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Live Coverage: Witte de With conference on "Hybrid Ecologies and Audiences Today," Sat., Dec. 6


Slash: Hybrid Ecologies and Audiences Today
Saturday, December 6, 2014, 1–6 pm, Auditorium, Witte de With

Taking Dutch-born, Beijing-based curator/dealer/art historian/artist/translator/publisher Hans van Dijk (1946–2002)—currently the subject of Witte de With’s exhibition Dai Hanzhi: 5000 Artists—as a point of departure, this symposium will investigate what happens when cultural sector divisions, such as public/private, commercial/not-for-profit, academic/non-academic and so forth, bleed. Although the latest financial crisis has passed, a new generation of cultural producers and institutions has come of age in this downturn.

Six years on, now is the time to take stock of how these initiatives, particularly those led by artist- or writer-led startups, have scaled. To this end, Witte de With hosts a convocation of artists, thinkers, and producers currently engaged in these newer platforms—spanning artistic practice, exhibition- and institution-making, education, publishing, and others—to discuss how novel, and at times heterodox, modes of address, support, and management have reshaped, for better and for worse, the ways ideas spread. With a keen eye and ear to the past, the day is punctuated by a series of “case study” presentations, which each revisit the design, means, and context of related historical endeavors from several different periods and places.

Orit Gat, the managing editor of WdW Review, will provide live coverage of this event for e-flux conversations.

The program will consist of a series of short lectures by the following guest speakers: Toke Lykkeberg (Freelance Curator & Critic, DEN); LuckyPDF (Artist Collective, UK); Mohammad Salemy (Programmer, The New Centre for Research and Practice, IR); Ben Eastham (Co-Founder & Editor, The White Review, UK) and Sandra Terdjman (Co-Founder, The Council, FR).

The program will also feature case studies by three participants of the Gallerist Programme of de Appel arts centre: Rose Lejeune (Curator, UK); Raphael Linsi (Artist and Curator, SUI) and Anna Buyvid (Curator & Critic, RUS).

More information:


Read the PDF of the event program here:


We start with an introduction from Defne Ayas, director of Witte de With. Today’s gathering takes its inspiration from the Dutch art historian, indexer, collector, furniture maker, Hans van Dijk, the subject of the exhibition here at Witte de With, who wasn’t really known here in the Netherlands since most of his work was done in China.

Adam Kleinman, chief editor of Witte de With Review: We’ve divided everyone into two streams: one is people who started institutions, question them, and so on. Each fulfill a different role–publishing, institutions, artists. The second stream grounds this in history–three talks that look at older events from a historical perspective.




Hi all – be sure to check out the livestream of the conference [on Witte de With’s website here][1]. Orit will be with us 1-6pm GMT+1.

Happy conferencing!


First up is Toke Lykkeberg discussing the post-commercial state of the art world.
Wittgenstein pointed out that the meaning of a word is its use. Do we need to invent new words or new uses?

The words “commercial,” “noncommercial,” and “independent” are abused. They give themselves over to describe everything in the art world. These adjectives represent a worldview that does not match the art world per se: the ideal and the real do not unify.
In 2009 Tykkeberg founded an art space in Copenhagen called IMO. Why should an artist-run space be noncommercial? How to make that distinction? And so we defined IMO as “postcommercial.”
Does money corrupt art? It also nourishes it. This paradox is at the very source of our contemporary conception of art.

What is the discourse against the commercial in the art world like?
Lykkeberg: “Because art has to be in opposition to capitalism, we talk so much about capitalism, that we end up saying nothing about art.”


Mental structure organizing how we think of art and the art world: commercial / non-commercial


In cinema “independent” means non-commercial.
The independent curator is dependent on institutions–the “multidependent” curator who has a lot of small clients. That’s because there is a synergy to being multidependent: the alternative is a one-resource economy. If you’re an agent in the art world, there is no such thing as independence: the idea and ideal of independence is an update of older ideas about freedom. Our contemporary ideal of independence is closer to an older negative concept of independence–to be free from rather than free to.


Rose Lejeune on Colin de Land and American Fine Arts. Can a gallery be off-center? Be a non-opposition between the commercial and the non-commercial? American Fine Arts was a few blocks away from the other galleries in Chelsea, for example. De Land set up Arts Club 2000 with seven Cooper Union Students as a kind of institutional critique for his own institution.
“The shows were regressive, and strange, and funny, and poor. Plus all my friends were there” says Dennis Balk. “Colin had no money, so it felt okay that nobody else did either.”


