press release

The Utopian Display is a lecture series, in its second edition, held at NABA - Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti di Milano from February to May 2005. The lectures, organised by Marco Scotini and Maurizio Bortolotti, seek to investigate contemporary exhibition models, focusing attention on the potential relationships between artistic and social spheres.

The value of such a discussion is based on the conviction that, in the last ten years, the artistic debate has developed through the production of exhibitions on a global scale. These expositions are also considerations of the idea of display, a deconstruction of roles and of exhibition contexts, creating models or alternative platforms to the traditional practice of exhibiting works of art.

The examination of exhibition models through which ideas of contemporary works of art are built and established is fundamental to the comprehension of current artistic debate. The question of “utopian display” can therefore have a provocative value, but also reveals the many facets of the problem and the different meanings that the production of exhibitions can have. Is an exhibition real or virtual? Or is it a conditional space?

The contemporary artistic panorama is affected by the increasing emergence of diverse cultures on the worldwide scene and the relationship with the increasing complexity of artistic work, presenting multiple levels of understanding, following differentiated paths. A possible approach to further understanding in the field of contemporary art is certainly determined by the acknowledgement of different curatorial approaches, which, for their part, try to define and converge understanding.

The title, The Utopian Display, seeks to be a focal point around which to extend discourse on contemporary artistic practice and, at the same time, question the numerous possible interpretations that the invited curators intend to give to their work. In this way, the definition of “utopian display” is intended as something that expresses the political ideas or the imagination and the liberation of the individual in an artistic sphere, or it can be interpreted as “ideal” exhibition that each curator has as a model, or something else altogether.

The title also intends to offer a point of reference for reflection on contemporary curatorial debate that does not separate theory from practice and goes right in the heart of this activity. As such, the series aims to provide some guiding principles to the understanding of contemporary discourse in the arts, which is affected by, and at the same time affects, the organisation of exhibitions.

The primary objective of this conference series is to attempt to trace a map of contemporary curatorial activity, with an enquiry into the current artistic landscape. We have therefore chosen the work of cartographers, through which we have sought to identify a series of curatorial directions. In the first series of conferences we identified at least three directions. All these converge and touch the definition of “utopian display”, assuming the following connotations: political, aesthetic, imaginary. In “political”, utopia is a place of art in which to experiment with different forms of social relations.

Politically, utopia is a place of art in which one is experimenting with new ways of creating social relationships between people and their consequent political actions. In this “aesthetic”, utopia takes the ideal of works of art that pass through the personal sensitivity of the curator, and that find a point of reference and interaction in “sensitive perception” within context. In “imaginary”, utopia is a less focused field in which works of art meet imaginary thoughts that push contemporary society to transformation, becoming a strong source of meaning.

After the success of last year’s lecture series with the participation of Carlos Basualdo, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Pier Luigi Tazzi and Daniel Birnbaum, this year The Utopian Display sees the participation of Catherine David, Vasif Kortun, Hou Hanru, Jens Hoffmann and Roger M. Buergel, from February to May 2005. The guests represent interesting and innovative figures in the current panorama and will be invited to reflect upon the changes happening in the international artistic scene over the last few years.

The conference series is also an educational support for the Department of Visual Arts at NABA.

Roger M. Buergel Roger M. Buergel was born in West Berlin in 1962. He was in charge of the cinema programme at the Department of History at the University of Vienna and was researcher at MIT in Boston and at UC Berkeley. From 2001 he has been Professor at the University of Luneburg in Germany. He is author of Abstrakter Expressionismus. Konstruktionen ästhetischer Erfahrun, an anthology on postwar American painting. He has curated various exhibitons including Governmentality. Art in conflict with the international hyper-bourgeoisie and the national petty-bourgeoisie, 2000; The Subject and Power (the lyrical voice), 2001; Formen der Organisation (with Ruth Noack), 2003; Die Regierung/ The Government, 2003 (traveling exhibition: University Art Gallery Lunenburg; Macba, Barcelona; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Secession, Vienna, until 2005). He was nominated Director of the forthcoming art exhibition Documenta di Kassel to be held in 2007.

Catherine David Catherine David was born in Paris in 1954, and currently lives and works in Rotterdam. From 1981 to 1990 she was curator at Centre Georges Pompidou. From 1990 to 1997 she was curator at the Galerie nazionale de Jeu de Paume, from 2002 Director of the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. She has taught at L’Ecole du Louvre and at the University of Paris X, Nanterre. She is author of various texts and publications on Wifredo Lam, Helio Oiticica, Tunga, Cildo Meireles, Bruce Nauman, Nanni Moretti, Jeff Wall, and Choreh Feydjou. She has curated numerous exhibitions such as: Reinhard Mucha, 1986; L’epoque, la morale, la passion (with Bernard Blistène and Alfred Pacquement), 1987; Marcel Broodthaers, 1991; Eva Hesse, 1993; Documenta X Kassel, 1997; Contemporary Arab Representations (travelling exhibition), 2003.

