MFA AND CERTIFICATE PROGRAM
July 25 – August 13, 2010
Tanzfabrik, Möckernstr. 68, 10965 Berlin

Week 1 , 07.26 – 07.29
Workshop “Within Walking Distance” Nicolas Dumit Estevez
Workshop “Naming the Invisible” Jean Marie Casbarian
Workshop “Biophilia and Extreme Art” David Dunn

Week 2, 08.02 – 08.05
Seminar “Social Media & Art 2.0″ Geoff Cox
Seminar “The Fourth Dimension: Video, Space and the Broken Screen” Ofri Cnaani
Seminar “Critical Theory/Critical Art: Artist as cultural worker, theorist, philosopher” Myron Beasley
Workshop “Seeing and Writing” Victoria Hindley

Week 3, 08.09 – 08.12
Workshop “Borderlands” Mary Ting
Workshop “Art and the Other in Psychoanalysis” Laura Gonzalez
Workshop “Performativities: Body Works and Public Plays” Lynn Book

COURSES

WEEK 1

“Within Walking Distance” Nicolas Dumit Estevez
The entire city of Berlin will be given preeminence in order to serve as the encyclopedic tool for a series of theoretical discussions and practical exercises in strolling, journeying, parading, pilgrimages, processions and the like. Each day participants take to the streets to put in motion individual or group actions dealing with, but not restricted to, the topic of walking as well as their condition as bipeds: from window shopping to strolling through managed nature (e.g. parks). Participants comb block after block for the purpose of becoming familiar with what may be to some an uncharted land. In the classroom, the group engages in conversations triggered by brief presentations on the works of artists/scholars and by the students‚ daily experiences as pedestrians. These indoor activities are combined with crawling, tiptoeing and walking in spiked pumps.

Within Walking Distance seeks to engage its participants in dialogues beyond traditional pilgrimages, covering the route traveled to Lourdes by twenty first century virtual devotees or the cybernetic adoration by Catholics of the Most Blessed Sacrament, hosted on the website of the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (Pink Sisters). Seminar presentations include trips to sites of disasters, some of which have resulted from the hand of terrorism. Also to be addressed by the class is tourism, and pilgrimage-like movements of people, such as that of Caribbean balseros and yoleros on an exodus to the promise land of capitalism, the United Sates.

The writings/artworks of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Rebecca Solnit, Michael Kimmelman, Paulo Coelho, Superior Concept Monsters, William Pope L., Dora García, Gustavo Artígas, Richard Long, Papo Colo, Jonny Farrow, Teresa Hincapié, St. Teresa of Avila, Vito Acconci and Loty Rosenfeld are introduced along with documentation on the steps taken by wandering saints, Peace Pilgrim, the Old Leatherman, Rollerena, and Arthur Blessitt, who walked through a myriad of nations while carrying a 12 foot cross.

“Naming the Invisible” Jean Marie Casbarian
Workshop Description: Is invisibility only contingent on its visibility? Do we assume that ‘things not seen’ lack a palpable response to what we otherwise know and understand as existing in time and space? This workshop will not only investigate the concept of invisibility as a tangible presence, but will explore the power behind (non)presence in what it reveals, be it through the (non)matter, (silent)voice, and (dis) engaged presence of what does not come into view or vanishes before our eyes. Notions of invisibility throughout political/social/spiritual/scientific landscapes will be explored. Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’, Tacita Dean’s ‘Banewl,’ Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’, and the consequences of HG Wells, ‘The Invisible Man’ and/or Saramago’s ‘Blindness’ are potential trajectories into discussion/assignments surrounding invisibility.

Goals: This process-based workshop will support projects in all disciplines, though emphasis will be placed on the development of aesthetic skills critical to the creation of time-based works involving image, sound, and performance. Slide/Film lectures and readings will provide a deeper context for daily, hands- on studio work as we consider theoretical and practical problems inherent to interdisciplinary forms.

