• Course 7: Living with Contradictions: Contemporary Art and Nationalism
Course 7: Living with Contradictions: Contemporary Art and Nationalism
Course 7: Living with Contradictions: Contemporary Art and Nationalism
by Sezgin Boynik
8 – 13 August 2022

Course Description
The aim of the course is to discuss the relationship between contemporary art and nationalism. The course will challenge the widely accepted claim that contemporary art is unsusceptible of nationalism. I argue that despite the incompatible differences, nationalism is reproduced in the field of contemporary art through very subtle and sophisticated structures. However, the link between contemporary art practices and nationalist ideologies which are mediated by cultural institutions is full of contradictions. By studying and discussing these contradictions, the aim is to shift the theoretical and methodological perspective of the study of nationalism to more challenging grounds.
The course will be focusing on conceptual implications of aligning nationalism with contemporary art, as well as discussing the historical precedence of the shift of contemporary art to nationalism by researching the role of postmodernism in the eighties. It will attempt to specify at which point the social tendency of contemporary art practice became centered around the questions of nation and identity.

Some of the concrete objectives of the course are:
To discuss in which way today’s artists, working in a trans-national context are involved in the reproduction of nationalist ideologies.
Question of nationalism in today’s conditions of the permanency of war, and the ways how artists (avant-garde and contemporary) respond to this situation.
To role of market and financial speculations in maintaining the nationalism in the art institutions, and the ways in which the nation formations are transforming today.
To discover and detect the practices of contemporary art that can subvert nationalism and pose a most daring critique towards it. We will be focusing on contemporary art practices challenging not only the idea of nationalism, but as well as the institutional structures reproducing nationalism.

Participants in the course will have chance to discuss complex theoretical framing of cultural nationalism following writings of Paul Gilroy, Etienne Balibar, Judith Butler, Rosa Luxemburg, Roman Rosdolsky, Stuart Hall, Frantz Fanon, Zoja Skušek, Amiri Baraka and many other theoreticians and activists. Also, the course will introduce films of Harun Farocki, Black Audio Film collective, Joyce Wieland, and Martha Rosler, critical of national narrative. Parallel to these examples, there would be a rich amount of case studies of contemporary art practices working in the field of nationalism.

Sezgin Boynik is a theoretician based in Helsinki. He completed his PhD on Yugoslav “Black Wave” cinema. He co-edited Nationalism and Contemporary Art: Critical Reader (MM & Exit, 2007) and History of Punk and Underground in Turkey (BAS, 2008). Recent publications include Noise After Babel: Language Unrestrained (Spector Books, 2015, with Minna Henriksson), In the Belly of the Beast: Art & Language New York Project (Rab-Rab Journal Vol. 4, No. 2, 2017, with Michael Corris) and Coiled Verbal Spring: Devices of Lenin's Language (Rab-Rab Press, 2018). He is currently working on a monograph about the theoretical and political context of Black Audio Film Collective and on the collection of Yugoslav concrete poetry. He is editor of Rab-Rab: Journal for Political and Formal Inquiries in Art, and Rab-Rab Press, an independent publishing platform based in Helsinki.

10 participants will be selected to participate in this course. Eligible participants must read the Terms information, fill out the application form, upload the required documents and submit the application form. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The participation fee 300€.
Scholarships are available for participants from Kosovo.