Lecture & debate series Art & Crisis

July and August 2020
Grand Theatre, Groningen, Netherlands
In the frame of NorderZomerProgramma.

What does one see, experience ánd make in a world in crisis; a world in uncertainty or one that changes drastically (voluntary or not voluntary)? In the lecture series Art & Crisis we present you four lectures and a final debate. Moderator and historian Jelte Posthumus talks to a variety of national and international guests. Together with the – limited – audience, they investigate the effects of crises on art(worlds), our culture and society from different perspectives.

#1 The Antropocene (July 22)

Humans shape the world. There is less and less where we as species don’t have an influence on, consciously or unconsciously, due to the consequences of our (in)actions. This show the exceptional ability and inability of man, and at the same time carries enormous responsibility. The proclamation of the Anthropocene – the Age of Humans – is accompanied by the call for a new consciousness. What role can imagination play in an era where the vision of the future is so often so negative?

Main guest: cultural sociologist Ruben Jacobs

Ruben Jacobs is a cultural sociologist and writer. In his latest book, “Artonauts: on an expedition in the Anthropocene,” Jacobs writes how artists use science and technology to re-examine man’s relationship with the earth. He is a lecturer and researcher at HKU, publishes essays on artistry, humanity and our unsustainable lifestyle, and is currently working on a book about a world beyond growth.

Second guest: Artist & designer Maria Koijck

Since 2008, designer and artist Maria Koijck has devoted her work to the then still relatively unknown global problem of plastic soup. She made dozens of (inter)national community art projects with waste, including Petty de Zwaan (2009, consisting of a steel frame and 15,000 PET bottles), Wil De Orka on the Vismarkt (from street waste) and a Flamingo on Bonaire (2018, made of washed-up slippers, shoes and other plastics), it contributes to our changing image of waste and the impact that continuous overproduction has on our planet.

#2 Art in times of Corona (July 29)

What does the Corona crisis mean for the art and culture sector, and what does it mean for the makers? Can movements be identified in the nature, quantity, reflectivity or reactivity of art being made today? In this exceptional time nothing is as usual. That feels worrying, but it also shakes up our thinking. It is certain that the pandemic will have a huge impact on a sector that has been under pressure for a long time. How we deal with this will determine the future of culture in the Netherlands.

Main guest: Maarten Doorman, philosopher & endowed professor of Historical Culture

Maarten Doorman is a philosopher, poet, essayist and critic. He teaches philosophy of culture at the University of Maastricht and is endowed professor of Historical Culture of Germany of the Germany Institute Amsterdam at the Free University. He writes about philosophy, literature and history for, among others, de Volkskrant and NRC Handelsblad, and contributed to the ‘Art and crisis’ publication in West The Hague, with the essay ‘The great superfluous’ about the ‘pausing of the arts’ and art as an exercise to deal with uncertainties.

Second guest: Yan Duyvendak, theater maker

Yan Duyvendak was born in the Netherlands, but has lived in Switzerland for decades. He creates performances that push the edges of theater, and mix the theatrical with elements from gaming, justice, flash mobs and real life. Last year he was at Noorderzon with invisible and this year you can participate in the crash test of his latest project VIRUS.

#3 Totalitarian systems (August 5)

Crises are often used to change systems; for the better, but also for the worse. A new batch of dictators is emerging worldwide. Individual freedoms and autonomy are under pressure, but the major pillars of art, journalism and science are also jeopardized. What aspects of our free-spirited life do we (voluntarily) give up and what do we keep fighting for? In a fact-free political system, is there still any room for creativity and the voice of the artist? And what lessons can we learn from populism and the totalitarian history of the 20th century?

Main guest: Samir Gandesha (e.g. book Specters of Fascism)

Samir Gandesha is a professor of Humanities and head of the Institute for the Humanities at Canadian Simon Fraser University. His research field is philosophy of culture in 19th and 20th century Europe, in which he has published in recent years on populism and various historical and theoretical perspectives of fascism.

Second guest: Harry Tupan (Director Drents Museum)

Harry Tupan studied museology at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam and art history and archeology at the University of Groningen. After six years of interim directorship, he became director of the Drents Museum in 2017, where he was involved in the creation of the exhibitions De Kim Utopie and De Soviet Mythe. These exhibitions showed how regimes use socialist-realistic art to form a utopia, and what major role artists were assigned in realizing a mythology that completely idealized society.

#4 Precarity: working in times of crisis (August 12)

Professor of Art and Cultural Philosophy Thijs Lijster discusses work and insecurity in the context of the ongoing struggle between the class that owns and the class that works. Our whole lives revolve around work and production, but the changing organization of labor in today’s economy leads to social insecurity and (self) exploitation. It is precisely the artist, the creative worker, who has played a model role in this. What fundamental injustices are exposing the disruptive effects of the crisis? Is the contemporary Uber driver just as vulnerable as the nineteenth-century day laborer? How will we go towards a path of structural change?

Main guest: Thijs Lijster (teacher of art and culture philosophy, Arts in Society)

Thijs Lijster (1981) is Professor of Philosophy of Art and Culture at the Department of Arts, Culture and Media of the University of Groningen. He studied philosophy in Groningen and New York and obtained his PhD cum laude in 2012 on the philosophy of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. He co-wrote with Jan Sietsma ‘Onder Filosofen’ (2005) and co-edited ‘The New German Philosophy’ (2014) and other books. In 2016, his book “The great flight inwards. Essays on culture in a confusing world was published. This book was nominated for the Socrates wisselbeker and was awarded the 2018 KANTEssay Prize. Early 2019 ‘Look, taste, think. Recently, he wrote ”Unite! Labor in the 21st century”, an essay in the context of New Light. Thijs Lijster has been involved in Noorderzon’s context program for a number of years.

Second guest: Bojana Kunst (philosopher, theoretician, choreographer, drama teacher)

Slovenian Boyana Kunst is a philosopher and theoretician, but also a drama teacher and choreographer. As a professor at the ATW (Institute of Applied Theater Sciences) in Germany, she heads the international Master Choreography and Performance. In addition to “the problem of the body” in theater and dance, she researches gender studies and representation, and how art relates to technology and science. She has written Performance and Labor and Artist at Work – Proximity of Art and Capitalism.

#5 Debate (August 19)

We conclude the Art & Crisis series with a debate. Where are we now, and where can we go? Moderator Jelte Posthumus talks with various (inter)national guests and takes the audience along after a summer full of new insights.

Guests will be announced later.