“Biophilia and Extreme Art” David Dunn
As first proposed by Socio-Biologist and Myrmecologist, E. O. Wilson, the term Biophilia has been put forth to describe an innate predisposition in humans to reflect or replicate conspicuous patterns from the natural world as the basis for aesthetic sensibility and choice. The assumption is that we inherently tend to favor patterns and sensory constructs from nature as the generative basis for art because we have been predisposed to do so as an epigenetic byproduct of evolution. In other words, we have been „programd‰ to do so as an adaptive survival advantage and our sensory awareness is organized to optimize such factors. This idea is the flipside of the argument that we have also inherited certain aversions to those biological phenomena that represent a consistent threat to our survival such as snakes and spiders. We may be “hard-wired” to fear them and find them repulsive.

However, much of the art of the past century, from Duchamp to Cage, has been consciously dedicated to not only challenging traditional or philosophically constructed concepts of beauty but has aggressively maintained that the project of art is to seek out phenomena and aspects of daily life˜experiences and artifacts neglected or banished from our cultural processes of normalization and ideas of beauty˜and revalue them through changing the frame or context in which we would otherwise experience them. While supporters of the concept of Biophilia might argue that even the most abstract art cannot dissociate itself from nature˜ultimately mirroring deep aspects of natural process even if it claims to do otherwise˜some of the most controversial of contemporary practitioners claim that art is a strategy for the fulfillment of another stage of human evolution. Therefore, art should not merely reflect our evolutionary inheritance; it should be a tool for our further evolving that nece ssitates the abandonment of traditional aesthetic preferences through the creative and conscious construction of what it means to be human. Technology˜either through electromagnetic or biological engineering (Stelarc and Kacs)˜inevitably becomes the arena where such experiments in extending the senses and reorganizing the human body take place.

One of the most problematic issues for 20th century biology has been that we have no operable or truly satisfying definition for the condition of life. While we can describe the structural constituents of living systems, such as atoms, molecules, cells, organs, and morphology, etc.), such a lexicon of factors does not account for the dual ontological status of a living thing (the difference between life and death) that seems to hover in a liminal state between existence and non-existence. Some thinkers (Maturana and Varela) have proposed that living things are unique precisely because they are characterized by their operational closure: a state of autonomous being that is self- maintaining irregardless of its specific structural components that are constantly being replaced over time. In the light of such knowledge, one implication that has emerged is the notion that we can have much more flexibility in how we participate in our own ontological status as living systems. Can we actively design new aspects of our organizational status and shape our evolutionary future?

More recently, some post-modern art workers (Dave Hickey, for example) have embraced the notion that a return to a more naïve formulation of beauty, after decades of purposeful neglect, is itself a radical innovation. Meanwhile the sciences have proposed novel ideas about the very structure of perception (theories of self- organization, emergent properties, and complexity) that provide us with a very different framework for understanding what we might mean by the assumption of an “objective” world. Such propositions not only challenge what we may mean by the concept of beauty but also the very concept of nature itself. Simultaneously, some mathematicians now propose that the essential property of successful mathematical description (as the most rigorous manifestation of human language) is precisely something that can only be regarded as a quality that comes very close to our most traditional and seemingly prosaic ideas of aesthetic beauty.

Presentation and talk on projects by Sarah Bennett

http://sarahbennett.org.uk/

WEEK 2

“Seminar 2.0: An Update on Art, Social Media and It’s Publics” Geoff Cox
Nowadays, technical, political and aesthetic processes increasingly utilize software but also can be seen to ‘be’ like software. The seminar investigates this line of thinking through an engagement with art and curatorial practices (whether using a computer or not) that draw upon systems and network theory, ideas around open systems and self-organization, critical curatorial practices, the use of social media, and the radical practices of coding cultures in as much as they might invigorate the concept of the public sphere (or commons).

