Summer Program 2012

Dates, Events, Course Descriptions
MFA Creative Practice, PhD Studies and Summer Certificate Program
Berlin 2012


July 21 – August 10, 2012

Graduating Class Exhibition: Transformers: Coiled Potentials
Catalog link available here.

July 21 – August 11, 2012

Tanzfabrik, Möckernstr. 68, 10965 Berlin



Week 1
1. “Holding Pattern” Jean Marie Casbarian
2. “Remembering Spaces” Deborah Aschheim + Lisa Mezzacappa
3. “Nowhere to Go” Nicolás Estevéz
4. “City Praxis: Art Lab Berlin” Caroline Koebel
Curator Talks + discussion
Ece Pazarbasi: The Cook, the Shop Keeper, His Audio & Their Lover
Nadam Samman: TBA

Week 2
1. “Investigating Meaning, Articulating Praxis” Victoria Hindley
2. “Reciting Sites: Performance, Public Monuments and Cultural Politics” Myron Beasley
3. “Urban Poetics” Radhika Subramaniam
4. “Cultural Translation” Wolfgang Sützl
“Berlin Artists Pecha Kucha”
Artists: Martin John Callanan, Miles Chalcraft, Dellbrugge and DeMoll, Michelle Teran, Bjorn Melhus, Julian Oliver, Elly Clarke, Astrid Menze, Jean Ulrick Desser, Gloria Zein, Sharon Paz

Week 3
1. “Working the Self” Laura González
2. “Reality, Fiction and the Space of Both and Neither” Stanya Kahn
3. “Monopolydialogiphonia” Michael Bowdidge
“Artist Talks: Ming Wong + Stanya Kahn

“Intensities – Extended Body, Extended Voice” Lynn Book
“Hello World! Code, Speech and Voice” Geoff Cox
“The Index: The Contemporary Taxonomist” Mary Ting



“The Cook, the Shop Keeper, His Audio & Their Lover ” Ece Pazarbasi
Is it possible to create a platform of multifaceted relationships between various disciplines instead of focusing solely on visual art? Would this make one get completely lost in the field of art? What if you have curated audio walks commissioned to artists, urban planners, musicians, graphic designers guide you in this complicated path? Pazarbasi will speak on her Audio Tour Projects where she creates amalgamate of disciplines and also cities; and Meeting Point projects where she experiments through relational aesthetics on the rural fields.



Remembering Spaces with Deborah Aschheim and Lisa Mezzacappa

What is the truth of the memory of a space?  How do we experience spaces with our bodies and senses, and how do we remember these embodied experiences? Recording technologies allow us to create convincing mechanical and digital reproductions of sight and sound, yet our reliance on recorded experience often reduces the complex three-dimensional world of sensation to the inputs of a flat screen and a pair of earbuds. How can we devise new ways of observing, recording and recreating spatial experiences that get at the deeper truth of the phenomenological and narrative experience of a space?  Can we create a more complex embodied relationship between the experience and its reproduction?  |   For this workshop, we will use the city of Berlin as both the subject and the field laboratory for our experiments.  We will consider the city as a kind of palimpsest, richly textured in the sensory present and fertile ground for a more archaeological excavation of collective memory and historical narrative. We will devise strategies for field recordings, interviews and mapping exercises, and consider the role of point of view in shaping experiences in the city. We will consider some ideas about how we understand space from neuroscience and cognitive psychology, mnemonic strategies that rely on spatial perception like the “method of loci” or “memory palace” and egocentric vs. allocentric systems of spatial cognition. We will also consider the social construction of cultural-historic space, spaces as landmark and ruin, ethnographic approaches to space, and the contested interpretations of the meanings of space.  |  Back in the studio, we will develop ways of making one space feel like or evoke another space. Our strategies for recreating space will include experiments with installation, the potential of digital and analog recording, captured vs. synthesized sound and image, four dimensional spaces (3D space plus time), and the importance of spaces you experience without seeing (the space behind you, the spaces above and below eye level), ambient sound, vibration and other tactile/sensory phenomena.  We will consider what constitutes true site-specificity.  We will also pay attention to more subjective aspects of individual experience: the intersection of interior mental space and the world the body moves through, the simultaneity of embodied space and the virtual space of the iPod, cell phone and mp3 player, and the haunted landscapes of narrative space.

