Knowledge is not per se emancipatory. It is the art of thinking that transforms knowledge into social property with emancipatory potential. But where can thinking take place within today’s accelerationist tendencies towards the accumulation of knowledge? What can a study program of an art school deliver to contemporary conditions, in terms of processes and platforms, so that we might speak through fragmented vocabularies, stay open to transformative long-term processes of production, including those that might need more than two years of an MA-program to gestate? How might our trans-disciplinary constellations, our crossing of different time-zones and languages, our incomplete sets of knowledges between political and technological borders, grapple critically with regimes and contexts of increasing neoliberalisation — of work and education, care and struggle, and within and beyond a predominately object-oriented cultural industrial regime? As institutional frameworks of art education similarly strengthen into more and more calculative modalities, how do we work against in/securities and debts, to put the unknown to work outside of mere capital transactions and accumulations?
These questions and concerns informed the a one-year colloquium Thinking under Turbulence. It took place in 2015/16 at the transitional moment of ‘critical curatorial cybermedia’ (CCC), the Research-Based study program at HEAD – Genève School of Art and Design. Formatted in public sessions and closed seminars, Thinking under Turbulence provides time and space to think through the conditions and possibilities of an international Research Program (MA) dedicated to curatorial concerns within the complex geospatial and techno-political constellations of the present.
Contributors to the colloquium include invited guests in conversation with students and faculty members of the research-based study program at HEAD, in a series of public sessions at the seminar room of BH, salle 27, open to everyone. Visiting guests also contribute to closed sessions with students of the program’s curriculum over the year.
The Thinking under Turbulence colloquium departs from literally “a speaking together”: from com- “together” + -loquium “speaking”. A speaking together outside/inside the academy. Therefore, the concept of the colloquium does not propose thinking to be a philosophical method to study a subject matter but departs from a moment under conditions of turbulence when knowledge is under pressure that makes it necessary to think differently. As a study program in Higher Education, a European art academy wishing to rethink the locations of knowledge must do this thinking through the questions: Which knowledge? From whom? For whom? And for which purposes?
The sessions will be mainly in English language as well as French. Each will be edited into a print publication.
More a frame than a theme, Navigating Turbulences proposes to continue to think together about the need for new vocabularies for living in global turbulences by means of contemporary research processes. Each session will introduce into a particular approach for understanding and undertaking research as a practice in the arts.
The condition of turbulences creates a situation in which knowledge and non-knowledge exist together. In a condition of turbulence, on one side, we can rely on knowledge about science, history, rituals, regulations and systems that seem to secure our place in the world. On the other side, the moment of turbulence carries the condition of non-knowledge , in which it is not clear exactly what will happen next: language is missing, borders are closed, translation is needed, the mind is closer to the body, control mechanisms and systems fail, dominant histories unravel and collaborative thinking is important. It is a moment of a relational uncertainty that holds the potential to open up a new horizon.
How can we move in times of turbulences? Navigating from inside a condition of turbulences begins by rendering precisely the problem of localization in continuous interaction with geopolitical global entanglements. This, in itself, is nothing new. These entanglements have long histories and privilege certain positionalities, reason enough to articulate precisely our position in relation to the world: We may think here about global trade-routes, contemporary trajectories of sea migration, the abstract flows of financial capitalism, weaponized image-technologies, the algorithmic architectures of planetary computation, the uneven geographies of knowledge, the politics of translation, and so on. Who are ‘we’ in such a stack of layers?