TransCuratorial Academy

The TransCuratorial Academy (TCA) is an initiative of KfW Stiftung with the aim of advancing international knowledge transfer, networking and the development of the transcultural and transdisciplinary curatorial discourse.

Directed by Beatrice von Bismarck and Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer, the TCA is a mobile format, focusing on key issues which gained urgency within contemporary curatorial practice under the conditions of globalisation. The TCA brings together emerging curators and internationally renowned experts to discuss on topics such as mediation, collectivity, governmentality and critique with respect to the curatorial. In addition the participants present selected projects to the public and exchange their experiences and research amongst each other. Encounters and discussions with protagonists of the local curatorial scene are a further important part of the TCA. The academy is structured in three chapters (Berlin, Mumbai, Phnom Penh), each of which is centered on a keyword in a five-day programme.

Trans Curatorial Academy
Trans Curatorial Academy


The TransCuratorial Academy (TCA) is an initiative of KfW Stiftung with the aim of advancing international knowledge transfer, networking and the development of the transcultural and transdisciplinary curatorial discourse. It is directed by Beatrice von Bismarck and Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer. The academy is structured in three chapters (Berlin, Mumbai, Phnom Penh), each of which is centered on a keyword in a five-day programme.

‘Entangled Histories’ is the keyword of the TCA Berlin in cooperation with Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The public programme includes a conference with presentations by the eight participating curators and a keynote lecture by Shalini Randeria, Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna.
Furthermore, discussions with experts and protagonists of the local art scene are an integral part of the TCA. A series of workshops will take place with Shalini Randeria as well as the curators Clémentine Deliss and Anselm Franke. Within a two-day excursion the participants will visit various museums and art spaces in Berlin.

TransCuratorial Academy
Entangled Histories
Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), 15-19. Mai 2017

  • Öffentliches Programm
  • 15. Mai 2017 Konferenzraum K1
  • 9:30 Begrüßung


Of Entanglements Past and Present 
Festvortrag von Shalini Randeria

15. Mai 2017
19.30 Uhr

Haus der Kulturen der Welt
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin

Eintritt frei

Keyword: Entangled Histories
Keynote: Shalini Randeria
Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), 15-19. Mai 2017

TCA Berlin – Participants

Curatorship: Ravelled Discourses vs. Disentangled Histories

As a result of its genealogy, where theory and practice are congenitally entwined, сuratorship has not yet been fully established as a discourse, or, in Foucauldian terms, has not had a ‘founder of discursivity,’ and, for that reason, it is initially trans-discursive in its confrontation of any rigid theoretical dogmas. Hence, curatorship oftentimes opts for more the ‘practical’ format of a ‘living knowledge’ for self-theorization, such as a collection of interviews or semi-autobiographical narratives furnished with critical reflections, whilst the latest curatorial vagaries are transmitted, as a rule, in various self-organizing institutions and venues, such as creative spaces, art clusters, artist’s and design studios, and lofts. In the meantime, yielding to a certain inner paradox, curatorship aspires to percolate its discourse into the places of ‘legitimate’ knowledge production, such as museums and universities, sporadically transforming these traditional structures from within. In these endeavors to crystallize its own theory and gain a foothold as a discourse, curatorship ordinarily encounters resistance in the form of critical commentary. While the sharpest challenges of the curatorial continue to lie in its immanent multi-disciplinarity, it may also be considered advantageous, for a true unbounded curation, or curating with love, as Pascal Gielen puts it, is capable of discovering such things and such relations that as yet have no language and has no history of their own. In this presentation, I will focus on my personal curatorial practice and the ways in which it has been instrumental in building vocabularies around such under-represented dimensions of Russian cultural history as feminism and coloniality of power.

Iaroslav Volovod is Assistant Curator at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. He holds a BA in Asian and African Studies from St. Petersburg State University and an MA in Curatorial Studies from Bard College, NY. He has had internships and study visits in Germany, India, and the UK. His personal and professional identities have sensitized him to non-dominant experience and institutional practices that address communities at the cusp of change. Currently Iaroslav is investigating South Asian artists in Britain, in addition to working with international and local art practitioners.

Researching on Art Curation and the Curating of Artistic Research: An Entanglement of Histories and Value Regimes

Considering the mostly Western-centered geography of knowledge production and education in the realm of curatorial studies and theory, it is important not to turn definitions, conditions and institutions of the curatorial elaborated in Western academic and professional contexts, into universal and exportable reference models or units of measurement. As a researcher investigating on curatorial practice from a transdisciplinary perspective and developing most of my research in South Africa with a focus on case studies from the commercial gallery sector, my approach is informed by these reflections, and takes up the challenge of offering new understandings of this field of practice that are specific of a post-apartheid and post-colonial context, but that necessarily give a fundamental contribution for a global and multi-sited theory of the curatorial. In order to exemplify this approach, Ne Travaillez Jamais (2015-16) and History Begins with a Garden (2017), two exhibition projects I recently curated in commercial art spaces in Johannesburg and Barcelona respectively, will help me to address some of the questions that inform my doctoral research, concerning the interplays of different regimes of value in art curating, a practice embodying the ambiguity between the economy of gift and the speculative culture of the semiocapitalist, postcolonial era.

Mariella Franzoni is a PhD researcher (Universities Pomepu Fabra and Western Cape) and independent curator based in Barcelona and Cape Town. With an education background in the fields of cultural anthropology, art theory and cultural management, her research focuses on the interplays between politics of curating and the regimes of value in contemporary art, and looks at these dynamics in the emergence of the curatorial in post-apartheid South Africa. Mariella’s curatorial activity is informed by collaborative and transdisciplinary approaches.

Spaces of Being

My curatorial practice explores cultural blasphemies and controversies. I am interested in ideas that disrupt existing paradigms about on a wide range of subjects, meant to encourage alternative ways of perception. Eroticism and Intimacy: Faces, Places and Paths (2016) was a group exhibition, which highlighted the place of sexual rights and personal liberties as well as the need to reclaim the eroticisms of the black body and decolonize desire. We live in societies that have preconceived ideas of what sex should be. Taking off from East Africa, men and women, whose sexual expression deviates from the cultural expectations of certain people, have been restricted, violated and their rights to sexual expression have been overlooked. Body Pedagogy, a workshop staged during the exhibition, was in response to the theme by the Zimbabwean critic George Shire, centering on the question of how to live together relationally, how to confront our self-division, how to experience the unbearable undoing of the logic that binds ‘us’ to the world, how to share a thought or an object when the pressure of its handling by another risks breaking the object. Shire is convinced that contemporary African sexual identities are constructed out of the peculiar, particular, multiplicitous effects and perceptions of tradition, modernity, colonization and globalization that are more often than not in confrontation with each other, sexuality is today at once the most personal and private, the most public and the most political of issues that engages us both intellectually and practically in everyday life. Africa’s heritage of colonialism has determined its antagonistic relationship with the West as much as its continued desire to be measured by and against Western paradigms, amounting to a crudely defined national difference. Cast a Light on Prejudice (2015) was an exhibition of the photographer Papa Shabani. On one hand, the exhibition explores and disseminates the subject of Albinism in East Africa, and on the other, it focuses on the royalty lives of Nubian Women living in Kibera slum in Kenya. Shabani captures the story of the indefatigable spirit of the Nubians, a story of defiance and hope in the face of insurmountable odds. Nubian women are queens with an elegant sense of dress and fashion, and their impeccable culinary skills are still Kenya’s most invisible and underrepresented communities, even then, where their presence is unrecognized and their citizenry is labelled as ‘other’, they stand tall and refuse to be put down.