“The Fourth Dimension: Video, Space and the Broken Screen” Ofri Cnaani
This course offers pathways through the visual language of nonlinear narratives, split screens, fragmentary visual planes and their relationship with space and spatial design. We will read, view, and discuss contemporary examples from selected projects by artists, filmmakers, designers, and architects who speak to these issues. Through critical discussions, students will gain a fresh look at new practices of art-making that make use of emerging technologies. Topics include: non-linear media, object and new media, from white cube to black box, moving images and architectural space, nontraditional spaces, and video art in public spaces. During this four-days seminar, students will develop a proposal for a thematic exhibition inspired by the main themes studied in class, helping to contextualize their studio practice in a greater framework of contemporary culture makers and thinkers.

“Critical Theory/Critical Art: Artist as cultural worker, theorist, philosopher” Myron Beasley
This seminar examines the artists as cultural worker. As the domain of critical theory is about the unraveling of streams of repressive discourses and hierarchies in our contemporary world, it has been artists who have fostered ruptures and fissures in the more than often flow of normality. This seminar ponders the concept of “cultural worker” and laments the domain of theory by exploring the intersections between critical theory, art and politics. Specifically we will engage in the ruptures, the fragments of knowledge and the making sense of the residue of “social change” while not forgetting the problematization of the aesthetic. We will engage with international and intercultural interdisciplinary artists such as Thiong’o, Fusco, Ana Mediata, Tania Bruguera, David Hammon, Pope.L and Lung with critical theorists such as Fanon, Butler, Foucault, Munoz, Moten, Adorno, Barthes, Dorothea Olkowski, and Benjamin.

Writing Workshop: “Seeing and Writing” Victoria Hindley
Writing about art at the graduate level presents distinct challenges. This workshop is designed to help you cope with the specific requirements of MFA-level writing, while emphasizing the unique advantages artists have as writers. In a noncompetitive environment of productive discussion and presentation, we’ll demystify the academic writing process. We’ll strengthen critical reading skills and analysis strategies. Because language is never neutral and always defines a way of seeing the world, we will engage in close reading—investigating assumptions as we simultaneously deepen our capacity to articulate our observations as artists. These investigations will be further grounded through concrete presentations on how to create a meaningfully considered and thoughtfully structured argument. We will additionally address issues of grammar, editing, and citation—tackling specific problem areas raised by participants and taking care of them once and for all. Through collaborative exercises and analysis, we’ll engage in peer exchange and emerge as stronger writers who can more easily relax and focus on the pleasure of creating…and writing! In four daily sessions, you will investigate your own writing as well as the writing of established theorists.

Lecture: “Life itself. Subverting Biopolitics” Wolfgang Suetzl
Following the decline of tactical media as a guiding concept in resistant media use, many of the key concerns articulated in this movement seem to have migrated to the cross section of informatics and the life sciences. Paralleling a paradigmatic shift of interest from hard/software to “wetware” in information technology, and from territorial to biopolitical regimes in politics, activists, artists and scientists began developing networks of collaboration across disciplines, institutional settings, and economic frameworks, questioning the workings of biopower by introducing discontinuities in an emerging hegemony of knowledge. While the history of dissident biopolitics originates long before the computer, tactical media have served as a tool and inspiration for interventions in areas such as precarious labor, technologies of security, asylum policies, health care reforms, politics of the body, gendering and racial profiling, genetic engineering, cellular research, nutrition, biopharmaceuticals, and many others. Biopolitical activists have surprised the mainstream by engaging in dissident practices at the very core of scientific knowledge formation and the related constructions of political/social realities, while outside the laboratories they have challenged established categories about food, plants and animals through direct actions.

