Free School for Art Theory and Practice

Why in Art? Negotiating Social and Political Urgencies in the Field of Artistic Practice. Seminar with Maria Hlavajova and Ulay


Institutional Criticality. Maria Hlavajova Interviewed by Franciska Zólyom

April 20–22, 2007 / Erick van Egeraat Associated Architects, Budapest

The three-day seminar “Why in Art?” is divided into three parts:

  1. Artist: In a seminar and a public conversation with the artist Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen), Maria Hlavajova engages with the question of why issues of major social and political consequence should be discussed in an art context. Examples of works by Ulay (including works from the period of his collaboration with artist Marina Abramovic) are shown and analyzed in this respect.
  1. Art Project: In a closed seminar on April 21, Hlavajova introduces a number of concrete projects that assume the place of art to be part of a world filled with social and political urgencies, and argues that art is a space where new social and political potentials can emerge. Projects such as Citizens and Subjects (52nd Venice Biennale, June 2007), Concerning War (BAK, 2005), and Now What? Dreaming a Better World in Six Parts (BAK, 2003) are discussed as “case studies.”
  1. Art Institution: The part of the seminar held on April 22 is dedicated to the notion of “institutional creativity,” focusing on the place of the art institution as a public site for criticality and non-violent conflict. The theoretical foundations of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, which Hlavajova founded and runs as its artistic director, serve as a “basis” for articulating ideals for an art institution striving to respond to the challenges made manifest by the flux of artistic practices in a hospitable and confident way.

Maria Hlavajova is the artistic director of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen) is an Amsterdam-based artist, working with photography, performance, film, and video.

Franciska Zólyom is an art historian, curator, and director of Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig.