EL CONTRATO Lecture Programme. First talk: Héctor Bourges


Bulegoa z/b has organised a programme of talks as part of EL CONTRATO [The Contract]. This collaboration project with AlhóndigaBilbao began in April 2013, with the creation of a regular reading group meeting once a fortnight, and is due to conclude with an exhibition in 2014. From November 2013 to January 2014, four specialists from different fields speak about the contractual relationships existing in areas such as art, writing, publishing, films, social theory and theatre. Additionally, each guest speaker will lead one reading session.

The basic aim of EL CONTRATO is to examine how the contracts commonly entered into from modernity to the present day condition the evolution of practices linked to the humanities, such as art, history and social theory. The question is whether it is possible to renegotiate these established contracts without falling prey to the indifference that so often derives from consensus. Or, to put it another way, we ask whether it is possible to take a critical approach to the need for pacts to be made without succumbing to forced agreement between the parties.

In the words of Jacques Rancière, disagreement is not, as we might imagine, the conflict between one who says white and another who says black, rather the conflict between one who says white and another who also says white, but means something different by it. Reaching an agreement between different groups means establishing a pact upon the reality they wish to build. On the other hand, as Georg Simmel says, “the first condition of having to deal with somebody at all is to know with whom one has to deal”. Continuing with this line of thought, what do these contracts commit us to? What rights do they give us, and what liabilities? What is the relationship between valid, legitimised contracts and the other tacit agreements that govern them, based on unwritten or invisible affective relationships? Can the terms of these contracts and agreements be revised? And, finally, can we create new models of contracts that correspond to the aspirations and desires that lead our practices?

Tuesday, 12 November at 7 pm.

Héctor Bourges (Mexico City)

To demothernise: to disfigure, disengage, de-learn, divest, decolonise, disappear, discharge, displace, dismember, de-skin, disobey, disrobe, depopulate, dehumanise, disinter, disclose, discourage or desire.

Like a panel from Aby Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne, the aim of this conference is to compare possible combinations of gestures, images and historical accounts creating tensions – that still remain active today – on drafting a “ghost contract” that is the basis for a constant building up and knocking down of Mexico’s national project. It is a contract filled with open secrets: things that “everyone knows”, but things we cannot mention, cannot name, cannot let out. The aim of this art research project by Teatro Ojo is to explore and “bring into play” different forms of staging and performance (nahualism, masks, metamorphosis, ventriloquism, etc.) that political powers have unleashed throughout Mexican history, turning a frankly colonialism-inspired policy on its head and giving rise to what Jacques Rancière calls “the part that has no part” in the democratic contract.

Héctor Bourges Valles has been a member of the theatre group Teatro Ojo since 2003. Teatro Ojo are currently preparing to take part in an exhibition at the Reina Sofía National Art Museum in Madrid and working on a new project for the exhibition Words as an Excuse at the Mario de Andrade Library in São Paulo, Brazil. The group recently took part in the first Online Biennial, curated by Jan Hoet and Cuauhtémoc Medina, among others. Teatro Ojo’s most recent projects are Xipe Tótec (Put yourself in my shoes), Athens/Madrid (2013) and Lo que viene (Coming up), a stage project, El Galeón Theatre, INBA, Mexico City (2012). In 2007 and 2010 Teatro Ojo received the gold medal for the “best work” in the category Theatre Architecture and Performance Space. Prague Quadrennial 2011. In 2012 Bourges coordinated an experimental academic project at the San Luis Potosí Arts Centre (CASLP), Theatre and Social Imagination Laboratory. He is a member of the UNAM Theatre Management Advisory Board and the CASLP’s Performing Arts Area. He has a degree in Political Science from the Ibero-American University and a postgraduate degree in Documentary Cinema from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Tuesday, 26 November at 7 pm.

Catarina Simão (Lisbon)

Staging a Decolonisation Process: Cinema Denying its own Present

“The future of cinema needs to emerge from the denial of its own present.” These were the words of Mozambique’s Information Minister at the first African Cooperation Cinema Conference in 1977, and it was precisely the idea of “cinema denying its own present” that made Mozambique so appealing to film directors like Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Rouch and Ruy Guerra in the late 1970s.