Violet Nantume is a curator at UNDER GROUND Contemporary Art Space in Kampala/Uganda. Prior to that, she was the director of Kampala Art Auction. Nantume curated the multipart exhibition Eroticism and Intimacy in Kampala and at the 2016 FNB Joburg Art Fair. She is working on a publication with Nubuke Foundation, Ghana, and INDULGENCE, a group show in Kampala. She attended Asiko Art School and Global Crit Clinic in Accra/Ghana, 2013. In 2017 Violet was awarded with a KAAD scholarship for the MA course ‘African Verbal and Visual Arts’ at the University of Bayreuth/Germany.

In Keeping up with the Irregular Rhythms

How to maintain the collective work, live, and being in the context of relations with differences, precarity and unevenness? I would like to reflect on this question specifically depart from the current ongoing work of my collective, KUNCI, which is entitled School of Improper Education ( The school aims to study on the meanings of studying and the ways to study these meanings. The first session is being held from 2016 to 2017.

Syafiatudina has interests on curatorial work as frictional interplay between theory and practice. Her practice revolves around the role of art as part of critical knowledge production which shape political subjects. Syafiatudina is working as a writer, curator and member of KUNCI Cultural Studies Center ( in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Founded in 1999, KUNCI has primarily focused on critical knowledge production and sharing via media publications, cross-disciplinary encounters, research actions and artistic interventions.

Tropic Inclinations and Conceptual Labors

I am interested in the conceptual labors that attend the curatorial. I am interested in how the curatorial unsettles conceptual habits and habitations, unfixes conceptual loci and locutions, via submitting them to the labors of concept work, an interrogation of their present constitutions intimating mobility of thought. In my practice as editor and aspiring curator, these conceptual labors are shaped by a tropic inclination. I use trope in relation to what the late postcolonial critic Srinivas Aravamudan describes as a word’s ‘swerv[ing] from self-adequation to its surplus and while doing so, [its] mov[ing] from the ‘proper and natural’ to another meaning ‘with some advantage.’’ Within the ambit of practice, this tropic inclination is animated by an ‘attitudinal shift,’ which Aravamudan, writing on the paradoxes of colonial discourse, elaborates as the seizure of the ‘tropological opportunity with the hope of some advantage, seeking a renewed critical purchase on texts and their historical contexts.’ Within this trajectory, I talk about transit, an online journal that I edit and which focuses on the idea of ‘the new’—a key lexicon in avant-gardist discourse and also in authoritarian rule, such as in Marcos’ New Society or Suharto’s Orde Baru—and how it can be understood to frame the contemporary, especially with the idea’s permutations as the neo- in neo-colonialism. I talk about this in relation to the traction of conceptual grammars that shape the transcultural as a tropic, as troped. I focus on trans- as tropological inflection, as bearing and burden of curatorial work, specifically in relation to the in/commensurability of contexts and logics of practice that the transcultural/transcuratorial imagines.

Carlos Quijon, Jr. coordinates exhibitions and writes essays and poetry. His work has been most recently published in the Kritika Kultura Special Literary Section on the Contemporary Philippine Essay. He was a fellow in the Independent Curators International’s Curatorial Intensive in Manila (2016) and the inaugural edition of Para Site’s Workshops for Emerging Art Professionals in Hong Kong (2015). He is founding editor of transit, an online intermedia journal.

Between the Curatorial and the Art Historical (in Southeast Asia): Contemporary Art in History, History in Contemporary Art

As a double-blind peer reviewed scholarly journal, Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia is not really a curatorial project. Indeed, when we were invited last year to contribute to an edited volume titled SouthEastAsia: Spaces of the Curatorial, our editorial collective was unable to agree what to do. Yet, all nine members of the collective—spread across eight locations, most within the region—have organized exhibitions, and most of us continue to work curatorially, alongside art historical research. This presentation will consider the somewhat uncertain relationship between the curatorial and the art historical (and also between the contemporary and the modern) in my recent practice, discussing two ongoing projects. First is an exhibition, People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor), which opened at Bangkok’s Jim Thompson Art Center in early March, and runs until late June. The exhibition features recent works by contemporary artists, but is accompanied by a series of lectures on unabashedly historical topics, including the emergence of modern painting in Cambodia in the early 20th century, and archival materials on pioneering Sri Lankan American art historian and curator, Ananda Coomaraswamy. The second project I’ll discuss is a collaborative essay, which will collate research by 12 art historians on terminologies of ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ ‘art’ in 11 languages of greater Southeast Asia. This project is being prepared for volume 2 of Southeast of Now, which will take up the theme of ‘movement.’ In what ways might contemporary curatorial discourse inform this scholarly inquiry into art historical linguistics for Southeast of Now? And in what ways might the art historical methods and modern case studies as presented in the Jim Thompson lectures inform the exhibition People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor), in its conception or its reception? I have no sure answers to these questions.

Roger Nelson is an art historian and curator based in Phnom Penh, and co-founding co-editor of Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, a journal published by National University of Singapore Press. He recently submitted a PhD at the University of Melbourne, on modernity and contemporaneity in ‘Cambodian arts.’ Roger writes for journals, magazines, books and catalogues internationally. He has curated projects in Australia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Of Ghosts in Museums: Curatorial Challenges in Ethnological Collections

In 1998, the French anthropologist Jean Jamin famously asked: ‘Should we burn ethnographic museums?’ Ethnological museums have had to deal with a vigorous critique, one which questions the legitimacy of their very existence. The collections’ entangled histories of material and symbolic appropriation, shaped by the colonial encounter, make them particularly challenging from a curatorial point of view. In my talk, I will address, first, my current PhD project. It focuses on curatorial strategies in ethnological museums, based on fieldwork in Tervuren’s Royal Museum for Central Africa (Belgium), to open in 2018, and Berlin’s Ethnological Museum. The latter will integrate the much contested Humboldt Forum on Berlin’s museum island in 2019. In my thesis, I am suggesting to look at the museum as a haunted space. I am introducing the figure of the ghost to address processes of negotiations around the museum’s legacies differently: Ghosts are figures of return, insisting on the persistence of the past in the present. They blur multiple boundaries, for example of past, present and future; of materiality and immateriality; of subject and object; of reality and imagination, fact and fiction. Second, I will focus on my own curatorial practice. I will take the exhibition Object Biographies, co-curated with Verena Rodatus (Humboldt Lab Dahlem, Ethnologisches Museum Berlin, 2015) as an example to show our attempt to problematize some of the museum’s contested legacies. We rotated the gaze to the institution itself, directing it to the institution’s histories, networks and practices. We chose the narrative tool of the ‘object biography’ to address the often little-known and sometimes problematic stories of how the objects were collected, transported, stored, categorized, catalogued, and exhibited. I will conclude by discussing how the negotiation around colonial and anthropological legacies might transform the ethnological museum into a ‘space of working through’ (Wayne Modest), a ‘space of repair’ (Kader Attia).

Margareta von Oswald is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (HU Berlin) and the EHESS Paris. She works on the contemporary challenges of museum collections acquired on the African continent, mainly during colonial times. She is co-organizer of the seminar series Rewriting the Colonial Past: Contemporary Challenges of Museum Collections (EHESS, Paris). In 2015, Margareta co-curated Object Biographies at the Humboldt Lab Dahlem, Berlin.

