Art – How Much is it Still an Idea for the Future?

Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia
06 Dec 2018

Art – How Much is it Still an Idea for the Future?

The conference focuses on the concept of contemporary art, especially on the question of how much it is able to shape ideas for the future. If modernism was to a large extent oriented towards the future and postmodernism towards the past, then we would like to know which temporality determines contemporary art.

Further on, it will be discussed what it actually means when we say that contemporary art is global art. Is it a concept co-shaped by subjects from different parts of the world or a construct of the global art system that has boomed after 1989, when the “old first world” triumphantly spread the doctrine of neoliberal capitalism across the globe?


13:00–13:15 Welcome by: Zdenka Badovinac (MG+MSUM) and Urška Jurman (Igor Zabel Association)

What is Global Art?
Nowadays, the big world museums are more frequently presenting art on the basis of geographical diversity. But what has actually remained a common denominator in this advocating of heterogeneity? The latest documenta, for example, advocated global diversity by stepping beyond art and also exhibiting the traditional practices of the local cultures of indigenous communities, on which colonialism imposed a Western concept of art and culture. Furthermore, what do the various local spaces get from these representations of diversity and to what extent can such a treatment of diversity avoid the mechanisms of capital and its culture industries? To whom are the critical voices formed by international exhibitions speaking?

13:15–14:00 Marcelo Rezende, The Inner Scar (keynote speech)

Globalism-“fin-de-siècle”-global museum-global discourse-global art? Did it happen this away, the promise of the brighter days to come? However, as the philosopher Louis Althusser is always reminding us, the future lasts forever.

14:00–14:20 Cuauhtémoc Medina, Long Live the Synecdoche! In Defence of Biennials and Globalized Art

This paper departs from the experience of the current Shanghai Biennale to make an apology of biennial art and globalized art, in relation to the way they represent the experience of particulars involved in global synecdoches without the mediation of generalization or universalism.

14:20–14:40 Nomaduma Rosa Masilela

14:40–15:00 Adam Szymczyk


15:00–15:15 → Break


15:15–16:00 → Discussion moderated by Ana Janevski


Art, an Idea for the Future

Although contemporary art frequently describes the future as dystopian, there are many art projects that do not describe time, but merge with it, last in it, develop with it, and thus, in their own way, co-create the future. The present has become embedded in the very tissue of art and it therefore seems that art also has a greater chance of changing reality. Even though contemporary art is an important social agent and a vibrant platform for various micropolitics, we nevertheless have to ask what real impact it actually has and further on, how much of an effect should art have in reality? Which experience of art then provides the most important basis for the future?

16:15–17:00 Clémentine Deliss, Recalibrating Arts Institutions Towards an Ecology of Remediation, Subjectivity and Autonomy (keynote speech)

In today’s Europe, arts institutions have to recognise their role in creating and maintaining sheltering structures for artists and students to meet, exchange and develop self-engineered and trans-border forms of collectivization. Faced with increasing standardization, control checks, redundancies and budget cuts, today’s art institution needs more than ever before to be metabolic, subjective and vigilant.

17:00–17:20 Zoran Erić, The Concept of Contemporaneity in Socialist Yugoslavia

A few key interpretations of the concept of contemporaneity were in Socialist Yugoslavia considered as formative for the construction of the model of self-management in socialist society, most notably in its cultural sphere. In the artistic practice, the light motive for these arguments can be discerned from the manifesto of the group EXAT 51.

17:20–17:40 iLiana Fokianaki, The Future States of Art: Instituting in the Age of Authoritarian Statism

Fokianaki will explore how institutional and curatorial practices respond to the current economic and socio-political shifts in the West as well as the shift of liberal democracies towards what Nicos Poulantzas has named authoritarian statism. She will investigate how art can utter its future existence through action and change, vis-à-vis an ideological landscape.

17:40–18:00 Marjetica Potrč, New Knowledge, High Hopes

The Soweto Project: Socially engaged practice in a real-world situation creates a new vocabulary centred on people. Participatory practice in action to construct a hopeful future against the neoliberal present.


18:00–18:15 → Break


18:15–19:00 Discussion moderated by Lívia Páldi

Lívia Páldi is the curator of visual arts at Project Arts Centre in Dublin.


