News : 2015/12

Critical Writing Ensembles at the Dhaka Art Summit

Published 2015/12/21

From a performance within Vivan Sundaram’s project '409 Ramkinkars' at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in 2015. Performance directed by Anuradha Kapur, with a script by Belinder Dhanoa. Produced by Vivadi. Photo by Gireesh GV

Norsk versjon


Critical Writing Ensembles

As part of the Dhaka Art Summit 2016

3–4 and 7–8 February 2016

Dhaka, Bangladesh

To reshape some histories, to bring back the forgotten others, to reassess and alter the already hazily known, to redefine some standards of writing and our understanding, thoughts and feelings of an era lost. More importantly, to allow this man to breathe his words […] Memory, collectively lost, can now be somewhat regained.

Pablo Bartholomew, in Richard Bartholomew. The Art Critic (2012), p.633

OCA is pleased to announce ‘Critical Writing Ensembles’ (CWE): a four-day platform of panel discussions, lecture performances, group debates and readings, within the context of the Dhaka Art Summit 2016. The Critical Writing Ensembles will be launched by OCA Director Katya García-Antón (curator of the project) together with Diana Campbell Betancourt (Dhaka Art Summit Artistic Director), and are the result of a collaboration led by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia Chandrika Grover (Head of Liaison Office India) with Diana Campbell Betancourt, Katya García-Antón and Bhavna Kakar (Director, Take on Art Magazine).

CWE will bring together peers from the South Asia region and beyond including artist, writer, researcher and lecturer at The Cass School of Architecture at London Metropolitan, Nabil Ahmed; writer, novelist and Visiting Professor at the Literary Arts programme of Ambedkar University Delhi, Belinder Dhanoa; curator, art historian and Faculty Member of the Art History department in Kalabhavan, Śāntiniketan, Anshuman Das Gupta; art critic Rosalyn D’Mello; curator, writer and Director of YAMA screen in Istanbul, Ovul O. Durmusoglu; artist and writer Mariam Ghani; writer, curator and Director of Mumbai Art Room, Nida Ghouse; artist, curator, contemporary art historian and founding Dean of the School of Visual Art and Design at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Salima Hashmi; India’s foremost art critic and curator Geeta Kapur; curator, writer, translator and lecturer at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Yin Ker; writer, poet and Editor in Chief of Publications, documenta 14, Quinn Latimer; Director of the Tensta Konsthall in Stockholm, Curator of the 2016 Gwangju Biennale, and independent writer and critic, Maria Lind; Professor and Head of the Institute of Art at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel, Chus Martínez; curator, writer and 51st La Biennale di Venezia co-curator Rosa Martínez; writer and editor at Himal Southasian Aunohita Mojumdar; curator, critic and CEO-Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto, Chantal Pontbriand; writer, author and Curator of Public Programmes for documenta 14, Paul B. Preciado; independent curator and publisher and Director and Founder of the publishing house Raking Leaves, Jaffna and New York City, Sharmini Pereira; Editor in Chief of art-agenda Filipa Ramos; Director of the Postgraduate Programme in Curating at the School of Art and Design Zurich (HGKZ), Dorothee Richter; artist and Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Shukla Sawant; critic, art historian and University of Cambridge Research Fellow Devika Singh; Professor of Writing and Theory at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Mike Sperlinger; and Editor of Depart magazine Mustafa Zaman.

Research into the processes and structures that could help to empower writers today has been a part of Katya García-Antón’s curatorial practice in recent years. She was commissioned by Pro Helvetia in 2012–13 to devise a programme for the discussion and activation of critical art writing in Switzerland involving cross-generation peers across the linguistic regions and traditions of the country. CWE has drawn from this valuable experience, repositioning previous thoughts and positing new questions within the context of the Dhaka Art Summit, connecting the histories and currencies of the South Asia region within an international dialogue.

