Alumni Lectures: Boris Čučković Berger

11 Feb

As part of a loose series in which VAMA/CSAC alumni report on their current research, we will welcome back Boris Čučković Berger on Wednesday, February 14 (from 17:00 to 19:00 in room 11A37). Boris is currently a PhD candidate at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. His talk is titled Capitalist Porosity: Digital Production in Post-Crisis Art.


Digital production techniques are a trend of the global art fairs and biennials—with fairly little historical explanation available as to why this is the case and how these specific forms came to be relevant on the art market. Instead, we are offered many accounts of the immanent materialities constituted by digital operations and techniques, often under the discursive aegis of ‘new materialism’. Why does materiality matter for aesthetic practice engaged with digital forms of production—what historical problems does it express?

This lecture attempts to respond to these issues by focusing on the conjunction of open source production models and the economy of outsourcing in the artistic practices of SUPERFLEX, Hito Steyerl and Yuri Pattison. What is the effect of such strategies on the economy-discourse in contemporary art? I propose that the artistic conjunctions of open source and outsourcing express the porosity of post-crisis capitalism. This interpretation draws on Walter Benjamin’s and Asja Lacis’s conceptualisation of the city of Naples in terms of the porosity of its architecture: the interpenetration of the spatial and social boundaries that order it. For artists working in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis the ‘digital architectures’ become the key site of capitalist porosity: how does the world seep into the digital—and into form?

Image from Hito Steyerl’s Liquidity Inc. (2014).


New Kunstlicht Issue + Call for Papers

16 Jan

The new Kunstlicht issue (vol. 38, 2017, 3/4) is titled Mediated Imaginations: Technologies Touching Upon Art. It was co-edited by recent Critical Studies in Art and Culture alumna Sam Edens.


The latest issue of Kunstlicht sets out to investigate the intricate connections between technology and art. Drawing on current insights uncovered in the philosophy of technology, the following question – amongst others – is explored: What are the ways in which people relate to the world through technology, and which practices are consequently fostered? From this angle, artistic imagination and technology become increasingly inseparable entities; existing through, and realized within, one another. Regarding the design, use, and proliferation of technologies as a creative process, creation by artifice is shown not only to be foundational to works of art and that which they reflect, but, moreover, as being exemplified and even sublimated by artists. This entwinement of art and technology is what each of the articles centre upon, tackling the topic from an array of perspectives.

A launch event will be held at LIMA, media art platform, Arie Biemondstraat 111 in Amsterdam, on February 8 from 7 to 10 PM.

But there’s no rest for editors, ever: Kunstlicht has also put out a call for papers for an issue with the working title Unpacking Residencies: Situating the Production of Cultural Relations.

27_Slavs_and_Tatars_Kraupa_Tuskany_Zeidler_Triangulation_Not_Moscow_Not_Mecca_S_T_I_11_4_1_11-1024x776In recent years, residency programs for artists and other cultural mediators have strongly multiplied. These residencies function as central nodes in the organization and distribution of professional development, artistic production, and the contemporary art market. They operate on the juncture of many contradicting forces, and can, as increasingly important ‘time-spaces’ in the art ecosystem, not be ignored when seeking to understand the nature and infrastructure of contemporary art today.

[…] Elaborating on these perspectives, several questions arise: given the double claim that residencies and artists have on cultural production, to whom does cultural production actually belong and where does it reside? How is it woven into the global flows of artistic production? And how do residencies negotiate their particular ties to the globalized art market? Since these transactions are so multi-layered, the wider cultural relations that they nurture need to be closely examined. By wider cultural relations, we mean the connections between agents of all kinds, such as humans, objects, and the geographies that they occupy.

In accordance with these observations, in this upcoming issue of Kunstlicht we wish to critically address the current identities, roles, and significance of art residencies. We aim to unpack the stakes involved in perpetuating such models and examine the potential of these residencies to foster counter-narratives and subversive modes of cultural production.

New Faculty

16 Jan

Last year, our faculty was enriched with the appointment of two new professors courtesy of institutional partners. Wayne Modest, who is director at the Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden, was appointed Professor of Material Culture and Heritage Studies. This chair was initiated by the Netherlands National Museum of World Cultures (NMVW); Research Center for Material Culture is the NMVW’s research institute. The chair is part of a targeted collaboration of the VU with museums.
Meanwhile, Alec Badenoch has been appointed to the Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision endowed chair. The goal of his chair in Transnational Media is to investigate transnational networks of people, programmes, technologies and ideas based on the audiovisual heritage managed by Sound and Vision, which is the Dutch institute for media culture.

T.J. Demos lecture: Against the Anthropocene

7 Dec


On December 12, T.J. Demos will give a lecture at the VU on the basis of his book Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today. The lecture was organised by our Environmental Humanities Center, in which faculty members from a number of our programmes are active. Critical Studies in Art and Culture students have been participating in a reading group ahead of the lecture, and will interview T.J. before the lecture on the 12th. You can register for the lecture here.

Nuclear Waste Weeks

1 Oct


This fall, Sven Lütticken teaches a seminar on nuclear aesthetics (for general MA and Critical Studies students). Concurrently, our Environmental Humanities Center is organizing the Nuclear Waste Weeks, masterminded by Anna Volkmar and Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou, which encompass a variety of Lectures, screenings and excursions. The kickoff is on October 6 with the equally alluringly titled Nuclear Waste Event, with lectures by Jantine Schröder of te Belgian Nuclear Research Centre and Sven Lütticken.

Artists’ Initiatives in the Netherlands, from the 1980s to the Present

6 Sep


This Friday, our journal Kunstlicht is collaborating with Quartair in The Hague on an evening titled Anarchists, Squatters, Punks & …Yuppies? Artists’ Initiatives in the Netherlands, from the 1980s to the Present.

The event merges three causes to celebrate: the launch of the two latest issues of Kunstlicht, which consider the means by which artists subvert and demystify power structures; the launch of an online publication series with Platform BK that will feature articles that delve into the history of artist-run spaces in the Netherlands from the 1980s/90s (written by VU MA students in the context of last year’s contemporary art seminar by Angela Batholomew); and the 25th anniversary of Quartair, an artists’ initiative that has itself been subverting conventions since 1992.


The event starts at 19:00 at Quartair, Toussaintkade 55, The Hague. More information about the Kunstlicht issues in question can be found here