The conference is free of charge; it will be held in English.

Conceived and organized by: Moderna galerija, Ljubljana in collaboration with the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory and the ERSTE Foundation


About the Speakers

Clémentine Deliss is a curator, publisher and cultural historian. She studied contemporary art and semantic anthropology in Vienna, Paris and London, and holds a PhD from the University of London. Between 2010 and 2015, she directed the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt, instituting a new research lab to remediate collections within a post-ethnological context. In 2016, she curated the Dilijan Arts Observatory in Dilijan, Armenia. This interdisciplinary fieldwork project was subsequently transformed into Portable Homelands: From Field to Factory, the section she curated for the exhibition Hello World: Revising a Collection at the National Galerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2018). She is currently professor of Curatorial Theory & Dramaturgical Practice at the University of Arts & Design, Karlsruhe.

Zoran Erić is art historian, curator and lecturer. He holds a PhD from the Faculty of Media, Bauhaus University in Weimar. He is currently chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade. His research fields include the meeting points of urban geography, spatial-cultural discourse and the theory of radical democracy.

iLiana Fokianaki is a writer and curator based in Athens and Rotterdam. Her research focuses on the notion of the state and the formations of power that manifest under the influence of geopolitics, national identity and cultural and anthropological histories. In 2013, she founded State of Concept Athens, the first non-profit institution with a continuous programme and permanent location in Athens. She is also the co-founder of the research platform Future Climates. Fokianaki is currently a lecturer at the Dutch Art Institute. She is developing her PhD research with Athena Athanasiou at Panteion University, Athens.

Ana Janevski is currently curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. From 2007 to 2011, she held the position of curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland. In 2010, she co-curated the first extensive show about experimental film in Yugoslavia, This Is All Film! Experimental Film in Yugoslavia 1951–1991, at the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana. Recently, she co-organized the exhibition Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done.

Nomaduma Rosa Masilela is a writer, historian and artist based in New York City, where she is currently completing a PhD in Art History at Columbia University. She was a member of the curatorial team for the 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. Masilela has taught and assisted with art history courses at Columbia University, worked at The Kitchen and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, and assisted the secretary general of the Dakar Biennale Dak’Art in 2006 and 2009.

Cuauhtémoc Medina González is an art critic, curator and art historian based in Mexico City. He holds a PhD in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex, UK. He is a researcher at the Institute of Aesthetic Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City and chief curator of UNAM’s University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC). Between 2002 and 2008, he was the first associate curator of the Tate Modern’s Latin American collection. He is chief curator for the 12th Shanghai Biennale (2018) and was head curator of Manifesta 9 (2012) in Genk, Belgium, and curated the Mexican Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009).

Lívia Páldi is the curator of visual arts at Project Arts Centre in Dublin. Previously she was director of BAC – Baltic Art Center, Visby (2012–15) as well as curator and, subsequently, chief curator of the Műcsarnok / Kunsthalle Budapest (2005–11). Páldi was also one of the curatorial agents of documenta 13 and a member of the OFF-Biennale Budapest curatorial board in 2016.

Marjetica Potrč is an artist and architect based in Ljubljana and Berlin. From 2011 to 2018, she was a professor of social practice at the University of Fine Arts/HFBK in Hamburg, where she taught Design for the Living World, a class on participatory practices. Potrč’s artworks have been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the Americas, including at the Venice Biennale (1993, 2003, 2009) and the São Paulo Biennial (1996, 2006).

Marcelo Rezende is a critic, curator and writer, who is currently the co-director of Kunstarchiv der Avantgarden in Dresden. He was director of the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia (2012–15), artistic director of the 3rd Bahia Biennale (2014) and was part of the curatorial group of the 28th São Paulo Biennial (2008). He is based in Salvador and Berlin.

Adam Szymczyk was artistic director of documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel in 2017. In 1997, he co-founded the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw. He was director at Kunsthalle Basel from 2004 to 2014. In 2008, he co-curated with Elena Filipovic the 5th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, When Things Cast No Shadow. In 2011, he received the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement from the Menil Foundation in Houston.


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