Funes the Memorious

Our personal histories do not exist as a continuous entity governed by a single logic or narrative; on the contrary, they are rooted within the connections and ways in which they intersect. Curator Anthony Huberman has pointed to the etymological link of the term curation with ‘care’ and the importance of curating ‘in the key of I CARE’. Within my work, I have always had a care and concern for negotiating sites of cultural specificity in my practice. My work is influenced by own histories, but also my practice aims to examine the generation of creative output through forming chains of dialogue amongst a wide range of artistic mediums. Coming from an immigrant family escaping turmoil in China post-1989, I am acutely cognisant of the complexities of contemporary art ecologies with respect to the surrounding socio-political environments. As I often find myself both outside of my immediate communities and completely immersed within it – it is in this critical distance and constant negotiation amidst its questions which has informed the development of my professional practice. Jorge Luis Borges conceived of the character called Ireneo Funes in a short story called Funes the Memorious (1942), a man who is described as afflicted with the condition where, if he saw a dog from the side, it would look unrecognisable from a different angle one minute later. Although Funes is unable to escape his predicament of seeing nothing but unrepeatable differences, there is an aspect of this character that exists as a metaphor for someone reflecting on the notion of ‘entangled histories’. Like Funes who surprised himself each time he looked in a mirror, I think it is equally important to recognise the multiplicity of intersections which reside within one's practice in order to be able to invite conflicting perspectives and contrasting readings.

Ying Tan is curator at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) in Manchester. She has curated numerous exhibitions in CFCCA, in addition to many other off-site projects in London and internationally. This includes the co-commission of Haze & Fog with Cao Fei (2013), as well as UK premiers of What Happened in the Year of the Dragon (2014) with Sun Xun and Xu Bing's Book from the Ground (2003-present). She is a visiting lecturer for Christie's Education (UK) and a contributor to KALEIDOSCOPE Asia Magazine. She was also on the curatorial faculty for Liverpool Biennial 2016.

TCA Mumbai

The TransCuratorial Academy (TCA) is an initiative of KfW Stiftung with the aim of advancing international knowledge transfer, networking and the development of the transcultural and transdisciplinary curatorial discourse. It is directed by Beatrice von Bismarck and Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer. The academy is structured in three chapters (Berlin, Mumbai, Phnom Penh), each of which is centered on a keyword in a five-day programme.

'Hospitality' is the keyword of the TCA Mumbai, which is realised in collaboration with Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai. By inviting Lawrence Liang as the keynote speaker, the TCA follows its aim to introduce vital terms from neighbouring disciplines to the curatorial discourse. Furthermore, the programme includes presentations by the eight participating curators, workshops with the curators Ute Meta Bauer and Ranjit Hoskote and excursions to local art institutions. Participants of the TCA Berlin will join the programme as alumni.

TransCuratorial Academy
Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, 18.-22. September 2017


Hospitable Jurisprudence
Keynote Lawrence Liang

September 18, 2017
6:30 pm

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai
K. Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda
Mumbai 400 001

Free Admission

TCA-Mumbai – Participants

Vocabulary of Hospitality

“[...] the foreigner is first of all foreign to the legal language in which the duty of hospitality is formulated, the right to asylum, its limits, norms, policing, etc. He has to ask for hospitality in a language which, by definition is not his own, the one imposed on him by the master of the house, the host, the king, the lord, the authorities, the nation, the State, the father […]. This personage imposes on him translation into their own language, and that’s the first act of violence.”

Jacques Derrida, Of Hospitality, 2000

The ambiguous legal context of 'hospitality,' created by the constantly changing, and highly hierarchical (inter)national migration and asylum policies have treated migrants differently according to their identities and periods of arrival. This ambiguity has resulted in the emergence of an extensive vocabulary of language concerning migration, which reflects itself in urban space. Vocabulary of Hospitality explores this vocabulary, revealing the intertwined conceptions of ‘host’, ‘guest’ and ‘hospitality’. Conceptualized from Derrida’s texts as a departure point, this project looks at the complexity inherent in the relationship between the ‘guest’ and ‘host’, which encompasses several obligations and tensions. When are the guest and the host strangers to each other? When do they become visitors? In what context are they enemies or hostages of each other? How does guest become visible or invisible? When do hosts become guests, and the other way around? When are they in solidarity with each other? Is it possible to break off the hierarchy of hospitality, and create horizontal structures of solidarity? This project looks at the urban spaces that render these relationships visible. Dissecting its complexity; Vocabulary of Hospitality is a research and documentation project about temporary settlements, detention centers, major urban infrastructures such as football stadiums, parks, squares, other spaces collectively produced in solidarity, borders, refugee camps, and further. The project has so far focused on the route from Jordan towards France and the Netherlands. The aim forward is to explore the route between India and China. Here, the focus of the project will shift towards the spaces of hospitality among the nomadic peoples of high lands, and the seas.

Merve Bedir is a designer, researcher, and curator. She is partner at Land and Civilization Compositions, and a PhD candidate at TU Delft. She is a member of Matbakh-Mutfak, a kitchen initiative by a transnational women collective in Gaziantep, and a founding member of MAD [Center for Spatial Justice] in Istanbul. She also teaches for Future+ / Aformal Academy, an independent graduate program for urbanism and public art in Shenzhen. Her book Vocabulary of Hospitality will be published by Dpr-Barcelona (2017).

Soft Curating 

‘Soft curating’ is a term coined by Colombian artist Gustavo Zalamea that explores the idea of non-conventional curatorial practices and the curator as an unstable figure in tension. As Zalamea points out: “[…] soft curating assumes the event as a collective creation by intensifying the intrinsic power of each of the particular works through affinities or contrasts”. I will relate the idea of ‘soft curating’ to the notion of hospitality as an understanding of the curatorial. This involves a wider perspective: the differentiation of the activity of curating as organizing exhibitions, and the curatorial as a concept that understands the activity of curating as an event of knowledge in itself. The curatorial involves many fields and disciplines, as well as a live and attentive component, as an organism in a symbiotic relationship with the world. The two projects I will be presenting are: Portable Art Encounters and Encounters at Montes de María. The Portable Art Encounters approach the ideological, aesthetic and theoretical constellations that surround portable work. Closely linked to the minimum, the contingent, they constitute a reflection on the symbol of the portable and its relation to space and scale. Each artist brings, according to their own means and criteria, the work or works they choose with the only condition that they can be contained in a suitcase, hence their portable nature. The Encounters at Montes de María is a project whose purpose was to promote the appropriation and strengthening of the cultural infrastructure called ’La casa del pueblo’ (‘house of the village’), through a series of meetings and activities with the community of the village of El Salado, Bolívar.

Carolina Cerón works and lives in Bogotá, Colombia. She holds a BFA from the art program of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, a postgraduate diploma in design of exhibition formats of the Elisava School, Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and a MA in Culture Industry from Goldsmiths College, London University. She is currently assistant professor at the Universidad de los Andes and has been associate professor in the cultural management department at Universidad EAN in Bogotá. She is interested in initiatives on experimental ephemera and alternative sites for curatorial discourse. She also performs, from an eminently self-reflexive position, the task of organizing, exposing, interpreting, curating, reading and writing about art.