Katya García-Antón comments: 'Such an endeavor is positioned within a local therefore as much as a global framework in more ways than one, for not only is this a project of some urgency regionally, it reminds us of the fact the crisis is a global one. Art writing has for some time endured challenges which vary in nature across the world. In some parts there are less places in which to write critically and experimentally about art and art history, there is less and less financing for this, there is less and less time; in others whilst platforms for writing may actually be on the rise, their value and impact has declined. Writing is by nature a lonely endeavor, but under these conditions art writing is being pushed to the margins and alienated from the central and critical position it should have in our societies, as will the immediate contact it should have with our audiences. If this decline continues, art histories around the world will homogenise and the immense richness and diversity of our cultures, essential to rewrite and reimagine present and past histories, will loose their critical edge as the very voices which should build it, which should experiment it and reinvent it, disappear over time.’

A preamble to the Critical Writing Ensembles in Dhaka was held at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India, on 17–19 December 2015. Entitled 'Critical Writing Ensembles. The Baroda Chapter’, the three-day series of panel discussions, readings and workshops amongst regional peers was organised by TAKE on art Magazine, in partnership with the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and in collaboration with OCA, with support by the Raza Foundation, New Delhi. The segment 'Critical Writing Ensembles. The Baroda Chapter’ constituted part of the 'TAKE on Writing' series and supports the magazine’s investment in sustaining critical writing practices in India. Highlights of the CWE will be brought to Oslo at the beginning of 2017, and include Norway-based writing peers.

In the lead up to the Dhaka Art Summit 2016, Safina Radio Project, the Summit official broadcasting platform, is releasing a series of readings from writers who have been invited to take part in the Critical Writing Ensembles. Safina Radio Project will also provide during the days of the Summit excerpts of CWE presentations and discussions, and a number of on-site interviews addressing both speakers' practice and their engagement with the Critical Writing Ensembles. Click here to listen to Safina Radio Project.

The sessions are open to everyone, no pre-registration is required. For a detailed four-day programme, please click here.

For more information, please contact OCA’s Communication Manager Tara Hassel.

The Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) is the world’s largest non-commercial platform for South Asian art. The third edition will be held from February 5–8 2016 in the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academyin partnership with the country’s National Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. Inviting multiple artists, curators and thinkers who have built exhibitions based on commissioned research and experience within the region, DAS provokes reflections on transnationalism, selfhood and time without being prescriptive or directive. DAS is accepted as the main meeting point for art professionals from the region: coming mostly from Bangladesh over 300 artists, curators, writers and many other art professionals have been invited to participate in the different aspects of the DAS programme, which includes new commissions, curated group exhibitions, talks, performance and film programme, book launches and the Summit’s first historical exhibition, ‘Rewind’. Through the unique format of the Summit, which is not a biennial, not a symposium, not a festival – but rather somewhere in-between and removed from the pressures of the art market – the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy transforms into a generative space to reconsider the past and future of art and exchange within South Asia and the rest of the world.

OCA is a foundation created by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs in 2001 with the aim of developing cultural collaborations between Norway and the international arts scene. OCA aims to become one of the main organs in the international contemporary arts debate through initiatives such as exhibitions, seminars and publications, as well as by providing support to Norwegian artists for their activities in the international art arena, and by inviting international curators and artists to Norway. OCA has been responsible for Norway's contribution to the visual arts section of La Biennale di Venezia since 2001.

Thinking at the Edge of the World. Perspectives from the North

Published 2015/12/21

Willem Barents's map of the northern area, 1598–99. The drawing was exhibited at the North Cape Museum in 2010 on loan from Erling Walsøe. Courtesy of Erling Walsøe.

Norsk versjon


Thinking at the Edge of the World. Perspectives from the North

A cross-disciplinary research project initiated by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre gate 7, 0551 Oslo I

OCA is pleased to announce 'Thinking at the Edge of the World. Perspectives from the North' an ongoing project initiated in 2015 within the OCA’s 'Notations' series, researching the cultural history of Northern Norway, and developed in collaboration with local protagonists during 2016 and 2017. The project will manifest itself in various forms and locations across Norway (notably Svalbard, Karasjok and Oslo) and beyond – including international conferences and artist residencies across Northern Norway, as well as new art, exhibitions, various forms of documentations and writing commissioning.

