Atmospheres of Protest Symposium

Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art

Noah Fischer and Maria Byck (Occupy Museums, New York)

SPEAKERS: Noah Fischer and Maria Byck (Occupy Museums, New York), Matteo Pasquinelli and Wietske Maas (urbanibalists, Berlin and Amsterdam), Emma Dowling (theorist and activist, London), Gabriella Csoszó (photographer/artist, Budapest), Tomas Rafa (filmmaker/artist, Bratislava), Tamara Steger (researcher, CEU Budapest) and Maja and Reuben Fowkes (translocal.org).

GabriellaCsoszo, Occupy Wall Street, 2011

The upsurge of new popular movements from Egypt to Greece and Bucharest to New York has engendered an atmosphere of defiance and social creativity that has captured the global imagination. Beyond the ebb and flow of individual protest movements, this symposium asks whether global solidarity has really taken hold this time and considers the variety of ways in which contemporary art is embroiled through practices of dialogue and collaboration in the emergence of a common horizon and the imagining of a sustainable future. Providing a trans-disciplinary forum for discussion of the vital issues bridging the fields of art and environmental thought, the symposium sheds light on our understanding of the multifarious notion of sustainability, which appears by turns as a radical concept in global ecological thinking, can be recruited as a corporate strategy for green capitalism, and may act as a spur to new forms of social activism.

Speakers include artist-activists Noah Fischer and Maria Byck, who are members of the Occupy Museums Collective that protests against the domination of the interests of the 1% in the running of New York art institutions, as well as Berlin and Amsterdam-based urbanibalists Matteo Pasquinelli and Wietske Maas, who will present a radical manifesto of urban cannibalism that seeks to recover the spontaneous living matter of the city. Curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes explore the creation of liberated zones and the relevance of ecological thought to new protest movements, while activist and writer on affective labour Emma Dowling will reflect on the sustainability of the protest movement in the light of the spread of locally-organised occupations of public and private space. Tomas Rafa’s video archive of marches and counter-demonstrations illuminates the spectrum of contemporary protest, while researcher Tamara Steger and artist Gabriella Csoszó debate the representation of activism.

The symposium is organised by curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes (Translocal.org) in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Centre for Arts and Culture at Central European University (CEU).

For more information see:

Symposium: Rethinking Robert Smithson

Art and Ecology related symposium at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague on Friday 30 March:

In many ways, the artistic debates prevalent in the 1970s are recurring in our time: the relation between art and ecology, the position of the artist within a information and media society and the crisis of (neo)liberalism. Although the societal context and diameters of these discussions have changed profoundly, their basis can be found in the period from 1965 to 1975, considered a paradigmatic shift in art and society. But how well do we actually know our immediate past and what can we learn from it? Smithson’s artistic heritage provides an interesting and relevant case study in this respect. Rethinking Robert Smithson aims to open up a discussion about current concerns in art and theory at the intersection of art historical debate and contemporary art practice. Along the line of two thematic approaches related to Smithson’s work, Art and Ecology and The Cinematic Condition, topical concerns in artistic practice are reconsidered by internationally renowned theorists and artists.

For more details see:
Rethinking Smithson Symposium




Animal Ecologies Symposium


8th of October 2011
UCL, London

The symposium proposes an exploration of artistic practices involved with animals and environments.  In the recent re-surfacing of the animal in contemporary art, emphasis has been given to mammals, mainly because of the most immediate relational opportunities that these animals offer to us.  However, a number of very interesting artists has been recently trying to bridge the abyss between ‘us’ and more ‘taxonomically remote’ creatures through the use of art and science as active interfaces.  This new focus reveals the interconnectedness between humans, amphibians, reptiles and insects, and the environments in which we all live.  Through a multidisciplinary approach, the symposium aims at facilitating a dialogue between artists, scientists and academics interested in informing wider audiences through visual communication.

Speakers Include: Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey / Ron Broglio / Maja and Reuben Fowkes /Rikke Hansen / London Fieldworks / Joyce Salisbury / Linda Williams

For tickets are further details see:

Into the Puszta

Post-Fordism in the Puszta

Last weekend’s symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art, the 5th annual collaboration between Translocal and the Dept of Environmental Science and Policy and Centre for Arts and Culture at Central European University, was a fascinating meeting of minds.

The event consisted of a series of critical conversations on issues of Art, Post-Fordism and Eco-Critique at the university, between  environmental scientist Ruben Mnatsakanian and Croatian artist Branka Cvjeticanin, Polish playwright and member of Krytyka Polityczna Igor Stokfiszewski and Hungarina artist Csaba Nemes and Paris-based theorist Stephen Wright and Austrian artist Ralo Mayer with an introduction to Art, Ecology and post-Fordism given by Maja and Reuben Fowkes of Translocal, and additional moderation from environmental philosopher Alan Watt.

On day two, the critical conversationalists were joined by Hungarian artist Tamas Kaszas and CEU students Lauren Othon-Buckley and Marianna Szczygielska for a trip to a mystery destination in the Hungarian puszta for discussion in depth of the issues at the heart of the symposium. The workshop was a great success, the setting providing plenty of inspiration for considering the effects of post-Fordism on all our professions and potential resistance strategies in art and life, and was documented for the future.

Into the Puszta
Post-Fordist spectacle at the Vorosmarty Tanya
Sunset on the puszta
The workshop participants

Sustainability and Contemporary Art

Sustainability and Contemporary Art:
Art, Post-Fordism and Eco-Critique

International Symposium at Central European University Budapest
19-20 March 2010

Ralo Mayer, Multiplex Fiction, 2008

This symposium focuses on the intersections between globalisation, ecology and contemporary art and examines the relevance of post-Fordist theory for both environmentalism and artistic practice.

The symposium is organised as a series of critical conversations between speakers from the fields of art, philosophy and environmental science that respond to urgent questions such as:

What is the way forward after the failure of the Copenhagen Summit and in the face of growing public scepticism about the science of climate change?
How has the spread of flexible post-Fordist practices effected the way artists, cultural producers, academics and environmentalists work?
How might artists develop ways to critique capitalism with an awareness of ecology and the complexity of globalisation?

With Stephen Wright (art theorist, Paris), Igor Stokfiszewski (curator/critic/playwright, Warsaw), Branka Cvjeticanin (multimedia artist, Zagreb), Ralo Mayer (artist, Vienna), Maja and Reuben Fowkes (Translocal.org), Ruben Mnatsakanian and Alan Watt (CEU Department of Environmental Science and Policy).

For more information see: www.translocal.org/sustainability