Korea/Kenya: Transcultural Conversations through Art

I will present my recent efforts to develop a series of workshops and accompanying exhibitions between Korean and Kenyan artists whose work interrogates concepts of national identity and/or comments on effects of globalisation. As Asian investments in business and infrastructure increase exponentially throughout Africa, new opportunities for cultural contact are arising. With the intersection of these different worlds, the arts provide a form of imaginative engagement that can help people better appreciate their differences and hopefully develop a framework of hospitality for cross-cultural encounters. Scholars and practitioners of development have comparatively studied South Korea and Kenya because they had the same GDP when they gained independence, but Korea has since developed into one of the world’s top fifteen economies and is the first aid recipient in the OECD to become a donor nation. In 2010, almost half of South Korea’s humanitarian aid budget was devoted to Africa, and the Korean government’s strategy for African overseas developmental assistance (ODA) focuses on advancing the arts and culture as a means of exerting ‘soft power.’ Along with bilateral aid from the government, Korean businesses are seeking new opportunities for growth in many African countries, and former Korean president Park Geun-Hye visited Nairobi in May 2016 to promote business ventures between the two countries. Increasing contact between Kenya and Korea has not, however, brought mutual understanding and appreciation for what makes each culture unique. Many Kenyans remain suspicious of what they perceive as neo-colonial endeavours on the part of Asian corporations and governments while understandings of Africa amongst the general South Korean population tend to vacillate between ‘poverty porn’ and exoticization. The exchange I’m developing will provide an opportunity to bring varied perspectives into conversation with one another and explore the shifting relationships and disjunctures between culture, politics and socioeconomic factors that are characteristic of globalisation.

Kristina Dziedzic Wright has master’s degrees in rhetoric and art history from the University of Illinois, Chicago and is a PhD candidate in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She has taught writing and art history in South Korea since 2011, works as an independent curator and is currently consulting on a project at the National Museums of Kenya to develop a comprehensive collections management system and create a public outreach website.

Politics of Non-Availability at the Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince

“Sometimes the repetition of good sentiment feels oppressive.”

Sara Ahmed, On Being Included, 2012

Sara Ahmed describes processes of inclusion of racialized bodies in ‘white’ institutions through the logic of ‘conditional hospitality’, where acts of inclusion maintain the form of exclusion. Haitian artists are often welcomed in ‘Euro-North American’ institutions but under very self-serving interests. The socially engaged art festival Ghetto Biennale(GB) was founded by British photographer, filmmaker, and curator Leah Gordon in collaboration with the members of the Haitian artist group Atis Rezistans in Port-au-Prince in 2009 and intends to reverse the logic of ‘conditional hospitality’ by making Haitian artists from weak socio-economic strata hosts of their own art event. Although the GB doubtlessly brings many fruitful new opportunities and global attention to the Haitian artist community, I realized during the co-curation of the 3rd GB in 2013, that the art event became also a mechanism through which a group of Haitian artists are capable to examine in close proximity the consequences of ‘whiteness’ and privilege within the artistic milieu in comparison to their own artistic careers. Thus, many Haitian artists question who is benefitting from this art event that touts to be “the most radical art event in the last decade” (Leah Gordon) in curatorial self-descriptions. Gratefulness and availability remain affective responses expected from Haitian artists in inter-racial and inter-class relationships during the GB. Following decolonial activist Audre Lorde, I understand angriness, conflict, and non-availability as important mechanisms to counter inequality and systems of domination. I show in my paper that Haitian artists resist dependencies and affirmative readings of the GB as a successful inter-class community project through their anger. These critical voices are often silenced because the anger these artists articulate make them “affect aliens” (Sara Ahmed) to the happiness, optimism, excitement, and heroic entitlement the GB as a socially-engaged art project intents to produce within its visiting milieu of traveling art activists.

David Frohnapfel studied Art History, Comparative Literature and Religious Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and at the Universidad de la Habana in Cuba. In 2017 he finished his PhD with the title Disobedient Musealities: Dialogue and Conflict in the Art Scene of Port-au-Prince at Freie Universität Berlin. He was a fellow in the research group Objects in the Contact Zone at the Max-Planck-Institute in Florence in Italy. He also worked as curator of The 3rd Ghetto Biennale: Decentering the Market and Other Tales of Progress in Port-au-Prince and curated the exhibition NOCTAMBULES: the hidden transcripts on queer visualities on occasion of Le Forum Transculturel d’Art Contemporain in 2015.

Seeking the Possibility of Experiencing the Chaos: Regarding Contemporary Art in Iran

The main concern of the art space Emkan was shaped in confrontation with a fundamental issue in Iranian art scene: the old struggle between two discourses of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity‘. With the commence of what we recall as beginning of modernism in Iran, the issue of identity crisis was born and despite many attempts, it still exists with the same strength as before. Feeling that in most of these attempts one can find a trace of pre-assumed identities, Emkan as a project looked at all these solutions with a shadow of doubt. We believe that it really does not differ whether we call the ‘East’ a host that has been raided by an unexpected parasite guest or with a humble manner, consider the ‘East’ a guest to a feast that the ‘West’ has pre-organized. Instead, we have been constantly seeking for those attempts in Iranian art that begin from a totally different concern. Avoiding fighting in a battle field in which each side has a defined identity, they experience modernity as an event that shakes up all defined concepts and identities, and it is in this chaos that new experiences and the creation of the new could occur. When we started Emkan we did not know to what extent we will achieve. It is interesting that, after almost two years of not limiting ourselves to specific mediums or movements, we have been able to highlight streaks of a recognizable taste or flow in Iranian art, as our audiences and even our critics admit. If this, no matter how properly, could have happened, one can at least be sure that such ‘possibility’ has existed and has been experienced in the very heart of Iranian art itself: the experience of modernity as a way to be free from predefined identities. At this stage we need to pursue this search with more seriousness.

Having his master in Dramatic literature, Behzad Nejadghanbar initially entered the art scene as a writer and critic for art magazines. His part-time involvement with the art world helped him to become an art consultant for a couple of collectors, while he was lucky to start working as one of the editors of a significant art magazine in Iran and also curating a few exhibitions for galleries in Tehran. His experiences in various fields such as teaching, writing and curating as well as his enthusiasm to highlight a certain taste and approach toward Iranian art, invoked the idea of opening an art space of his own, Emkan, founded in September 2015.

The Visitor Economy

I would like to approach the term ‘hospitality’ from my own research into the effects of tourism on cultural productions, within the new colonial relationship that the tourism industry embodies. Specifically, I will present two recent curatorial projects, Watch your step / Mind your head, at ifa galerie Berlin, and The 2nd Grand Tropical Biennial in Loíza, Puerto Rico. In Watch your step / Mind your head (2017), Irene de Andrés and Sofía Gallisá Muriente present a selection of works developed in close conversation between 2015 and 2017 that ponder the question of who constructs the concept of paradise and who consumes it the most, as experienced from the Caribbean nation of Puerto Rico. Their work explores how cultural differences have been marketed within the new colonial relationship that the tourism industry embodies, particularly through the creation and circulation of images. In the exhibition, the artists examine and contest the visual economy of tourism and the representation of the Caribbean as constructed for tourists and investors. For The 2nd Grand Tropical Biennial (2016), co-curated with Stefan Benchoam, Radamés ‘Juni’ Figueroa and Pablo León de la Barra, we exchanged the white cube for the green, blue and sandy one of a beach. We brought together artists for an exhibition of works made or reinterpreted specifically for the setting, organized under the guise of the economy of friendship. Hosted by La Comay kiosk, a family run business in Loíza, a historically black town in the northern coast of Puerto Rico, the biennial presented a cohesive experience with artworks, workshops and performances that was very aware and paid homage of the place it was set in. The biennial introduces another way of conceiving biennials that are enjoyable, thoughtful and, above all, possible.

