focused on making, both manual and digital, and presented exhibitions showcasing their ideas, references and methodologies. The result of this year-long process, which is due to be launched in 2018, is a visual identity that combines both the museum’s vision and their practice.
1.45-2.40pm – Lunch break
2.45-3.30pm – Artist Céline Condorelli in conversation with philosopher Dr Willow Verkerk
As part of Céline Condorelli’s ongoing research on the ethics of legacy and cultural inheritance, the artist has invited philosopher Willow Verkerk to present on ‘reception theory’. Verkerk will discuss different systems through which learning occurs – such as friendship and apprenticeship – and how ideas are transmitted from the past, particularly within the framework of philosophical studies. This dialogue takes place in parallel to Condorelli’s current exhibition at Stanley Picker Gallery, which displays Bauhaus-trained designer and artist Herbert Bayer’s Extended Field of Vision drawing (1930). Highly influential in its time – and now emblematic of an entire era of exhibition design – the work points to blind spots within Bayer’s ambiguous position during the rise of national Socialism and prompts questions on how we may deal with the ethics and politics of artists and designers’ work, through history and in the present.
3.45–4.20pm – Open group discussion
4.25pm – Closing remarks
5pm – Drinks at Stanley Picker Gallery and opportunity for informal conversations
Miguel Amado is Senior Curator at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, England. Curatorial posts, fellowships and residencies include the Portuguese Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale; Tate St Ives, England; Rhizome at the New Museum, New York; Independent Curators International, New York; International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York; Abrons Arts Center, New York; and the Centro de Artes Visuais, Coimbra, Portugal. Exhibitions and projects curated as a freelancer include Frieze Projects at Frieze London; apexart, New York; Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon; and No Soul for Sale: A Festival of Independents at the X Initiative, New York, and Tate Modern, London. He is a critic for Artforum. He is a graduate of the MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, London.
Barby Asante is an artist, curator and educator. Her work explores place and identity by creating situations and spaces for dialogue, collective thinking, ritual and re-enactment. Using archival material in the broadest sense, she is interested in breaking down the language of archive, not to insert or present alternatives to dominant narratives but to interrupt, interrogate and explore the effects and possibilities of the unheard and the missing. Asante has exhibited and created projects both in the UK and internationally. She is Associate Curator at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, part of the collaborative agency, agency for agency, and a PhD Candidate at the University of Westminster CREAM (Centre for Research in Education, Arts and Media). Asante’s recent projects include the first episode of As Always a Painful Declaration of Independence. For Ama. For Aba. For Charlotte and Adjoa- Intimacy and Distance, Diaspora Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2017; The Queen and the Black Eyed Squint, Starless Midnight, BALTIC, 2017 and Baldwin’s Nigger RELOADED with the London-based collective sorryyoufeeluncomfortable (2014- ongoing), Iniva, Nottingham Contemporary, Framer Framed/Art Rotterdam and the International James Baldwin Conference, American University of Paris.
Stella Bottai is Programme Curator at Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University London, where she curates the Gallery’s programme of commissions, exhibitions and events. Recent exhibitions include 31 Candles: Jessi Reaves feat. Bradley Kronz, and P!CKER curated with P!, showcasing work by the late Elaine Lustig Cohen and Céline Condorelli. Between 2015-16, she focused on in-depth research and writing towards Goshka Macuga’s solo exhibition and artist monograph at Fondazione Prada, Milan (2016). She was Associate Curator of Over you/you, the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2015) and has previous experience working as Curator, Fiorucci Art Trust, London (2014-15); Assistant Curator, Frieze Projects London (2013-14) and Assistant Curator, Serpentine Galleries Public Programmes (2012). Prior to completing an MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art (2013) she worked at White Cube, London (2006-09).
Céline Condorelli (CH, FR, IT, UK) is an artist based in London. Recent exhibitions include Proposals for a Qualitative Society (Spinning), Stroom Den Haag, NL, Corps á Corps, IMA Brisbane, Australia in 2017; 11th Gwangju Biennale, Liverpool Biennial 2016, 20th Biennale of Sydney, and Concrete Distractions, Kunsthalle Lissabon in 2016; bau bau, HangarBicocca, Milan in 2015; as well as Céline Condorelli, Chisenhale Gallery, London, Positions, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and the publication The Company She Keeps with Bookworks in 2014. Previous exhibitions include Puppet Show (various venues, 2014), Additionals, Project Art Centre, Dublin, as well as exhibitions at venues ranging from the Grazer Kunstverein, Hessel Museum, Castello di Rivoli, SALT Istanbul, LUMA Arles, and others. She is currently Professor at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti) Milan, and one of the founding directors of Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK, as well as the author and editor of Support Structures, published by Sternberg Press (2009/2014).
Ellen Mara De Wachter is a writer and curator based in London. She is a frequent contributor to Frieze magazine, and her writing has featured in numerous publications and exhibition catalogues. Her book ‘Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration’, published by Phaidon, explores the phenomenon of collaboration in the visual arts and its potential in society at large. De Wachter is a Visiting Lecturer in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, and has taught at the Royal Academy Schools, Goldsmiths College, Brighton University, Newcastle University among other places. In 2013-15 she was Curator of Public Collection Development at the Contemporary Art Society, where she was responsible for CAS’s acquisitions scheme for museums across the UK. Prior to that, she worked at various arts organisations including the British Museum and the Barbican Art Gallery. She holds a Philosophy BA from the University of Warwick, Contemporary Art Theory MA from Goldsmiths College, and Curating Contemporary Art MA from the Royal College of Art. A New Ethics? forms part of her broader research on art and ethics, unfolding through different chapters over the course of 2018.
Eva Kellenberger and Sebastian White began their creative partnership while studying at the Royal College of Art. Established in 2009, their London-based studio is characterised by a collaborative approach to design. Kellenberger–White specialises in developing identities and visual languages that are responsive, playful and process-led. They work in a range of contexts, with a focus on producing publications, exhibition designs and digital platforms. Kellenberger–White has been invited to exhibit and talk around the world and their work is held in public collections in Europe. Recent awards include the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2016 for their book That Continuous Thing (Tate Publishing, 2017). Their identity for the Glasgow International arts festival was shortlisted by the Design Museum for Designs of the Year 2015. Recent projects include: graphic identities for cultural organisations such as Bonner Kunstverein, Create London, Glasgow International, Goldsmiths CCA, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Open School East; publications for Hauser & Wirth, Marsilio, MIT Press, Tate Publishing, White Cube; as well as major exhibitions and way-finding projects at the Barbican, the V&A, The Design Museum, Natural History Museum, British Library, English Heritage, and the Science Museum.
Willow Verkerk is an Associate Lecturer in Philosophy at St. Mary’s University and was previously a Lecturer in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University London. She has published academic essays on Nietzsche, critical theory, feminist philosophy, and psychoanalysis. Her book Nietzsche and Friendship will be published with Bloomsbury in 2018.