Vasif Kortun Vasif Kortun is director of the Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center. He was the founding director of the Istanbul Museum of Contemporary Art (2000-2003) project and head curator and director of the 3rd Istanbul International Biennale. Between 1994 and 1997 Kortun was director of the Museum for the Center for curatorial Studies, Bard College. In 2005 he was co-curator of the 9th Istanbul Biennale with Charles Esche. His writings and interviews in recent years have been published in Mars, NU, Flash Art, Art Asia Pacific. Art Journal, New Art Examiner, Contemporary, Ars Atlantic and other international journals. He has collaborated with the 48th Biennale in Sao Paolo, the 2nd Biennale in Johannesburg, Manifesta 2, 48th Biennale in Venezia, Zeitwenden, How Latitudes Become Forms and many other catalogues. He was one of the curators of Fresh Cream:10 curators 100 Artists (Phaidon Press 2000). Kortun was a Guest Professor at HISK/Higher Institute for Fine Arts, Anversa, and the Academia of Fine Arts in Helsinki at Konsftacck, Stockholm.

Hou Hanru Hou Hanru was born in Guangzhou in 1963. since 1990 he lives and works in Paris as a curator and independent critic. He is Professor at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam and membe of the Global Advisory Committee of Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He has curated or co-curated the following exhibitions: 2001: "Asian Party, Global Game", ARCO, Madrid; 2001/2000: "Paris Pour Escale", Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris; "My Home is yours, Your home is mine", Samsung Museum, Seoul; Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo; 2000: Shanghai Biennale; "Leaving The Island", Pusan, Korea; 1999: The French Pavilion at the Paris Biennale 1999/98/97; "Cities on the Move ", Secession, Vienna; CAPC, Bordeaux, France; PS1, New York, Louisiana Museum, Denmark; The Hayward Gallery, London; Kiasma Museum, Helsinki; 1997: "Hong Kong, etc.", Johannesburg Biennale; "Parisien(ne)s", Camden Arts Centre, London; "Out of the Centre - Chinese contemporary art" (1994, Pori Art Museum, Pori, Finland). He collaborates with the following journals: Time Asia, Art Monthly, Third Text, Art and Asia Pacific, Flash Art, Atlantica, Texte Zur Kunst.

Jens Hoffmann Jens Hoffmann is director of Exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. He was curator of the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art in Helsinki and curator of the Kunst- Werke in Berlin and Guest Professor at the all’Instituto Superior de Arte de L’Avana. Among the exhibitions and projects he has curated: Berlin/Berlin, 1st Biennale in Berlin (1998); Blown Away – 6th Caribbean Biennial, St. Kitts (1999); A Show That Will Show That A Show Is Not Only A Show, Los Angeles (2002); Manifesta 4, Frankfurt (2002); 1ª Biennale di Prague, Prague (2003). He recently completed the online project The Next Documenta should Be Curated by an Artist for e-flux. He regularly collaborates with the journals Trans, NU, Flash Art.

Marco Scotini Marco Scotini is an art critic and independent curator. He lives between Florence and Milan, is Professor of Art History and Coordinator of the Visual Arts department at NABA. He collaborates with Flash Art, Tema Celeste and other journals in the field. Among recent exhibitions he has curated are Beautiful Banners, Prague 2003, Empowerment, Genoa 2004, Revolutions Reloaded, Milan – Berlin 2004, Produciendo Realidad, Lucca 2004, Disobedience, Berlin 2005. Presently he is working on Accion Directa, for the second edition of the 2005 Prague Biennale. In addition he is responsible for the Gianni Colombo Archive in Milan.

Maurizio Bortolotti Maurizio Bortolotti is an art critic and curator. He collaborates with the department of Sociology at the University of Urbino. He lives between Brescia and Milan and is the author of the volume Il critico come curatore (2003). With Stefano Casciani he curated an anthology of writings by Pierre Restany in Pierre Restany. Il critico come artista (2004). He led the international seminars Art Experience for Domus Academy and collaborates with the magazine Juliet e Domus.

Milan, 14 December 2004

All the lectures will be held at NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Via Darwin 20, 20143 Milano, in the Magna Classroom – at 17.30pm. The lectures are free and open to the public.


NABA presents
Lectures on contemporary exhibition activity
Kuratoren: Marco Scotini, Maurizio Bortolotti

16.2.05 Catherine David
23.3.05 Hou Hanru
13.4. Jens Hoffmann
4.5.05 Roger M. Buergel
11.5.05 Vasif Kortun