Marina Reyes Franco is an independent curator living and thinking from San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is co-founder and former director of La Ene in Buenos Aires. Recent projects include: Watch your step / Mind your head (curator-in-residence program of KfW Stiftung in collaboration with ifa-Galerie Berlin); The 2nd Grand Tropical BiennialA Summer in Puerta de TierraCalibán and Sucursal, and numerous exhibitions at La Ene. Research interests include artistic and literary manifestations on the frontier of political action, new museology, and the impact of tourism in culture.

Curating Inclusion

In my presentation I will interrogate the idea of hospitality in connection to the notion of inclusion. The aim is to look at the ways in which hospitality can engage the public and create more inclusive spaces for art. We exist in a digitally hyper-connected world and for a large section of the urban demographic, this existence has become normal. Moving from a ‘modern’ period that required physical manifestations of art, to a more ephemeral art practice, the curating of art has also begun to engage in this digital world. Our understanding of space and time has changed, with technology enabling us to reach across continents and countries. Exhibitions, however, are physical experiences. First of all, hospitality concerns the interpretation and mediation of exhibitions, but it also affects the accessibility of art spaces and venues. Hospitality here would appear as creating accessible and comfortable spaces for people to enjoy art and to interact. Creating an inclusive environment does not only mean to place a few benches and building ramps for the physically disabled, but also to provide gender-neutral toilets/rest rooms and to offer assistance to those who may require it. Discussions around this subject often lead up to the question of financial resources and priorities, but I argue that curatorial statements and spatial settings are interconnected. By giving some examples I will talk about situations in which inclusion could work.

Sumitra Sunder is an independent researcher and curator working on a doctorate in contemporary art practice from Manipal University, in Karnataka, India. Her PhD project locates the past 40 years of curating and resistance in art practice in South India, focusing on collectives in Bangalore, Karnataka and the Students’ Biennale at Kochi, Kerala. Sumitra also co-curated the Neralu festival in Bangalore in 2014, dedicated to the trees of Bangalore and a reflection on the ecology of the city. Beyond curating shows, she has been co-developing plays for local theatre collectives. Sumitra also works as a researcher and consultant for art and culture organizations in India.

Art Needs Some Rest

Art projects have the ability to create a new social space. How is a new social space created through the presence of a guest (i.e. artist collective) in the neighbourhood? I will be addressing this issue based on my experience of initiating AceMart (2015-2017), a project which runs with my collective, Ace HouseAce House’s artistic vision aims to address the role and function of contemporary art in society today. This includes generating a project that uses imitation as methodology to represent an art form by using various interpretations of the everyday infrastructure, the surrounding institutions or trade bodies that are often encountered by Indonesian people. Through these forms, we try to invite audiences to experience an artwork as a form of ‘common’ activity, negotiating discussions around the concept of ‘social class’ experiences. AceMart is a site-specific, performative artwork, produced as a pop-up convenience store that engages the participation of the audience. It was realised on the premises of Ace House, which is situated in a residential area. It seeks to maximize the possibilities of a typical art gallery space, so that it does not only serve as a showroom, but acts as a fluid social space for artists and works of art to interact with the audience and the surrounding community. By offering a different experience and perspective to enjoy art, AceMart encourages the public, be it artists, art enthusiasts, or local residents, to participate in bridging the gap that occasionally occurs with the way artworks are presented in a conventional art space.

Gintani Swastika is an artist-curator based in Yogyakarta. She obtained her BFA from Indonesia Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta in 2010. In 2011, she initiated Ace House Collective, a young artists’ collective and artist initiative space. She was appointed as director for Kaleidoskop Project, a young artist biennale program since 2015. Furthermore, she has been involved in international projects, such as 7th Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course (2016), 4A Curators’ Intensive, Emerging Curator Forum, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney (2014), AIR on Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taipei (2013) and South East Asia Women Artist Forum, Yangon (2012). She is currently completing her Master in Religious and Cultural Studies at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, focusing on Indonesian women artist.

TCA Phnom Penh

The TransCuratorial Academy (TCA) is an initiative of KfW Stiftung with the aim of advancing international knowledge transfer, networking and the development of the transcultural and transdisciplinary curatorial discourse. It is directed by Beatrice von Bismarck and Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer. The academy is structured in three chapters (Berlin, Mumbai, Phnom Penh), each of which is centered on a keyword in a five-day programme.

'Untranslatability' is the keyword of the TCA Phnom Penh, which is realised in collaboration with the artist-run space Sa Sa Art Projects. By inviting Emily Apter as the keynote speaker, the TCA follows its aim to introduce vital terms from neighbouring disciplines to the curatorial discourse. Furthermore, the programme includes presentations by the participating curators, workshops with the curators Vuth Lyno and Gridthiya Gaweewong and excursions to local art institutions. Participants of the TCA Mumbai will join the programme as alumni.

TransCuratorial Academy
Sa Sa Art Projects / Phnom Penh, 1-6. October 2018

Sa Sa Art Projects is a Cambodian artist-run space dedicated to experimental and critical contemporary art practices..


Regioning Differences: Translation and Transcuration
Keynote fromEmily Apter

The remapping of cartographies of knowledge and the reorientation of genealogies of comparison, all have been fully underway for quite some time in critical and curatorial practice.  But it may be time to focus in an even more pointed way on translational issues as they affect the designation of regional entities and identities and in turn, define how geotopic regionalisms -. Europe/non-Europe,  intra-Asia, North/South, South-South, tricontinentalism, zones of settlement and unsettlement – are negotiated by artists in their work or by curators designing exhibitions with a “global” remit.  We will begin with a consideration of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s concept of “global criticality,” loosely ascribed to differential multiplicities across regions, and to differences that are resistant to dominant categories of world division and partition, including epistemological siloes and the methodological niches of area studies.  Spivak focuses on the particular anxieties issuing from the global circulation of knowledge – the crisis of what qualifies as expertise in the humanities; the problem of cross-cultural literacy across enormous linguistic divides, and the fallout of commercialized life, packaged art and branded art and culture typical of biennials and “world lit” or “world arts and culture” anthologies.  Rather than wallow in the futility of pedagogical exercises fated to dumb down specialized material, or worse, reproduce the violence of forced analogy and Europe-centered genealogies of comparison, Spivak enjoins us to imagine a “global criticality”that navigates the pitfalls of mapping, both cognitive and political.

Taking off from this notion, I will propose a model of regioning differences that focuses on the politics of cartographic denomination – specifically the translation or untranslatability of names for continental relation, orientation, and entanglement.  We will ground this theoretical problem in a discussion of several paradigmatic exhibitions (starting with the Global Conceptualism show) and conclude by examining recent work that deals with regional “entanglement” by the artist Naeem Mohaiemen.