LuckyPDF: John Hill and James Early
What does it mean to build a platform for the work that you do?
“We started immediately after the financial crash and there was then a culture of having to produce your own project in order to show your work. In that context, galleries weren’t taking risks so we had to make our own format. We tried to create a framing device for the conversations happening among the people around us.”

Your peer group is a legitimate one—you don’t need a review beyond your peer review.


Have we failed in our thinking about the internet?
Mohammed Salemy calls for a better way to describe “internet,” which is too simple a term for a complex phenomenon. It downplays spatial phenomena. We need a new term. The term I use as the “telecomputational space.” What’s amazing about the telecomputational space is on how many locals and globals are dragged in and produce at the same time. By merging two different sets of technology: telecommunication and computation we get the internet. The internet changes the way we conceive of knowledge, and so it is immediately political.

How do we conceive of the connections that can be made between platforms as a pedagogical space? Utilize each for its strength and the ubiquity of internet interfaces to pass on what we do. We at Fixing the Future don’t shy away from the fact that the YouTube logo is atop one of our seminars or that conversations around what we do happen on social media.


When artists and writers meet up, all they talk about is money. When bankers hang, they talk about art.


I often get really frustrated when people interchange using the term “the web” and “the internet” because of the over-simplification expressed above. The web - as prolly many already know - is just one facet of all of the various technological manifestations of the internet. (As an aside the web is also becoming increasingly one of the smallest components of all the traffic on the internet). To reduce technological differentiations between one manifestation of the internet from another is to perpetuate the mystification of network technology as a “natural” thing (ala Barthes).

So, in other words, specifying vernacular is essential. Glad to see it being worked out.


The artist edition: Building markets from scratch?
Raphael Linsi: “I came up with the idea because I was running a space that produced editions from each project in order to fund the institutions. Of course that didn’t work.”

What is the economic role of something like Lumas Gallery? An outstanding example of the absence of aura.


Ben Eastham: “The Little Magazine.”
“When I say that the White Review is a little magazine I don’t mean it as a form of self-deprication, but as a specific type of cultural institution that has its own space, role, and value. Maybe the White Reivew could be considered what Toke Lykkeberg described earlier today as the postcommercial sphere.”

Early on, The White Review editors were interviewed by Bookforum. In that piece, they discussed their magazine as a way to build a hybrid model, which was necessary to help books survive. Eastham: “I want to point out and surprise myself: I wasn’t giving an ideological reason, but an economic one.”

There was something inescapably perverse about setting up a magazine 18 months after the financial crisis. The economic model by which the mainstream publishing industry operated was breaking down. The industry changed because it couldn’t accommodate a technological shift that it didn’t consider or prepare for. The White Review came up with a hybrid model: economically, but also based upon engaging other sectors of the cultural industry, beyond the literary world. How to co-opt the relative economic health of the art world?

Why are we so accustomed to the fact that the art world brings in so many works from other cultural spheres? When publishing was the strongest economic cultural player, you didn’t see Penguin program contemporary dance.

What is the tension between being in the margins and professionalizing? Is it art or is it work? At the risk of taking the easy way out, a little magazine is both art—“a pure and purely unnecessary (in the sense of not being directly useful to the reproduction of biological life and material needs) contemplation of essential, fundamental problems”—and work, in that it has a budget, pays its writers, and collaborate with its participants. Not pay writers so little that it’s exploitative nor so much that it could be a professional decision to write for it, but rather, use it to experiment.


TOTART group, “Planting an avant-garde alley,” 1982.

From Anna Buyvid on Soviet artist-run galleries.


“We may overuse the term representation a lot, but we find it useful because it includes politics and art.”

Sandra Terdjman delineates working process on a project at Ashkal Alwan in Beriurt: “Sexual intercourse against nature” article 534 of the Penal Code in Lebanon. Saying “we cannot change the legislation at the moment but what we can do is bring in an awareness of the term ‘nature’ in order to find a way around legislation.”


Right now in the Q&A session John Hill from LuckyPDF just said “I don’t think there is any ‘space’ on the internet. Space is not the best metaphor.” So still building on that discussion on the internet. “There is no modules of maneuver on the internet” (Toke Lykkeberg).