Negotiating Social and Political Urgencies in the Field of Artistic Practice: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst as a Case Study

author: Maria Hlavajova, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst
published: Dec. 14, 2010,   recorded: November 2010,   views: 4035

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Maria Hlavajova, artistic director of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht explores the potential of the art institution to serve as a public site for criticality and dialogue using the example of BAK, which she founded in 2003. The artistic and intellectual framework of BAK as a “space for art and thinking” serves as a case study for articulating ideals for an art institution striving to respond to the challenges articulated by the flux of artistic practices. This approach, defined by participation, discursivity, production, flexibility, fluidity, and criticality in many ways goes against the grain of mainstream institutional models. BAK’s investment in two vital relationships—the link between art and the public sphere, and the alliance between artistic practice and theory—is examined through a discussion of a number of concrete projects (including independent BAK projects such as FORMER WEST, the long-term contemporary art research, education, publishing, and exhibition project (2008–2013)). Such projects clearly claim that art is part of the “real” world, a world filled with social and political urgencies, and argue that art is in fact a space where new social and political imaginaries can emerge. Furthermore, they assume the role of art as a producer of knowledge, suggesting that art’s most important inspiration and tool—the imagination—must remain at the core of any critical institutional practice today.

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