Emily Apter is Silver Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Chair of Comparative Literature at New York University. Her most recent books include: Unexceptional Politics: On Obstruction, Impasse and the Impolitic (Verso, 2018), Against World Literature: On The Politics of Untranslatability (2013), Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon (co-edited with Barbara Cassin, Jacques Lezra and Michael Wood) (2014), and The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (2006). She is currently working on a book dealing with translation and justice, and hopes to complete it while a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in spring 2019. Her published articles include essays in OctoberArt Journal and Artforum. She has served on the faculty of the Whitney Independent Study Program and lectured widely on translation theory, politics and aesthetics, and critical archiving. In 2017-18 she served as President of the American Comparative Literature Association. In fall 2014 she was a Humanities Council Fellow at Princeton University. In 2003-2004 she was a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient.

October 1, 2018
6:00 pm

Sa Sa Art Projects
Street 350, Beoung Keng Kong 3, St 350
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Free Admission

TCA Phnom Penh – Participants

Untranslatable? The Politics of Deliberate Mistranslation

Taking up the term ‘untranslatability’ as a question, I will present two ongoing research projects that review attempts of ‘translation’ as part of the configuration project of cross-cultural exchange. I am particularly interested in deliberate acts of ‘mistranslation’ or flattening of meaning. The first project is a survey of MoMA exhibitions that travelled to Southeast Asia during the Cold War as part of the MoMA’s international programme. These exhibitions were ‘translated’ onto local contexts and at times co-opted into non-Western discourses and modernities by the local actors that intervened and presented the exhibitions. The second project is an investigation into the relationship of film as a modern Western technology and the resistive modernities of Southeast Asia that arise out of the translation of alternative systems of knowledge related to the supernatural and the folklore onto the screen through the making of Horror Films in Southeast Asia (1950s-2000s). Both projects suggest that the ‘untranslatable’ can be deliberate acts of mistranslation, so as to occlude, resist and ultimately retain (if not create) specific forms of agency against hegemonic and universalising global infrastructures.

Kathleen Ditzig is currently pursuing her PhD at NTU ADM (Nanyang Technological University Singapore, School of Art, Design and Media) on exhibition histories of regionalism and cultural exchange as part of the Cold War in Southeast Asia (1947-1974). She is also the co-founder of, a contemporary art research collective that studies the offshore as the defining paradigm of contemporary globalisation. With a background in writing and administering cultural policy, her research and practice is committed to untangling the complex histories of internationalism in relation to power, nationalism and art.

Other Tongues

My presentation grapples with issues of translation that unfold around the power and currency of globalised English, the necessity of persistent resistance against this dominant ‘global’ tongue and the potential of remixing English into new languages, dialects and codes. How might we decolonise the seeming irresistible presence of English? How might we keep languages decentered and unoppressed? Could and should every other concept be translated smoothly into neat and correct English? To address these questions, I will be discussing my curatorial work around two collectives in Hanoi, one poetic and the other artistic, and sharing questions on the politics of translation and the potential of (occasionally deliberate) untranslatability from my personal experience of curating and writing in Vietnam.

Nguyễn-Hoàng Quyên (b. 1993) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors & Distinction) from Stanford University in 2017 and is currently a contributing writer-translator at AJAR Press and assistant curator at San Art in Vietnam. Her writings have appeared in the Boston ReviewChaVoice & Verse, Yamagata Film Criticism Collective and various exhibition catalogues and independent publications.

Curatorial Writing as a Process of Translation

‘Untranslatability’ is an interesting phenomenon. It is neither truly an impossibility nor inability. It is indeed a difficulty, whereby the question of representation, accuracy, transference, naturalness, authenticity, and sacredness comes into play. However, this challenge creates a possibility of interpretation, creation, comprehension, construction, and deconstruction. In my experience translating English to Khmer, or the vice versa, I found this concept of ‘untranslatability’ a motto, or a reminder, for my curatorial practice, especially with interpretation and writing.  It is a reminder that there is always a unique characteristic and specificity of a language, may it be written, visual, or performative language, as they come with their own cultural and social life. Thus, to remind that translation is a contextualization, not a substitution to the original. In this talk I will present one aspect of my curatorial practice, which is the crafting of the curatorial essay/text to accompany the show. I will present how the concept of ‘untranslatability’ plays a role in this writing process. Two past exhibitions will be mentioned, Drunk Nude by Heng Ravuth, and Influence: The New Ages by Leang Seckon as case studies. Within curatorial writing as translation as contextualization, I became conscious in assigning and selecting the kind of text for the exhibition, with an intention that it should not be the replacement to the presentation of an artwork, which is the original text that needs to be understood and interacted with. The translation text is thus a complement.

Born in Battambang/Cambodia, Yean Reaksmey is an art advocate, curator, researcher, and writer. In 2014, he pursued a Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art at SOAS, University of London (Alphawood Scholarship). In 2017, he was an exchange scholar at the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs, Chiang Mai University, Thailand. He is presently pursuing an MA in Asian Art Histories at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore (SEAsia Scholars Award, Asian Cultural Council's Graduate Scholarship; Dr. Karen Mcleod Adair’s Fund). Among other commitments, Yean has been a curator for creative programs at Java Creative Café, Phnom Penh.

Is The Contemporary Here Yet?

In its fall 2009 issue, MIT Press’s October journal carried an article titled “Questionnaire on ‘The Contemporary’”. Written by Hal Foster on behalf of the editors, this questionnaire was sent to 70 critics and curators the editors identified as being particularly interested in the contemporary. Of these, 32 (including Okwui Enwezor, Miwon Kwon, Terry Smith) replied with essay-length responses. Framing her response around contemporary art history, Kwon’s reply included further inquiries: “For instance, what is the status of contemporary Chinese art history? What is the time frame for such a history? How closely should it be linked to Chinese art, cultural, or political history? How coordinated should it be with Western art history or aesthetic discourse? Is contemporary Chinese art history a subfield of contemporary art history? Or are they comparable categories, with the presumption that the unnamed territory of contemporary art history is Western-American?” Kwon’s questions, for me, hang in the air, and crystallise my struggles with understanding the nature of the contemporary. There have been some wonderful efforts in the recent past to understand the contemporary condition, including The Contemporary Condition research project at Aarhus University and the Contemporary Research Intensive it organised in collaboration with other university programmes at the 57th Venice Biennale; Stanford University’s The Contemporary; and BAK’s Former West initiative, which have been very inspiring. It is important that South Asia stakes its claim in this exploration of the contemporary, and my project — an online research and publishing platform titled Is The Contemporary Here Yet?(ITCHY) — seeks to examine the condition of contemporaneity with a focus on South Asian contemporary art and allied fields of architecture, design, dance, film, photography, among others.

Roshan Kumar Mogali is a journalist, writer and editor from Pune, India. He has written about contemporary art and curatorial practices for art magazines and journals including Artforum InternationalFlash Art InternationalAfterallBOMBArt Papers, and Art India. His forthcoming project will be online soon on

‘Not Going Anywhere’, Translation as a Site of Inhabitation 

Translation is the process of decoding words or text from one language into another; the conversion or transformation of something to its seeming equivalent. ‘Not Going Anywhere’ explores the possibilities of eroding both edges of this transition (the original and its derivative) by sitting in the qualities of the transition itself. What would translation look like if it abandons the two edges of its journey, the here and there? In order to explore these possibilities, this presentation proposes two main articulations to think about translation: a) translation as site of erasure (exploring the cultural and political violence that arise in processes of translation – in language and beyond), and b) translation as a site of inhabitation (a liminal space marked by mistranslation, confusion, and hesitance).

My current curatorial project On Translations – in collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University – sets its horizon in the space of translation as a site of knowledge production. Through a series of events, publishing practices and collaborative research projects, On Translations explores the space of translation – one of not knowing, of feeling confused, and of mismatching – as the ground from where to define and map transnational dialogues of knowledge production and cultural networks.

