Meet the speakers of our conference “Black Mountain – Educational Turn and the Avant-Garde” taking place on the 25-26/09/2015 at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin.


Vilnius-2010James Elkins
“What is Research?” (keynote)

“In this talk I will review a dozen of the principal ways of conceptualizing research, and discuss their epistemological and pedagogic strengths and limitations. Examples will include contemporary unaccredited institutions (“dark matter”), current administrative literature, and an initiative in Chicago called “Art Words,” which is an attempt to gather the historical, philosophic, and administrative uses of synonyms for “research.” […] Research in the arts has been present as long as modernism; Cézanne talked in compatible terms, and Picasso wrote an essay on the subject. Yet it is only since the last third of the 20th century, with the rise of PhDs in visual art and the dissemination of poststructural theory, that “research” has become a central issue in the teaching of art. The fact that “research” is both recent and contested should itself be a warning against using it uncritically. In the lecture I will try to set out some of the terms with which “research” can be usefully debated.” [excerpt] – James Elkins is E.C. Chadbourne Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His most recent book is What Photography Is.

“Black Mountains of Vinyl: the turntable and compositional thinking”

“John Cage formally declared a compositional interest in the vari-speed turntable as an instrument with his Imaginary Landscape No.1 (1939). Whilst he was not the first (and certainly not the last) artist to work with record players, he was technically the first to conceive of this device within a musical score and therefore to consider how the manipulation of records could be musically notated. Having worked with turntables in my own compositional research for the past 16 years, I am still fundamentally drawn to its playful indeterminacy: it resists digital precision and embraces chance happenings in the connection of vinyl and stylus, hand and platter, scratch and loop. When I perform, therefore, I become an improviser-composer-curator, sometimes navigating a difficult path across the surface of a record, sometimes making analogue hyperlinks between disparate sonic spaces and sometimes simply reframing the listening of the familiar. That process seems to me not so distant from what we call ‘artistic research’ in that each new conclusion contains a new provocation towards untapped knowledge and that search for a new synthesis may quickly recontextualise what has gone before.” Video link: Wright (Norwich, UK, 1977) is a Professor of Composition and Sonic Art at Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK. He works as a composer, improvising turntablist and installation maker.

lehmannAnnette Jael Lehmann
“Black Mountain – Educational Turn and the Avantgarde in Past Tense”

“Although we might retrospectively consider Black Mountain as the cliché of a sustainably succeeding model for an educational turn, we now seem to hesitate to evaluate the college presently under two central categories of modernism: autonomy and avantgarde. Are these categories – even only from an historical backdrop – still relevant for current educational practices? What are the beneficial effects of discourses on the educational turn in our institutions? How can we make our research about the history of Black Mountain College productive for our current practices in teaching and learning in a more immediate even naïve way? What are the potentials of inter-institutional collaborations and research practises for the precarious autonomy of art and education today? Our collaborations will have to be “future-prove”, measured by their long term effects in society. What we do and how we do things together will eventually also prove, if we can claim in view of Black Mountain Collage, that their history has always been our future.” – Annette Jael Lehmann is Professor for Visual Culture, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Freie Universität Berlin. She has a strong inter and cross-disciplinary focus in research and in practise-based collaborations with various institutions in academia, art and culture.

Eva Diaz_PicEva Díaz
“The Black Mountain College Experiment Revisited”

“Eva Díaz’s The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College (University of Chicago Press, 2015) takes up the risks and possibilities of using the concept of the “test” as a lens to produce, teach, and understand art. In this talk she will set forth how an interdisciplinary group of artists proposed new models of art practice around the concept of experimentation, and focuses on three key Black Mountain teachers in the late 1940s and early 1950s: Josef Albers, John Cage, and Buckminster Fuller. In addition, in this presentation Diaz will connect the work of The Experimenters to her current book project, The Fuller Effect: The Critique of Total Design in Postwar Art. This new project explores the legacy of Buckminster Fuller in contemporary art, and Diaz will share some of her research on changing ideas about nomadic habitation, capsule architecture, and space colonization.” – Eva Díaz is Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Design Department at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her book The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College was released this year by the University of Chicago Press.

Chris Salter_PicChris Salter
“Alien Agency – Techno-Science, Art and the Limits of Knowing”

“Alien Agency examines the processes and practices of three artistic quasi-objects (Serres) in the making, exploring how the materials of art ― the “stuff of the world” ― behave and perform in ways beyond the creator’s intent, becoming unknown and alien and in effect, challenging epistemologically centered paradigms of knowledge making. Specifically, how is it that researcher-creators organize the conditions for new kinds of experimental, performative assemblies that sidestep entrenched dichotomies between subjects and objects, human and non-human, mind and body, knowing and experiencing. Without pretending that artistic processes and scientific research are the same or have similar goals, Alien Agency ultimately focuses on how the experiential and affective elements of artistic practice with techno-science actually ask a similar question that science does as well: how do new things come into the world and what do they do?” [excerpt]– Chris Salter is an artist, University Research Chair in New Media, Technology and the Senses at Concordia University and Co-Director of the Hexagram network for Research-Creation in Media Arts, Design, Technology and Digital Culture, in Montreal. His latest book is Alien Agency: Experimental Encounters with Art in the Making (MIT Press, 2015)

