Platform: Monika Szewczyk

The Conversation, film poster.

In her recent Art of Conversation essays, Monika Szewczyk attempted to render the free-floating notion of conversation strange. Why? For one, the word “conversation” has much “currency,” in all senses of the term. But, if every morning BBC asks us to “join the global conversation,” for instance, this holding conversation up as a communicative ideal also loosens the meaning of the word beyond recognition. The BBC jingle advertises “World Have Your Say” – a program where all are free to call in with an opinion. But is this conversation? And if – as will be argued – conversation is defined by silence, neutrality, and/as interruption, can it ever happen on radio, where there is a fear of “dead air”?

Furthermore, leaving “The World Have Your Say” behind, to think of the art world, the question arises of why, virtually every month, another symposium is announced in place of an exhibition? Consider the Bergen Biennale Conference in September 2009, recall the morning papers which announced that the biennale could be a conference. Is this an attempt to bypass art exhibiting in the cultural arena? Or is the ambition to raise discussion to the level of aesthetic activity? In fusing and confusing art and conversation, the idea is to allow the two notions, or practices, to pressure each other.

The lecture will include a review of the arguments of Parts I & II of Art of Conversation. And it will be an occasion to introduce how Part III (currently in development), pursues the question of class raised at the end of Part II. Here, Art of Conversation enters the debate over the rise of the so-called “creative class.”

To read Parts I & II of Art of Conversation by Monika Szewczyk visit the e-flux journal:
“Part I”:
“Part II”:

Live stream from 8 pm.

Monika Szewczyk is a writer, editor and curator based in Berlin and Rotterdam. She is Head of Publications at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam.

Szewczyk was a participant at the Bergen Biennial Conference in September this year, as a reviewer, and also as moderator of the panel discussion on the future of biennials.

Her essays and interviews have appeared in Afterall, Mousse, A Prior, and in e-flux journal online, where she has chronicled her ongoing investigation of the changing aesthetics and politics of discourse in a serial project titled ‘Art of Conversation’. Most recently she published ‘Meaning Liam Gillick’, the first critical reader on the artist’s work co-published by the organizers of his mid-career survey and The MIT Press.

Szewczyk held curatorial positions at the Belkin Art Gallery (Vancouver) and was an instructor at the Emily Carr College of Art + Design before relocating to Europe in early 2007. Recent projects include: co-editing the publication Santhal Family: Positions Around an Indian Sculpture (with Grant Watson and Anshuman Dasgupta, published by MuHKA, Antwerp, 2008); the exhibition Harald Thys and Jos de Gruyter in Vancouver (at Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver, 2007); editing the book Paint: A Psychedelic Primer (published by the Vancouver Art Gallery, 2006); as well as numerous essays on the work of contemporary artists, notably Gillian Carnegie, Tim Lee, Valérie Mannaerts, Paulina Olowska and Judy Radul.

Platform is Bergen Kunsthall’s own lecture series.

Platform includes presentation, lectures and debates involving some of the leading artists, curators and theoreticians on the contemporary art scene. The series alternates between events related to Bergen Kunsthall’s exhibition programme and independent lectures and debates.

Theoretical perspectives, interviews with artists and art-historical contextualization can be a useful, enriching supplement to Bergen Kunsthall’s exhibition programme. In an informal atmo¬sphere at Landmark, Platform is an open, inclusive arena for specialized discussions of art for both the expert milieux in Bergen and the interested public.

Platform has earlier presented lectures by among others Ina Blom, Jutta Koether, Mark Manders, Kathy Grayson, Ekaterina Degot, Sabeth Buchmann, David Shrigley, Stephen Prina, Jon-Ove Steihaug, Leonard Rickhard.

Art of Conversation – A monologue, to be interrupted, by Monika Szewczyk.