Carolina Rito is Head of Public Programmes and Research at Nottingham Contemporary (UK) and Research Fellow at Nova University of Lisbon (Portugal). She is a researcher and curator with a PhD in Curatorial/Knowledge, Goldsmiths, University of London. She lectures internationally on ‘the curatorial’, as an inter-disciplinary and aesthetic investigative practice, that is able to open up the field of exhibition-making to a new arena of knowledge production. Carolina is the chief editor of The Contemporary Journal, publishes in international journals (e.g. Kings ReviewMousse, and Wrong Wrong Magazine), and supervises doctoral studies.

Re-, de-, post-, pas? Rethinking “Biennale” in, and of, Jakarta 

Using Jakarta Biennale to reflect (2009-2017) and speculate (2019-onwards), in this presentation I wish to share the challenges and opportunities of artist-run biennales with an off-center art geographies gaze, such as Jakarta. Starting from the titles: ‘SIASAT’ (2013), ‘Maju Kena Mundur Kena’ (2015) and ‘JIWA’ (2017), it’s clear that we are not comfortable in translating sensibilities and concepts (especially when they are intangibles) to other languages besides Bahasa Indonesia. They were all conscious decisions, with serious despite unsuccessful attempts in rendering what we meant by those very different trajectories into English in the background. Through this attempt, I am seeking to clarify the process for myself and provoke feedbacks from my audience regarding this ongoing process we are going through back home.

Trained as an architect, Farid Rakun is an artist and member of the Jakarta-based artists’ collective ruangrupa. He curated Sonsbeek’16: TRANSaction (Arnhem, NL) and has participated in group shows, held by numerous institutions worldwide. He is also a lecturer in Architecture Department in University of Indonesia and just recently appointed to be the Executive Director for Jakarta Biennale.

Ontologies of the ‘Queer’ Self in Southeast Asia

My recent curatorial and academic research asks how burgeoning queer and transgender representation, mainly experienced in North America, translates (if at all) in other geopolitical and social contexts. I focus specifically on manifestations of gender and sexual difference in Southeast Asia. I aim to do this through three means. First, a comprehensive study and theoretical analysis of local vernacular languages that gender non-conforming people in Southeast Asia use to describe and identify themselves. How do they write, speak, or think themselves into being? Further, do widely used English terminologies like ‘queer’ or ‘transgender’ apply in this regional context? Second, I look at everyday social formations of gender non-conforming people in Southeast Asia and ask how their organising and kinship practices (or lack thereof) reflect how they see themselves and their gender and sexual identities. Finally, I examine how regional ideas and conceptions of gender non-conformity present themselves in modern and contemporary visual art and curatorial practice. As with previous work, I adopt a non-binary approach/methodology of gender to articulate the complexities and nuances of lived realities. I speculate that an ontology of the ‘queer’ self in Southeast Asia is reflexively untranslatable and opaque, and explore ways that curatorial gestures can embody its intrinsic contingency.

Wong Bing Hao is a writer and curator from Singapore. They research gender and sexuality in theory, art, and everyday realities. Recent projects include Indifferent Idols, the first in a new series of curatorial research publications. Currently, they are Research Assistant at the National Gallery Singapore and an MA candidate in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, where they research gender in Southeast Asian art history.

The Untranslatability of a Single Language

It is often taken for granted that cultural (mis)translation only happened between different languages, cultures, and contexts. However, with a complex and distorted historical, political and cultural context in Vietnam the situation of being displaced, disconnected and misrepresented could happen right within a single language. Constantly struggling to construct and reconstruct a cohesive national and cultural identity against the historical background of Chinese territorial aggression, French colonialism, and the influence of the Eastern bloc during the Cold war, Vietnam could be viewed rather as a contested terminology rather than a fixed locality or geographical site. Hence the notion of ‘untranslatability’ in the context of art and cultural practice and production offers a case study full of contradiction and complexity. I would like to use this reading of ‘untranslatability’ to question the construction of the cultural and political identity of a nation. I will use examples for analysis from the curatorial process and the controversial response around the current show I co-curated No War, No Vietnam at Kunstverein Tiergarten in Berlin, Germany.

Đỗ Tường Linh pursued her BA in Art History and Art Criticism at Vietnam University of Fine Art and her MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa at SOAS, University of London. Her research and curatorial practice range from art and politics, conceptualism and postcolonial studies. She has engaged in the art, cultural and civil society scene in Vietnam, Southeast Asia and international since 2005 collaborating with various art spaces, galleries and institutions in different roles including writing, researching, curating, teaching and translating. Currently she is working as a researcher for Site and Space in Southeast Asia, a research initiative run by Power Institute (University of Sydney, Australia)

You Know It’s Coming: Anticipatory Melancholy

By its very nature, anticipatory melancholy is elusive. It surfaces when the advent of a disaster is imperceptibly prolonged—even against (mostly sporadic) preventive counter-currents. Can the anticipation of a catastrophe in the long-term change one’s identity or mode of being in the world? In the age of rising neo-imperialisms, pessimism remains too weak a word, and the temperament of a certain kind of melancholia catches on like wildfire on a day-to-day basis. Forget critical negation and leave your intellectual baggage at the door: “the Sick Man of Europe” is back again for an extended family visit. At this early phase, this project around anticipatory melancholy is seeking to understand its grounding (or groundlessness) in world history, a limited number of its manifestations in contemporary art, and, generally, how anxieties around the imaginary of an impending yet unforeseeable disaster may mold our bodies and shape us. Perhaps they already have.

After receiving his BA in History of Art and Architecture from Harvard College, Gökcan Demirkazık undertook various curatorial and editorial roles at Alt Art Space (Istanbul) and SALT (Istanbul & Ankara). In July 2018, Gökcan completed the Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace Program as a Writer-in-Residence, and his writing has previously appeared in ArtAsiaPacific, Artforum, Art Unlimited, Even, Frieze, and He lives and works in Beirut.

Traversing the Visual. Curatorial Settings in Different Perspectives

Among shifting technologies and within a multilayered process of globalisation, questions of (new) subjectivities and transmediality arise by inhabiting digital cultures. How does the curatorial as such affect, create and translate (subjective) perspectives into different settings? Notions of display, networks and a global public are at stake here – and a specific type of un/translatable view, reflecting on the performativity of curatorial practice.

Just this performative approach on the curatorial serves as the core concept here. Understanding every exhibition as a curatorial act that gathers different relations, voices and views, an exhibition cannot be reduced to a representative statement, but a presentation in flux: It evolves with different perspectives acting on it and is articulated through various media. This moment of inherent transformation according to a subject’s perspective is what questions an exhibition’s potential of being translated into a globally standardised format.

Following these arguments, the transdisciplinary collective A.R.practice (Ann Richter and Agnieszka Roguski) merges methodologies of graphic design and curation. It focuses on formats of visual display and critically explores their ways of becoming public, traversing different media and, thus, staging different views. In 2015, A.R. practice realised the project “ON VIEW – interferences of digital and physical re-/presentations”, an interlinkage between online exhibition and the material exhibition space at KV–Kunstverein Leipzig. Their current project “SUBJECTIVE SCENERIES” (tbp) focuses on the question of subjectivity in relation to the supposedly objective exhibition documentation. The book publication represents the next step in the process of transferring the medium of the exhibition into different spaces – now occupying the space of a book – and examining the question of format in terms of its visual performance.