Dieter LesageDieter Lesage
“Art, Research, Experiment – The Academy Revisited”

“As Black Mountain College has enjoyed quite some name-dropping in the educational curatorial rhetoric over the past few years as an exemplary experimental art school, whereas its supposed characteristics were most often left unmentioned, it makes sense to ask the question what exactly one was referring to if referring to Black Mountain College. What is the imaginary concept of Black Mountain present in today’s curatorial rhetorics? Indeed, the core of the Educational Complex today, having taken the Educational Turn, seems to be the Black Mountain Syndrome.” – Dieter Lesage (b. 1966) is a Professor at RITCS | Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema & Sound (Brussels). His latest book is Art, Research and Politics. Essays in Curatorial Criticism (1999-2014) (Brussels, (SIC), 2014).

Panel: “Collaboration in Art, Education and Research Today”

Eugen Blume (Curator | Museum Hamburger Bahnhof | Berlin, Germany)
“The museum as ‘university with objects'”
Irene Campolmi (Researcher and curator | Curatorial Department, Louisiana Museum | Humlebæk, Denmark)
“Between the DISCURSIVE & the IMMERSIVE”
Julian Klein (Composer, director and researcher | Institut für künstlerische Forschung, Radialsystem V | Berlin, Germany)
On the benefits and challenges of collaboration
Gabriele Knapstein (Curator | Museum Hamburger Bahnhof | Berlin, Germany)
“Collaborating with different art schools and universities in the project ‘Performing the Black Mountain Archive'”
Markus Miessen (Architect, spatial consultant and writer | University of Southern California | Los Angeles, USA)
“Collaboration & Consensus”
Nina Möntmann (Curator, writer, professor | Royal Institute of Art | Stockholm, Sweden)
“How to protect ‘the students from being disappointed'”
Patrick Müller (Professor | Zürcher Hochschule der Künste | Zurich, Switzerland)
“On transdisciplinarity and dilettantism as a strategy.”
Moderation by: Claudia Olk (Freie Universität Berlin)

IR profile imageIrit Rogoff
“Creative Practices of Knowlegde”

“I want at this moment to pose questions about the circuits of knowledge that went from amateur to professional, from general to discipline based, and to currently understanding themselves, at a progressive level at least, as being ‘undisciplined’. As the models for Practice based Research gain increasing purchase in the academy and its funders we need to consider not just the new forms of knowledge but also the permissions that sustain and legitimate them. Obviously the vast body of thought that Michel Foucault put in to play with his historical analysis of knowledge formations and the assumptions that these have been based on has been key here. But we have also been through a decade in which activist and NGO initiatives at countering institutional dominance of knowledge production and dissemination have also shifted the ground in terms of expanding the range of the possible formats available for learning. In this instance I want to pay as much attention to the knowledges themselves, as we do to the demands put on them: the structures that house them, the strictures that police them and the rhetorics that they are embedded in.” – Irit Rogoff is a writer, teacher, curator and organisor. She is Professor of Visual Culture at Goldsmiths London University, a department she founded in 2002. Her current work is on new practices of knowledge production and their impact on modes of research, under the title of “The Way We Work Now” (forthcoming 2016).

Yvonne Reiners

Yvonne Reiners

Yvonne Reiners and Christina Kral
“Everyone must win—Buckminster Fuller’s World Game” (a lecture performance)

Practical utopian thinker, maker, and architect Buckminster Fuller created in his extensive oeuvre a game (the “World Game“) that set out to deal with all the problems of the planet earth and with it proposed an alternate system ofeducation. The platform he created provided tools of access and action and allowed everyone o take part in the collaborative effort to change the future. Departing from Fuller’s World Game, curator Yvonne Reiners (DE) in dialogue with artist Christina Kral/YKON (DE/FI) will investigate past, presence and future trends in experimental education and artistic practice. As part of the symposium of the Black

Christina Kral

Mountain research initiative the presenters – both deeply immersed in the research and development of alternative forms of knowledge production – will unpack a num- ber of historical and contemporary examples to highlight emerging literacies. Like a discursive commentary the presenters will juxtapose approaches that resonate with Fuller’s vision and acknowledge his relevancy today. – Yvonne Reiners works as an independent curator in Berlin. Educated at University of Arts, Braunschweig, she currently works on her thesis at HFBK Hamburg about performativity in contemporary art education and artisticpractice. Christina Kral is an artist based in Berlin. Through experimental models of facilitation and collaboration she promotes alternative, hybrid forms of knowledge production. In addition to that Christina is part of the artist collective YKON (DE/FI), an advocacy group for unrepresented nations, experimental countries and utopian practitioners.