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



Guest Seminar in May: Between Metaphor and Material

1 May


On the 9th of May the research master Critical Studies in Art and Culture welcomes professor Thomas Elsaesser(University of Amsterdam) for a lecture and discussion.

Thomas Elsaesser is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Media and Culture of the University of Amsterdam and Visiting Professor at Yale University (2006-2012) and Columbia University (since 2013). Elsaesser was one of the founding members of ASCA, the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis. He is also General Editor of the series Film Culture in Transition, published by Amsterdam University Press, and distributed in the US by University of Chicago Press, of which forty-five volumes have so far appeared under his editorship. Elsaesser has received numerous awards and distinctions, including Fellow of the British Academy and Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

His books as author include New German Cinema: A History (1989) which received the Jay Leyda Prize (NYU) and the Kovacs Book Award (SCMS), Fassbinder’s Germany: History Identity Subject (1996), Weimar Cinema and After (2000) [winner of the Kovacs Book Award of  SCMS]), Metropolis (2000), Studying Contemporary American Film (2002), Filmgeschichte und Frühes Kino (2002), European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood (2005) winner of the Lumina Prize, Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses (2010), The Persistence of Hollywood (2012) and German Cinema – Terror and Trauma: Cultural Memory since 1945 (2013).


For Critical Studies in Art and Culture, Elsaesser will be presenting his text ‘Between Metaphor and Material: On the Agency of Things in the Cinema’ which was originally published in German in Austellen: Zur Kritik der Wirksamkeit in den Künsten (Meltzer, Busch, Oppeln). In the text he discusses the two basic principles of film, namely its circularity and linearity and how these apply to the developments in digital film. How do techniques of slow-motion, inversion and fast-forwarding in digital film relate to the poetics of obsolescence? How to understand the transition from an energetic cinema to a cybernetic cinema and how do the things in cinema jump into the equation?

May 9th | 17:00h | HG10A41 (main building) | Free entrance

New Book: Cultural Revolution

5 Apr


Critical Studies coordinator/tutor Sven Lütticken has a new book out with Sternberg Press, Cultural Revolution: Aesthetic Practice after Autonomy.

In this collection of essays, art historian and critic Sven Lütticken focuses on aesthetic practice in a rapidly expanding cultural sphere. He analyzes its transformation by the capitalist cultural revolution, whose reshaping of art’s autonomy has wrought a field of afters and posts. In a present moment teeming with erosions—where even history and the human are called into question—Cultural Revolution: Aesthetic Practice after Autonomy reconsiders these changing values, for relegating such notions safely to the past betrays their possibilities for potential today.

Lütticken discusses practices that range from Black Mask to Subversive Aktion, from Krautonomy to Occupy, from the Wet Dream Film Festival in the early 1970s to Jonas Staal’s recently established New World Academy. Within these pages Scarlett Johansson meets Paul Chan, Walid Raad, and Hito Steyerl, and Dr. Zira from Planet of the Apes mingles with the likes of Paul Lafargue and Alexandre Kojève.

Judith Butler Conference

30 Mar

From April 5 to April 7, the VU will host the conference Critical Theory in the Humanities: Resonances of the Work of Judith Butler. Butler herself will participate and give one of the keynotes. Among the focal points of this event is permativity and performance (art), and on Wednesday we will attend Amelia Jones’s lecture “Intimate Relations: Queer Performativity and the Theatricalization of Filiation” with the Critical Studies students. Our art history professor Katja Kwastek will be moderating this section of the day.

Imagining the Image, Talking Back to the Media

23 Feb


The 2017 iteration of our core module Imagining the Image, which started this month, focuses on one particular case: the 1985 manifestation Talking Back to the Media, which took place in Amsterdam encompassed an exhibition, a publication, public events and cable TV programmes, among other components. Based on a concept by David Garcia And Raúl Marroquín, with a collaborative institutional network that included Aorta, De Appel, Kriterion, Shaffy Theater, Time Based Arts and VPRO radio, TBTTM brought together contributions by artists ranging from General Idea and Hans Haacke to Louise Lawler and Ulises Carríon.

The project’s title, with its focus on “talking back” to “the media,” suggests a focus on speech acts and on linguistic interpellation. However, the project occurred at a historical moment marked by debate over the triumph of (audio)visual media, especially television, and by debates about postmodernism, which Fredric Jameson considered to be marked by  “the logic of the simulacrum, with its transformation of older realities into television images.” Jameson’s use of the term “simulacrum” is itself clearly indebted to Baudrillard, whose fame was near its apogee in 1985. In a further twist, for Baudrillard and others in the realm of smiluation, the iconic or indexical aspects of images appeared to have become less relevant than their language-like codedness —the signifiers’ play of difference in the service of equivalence. In this course we will analyse TBTTM both within this mid-1980s context and within genealogies spanning back to the 1960s and 1970s (in media theory, appropriation art, institutional critique) and forward into the 1990s and beyond.


For this course we are collaborating with LIMA, which is Time Based Art’s institutional successor and which has kindly provided us with access to the digitized archive of TBTTM and to its video catalogue.

Conference Frenzy

23 Feb


February has been a month of conferences and colloquia. On February 2, our department at the VU hosted a “young researchers’ colloquium” titled Artistic Subversions: Setting the Conditions of Display. On the day before (and connected to) the Stedelijk Museum’s symposium Lose Yourself!, on “labyrinthine exhibitions,” this colloquium brought together an impressive array of international young(ish) researchers, many of whom are PhD candidates, in a total of four panels and a keynote lecture. Angela Bartholomew, an alumnus of VAMA (now CSAC) who is doing PhD research at the VU, introduced the colloquium. Another AVAM alumnus and current VU PhD candidate, Steyn Bergs,  gave a presentation on “The Attention Economy as a Condition of Display” in the fourth panel, on Authenticity and the Production of Value.

From February 15-18, the College Art Association’s Annual Conference took place in New York City. It proved to be a veritable alumni reunion of VAMA/CSAC alumni. Angela Bartholomew, who as a PhD candidate in our department is still closely affiliated with CSAC, gave a talk on “Television’s Feedback LoopArtists Talking Back to the Media (1985) and the Stedelijk Museum on Television” as part of the European Eighties panel. On another panel, On Conformism and Subversion: Aesthetic Strategies and the Problem of the Political in Contemporary Art, Boris Čučković Berger delivered a paper titled “A Window to Capital: Yuri Pattison’s Outsourced Views, Visual Economies and the Aesthetic Conditions of Critique. Boris is now doing his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art. As part of the intriguingly named Architecture and Comedy section, Stefaan Vervoort (now in Ghent) gave a presentation titled “’Trendsetter and/or Town Fool’: Luc Deleu and the Proposals and Advices (1972–80)”, together with our former professor of art history, Wouter Davidts. And finally: Karin de Wild, who graduated not from VAMA but from our museum curating MA, presented on “Agent Ruby (1998–present): A Case Study for Historicizing the Life of an Internet Artwork” as part of the panel on Accelerated Art History. \

We don’t care if this sounds paternalistic: we’re proud of all of them!