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Live coverage April 5: Opening program of The School of Redistribution, Athens


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The School of Redistribution is a three-month-long program that investigates the economic conditions that determine the work of small-scale organizations of contemporary art and culture in Athens. It is the first chapter of Future Climates, founded and curated by Antonia Alampi and iLiana Fokianaki, with Evita Tsokanta as head of research.

The opening program of the The School of Redistribution will be held April 5–8, 2017 at State of Concept in Athens. Live coverage of the event will take place here on e-flux conversations and will be provided by the editorial office of the School of Redistribution, which includes Jane Fawcett, Nicolas Legros, Ioli Kavakou, Giulia Palomba, iLiana Fokianaki, Evita Tsokanta, and Antonia Alampi.

One of the main aspects the program will look into is the role of art within today’s economies and capital accumulation. For its opening, artists, academics, curators, and writers will perform and discuss unconventional ways of running, financing and building institutions, networks and organizations for advocacy and support.

Contributors: Alexandra Pirici, Olav Velthuis, Victoria Ivanova, SEP, Emily Pethick, Maria Lind, Angela Dimitrakaki, Julieta Aranda & Anton Vidokle, and Mohammad Salemy.

Below is an abbreviated schedule for the event. For a full schedule, including descriptions of the planned presentations, go here.

Parthenon Marbles by Alexandra Pirici
April 5: 11am at the Acropolis of Athens / 1–3pm at State of Concept
April 7th & 8th: 2-6pm at State of Concept

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5:
3:30–4pm
Antonia Alampi, iLiana Fokianaki, and Evita Tsokanta, From Institution building to Instituting? Time for Redistributing

4–4:40pm
Olav Velthuis, Whitewashing reputations in the contemporary art world

4:40–5:10pm
Respondent: Angela Dimitrakaki and Q&A moderated by Mohammad Salemy

5:20–5:40pm
Victoria Ivanova, Valuing the ways in which we are linked together without being one

5:40–6pm
SEP (Association of Cultural Workers), An(other) Association of Cultural Workers?

6–6:20pm
Emily Pethick, Common Practice, Cluster, and How to Work Together

6:20–6:40pm
Maria Lind, What does an artwork do?

6:40–7:40pm
Q&A moderated by Mohammad Salemy

8pm–8:40pm
Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle, The origins of e-flux: how we got our first spaceship

9pm–1am
Join us and e-flux for drinks—Sound provided by cumulus humilis, Tief Winfried and DJ Scheisswetter

Image: Navine Khan Dossos, study for Navigating the Numbers, 2017. Site specific wall painting in gouache for State of Concept.


#2

Hello everybody! We are about to start in a few minutes with the introduction of the School of Redistribution by its initiators Antonia Alampi, iLiana Fokianaki and the School’s head of Research Evita Tsokanta.


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The discussion is beggining with State of concept’s founder iLiana Fokianaki, that addresses what she calls “the Greek Condition”. iLiana starts by quoting Greek philosopher Kostas Axelos and contours the current condition of the Greek incapacity to nurture art because of the lack of infrastructure. This program is a result of the precarity greeks are facing and iLiana aims to create a connection between the notions of periphery, precariousness and the need to practice art as “anti-culture”. iLiana claims that we are currently in what she calls an “after-precarity” condition where we have accepted precarity and we move within and beyond it without reacting against it. It is no secret that art workers labour and living conditions are uncertain. Through the micro-climate of the artworld within which cultural workers operate Future Climates was born in order to address and map out the insecurity, uncertainty cultural workers are facing. Peripheries can only rise from their status, through political reforms and stabilization something that Greece has not managed to do. Production, consumption and distribution of art in Greece is affected through the fact that it remains a periphery in precarious conditions.