Monopolydialogiphonia with Michael Bowdidge

What does it mean to find one’s own voice? What does it mean to work with other voices? To lose oneself amongst other voices? Is it still possible to consider oneself to have an authentic voice as a practitioner if, as Barthes suggests, the author is dead? If we can no longer be certain who is speaking, then perhaps we are at liberty to explore other voices and ways of speaking through our practice. This workshop uses the work of Mikhail Bakhtin to think through and around these issues and open us up to the possibilities of internal and external dialogues. We will bring our practices into fluid engagement with that of others (past and present) in a dialogical context. Embracing polyphony and heteroglossia individually and through collaboration will allow us to explore spaces of shared authenticity. This workshop will begin with a questioning of assumptions about the individual voice of the practitioner. From there we will move forward to consider the possibilities inherent in the dialogical context and ways of finding and using other voices. We’ll then work towards bringing these voices into productive dialogue with each other. In order to do this we’ll be undertaking a series of interlinked and interwoven non-medium specific exercises and assignments, interspersed with brief presentations and discussions of relevant contextual material. These will include articles and excerpts from Mikhail Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, T.S. Eliot and Julia Kristeva. Artists we’ll be looking at will include Colab, Fluxus, James Joyce, Stewart Home, Kalup Linzy, and Cindy Sherman amongst others.

Reciting Sites: Performance, Public Monuments and Cultural Politics with Myron Beasley and  Merete Røstad

This seminar contemplates and interrogates the cultural politics of public art and its construction of Memory and history with performance theory.  Considering performance in the context of localities, and localities in the context of performance, we will explore the ways in which the personal meets the political in geographies of enactment specifically with public monuments. We will ask the following historical and theoretical questions:  What role do monuments and memorials play in societies?  What are the politics of memorialization?  And perhaps more probing, this seminar would be interested in the intersection of such monuments and how the individual “reads” them and /or recites them in daily life. This seminar will draw from readings from ethnography, performance theory, and theories of identity formation and negotiation with theories of memory  and public art.  We will us four public art sites within the city of Berlin and read from such theorists as Benjamin, Conqueergood, Nietzsche, Pierre, Winter, Althusser, Hall, and Kwon.

Intensities – Extended Body, Extended Voice with Lynn Book (2013)

This workshop would create an environment of extended exploration of the body and the voice with a focus on transforming the ordinary into the extra-ordinary through physically and conceptually activated means.  The multimodal and immersive engagement would demand rigorous commitment to performing the matter of self, thereby inventing selves as an overt objective of each workshop session. By investigating embodiment beyond what is ordinarily a conditioned and fundamentally unchanging and represented ‘self’, the participants will elaborate extensions of their bodies, their voices and any other media that they perform their art practice through.  Much like the ‘prepared piano’, we will add on, manipulate, aggregate, stratify, pixilate and magnify bodies (including hyper and quasi bodies), and voices (including sounded, recorded and textualized voices). Immersive practices to be explored include adaptations of ‘Viewpoints’ (Overlie, Bogart), ‘Delicious Movement’ (Eiko and Koma), ‘Plastiques’ (Grotowski), ‘Voicing Body’ (Book), ‘Tremoring’ (Fitzmaurice), and others.

Holding Patterns with Jean Marie Casbarian

To Hold: Hold me close while I hold my breath— What does it mean to hold, to be held, or to exist in a holding pattern? This workshop will set out to explore a broader definition of the word, holding, and the various ways in which we can apply a visual and/or auditory response to its many idiosyncratic meanings. Throughout the week we will examine and discuss visual and performing artists, filmmakers, composers and writers who are exploring notions around love and interconnections, the concept of time, mapping and cartography. Daily field assignments that range from the physical (another body/an object) to the geographical (aircraft/transportation/cartography) will be explored and executed. We will read and discuss short essays, prose and diary writings that speak to this theme including readings by Roland Barthes, David Wojnarowicz, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Georges Perec, to name a few.

Hello World! Code, Speech and Voice with Geoff Cox (2013)

The seminar aims to highlight the ubiquity of speech in everyday communications and the paradoxical tendency that appears to diminish the cultural significance of the voice. For instance, social media not only fail to provide the means for people to have an effective voice, but also reinforce neoliberal values, paradoxically through technologies that appear to promote the voice across ever more mobile telephone networks and sharing platforms. This constitutes the contemporary babble of communications technologies – resonant in the naming of the contemporary social media platform Twitter, with its reductive register of up to 140 characters. The ability to voice things is offered but is rendered illusionary by the forces of neoliberalism that do not care about the grain of the voice, as it lies outside the interests of the market. The political voice is effectively ventriloquised. Voice re-enters the discussion, on account of the need to focus on the biopolitical preconditions and the most basic aspect of human expression. It will be argued that rediscovering the voice, combined with words as speech, is a necessary part of social recomposition. Although this is a seminar, there will be practical exercises that involve some of the technologies mentioned.

