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                1. Future Vocabularies
                2. Instituting Otherwise
                Learning Laboratories
                03.12.2016–05.02.2017
                exhibition conceptualized by Tom Holert
                BAK, Utrecht (NL)
                  Taped individual programs with headsets, open classroom, Granada Community School, Belvedere-Tiburon, California, photo: Rondal Partridge. Source: Robert Propst, High School: The Process and the Place, ed. Ruth Weinstock (New York: Educational Facilities Laboratories, 1972)./2
                1. A research exhibition and a symposium, Learning Laboratories: Architecture, Instructional Technology, and the Social Production of Pedagogical Space Around 1970 sets out to reconstruct educational imaginaries—the past’s conceptions of the future of education—in an archaeological excavation of learning spaces and knowledge environments of the 1960s and 1970s. In stark contrast to the present condition of crisis in education— one defined by containment and separation, extreme economization and commodification, neoliberal managerialism and an “outcome”- oriented fetishization of measurability—the architectural programs and educational research around 1970 gave rise to a number of experimental building principles and pedagogical ideals such as the “comprehensive school,” the “open plan school,” and “schools without walls.”

                  Through a number of selected case studies in the edu-architectural design and learning technologies of the period, Learning Laboratories explores the experimental embodiment of several spatio-pedagogical ideologies, opening out to developments in educational design, politics, and psychology. In different ways, the exhibition revisits the attempts in education to cope with the economic and demographic realities ushered in with the post-war generation. It offers diverse readings along the entangled layers of (geo)politics, urban planning, educational science, learning technology, and architecture, presenting a resource for the contemporary predicament and possibilities to learn otherwise.

                  The case studies include, among others: the Laboratory School and the Oberstufen-kolleg, Bielefeld, both based on concept of the “de-schooled school” (research prepared by Gregor Harbusch); televisual education—otherwise known as “tele-learning”—developed in Ivory Coast with the aim of drawing rural populations into the educational system; the extraterritorial “pilot schools,” and the nomadic schools carried through the Liberated Zones by guerrilla fighters in the anti-colonial liberation wars in Guinea- Bissau, presented here by Filipa César and Sónia Vaz Borges. The exhibition also comprises works by: Hartmut Bitomsky and Harun Farocki; Darcy Lange; Wendelien van Oldenborgh; and Florian Zeyfang, Alexander Schmoeger, and Lisa Schmidt-Colinet. These works explore through photographic, video, and written materials various learning processes, technologies, and facilities from a range of contexts in Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Cuba. An extensive research library containing journals, books, and planning manuals published between 1960 and 1980, including various printed reports of Educational Facilities Laboratories, Schulbauinstitut der Länder (Federal Institute for School Architecture), and Informatiecentrum voor Scholenbouw (Information Centre for School Architecture), discloses the research material of the exhibition itself.

                  Learning Laboratories is conceptualized by Berlin-based curator and writer Tom Holert and has been made possible by financial support from the City Council of Utrecht and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands. The exhibition is designed by Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik, Berlin and realized in collaboration with Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and the Harun Farocki Institut, Berlin. 

                  02.12.2016, 17.00–19.00 hrs
                  Opening

                  04.02.2017
                  Symposium (free of charge but registration is required)
                  The Real Estate of Education 
              1. Future Vocabularies
              Instituting Otherwise
              2016
                1. Within Future Vocabularies, a long-term, multifaceted research, education, exhibition, and publication project, the leading concept to shape BAK’s program in the course 2016 is that of instituting otherwise. The series is prompted by the desire to engage publically with the ideal of institutional innovation that would sync the operations of the infrastructure in general—and of the art infrastructure in particular—with the rapidly developing world that is enveloped in a series of concurrent crises (political, social, environmental, military, cultural, aesthetic, or other). BAK research, discursive projects, exhibitions, publications, and education will thus engage with an inquiry into the following subjects of social, political, and cultural relevance: the alternatives to the state; the organizations of learning; and the questions of language that co-define and shape the infrastructures of collectivity and solidarity, and thus of new ways of reclaiming the notion of the “public.”

                  At BAK, three exhibitions take place in this context over the course of 2016, as well as a series of discursive sessions under the title Institute for the Contemporary, leading to a publication of the BAK Critical Reader under the same title. In parallel, BAK’s key educational platform for art and politics, Learning Place, unfolds throughout the year as a continuation of BAK’s structural collaboration with MAHKU (MA program, Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Utrecht) and MAR (Master of Artistic Research program, Royal College of Art/KABK, The Hague).

                  The collaborative practices, both within the city of Utrecht and transnationally, are at the core of BAK’s institutional work; within this ethos, BAK takes initiative to co-realize two significant transnational projects. New World Summit #6—the sixth iteration of a public gathering initiated by the artistic and political organization by Dutch artist Jonas Staal—takes place in Utrecht in January 2016 as a result of a collaborative effort of the Utrecht-driven institutional consortium consisting of BAK, Utrecht University, and Centraal Museum. Secondly, BAK continues its collaboration with the refugees’ organization We Are Here and organizes an international gathering of refugees at the “Drielandenpunt” as an artistic project (re)negotiating the border at the times of unprecedented European—as well as global—refugee crisis.

                  Further, in the publishing line of BAK Critical Readers in Artists’ Practice BAK will release a publication on one of the most influential artists and cultural producers since the 1980s, Marion von Osten, titled Once We Were Artists, charting the qualitative changes in the artistic practices in relation to social change in the course of the last four decades.
              1. Research
              2. Itineraries
              Future Vocabularies
              2014–2017
              long-term research and propositional trajectory rethinking art's conceptual lexicon
                1. 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 MikJonas StaalRosi Braidotti, Simon Sheikh and Boris Buden.

                  1. past

                      1. Future Vocabularies
                      Instituting Otherwise
                      2016
                      1. Future Vocabularies
                      Human-Inhuman-Posthuman
                      2015
                      1. Future Vocabularies
                      Future Collections
                      2014–2016
                      1. Future Vocabularies
                      Survival
                      2014
              1. Research
              Itineraries