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Antonia Alampi talks about her experience of Beirut in Cairo (and the work of Jens Maier-Rothe and Sarah Rifky) and the Imaginary School Program she directed, to introduce the premises through which Future Climates occured. The School of Redistributions is only the first “chapter” of Future Climates. The project in essence is based on the believe of the necessity of a healthy art ecology in which large institutions and mega exhibitions (that continue to expand and enlarge, increasingly ingesting everything around them and receiving most of the support of both corporate and public funding) take on the responsibility of the survival of smaller ones too, smaller not in terms of research and brain, but simply in terms of economic capacity.

So how can funds and powers be redistributed? Particularly if we believe (as we do) in the necessity of a diverse art system?

In this sense, the project wants to determine new methods, tools, and forms of distribution, to be adopted for trans-national cooperation between art institutions of varying scope and size and geographical locations, towards the creation of an alternative system of advocacy and support (be it legal, economic, social but certainly not merely simbolic). Could we think of new forms of acknowledgment between the brain and the muscle, between the whale and the plankton to paraphrase Maria Lind?

Evita Tsokanta, Head of Research of project, is stating that the School of Redistribution is a claim both in the sense of an assertion as well as that of a demand to present the independent artistic activity in Athens, learn from it and ensure it’s viability and its contents autonomy. Finally acknowledge it as an equal in an international network of similar practices. These practices exist despite but also because of their alternative`; the predominant institutional activity. They act not as competitive opposition but as the liminal space in which ideas are born, art is experimented, labor is redefined and production is proven possible outside the sphere of any logical economic reality. The outcomes are not creatively interior nor ethically superior to the other. They merely co-exist. They must however claim the space that they deserve and the authority that they need to be held accountable for. Not in the hope of them becoming institutionalised but to to ensure they maintain a conscious state of the liminality that gave birth to them.

Evita Tsokanta says that the Athenian liminal space of artistic production is a precious threshold in which the goal of mere existence and the responsibility for consistency must be maintained independent of financial means, international attention or political agendas. Not in a self-indulgentl, naval-gazing manner, but with the sole address of the specific historical, financial, political and most importantly social circumstances that created it. It is exactly those circumstances that it is attempting to illustrate, critique and ultimately structurally affect. Not the other way around.


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We are now continuing with the talk of Olav Velthuis. Olav has requested to do a skype lecture for ecological reasons which we completely support!

Here’s a short bio.

Olav Velthuis is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam. Before, he worked for several years as a Staff Reporter Globalization for the Dutch daily de Volkskrant. He is currently studying the emergence and development of art markets in the BRIC-countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Velthuis is the author of Imaginary Economics (NAi Publishers, 2005) and Talking Prices. Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art (Princeton University Press, 2005). Together with Maria Lind of Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm), he recently edited the book Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios (Sternberg Press, 2012).
His journalistic writings on art markets have appeared in among others Artforum, the Art Newspaper and the Financial Times.


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art world - wealth accumulation - profit

Olav’s concern is that he is observing that the art world has become a convergent machine of regenerating PRECARITY. the economic capital invested by wealthy investors transforms the ecology of the art landscape, the most important sources of visibility and reputation for artists -through taking power in museums, boards, galleries etc etc.

What is interesting about new philanthropists in contemporary art is their bad taste. They think of artworks as assets that are sold even the next day. Olav’s concern is that these processes and new forms of inequality are sustained and amplified.
He is appauled by how little talk there is about the sources of wealth of new philanthropists.

They influence art centers, and what Olav poses is the million dollar question “where does the money come from”.
He is giving the example of big institutions openings, with all the fashion and art crowds coming to these events without ever questioning the source of the income that is actually providing them their champagne.

His research is working on contouring the profiles of the powerful money sources that make the art world go round.


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there are many examples of artists such as Hans Haacke, Andrea Fraser that have called for a full boycott of the institutions that basically support this modus operandi. Many artists decline invitations in participating in such events. One way of actually knowing more on this, is to actually request the sources of money.