Art and Urgency with David Dunn (2013)

Quite recently there was a North American broadcast interview with James Hansen, perhaps the most respected climatologist alive today, after his arrest in front of the Whitehouse. He flat out stated that if President Obama signs the approval of the Canadian tar sands pipeline, it is “game over for the environment.” He then outlined the precise mechanisms that will further trap atmospheric heat down to the exact calculations of distributed energy per square mile of earth surface. This guarantees flooding of every coastal city on the planet within two more human generations, and many cities flooding during the life span of our children. This level of political activism is an extraordinary and controversial step for a highly legitimate scientist to participate in and, most certainly, a sign of the urgency that our environmental crisis has reached. For multiple decades there has been an ongoing discourse that has addressed the role that the arts can play in increasing our collective awareness to environmental issues through sensitizing us to the natural world and engender examination of associated social issues. A variety of approaches and strategies have used art practices to document, preserve, study, manipulate, intensify, and otherwise attempt to bring issues of the environment into foreground awareness. As the critical time left to take appropriate action in response to the extensive loss of biological diversity and the impacts of global climate change dissipates, many of these strategies remain aesthetically satisfying, highly controversial, deeply poignant, and an enduring response to human cultural needs, but largely inconsequential at addressing larger environmental issues. This seminar intends to examine various approaches to bringing art practice to bear upon applied environmental problem solving. It will focus upon ways that the arts might move beyond documentary and sensory heightening strategies alone towards participation in both scientific research and substantive interventions to growing environmental dilemmas. Along the way, the seminar will also probe into enduring questions about the relationship of the arts to social activism, science, and cultural violence.

Nowhere to Go with Nicolás Estevéz

The subject of art = life, and the subsequent argument on the point at which the two of them meet is a topic heavily debated by artists and scholars. The discussion continues to be as relevant today as it was decades ago when Linda Mary Montano, Martha Wilson and Fluxus, for example, developed works that existed within the everyday. It is even more so now, when a considerable number of art practitioners are invested in projects that make obsolete, at least for their particular implementation, the traditional white cube of the gallery. Instead they find space within the day-to-day, be it a public or an intimate environment. Most recently, in 2008, El Museo del Barrio in New York inaugurated Art ‡ Life, a groundbreaking exhibition curated by Deborah Cullen. The show brought to light documentation of mostly ephemeral projects created from 1960 – 2000 by artists from the Americas, while addressing once more the relationship or separateness of the two subjects in question. Can art and life share a common ground? Should there be awareness on behalf of the artist on what he/she is doing in order for his/her action to achieve the status of art? And does that awareness cancel out life and bring us back to art? Nowhere to Go is structured as a one-week seminar composed of a series of brief audio visual presentations on the works of historical figures, with emphasis on artists and collectives from the US and the Americas such as: Melquíades Herrera, Geoffrey Hendricks, Hanna Wilke, Pedro Pietri, Nao Bustamante and Asco, among others. These presentations serve as the starting point for discussions on topics including, but not limited to: living in art, straying into unknown territories, and non-traditional ways of dealing with ephemerality in art. Class exercises and assignments lead students to tap into everyday life to use their experiences as material for art. Participants then undertake a careful observation and critique of overtly mundane activities such as walking, talking, sleeping, shopping, and eating. The information collected is ultimately used to develop work in the various art disciplines represented by those attending the workshop.

Working the Self with Laura González

How does an artist cope with making work about him or herself? What is revealed and what is created in the process of unveiling one’s thoughts, experiences, dreams or life stories? Can an artist ever create work that is not about the self? This course will explore mechanisms by which work about the self is created, but also analysed. By discussing narcissism, self-portraiture, the universal self (through the Oedipus complex and the psychopathologies), the particular self, the real, the fictional, and the other, strategies to cope with the subjective/objective and the public/private problems arising from working with the self will emerge. The course will work at the points where theory – mainly psychoanalytic – meets visual arts practice and will aim to refine the articulating and analytic capabilities of students both in oral and visual form.
The works of Tracey Emin, Sophie Calle, Frida Kahlo, Francesca Woodman, Louise Bourgeois, Bob Flanagan, Vito Acconci and others will provide a counterpoint to the psychoanalytic concepts explored. Through discussion and practical responses to propositions, we will try to unravel who the the author in each is, even though this may become a work of fiction, rather than an analysis.

Investigating Meaning, Articulating Praxis with Victoria Hindley

We are living in an extraordinary time of change and upheaval. Everywhere we look, meaning is created, appropriated, celebrated, manipulated, offered, instrumentalized, shared, reproduced, etc. Artists are increasingly acting as critics, theorists, mediators, translators, and creators of work that challenge cultural, social, and political meaning(s). In this seminar, we’ll ask how artists are uniquely positioned to observe, examine, and write about their insights in this shifting terrain— diverse as it is dynamic.
Investigating Meaning / Articulating Praxis is designed to help you cope with the requirements of graduate level writing. In a noncompetitive environment of discussions, presentations, and exercises we’ll demystify the academic writing process with the aim of developing our own unique voices and positions. Because language is never neutral and always defines a way of seeing the world, we’ll engage in close reading of both word and image as we strengthen critical reading and writing skills. We’ll explore the ways in which observation and writing are intimately linked as we explore diverse and relevant readings from Roland Barthes, Italo Calvino, Hélène Cixous, Gilles Deleuze, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Susan Sontag, and others. Investigating assumptions, we’ll question signs, turn constructions upside down, and shake out new insights. These explorations will be grounded with concrete information on how to develop and establish a strong position and write a thoughtfully considered essay.
Just as meaning(s) aren’t static, skilled writing needn’t be predictable, formulaic, or dull. Through discussion, presentation, collaborative exercises, and peer exchange, we’ll indulge in the pleasures of language with the aim of emerging as stronger observers and writers.