Highlights in this project include establishing a temporary OCA office in Tromsø during 2016, under the auspices of The Cultural Business Development Foundation SpareBank 1 Nord-Norge, as well as organising an international, cross-disciplinary conference titled 'Thinking at the Edge of the World' (12-13 June 2016) in collaboration with Northern Norway Art Museum (NNKM), Tromsø, in the Kunsthall Svalbard. The conference will bring together international figures from the fields of art, psychology, philosophy, history, science and law. Further details of the project´s programme will be announced shortly.

'Thinking at the Edge of the World' is structured through regional and international dialogue as well as partnerships (institutional and individual), and includes invitations to artists and intellectuals to visit and think about the region, considering it a unique vantage point from which to reflect upon the environmental, aesthetic, architectural, economic, political and scientific forces that are shaping the North of Norway and its relationship to the world.

The Arctic region, in particular that of Norway, sits at the heart of heated as well as inspiring discussions of scenarios for possible futures. Scientists tell us that that the latent forces released by melting ice into in the frozen North would be enough to power the world’s cities for many generations; that global warming is forming navigation channels across the so-called Arctic Highway; and that the geography of India, Bangladesh and China, among other nations, will be affected with dramatic force resulting in harsh consequences upon their social and economic framework.

'Thinking at the Edge of the World' addresses some of the wider implications of these changes in the North of Norway, and invokes the innovative thinking that being at the edge of the world induces for the world at large. How are frontiers questioned from an Arctic vantage point, and how might this questioning catalyse new thinking regarding territory, power and resource exploitation? Could concepts of society, aesthetics and community explored during the nineteenth and twentieth century – often led by artists and intellectuals from Norway and its indigenous communities – be sought again to enlighten this debate? Will the Arctic become, due to the increasing desertification in the South, the new garden of the globe for food production and distribution?

These questions and the subsequent narratives of a developing future are rooted in the unfolding physical forces embedded in the North. However they also interlock with a wider past of myths and legends, a storytelling deeply connected to the region, its exploration, exploitation, accessibility and aesthetic history, as well as forthcoming issues of trade, transportation and security.

'Thinking at the Edge of the World' explores therefore the poetic and innovative impact on artistic and other disciplinary forms of thought that the extreme location of Northern Norway provides. In particular the project focuses on the relationship between art, the environment and activism in Arctic Norway as well as its northerly neighbours, in order to highlight the global impact of these issues over time. Mindful of the conflicted history and currency of the notion of territory and resources, the project explores their relationship to indigenous communities, their environments, culture and contemporary perspectives – in particular the history and present of the Sami communities inhabiting Northern Norway, but also Sweden, Finland and Russia. From this vantage point, ‘Thinking at the Edge of the World’ seeks to contextualise these questions in order to shift them beyond a purely local understanding, linking them with synergic issues found in diverse geographies and communities around the globe.

For more information, please contact OCA’s Communication Manager Tara Hassel.

OCA's 'Notations' unfolds as a series of programmatic activities – performing, writing, thinking, fragmenting, exhibiting, moving, eating and socialising – that explore the desire for the institution to reflect upon the potential for artistic practice as an alchemical sphere of public action.

OCA Welcome Back Party

Published 2015/12/14

Photo: Geir Haraldseth

A party by Geir Haraldseth and Trollkrem
Music by DJ Syk Tariq

Thursday, 7 January 2016 / 20:00–23:00

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre gate 7, 0551 Oslo I

Welcome back to the future!
Your Annual Report 2015 with Office for Contemporary Art Norway

Are you your best self? The distance is short from a New Year's resolution to a culture of contemporary art where it is required to appear successful, even perfect, which constitutes a burden for each and everyone of us. We all know this. Those who fall, fall hard. Trollkrem knows this. Part of the reason may be that you are blaming yourself for your shortcomings. Geir Haraldseth knows this. If you picture your life as a home improvement project, failure will rear its ugly head and you feel solely responsible.

Come share your fall from grace with us on 7 January and discover that 2016 will be your best yet. We offer makeovers, drinks you've never tasted before, drinks you have tasted before, new talent (at bargain prices), New Year's bargains, one last dance before the return to your studio, and one last chance to meet Santa Claus before he is off again. Remember; it is almost a year until next time.

You now have the opportunity to dig deep into your emotional baggage and transform it into gold before entering the new year!!

– Geir Haraldseth