press release

Now What? Dreaming a better world in six parts is a project with a multi-faceted format consisting of six autonomous parts taking place simultaneously at various locations in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Now What?... explores the power of the imaginary and the potential of dreaming a better world. Each of the six parts investigates these issues from a particular perspective, and takes different forms, such as exhibitions, performances, and conversations. The project includes the publication of a newspaper and a book of artists’ writings.

The general optimism of the 1990s, linked to the end of Communism in Europe, the proliferation of technologies such as the Internet, and the globalization of economic markets, seems to have been replaced by a feeling of disillusionment. The collapsing promise of global mobility and economic well being, as well as the growing influence of right-wing thinking around the world have all contributed to such sentiments. The violent consequences of capitalist neo-liberal supremacy and fundamentalist thinking, reinforced in particular by the events of 9/11, have caused enormous changes in the global political climate. We feel that these new conditions present art with a fresh urgency to create a space for imagining things differently.

We would like to explore the capacity of art (as one of the conceptually rich terrains where imaginative thoughts can be mediated, discussed, and tested) to envision the political potential of dreaming. Is it not from dreams that society can be made? ‘Now What?…’ poses this question in order to encourage a discourse on these issues particularly in our immediate (European) environment. The project is our attempt to support visionary thinking through the language of art in an intentionally inconclusive, open process of striving forward.

BAK, basis voor actuele kunst provides a base from which each part of the project unfolds through the experimental collaboration of a number of invited artists, curators, and partners from other disciplines.

part one On Hope and Other Misunderstandings exhibition curated by Maria Hlavajova (artistic director, BAK) The exhibition looks at the notion of hope as dreaming forward. The works in the exhibition search for ways of emancipating ourselves from the current situation, and point towards the imaginary potentialities for tomorrow. On the other hand, the exhibition also explores the struggle of encountering the side of hope readily claimed by manipulative ideologies and dubious promisses. participating artists: Kamal Aljafari, Weronika Althamer, Yael Davids, Gerrit Dekker, Gelatin, Sanja Ivekovic, Július Koller, Denisa Lehocká and Boris Ondreicka, Deimantas Narkevicius, Maria Pask, Willem de Rooij and Jane Ostermann-Petersen, Bojan Sarcevic, Jaan Toomik, Lois and Franziska Weinberger

part two Fantastic Prophecy exhibition curated by Annie Fletcher (curator, Amsterdam) and Liutauras Psibilskis (curator, Vilnius) The exhibition ‘Fantastic Prophecy’ acknowledges the production of fantasy as an articulation of interior life, while exploring its generative and visionary nature, and its potential to influence reality. participating artists: Heather Allen, Fabienne Audéoud and John Russell, Tobias Bernstrup, Phil Collins, Paddy Jolley and Reynold Reynolds, Katarina Löfström, Janice McNab, Arturas Raila, Francesco Vezzoli

part three The World Question Center (Reloaded) public performance curator Jens Hoffmann (curator, Berlin) In order to revisit Byars’ performance ‘World Question Center’ (1969) today, the artists, curators and all the other participants in ‘Now What?…’ have collectively created a list of brilliant minds of our time. In a public performance these individuals are contacted and asked to pose questions through which to grasp the current state of knowledge and concerns about the world.

part four Forward Thinking a series of conversations about dreaming a better world Ole Bouman, Hilde de Bruijn, Ann Demeester, Jellichje Reijnders en Marieke van Rooy invited the following professionals: Michelle Provoost, Apolonija Sustersic, Katie Holten, Piet Joostens, Dennis Kaspori, Lev Manovich, Jennifer Mojica, Vita Zaman, Arun Saldanha, Keith Tester.

part five The Projection newspaper edited by Anke Bangma (director, Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam) The paper explores the cultural and social implications and potential of dreaming from the perspective of projection. Projection involves the internal processes of dreaming, fantasizing and imagining, but also immediately implies an act of externalization and visualization - a projection into the world. Realized in collaboration with Piet Zwart Institute and European Cultural Foundation.

part six Now What? Artists Write! book with artists’ writings edited by Mark Kremer (curator, Amsterdam), Annie Fletcher, and Maria Hlavajova ‘Now What? Artists Write!’ presents a collection of new texts written by artists. Approximately twenty international artists, one third of whom are based in the Netherlands, have been invited to engage with the subjects they deal with in their artistic practice on one hand, and on the other, with the themes that permeate the project ‘Now What? Dreaming a better world in six parts’.