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                1. Future Vocabularies
                2. Instituting Otherwise
                New World Summit: Stateless Democracy
                29.01.–31.01.2016
                a three-day assembly about democracy and the nation-state
                Utrecht University, Utrecht (NL)
                  Demonstration in Amude on 31 October 2015, Cezîre Canton, Rojava. Photo: Jonas Staal/1
                1. BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, in collaboration with Utrecht University, Utrecht; Centraal Museum, Utrecht; and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Brussels, presents New World Summit: Stateless Democracy. This is the sixth iteration of the New World Summit, a artistic and political organization founded by artist Jonas Staal, dedicated to constructing “alternative parliaments” for stateless political organizations that find themselves excluded from democratic processes.

                  New World Summit: Stateless Democracy is a three-day assembly that explores the possibilities of uncoupling the practice of democracy from the construct of the nation-state. Core speakers are representatives of the Kurdish revolutionary movement, which in 2012 declared Rojava, the northern part of Syria, an independent “stateless democracy” based on principles of self-governance, gender-equality, and communal economy.

                  The summit takes place at a time of rising ultranationalism, exclusion of refugees, the intensification of the War on Terror, and the emergence of the so-called Islamic State, resulting in nation-states declaring martial law, increasing their surveillance apparatus, and enforcing political exclusion in the name of “defending democracy.” In response, this summit brings together stateless and autonomist movements from all over the world to explore the potential of stateless democracy as a transnationalist paradigm that opposes state oppression in all forms to invest in a new emancipatory politics of the 21st century.

                  For this sixth summit a temporary parliament is built in the aula of Utrecht University. It was on this site that the Union of Utrecht was signed in 1579, which was to become one of the foundations of the Dutch state. The parliament is thus also a historical intervention, reaching back to the very origins of the Dutch state to engage its alternative in the form of stateless democracy: a space to confront our current crisis and occupy the imaginary of a new, common world.

                  New World Summit: Stateless Democracy is the culmination of BAK’s long-term collaboration with Staal in his capacity as BAK Research Fellow, which has materialized throughout the course of the last three years in the form of the educational platform New World Academy. The summit inaugurates and is part of the research exhibition Unstated (or, Living Without Approval) at BAK.


                  Program:

                  Day I: Failed Democracy. 29.01.2016, 19.00–22.00 hrs
                  Contributors include: Nancy Hollander (legal representative of Chelsea Manning and Mohamedou Ould Slahi); Birgitta Jónsdóttir (Pirate Party Iceland). Chaired by Maria Hlavajova (director BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht)

                  Day II: Stateless Democracy! 30.01.2016, 13.00–20.00 hrs
                  Contributors include: Amina Osse (representative Democratic Union Party, PYD, Rojava); Dilar Dirik (Kurdish Women’s Movement); Quim Arrufat (Popular Unity Candidacy, CUP, Catalunya); Jodi Dean (political theorist and writer); Leila Khaled (Popular Liberation Front of Palestine, PLFP); Jennifer McCann (Sinn Féin, Ireland); Ilena Saturay (National Democratic Movement of the Philippines). Chaired by: Joost Jongerden (academic and writer); Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (writer); Sana Soleiman Elmansouri (World Amazigh Congress)

                  Day III: Future Democracy? 31.01.2016, 1-8 PM 13.00–20.00 hrs
                  Contributors include: Richard Bell (artist, Aboriginal Tent Embassy); Emory Douglas (artist, former Cultural Minister Black Panther Party); Meike Nack (The Foundation of Free Women, Weqfa Jina Azad, Rojava); 
                  Suthaharan Nadarajah (Tamil Eelam); Simon P. Sapioper (Republic of West-Papua); Vivian Ziherl (Frontier Imaginaries); refugee collective We Are Here; Barcelona en Comú. Chaired by: Jolle Demmers (academic, Center for Conflict Studies); Radha D’Souza (academic and activist); Chris Keulemans (writer and journalist).

                  Venue
                  Utrecht University, Academiegebouw (Aula)
                  Domplein 29
                  3512 JE Utrecht


                  New World Summit: Stateless Democracy is supported by The Art of Impact, Amsterdam, Democracy & Media Foundation, Amsterdam, and the CBK Rotterdam (Centre for Visual Arts Rotterdam). The related exhibition Unstated (or, Living Without Approval) is supported by the kfHein Fund, Utrecht.
              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