On Saturday 13 September 2014 a symposium on the work of Paul Chan will be held at Schaulager. In this academic yet accessible examination of Paul Chan’s artistic scope, ranging from sculpture, drawings and installation to light projections, animations, invented fonts and site-specific interventions, experts as well as the broader public will be offered interesting insights on the artist’s work.
On Friday 12 September at 6.30 p.m., the symposium will open with an artist’s talk between Paul Chan and Kathy Halbreich, associate director at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and long-time expert on his work.
Conception and planning of the symposium were undertaken in close collaboration with Laurenz Assistant Professor Dr. Susanne Leeb, Schaulager Professor Dr. Markus Klammer and Prof. Dr. Ralph Ubl, Professor of Modern Art History, University of Basel.
Admission including catering on Saturday: CHF 30 / CHF 15 (students and postgraduate students).
Admission to the Artist’s Talk on Friday 12 September is also granted with an entrance ticket to the exhibition.
Lectures in German and English. All conference presentations (except Artist’s Talk on Friday 12 September) will be simultaneously translated from English into German and vice versa.
FRIDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 2014
Paul Chan in conversation with Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2014
Word of Welcome
Isabel Friedli, Schaulager
Ralph Ubl, Professor of Modern Art History, University of Basel
Das Theater gammelt auf der Strasse, das Theater repariert ein Haus
Kai van Eikels, Philosopher and Theater Scholar, Berlin
“You gotta leave something behind for the community,” a friend from New Orleans said to Paul Chan in 2006 when the latter was thinking about staging Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at a street corner devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Too many art projects had come and gone without doing something lasting for the city, he was told. But how can the fleeting performative art of theater make a contribution in such a situation, where the primary concerns seem to be processes of production—not merely for the material reconstruction of the flooded districts, but also for protecting the structures and ways of life that have grown up over time against property speculation and administrative cleansing? Like the HBO series Treme, which examines the connections between New Orleans’ music culture and the reconquest of the city by its inhabitants, Chan’s work raises the question of relationship between praxis and poiesis: can an act of performing match acts of producing in leaving
something behind to benefit the fabric of social coexistence? Can a brief staged event synchronize with the rhythms of building, dwelling, the daily wear and tear and recreation of bodies, to achieve an impact that outlasts the minor spectacle it might spark?
Ästhetische Staatsapparate. Zur Kunst der Täuschung und der Selbsttäuschung
Felix Trautmann, Philosopher, eikones NCCR Iconic Criticism, Basel
Do works of art articulate a certain form of ideological interpellation? Or might art’s cunning consist of suspending all effects of subjectivation? While art has often been categorically relegated by classical ideological criticism to the camp of delusion, diversion and deceipt, the visual scenes invoked by the models of this criticism (such as in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” or the camera obscura in The German Ideology by Karl Marx) in fact evade in themselves the simple difference between deceipt and self-deception. Ensuing from this basis, the talk addresses the possibility of obtaining non-scientific knowledge of the world through aesthetic practices and conceiving a non-political politics of art against the state.
Moderation: Susanne Leeb, Laurenz Assistant Professor for Contemporary Art, University of Basel
Richard Fletcher, Associate Professor at the Department of Classics, Ohio State University
This talk will explore the relationship between community, Classics and the contemporary in Paul Chan’s work. Focusing on his new series of work—the Arguments and Nonprojections —the talk will consider how Chan’s uncanny installations, in their call for an “untimely” engagement with ancient Greek communities (e.g. Athens) and institutions (the symposium) and their playfully and parodic portraits of ancient philosophers (Plato, Diogenes, Marcus Aurelius, Plotinus) offer a timely critique of the discipline of Classicists in the vein of Nietzsche’s plans, sketches and notes called “We Classicists” (“Wir Philologen”), written in 1875 during his tenure as a Classics professor in Basel.
On the Necessity of Destruction
George Baker, Professor of Art History, University of California
In his introductory essay for the Selected Writings of Paul Chan, Baker focused on the labor of arrangement and new relations constructed in both the artist’s work and writings, a set of operations focused on the creation of new thought and image “constellations”. Now, in reaction to the Schaulager exhibition, Baker turns to the opposite dynamic of undoing, breakdown, ruination and destruction that has long been at the center of Chan’s earlier projects. Of specific interest will be the recent work’s occupation of a set of recognizable strategies and specific works that date back to Dada and Marcel Duchamp. The focus of the lecture will be the intensity of this return and the renewed dynamic of an art of sheer negation and destruction in our times.
Moderation: Markus Klammer, Schaulager Professor for Art Theory, University of Basel