Lecture: “Confronting Prejudice” Maja Lenhardt
The staff of the Jewish Museum Berlin visited the juvenile penitentiary in Berlin. It is the biggest correctional institution of its kind in Germany. The number of inmates amounts to about 500 young men in the age of 14 to 24 years. Many of the convicted offenders are of Arab, Turkish, and East European origin. For one week between 5 and 8 museum guides were present in the prison giving tours through a mobile exhibition and holding workshops, reaching about 100 inmates.
The idea for the contact was met with great concern by the prison staff. Among them skepticism prevailed that such a visit would be advisable. As they suspected, the inmates would behave improperly, they would not be interested in a museum, and worst of all, they would express anti-Semitism. Because of its Nazi history, anti-Semitism is a taboo issue in Germany. This trauma burdens communication about Jewish topics and furthermore tends to reproduce itself. Initially there was strong doubt by both, guides and inmates that respectful, frank discussion would be possible but despite their initial fears guides and inmates cooperated smoothly and engaged in frank discussions rather than hostile confrontation.

WEEK 3

“Borderlands” Mary Ting
This workshop explores the poetics of borderlands, both real and imagined, and the balancing acts that comes with these territories. We will travel in invisible places, traversing the margins bet childhood and adulthood; the blatantly commercial to the proudly aesthetic, and from the raw and raggedy to the digital cool. The workshop will examine and discuss process of negotiating the act of memory lost/memory regained; ambiguity/specificity, navigating conflicting desires and the inhospitable difficult places that work often travels in.

This workshop will focus on daily exercises designed to inspire, provoke and instill new strategies to transform ideas. These specific exercises utilize the emotive powers of memory and the oral/written word and encourage spontaneous, experimental approaches. We will utilize exercises used in creative writing and choreography. The workshop aims to actively get to the borderlands between temporal and spatial, inner and exterior spaces. While mining our own innocence and experience, we will make objects, things, gestures, maps, sketches, poems, rants; spontaneous expressions and responses on a daily basis. Presentations will be included but the emphasis is on generating new ideas, approaches that emphasize reflection over narration. The process will include both collaborative and individual opportunities for all types of work. Participants will generate by the end of the course a resource of images, text, and linear and non- linear narratives for future projects.

“Art and the Other in Psychoanalysis” Laura Gonzalez
Psychoanalytic ideas have particular relevance outside of the consulting room, mainly the art school and the wider Academia, the art gallery, and everyday spaces where we interact with objects. The discipline has a particular way of thinking about problems, the self and society in relation to an Other. Since its inception in the late 19th Century, psychoanalysis has had an impact on how we make, view and think about art, space, cultural artefacts and our relation to them. This, together with received ideas bearing on cultural, artistic and psychoanalytic practices, is what will be explored in this workshop. The workshop is open to students with no prior knowledge of psychoanalytic theory or practice. It will also be useful, however, to students with knowledge of those areas as the key aim is to promote psychoanalytic thinking in relation to the students’ practice. The workshop will centre around four major topics, which will be explored focusing on one per day: Artistic and psychoanalytic acts; The construction and break of the subject; Interpretation and transference;
and Voice and Gaze.

“Performativities: Body Works and Public Plays” Lynn Book
Performing Being, performing Doing, performing Showing Doing, performing Explaining Showing Doing – this basic rubric for looking at performance from a broad, anthropological orientation will serve as a framework to study the multitude of performativities in everyday life. From ‘private’ rituals to social relations we will explore how the artists’ body becomes a laboratory, a landscape for conducting living inquiry and cultural criticism by which the body is a stage, a tool, a site, for confrontation, reinvention and transformation.

Partiality and subjectivity begins and continues with the body, as our lived experience moderates every moment, every encounter. Some of the categories of interest for our study will include: Gesture, Ritual, Representation, Participation, Extended and Quasi Bodies, Concentration and Social Change Practices. We’ll also examine cyber-techo-bodiedness through discussion and performed experiments.

Presentation and talk on projects by Mobile Academy” by Hannah Hurtzig

http://www.mobileacademy-warsaw.com/deutsch/2006/hurtzig.html