About the lecture:
An increasing number of artists, theorists and artistic researchers have been preoccupied with systemic infrastructures and our contemporary interdependence with them. Bassam El Baroni’s curatorial talk highlights some aspects of artists’ recent engagement with infrastructures and identifies some tendencies within the expanded field of art. In particular, it discusses what can be called ‘infrastructural speculation,’ where artistic competencies are channelled towards transformative future-oriented infrastructural visions and scenarios. In this category artists develop speculative infrastructural proposals or prototypes through which they constructively address major concerns such as the impact of climate change on a city (e.g. the collective A.S.T.’s project Intertidal) or how to redirect the rampant financialization of the economy to better serve artists (e.g. João Enxuto’s and Erica Love’s project ISCA).
Another related tendency is ‘infrastructural re-examination’ where focus is turned to infrastructural projects from recent history. In this inclination, there is a strong interest in revisiting the legacies of semi-successful or failed megaprojects with the view to identifying their aspirations, models and outlooks as alternatives to today’s infrastructures of capitalist realism. For example, artists have examined cybernetic predecessors to the internet and how different nations experimented with the possibilities of automation. Examples include Bahar Noorizadeh’s work on the Soviet Union’s OGAS (All-State Automated System) and the collective OR_AM’s work on Chile’s short-lived ‘Project Cybersyn’ experiment in the early 70s. These tendencies overlap with each other bringing to the fore the idea that art can contribute to fields such as management and organizational studies. This contribution manifests itself through art’s capacity to integrate multiple approaches, perspectives and disciplines to develop tentative models, critical engagements, and investigations around infrastructural planning in times of ever-growing complexity. Through concrete examples such as those mentioned as well as others, El Baroni will look at how artists are thinking through infrastructural challenges.
Bassam El Baroni is a curator, teacher and researcher based in Helsinki. He is Assistant Professor in curating and mediating art at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, and former lecturer at the Dutch Art Institute, ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem. He received his PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, with a dissertation on democracy as a structural condition for contemporary art. His upcoming curatorial projects include Infrahauntologies at the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Oldenburg and La Box ENSA, Bourges (spring 2021). Previous projects include: What Hope Looks like after Hope (On Constructive Alienation) at HOME WORKS 7, Beirut, 2015; Agitationism, the 36th Eva International – Ireland’s Biennial, Limerick, 2014; the Lofoten International Art Festival, Norway, 2013 (co-curator with Anne Szefer Karlsen and Eva González-Sancho); and Manifesta 8, Murcia, 2010 (co-curator). He was founding director of the Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum (ACAF) a now closed non-profit art centre in Alexandria, Egypt from 2005 – 2012.
Atelier Kunstnerforbundet is supported by Sparebankstiftelsen, Talent Norge, Fritt Ord and Billedkunstnernes Hjelpefond.
For questions about the event or about Atelier Kunstnerforbundet, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Still from After Scarcity (2018) by Bahar Noorizadeh. Courtesy: the artist.