PRAKSIS Open Call // The Collective Subject Of History


25 JUNE – 8 JULY AND 7 – 21 SEPTEMBER 2018

Developed with Elvira Dyangani Ose in collaboration with Guttormsgaard’s Archive.

From the city of Oslo, it takes just over thirty minutes by train to reach the small village of Blaker, where the archive of the artist Guttorm Guttormsgaard ( b. 1938) occupies the former dairy. A visit to the archive is a paradoxical and absolutely modern experience: the commonplace becomes uncommon, the exceptional like the everyday. Here, individual outsiders and collective life-forms – ‘art of known and unknown origins’ – are documented: masters such as El Lissitzky, Hannah Ryggen and Hokusai are ‘archived’ alongside works of art produced by Soviet prisoners of war during the Second World War, steel-wire artefacts made by ‘tatere’ (Scandinavian travellers of Romani origins) in order to earn a living, hand-drawn Korans and Coptic bibles, Indian bronze figures, African masks and Greenlandic newspapers. The archive invites intense concen­tration and potentially endless digressions, and it is a space where forms of art and life broker new alliances. If at first glance it seems difficult to see any unifying principle underpinning the archive, the motto of the project indicates the existential and political driving force behind it all: it is a question of “documenting necessary impulses to keep one’s spirits up.”

For PRAKSIS’s tenth residency, The Collective Subject of History, a group of locally and internationally based residents will have the rare opportunity to explore the potential of the archive. Applications are now being accepted from individuals with relevant interest and experience across disciplines, including but not exclusively: artists, writers, curators, art historians, sociologists, anthropologists, designers, and activists. Successful applicants have the chance to work in-depth with the archive either individually or collectively. Artist/archivist Guttorm Guttormsgaard and art historian/curator Ellef Prestsæter will be available to share their rich knowledge of the archive throughout the residency.

We want to explore the potential of the archive as a starting point for narrative. More specifically we want to take the archive as a site for the remaking of collective histories. If the search for historical truth leads to “dizzying ambiguity, [and] if time is nothing but indeterminacy and flux,” as Susan Buck-Morss claims, then why don’t we simply make up the past according to our own convenience? And, if one were to do so, who or what would be the collective subject of history? If given the opportunity to be such a history-teller, how does one make relevant the collective memories, personal narratives, inner worlds, stories, and protagonists located within the margins of history? Furthermore, would this reconstruction of the past ever challenge current historiography – its methods of inclusion and omission? Lastly, what could such an attempt add to future processes of history making?

PRAKSIS residencies are structured around the interests and needs of their participants. Bringing together a community that shares common interests through the theme is the first step in creating a beneficial working environment. The particular form that the residency then takes is developed collectively through discussion once the group comes together. Each member of the group is encouraged to discuss why they applied and what they hope to get out of their time with PRAKSIS. Whether members work autonomously or in collaboration is up to the participants. Residents are expected to be able work independently and be comfortable in a group setting.

The residency will be geared towards the production of an exhibition to be held at the archive in September 2018. In addition to this PRAKSIS and Guttormsgaard’s Archive will organise a series of related activities and events. Residents are welcomed to suggest/lead an action that will both offer insight into and benefit, their own background, interests or methodologies. Participants are also encouraged to contribute towards a shared reading list in advance of the residency, as well as to suggest films for potential screening during the residency itself.

The residency will be divided in two sessions:

Session 1 (25 June -8 July) offers time working with the archive and pursuing individually and collectively identified lines of inquiry.

Session 2 (7 – 21 September) will focus on the dissemination of outcomes from the first session (in whatever forms are suitable – for example through exhibition, symposium, publications, online platforms etc.).

Please note that accommodation will be provided for non-locally based participants during these two session but not in the period between.

Elvira Dyangani Ose (ES) is Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, Creative Time Senior Curator and member of the Thought Council at the Fondazione Prada. Recently she was part of the curatorial team of the Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement 2016, and was curator of the eighth edition of the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, GIBCA 2015. Previously, Dyangani Ose served as Curator International Art at Tate Modern (2011 – 2014), Curator at the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, as Artistic Director of Rencontres Picha, Lubumbashi Biennial (2013), and as Guest Curator of the triennial SUD, Salon Urbain de Douala (2010). Dyangani Ose has published and lectured on modern and contemporary African art and has contributed to art journals such as Nka and Atlántica.

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