Reality, Fiction and the Space of Both and Neither with Stanya Kahn

Reality, Fiction and the Space of Both and Neither (can be one-week course or longer) “There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.” (Werner Herzog) An intensive studio video course in which we will construct narratives out of lived experience and find performances in the mundane, strategizing alternate methods for making stories and for undoing them. We will create hybrid stories that move across the real and the fictive but are not easily classifiable as either, revealing realities and re-masking them, while exploring the porous boundaries between fiction and document. In the process, we will investigate our subjectivity and agency as makers/editors. Against the backdrop of narrative fiction, we will discuss a range of sources for reference, including autobiographical impulses in art and literature, the documentarian’s desire to bear witness, give voice, and expose truths, and reality television and it’s thinly disguised fictions. We will question representations of the real in online social networking spaces like Facebook and YouTube, where people carefully control their representations of themselves and their web personas, making new selves and stories. Issues of volition, autonomy and power might anchor discussions of “interactivity” in online space as we note the vast web of marketing strategies and look for truly autonomous zones on the internet. Students will create at least one complete video project generated by the themes discussed. There will readings, screenings, discussions and presentations.

City Praxis: Art Lab Berlin with Caroline Koebel

This workshop navigates the metropolis in general and Berlin in particular as art laboratory, from source of inspiration through medium of production to exhibition and reception. How can the very act of living in a given city become the foundation  for critical inquiry and aesthetic practice? What is this special relationship between place and self? The mix of 20th c. and contemporary projects to be considered include film and video, site-specific performance, sound, and other mediums by Walter Ruttmann, Valie Export, Peter Weibel, Tacita Dean, Harun Farocki, Chantal Akerman, Jonas Mekas, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jill Magid, Rhys Chatham, Carles Santos, Jacques Tati, Sophie Calle, Situationists, Fluxus, Raqs Media Collective, and more. Also covered is graffiti: stencil, sticker, knitting, and other modes. Adding to the critical framework will be writings by Michele de Certeau, Guy Debord, Nicolas Bourriaud, and others.

Urban Poetics with Radhika Subramaniam

This seminar is concerned with that ephemeral notion “the urban experience” and how it is brought into being.  This is both a historic process and a deeply sensual one.  The elements of space, time, memory, subjectivity, and perception that have created it and continue to do so have also constructed an epistemology – what one might call, an urban way of knowing.  What are the urban knowledges produced by these ways of knowing?  How do urban practices frame our ways of seeing and being?  How do these habituate us and influence the ways in which we inhabit cities?  In this seminar, we will follow a line of inquiry together, attempting to engage in this poiesis together through close reading, experiments, performance, listening, walking, and a deep exchange and intersection with your artistic practice.

Cultural Translation with Wolfgang Sützl 

Cultural translation has over the past few years become a theory applied to a host of phenomena in culture and politics. An offspring of postcolonial theory, it has its origins in the work of Homi Bhaba and his notion of hybridity as a post-dialectical cultural theory. Gayatri Spivak and Judith Butler have taken cultural translation into economic and philosophical contexts. Cultural translation seems to offer a way out  where key concepts of modernity such as universalism, dialectics, the subject, etc. have failed. Does cultural translation offer an approach to a form of being that no longer confined by essentialism? Does the negotiation of difference through cultural translation is it the expression of a loss of an actual political horizon, of a willingness to abandon political questions in favor of a permanent negotiation of cultural difference? The seminar examines these questions, and looks at how artistic practice affects the translatability of culture. We will translate a text, identify untranslatable parts. Translate untranslatable texts.

The Index: The Contemporary Taxonomist with Mary Ting (2013)

The collection, documentation, categorization, study and display of other creatures, cultures, and objects rare and curious dates back to earliest civilizations.  This custom continues with equal fervor today and as a system model utilized in all forms from popular culture, military studies to contemporary art forms.  The workshop will combine daily presentations of historical and contemporary models with discussion and activities suitable for all art forms.  Colllections and historical sites such as the will be examined for their methodology, cultural and political significance and influence upon contemporary systems.  Contemporary art forms that mimic, comment, subvert and utilize these systems and display methods will also be examined. Students will discuss and create a work specific to their medium and interests.


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