Since 2009, Catarina Simão has worked on recovering the remaining footage collection of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), kept in the Maputo State Archives. Through a series of presentations, screenings and conversations held at a variety of venues, she discusses these visual narratives from a viewpoint going above and beyond the initial backdrop against which they were made, detecting their potential for creating new versions of the history of pictures.

This talk aims to structure a dialogue between the images of the Mozambique footage archive and texts written in conjunction with curator Leire Vergara. Using different examples, Simão attempts to recover the ambivalent and/or contradictory relationship between the ideology-based official programme and the work of a group of intellectuals who intrude on the cinema industry of an African country that had recently emerged from a war of independence.

Catarina Simão is an independent Portuguese artist, architect and researcher. Her areas of research and collaboration include installation, video, cinema curating, radio programmes and participative workshops. In 2009 she began the project Fora de Campo/Off-screen Project – Mozambique Film Archive in Maputo, which combines research work with artists’ presentations, conferences and lectures. This project has been shown at the Manifesta 8 Biennial in Murcia, the Andalusian Centre of Contemporary Art in Seville, the Serralves Museum in Oporto and Africa.cont in Lisbon. In 2012 she collaborated with the Living Archive programme at the Arsenal Cinema in Berlin. Fora de Campo/Off-screen Project – Mozambique Film Archive has recently been presented at the Sweet Sixties conferences and the Home Works 6 Biennial, both at the Ashkal Alwan Centre in Beirut. Catarina Simão has also written texts and publications on subjects such as film archives, political imagery, education and emancipation and the artistic practices that make this process central. At present she is collaborating with the Portuguese publishers GHOST on a project for reading and indexing theoretical texts written by artists in contexts of conflict.

Tuesday, 10 December at 7 pm.

Filiep Tacq (Kortrijk)

A Journey through Art Books

How to think up a book. How to make a readable object from a set of ideas and intentions, and how to do this when the object is the result of dialogue between a designer and an artist. This lecture analyses questions arising on creating an art book: thinking of the cover like the façade of a building, transferring a film to a book, how a book can unexpectedly disappear just as soon as it comes out or how a catalogue – the publication that records what has happened in an exhibition – can actually become a work of art itself. It reviews the work of authors such as Ibon Aranberri, Dirk Braeckman, Marcel Broodthaers, Rodney Graham, Boris Groys, Anna Torfs and Lawrence Weiner. All the issues discussed focus on a single idea: the idea of the book as a specific entity with its own vocabulary, its own means and its own internal logic.

Filiep Tacq has worked as an independent graphic designer specialising in books, art catalogues and artist’s books since 1984. He has taught at the Sint-Lucas Instituut in Gante and the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. He has worked on publications by artists including Francys Alÿs, Ibon Aranberri, Marcel Broodthaers, James Coleman, Lili Dujourie, Abbas Kiarostami, Chris Marker, Juan Muñoz, Pedro G. Romero, Michael Snow and Lawrence Weiner, and with institutions such as the Antoni Tàpies Foundation of Barcelona, the New York DIA Centre for the Arts, Manifesta 2 in Luxembourg, the Argos Centre in Brussels, Birmingham’s IKON Gallery, the Lisson Gallery in London, the New York Guggenheim, the Barcelona MACBA, the Reina Sofia National Art Museum in Madrid and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Tuesday, 28 January at 7 pm.

Elena Casado (Madrid)

The Power of the Ordinary

Just what it is that makes Comic Sans or Gandía Shore so irritating, so despicable? What are our stakes in this consensus? Playing with different senses of the ordinary can give us some clues. Ordinary things are vulgar, inferior. But they also have a lot to do with our routine day-to-day life. Ordinary sounds a bit like ordering, setting out categories and hierarchies, even if the lowly positions of ordinary things don’t inspire us enough to take them on as values. Some would talk about empowerment. We’re going to talk about vigour and chutzpah.

Elena Casado Aparicio is a Sociology lecturer at the Complutense University of Madrid. Her lines of research have been linked to the sociology of communication and gender relations, focusing particularly on violence in heterosexual couples. She is currently a member of the group Sociología Ordinaria, working on the research project “Innovative Methods for Emerging Practices: Controversies and Unease over the “Public/Private” and “Extensive Care”, an open, collaborative teaching project for making use of sociological imagination and the passion for hacking from the sickroom.

Venue: Bastida Room, except the conference of 26 November, which will be at the CAC.

Free admission.

( http://www.alhondigabilbao.com )