Agnieszka Roguski is a Berlin-based curator (Kunstverein Leipzig, Torrance Shipman Gallery New York City, WATTIS Institute San Francisco, PRAXES Center of Contemporary Art Berlin) and writer (Texte zur KunstSpike Art MagazineCamera AustriaEikonSpringerin). She is a PhD candidate at Freie University Berlin and was an associate member of the PhD programme “The Photographic Dispositif” at Braunschweig University of Art, focusing on self-display as curatorial gesture among shifting technologies.

To Speak for the State: Presidential Communications and Operating in the Age of the Algorithmic Social Body

In March 2017, Mocha Uson, a blogger known for spinning propaganda in favor of Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, was banned from twitter for her attempt to make a hashtag trend. The hashtag, #NoToYellowShit, was widely reported by twitter users. While Uson was eventually removed for her use of the term “shit”; to Uson and her followers however, the real offense was in the use of the word “yellow.” Over the years since the fall of the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, and the triumph of his successor Corazon Aquino, the color yellow has gone from being saddled with meaning and mythologies about the triumph of democracy, only to be distilled to a narrative of good vs evil. My proposal involves these terms and images deeply specific to recent political campaigns in the Philippines, campaigns that can be recognized as propaganda in favor of a populist demagogue. Along with the shift in the understanding of the color yellow came a rhetoric of “discipline”, of “change”, of “heroism.” It is in their untranslatability that we now see the roots of a growing rift, complicated further by the media channels used to propagate consumption: through memes and blogs, through content made to go viral. In this age where one’s knowledge of the social world is heavily subjected to the algorithms set through social media, how does this relentless consumption of information, as images and texts, go on to make a world we are (in this case) doomed to share? For future curators and educators in visual culture, especially those studying the Philippines, how do we begin to make sense of this profusion of data produced for and arising from sustaining and maintaining the popularity of the Duterte administration? How can we begin to catalog and archive it?

Alice Sarmiento is an independent curator, writer, founder of feminist collective Grrrl Gang Manila, and lecturer at the University of the Philippines. She would like to take this time to reflect not so much on her own practice but on the time in which she is practicing, and how as a curator, she feels concern for a broader landscape of the visual.

(Un)Translating Ontologies 

My current practice uses the space of the curatorial to question the organisation of knowledge, and the production of disciplinarity, preferring an approach that is in- and anti-disciplinary, to produce new structures for the production and dissemination of knowledge. In this presentation, I will discuss two current projects and the methods employed therein: TheExhaustion Project and The Forest CurriculumThe Exhaustion Project attempts to address the urgent need to develop new mass choreographies which are able to code exhaustion into the process of collective bodily becoming, challenging the unitarity of the body – ie, proposing a body that is not one, thus also inserting into the process of democratic action an alternative cosmological imagination. The project The Forest Curriculum also explores the possibility of navigating multiple ontological positions. The Forest Curriculum addresses the need for a located cosmopolitical imagination of our current ecological era, rejecting the planetarity of the Anthropocene project, and proposing instead to think with the cosmological systems of zomia. This itinerant system of pedagogy proposes to work with academics, film-makers, artists, musicians, activists, students and local stakeholders to produce systems of sharing located knowledges, organised around the issues of a particular location and field of operation. In the moment of the crisis of the liberal university, under attack from fascist and neo-liberal forces, the Curriculum proposes a model of nomadic, para(sitic) institutionality that works through furthering entanglement and creating situations of mutual stakeholding of knowledge. Structured around a lexicon and a bestiary, whose denizens haunt, navigate and interfere in the choreographies of knowledges that the project composes, the Curriculum exists and grows through each iteration and deployment, by orchestrating situations of mutual co-learning. Each iteration oozes into the project, and entangles it into every successive deployment, creating transversal networks across zomian fields.

Abhijan Gupta is an independent curator and writer, and with Pujita Guha, the co-director of The Forest Curriculum. His practice examines the construction and production of knowledge in different contexts, and uses the spaces of the curatorial to produce modes of indisciplinary thought. Previously, he has worked with the Dhaka Art Summit and the Samdani Art Foundation; Bellas Artes Projects, Manila; Council, Paris; the Majlis Cultural Centre, Mumbai, and the Asia Art Archive. He is currently a fellow of the Forecast Platform at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.

Editing as Translating: Notes on Videos from This Woman: Performance Documentation 1997-2010

Taking as a point of departure her editorial work in the publication "Videos from This Woman: Performance Documentation 1997-2010", throughout her presentation Florencia Portocarrero will reflect on the process of editing as an act of translation. Videos from This Woman: Performance Documentation 1997-2010 is the first critical and long-overdue revision of the work of the artist Elena Tejada-Herrera and results from the exhibition of the same name that took place at Proyecto AMIL (Lima, Peru, 2016). The book compiles, for the first time, the work of Tejada-Herrera through an extensive portfolio specially created by the artist and includes unpublished essays by Florencia Portocarrero, the artist Armando Andrade Tudela, and the curator Miguel A. López. The book also presents a dossier of texts by the artist (originally circulated as an independent edition in 1999) and a conversation between Tejada-Herrera, the visual anthropologist Karen Bernedo, the artist Claudia Coca, and the performer, teacher and cultural promoter, Lorena Peña. Portocarrero’s presentation will be accompanied by a two-minute-video intervention by Elena Tejada-Herrera herself, in which the artist will also share some ideas about the translation process that implies bringing together the work on video produced during a life time in the format of a book.

Florencia Portocarrero is a researcher, writer, and curator based in Lima. From 2012-13 she participated in the De Appel Curatorial Programme in Amsterdam and in 2015 completed an MA in contemporary art theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. From 2017-18 she held a grant of KfW Stiftung for the curator-in-residence programme “Curating Connections” in collaboration with DAAD Artists-in-Berlin programme. Her writings on art and culture appear in contemporary art magazines such as Atlántica JournalArtishock, and Terremoto. In Lima she works as a public programme curator at Proyecto AMIL, and is a co-founder of the independent art space Bisagra.

Carolina Cerón works and lives in Bogotá, Colombia. She holds a BFA from the art programme of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, a postgraduate diploma in design of exhibition formats of the Elisava School, Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and a MA in Culture Industry from Goldsmiths College, London University. She is currently assistant professor at the Universidad de los Andes and has been associate professor in the cultural management department at Universidad EAN in Bogotá. She is interested in initiatives on experimental ephemera and alternative sites for curatorial discourse. She also performs, from an eminently self-reflexive position, the task of organising, exposing, interpreting, curating, reading and writing about art.

Programme Management

Daniela Leykam

Photo credits:

01. Image: Source: KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Laura Fiorio
02. Image: Source: KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Laura Fiorio
03. Image: Source: Sa Sa Art Projects / KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Chhum Phanith
04. Image: Source: KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Malina Lauterbach
05. Image: Source: KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Laura Fiorio
06. Image: Source: KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Malina Lauterbach
07. Image: Source: Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai, Author / Photographer: Liberty Event Management
08. Image: Source: KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Malina Lauterbach
09. Image: Source: Sa Sa Art Projects / KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Chhum Phanith
10. Image: Source: Sa Sa Art Projects / KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Chhum Phanith
11. Image: Source: Sa Sa Art Projects / KfW Stiftung, Author / Photographer: Chhum Phanith