Two key Utrecht-based art institutions, BAK and Centraal Museum explore in the course of 2014–2016, various collaborative possibilities and contribute to rethinking the mission of the art institution in today’s rapidly changing global condition.
The collaboration comprises a parallel and mutually entwined series titled Future Vocabularies—Future Collections. WhileFuture Vocabularies (2014–2016) is a discourse-driven research, learning, exhibition, and publication series aimed at rethinking our conceptual vernaculars in face of changing social, economic, and political contexts today, Future Collections examines various modes of embedding such present-day, future-oriented discourse into the key activity of the museum: that of art collecting.
Future Vocabularies—Future Collections departs from an acknowledgment of the present-day global condition, undergirded by the culture of networks (social, digital, religious, and other) and the proliferation of resistance forms and collective initiatives. Observing new politics and alliances in the streets and collective mobilizations across the world, the program asks how artistic, intellectual, and activist practices might help to build an understanding of the changes this new reality brings for the notions of “audience” and the “public.” Future Vocabularies—Future Collections reflects on the consequences these changes bear on the work of a middle-sized discursive art institution and the museum. Rather than taking the research of “future vocabularies” as a thematic exercise on issues of “survival,” “the posthuman,” or “degrowth,” the program mobilizes it as a methodof acting in the world today. Accordingly, the two institutions seek ways of mutualizing their respective resources of space, time, competencies, knowledges, finances, and other in order to establish a model of sustainable cooperation with these newly evolving “future publics.”
The collaboration between BAK and Centraal Museum has been made possible by the DOEN Foundation, Amsterdam.
Future Vocabularies is a long-term, multifaceted
research, education, exhibition, and publication project through which the
program of BAK unfolds over the course of 2014–2016. Future
Vocabularies both stems from and is developed in parallel to (the
concluding phase of) BAK’s flagship research project FORMER WEST (2008–2015).
The project takes as its point of departure the transitional period in which we
all find ourselves: an intricate moment of parting from the modern under the
pressures of new contemporary realities. Referred to at present as a time of
multiple crises—political, social, environmental, military, aesthetic, and
other—it can in fact be understood as an interval in between two historical
epochs; an interregnum (Antonio Gramsci), so to speak, when
one era has ended but before a new one is born. It is our own time when the
contours of the future seem extant, palpable even, but are yet unsettled and
escape any meaningful synthesis. How can art, then, with its faculty of
imagining and ability to connect to other terrains of thinking and acting—the
terrains of politics, ecology, economics, aesthetics, and other—provide us with
the tools to grasp that which is forthcoming? How might we imagine, and thus
potentially shape, the world to come?
Future Vocabularies is inaugurated with a year-long exploration driven
by an opening vocabulary entry on survival. In order to draw a line
of continuity from BAK’s past and ongoing projects, this foundational sequence
of the series is developed in dialogue with artists, scholars, and activists
from our variety of long-standing collaborations, in order to postulate
propositional research trajectories into how to think—with and through art—about
some of the most urgent issues that define our contemporaneity: the livelihoods
of refugees, the endurability of the planet, and the future of (institutional) infrastructures. From 2015 onwards, the project evolves as a succession of four
additional semesters, brought to life in dialogue with research
fellows—artists, scholars, and activists—who accompany BAK in codeveloping the
semestral agendas. Future conceptual lexicon marked for exploration include
artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries around the notions of “the
posthuman” and “degrowth.”
The current and upcoming BAK Research Fellows are: Aernout Mik, Jonas Staal, Rosi Braidotti, Simon Sheikh and Boris Buden.