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Angela Dimitrakaki is about to take the floor as a respondent to Olav’s talk.
A small intro on Angela you can find below

Angela Dimitrakaki is a writer and Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh, which she joined in September 2007. She is Programme Director of the MSc in Modern and Contemporary Art: History, Curating and Criticism and teaches undergraduate courses on art and its contexts since the 1960s, including on aesthetics, politics and globalisation, feminism and sexual politics. Since her appointment at Edinburgh she has been supervising an average of five doctoral students per year. She works closely with her doctoral students, often collaborating in projects, to enhance art history’s social relevance.

Angela’s academic research focuses on feminist and Marxist methodologies in art history; art and curating in relation to labour, production and reproduction; globalisation and biopolitics; feminist politics and histories; art and culture in the diverse social contexts of post-1989 Europe; lens-based media, the video essay and post-documentary aesthetics; contemporary democracy and fascism. She currently works on two single authored books forthcoming in 2017: Feminism, Art, Capitalism, on the potential and contradictions of feminist politics in art practice and theory today; and The Economic Subjects of Contemporary Art, on artists and curators’ increased emphasis on economic relations since 1989 in an effort to contribute to a trans-disciplinary understanding of art’s complex links with socio-economic processes. She is guest editor, with S. Farris, G. LeBaron and S. Ferguson, of a special issue on Social Reproduction for the interdisciplinary journal Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory forthcoming in 2016. Angela has published widely in academic journals such as Third Text, Oxford Art Journal, Τέχνη και Κριτική [Art and Criticism], n.paradoxa and South, and has contributed to many edited collections.


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Angela warns us: the responses are going to be impromptu. We really need to have this data, and the same time there are certain issues around the framework of this research and one’s political positioning.

There is her positioning (Marxist, feminist) that says there is no good money – she does not believe there can be a betterment of capitalism. It is dangerous to argue about an ethical market, as opposed to one that is run by the mafia of contemporary capitalism oligarchs and so on.

This positioning is different to Olav’s. Going back to the points Olav made in terms of the provenience of money, we mentioned tax evasion, bribery etc. One word stood out in this talk and this is the word “monopoly”, as it is not something we can accuse certain peoples against others, since it is the embodiment of capitalism (whether it is an oligopoly or a monopoly).

We are told that artists can be enterprenerial wizards, but the tendency towards monopoly makes more artists fail.


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Another issue to raise here is the action we need to take against this phenomena.

What type of action? Where she teaches she has students who do come from this context, from institutions that actually support or even come from roots of whitewashing and corruption. We should expand this inquiry and not only look at collectors and the art world or gallery art market, but also the educational part of this funding that is actually infiltrating universities as well, far beyond the art world.


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We can look at other contexts - the one of location - Greece has never had any public funding in terms of art and this need to be understood…

“Let’s not fool ourselves, that art is sustained either through state or through private funding. We are talking about the private funding in Greece. The money is bad here too the money is bad everywhere that’s for sure.” So what to do if the only funding for the arts (and we are talking about miniscule organizations here) comes from private funders?


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Angela wants to make it clear that this is not a position of defeat, we should continue on the criticism, but “I am wondering: if someone offered me a job, someone whose wealth is not too transparent, would i take it? Yes i would i am afraid”

The art system is a funny term and every one is in it! the big museums the biennials the mega exhibitions, a few years back there was a big scandal when the scandal of the Istanbul Biennial broke, when WHW curated the edition.

There is a clash about context and content Angela says and this is the problem that we are all facing in the art world so let’s not fool ourselves!!!


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there needs to be a proper consciousness in terms of geo-power, and run it like this for a while says Angela… Until we win!!

We will be having now a q&a with Mohammad Salemy and the audience, feel free to pose questions


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Mohammad Salemy asks :slight_smile:
If we consider the role of medium or small scale institutions that rely less on “big bad money” like State of Concept, can we actually include them in this discussion?


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For Olav the issue is de-scaling, and the fact that we do not have a large audience as small institutions, we need a re-configuration of the art world.


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Mohammad asks: Could we consider output as a parameter of evaluation even when input is problematic?


#22

The art ecology has not changed since Greenberg says Mohammad and we need to cut the umbilical cord we have with the past in order to change things.


#23

And there is a slide from Olav’s talk