As you go… roads under your feet, towards the new future
International symposium / live stream
Organized by Biljana Ciric
Participants: : Zdenka Badovinac, Aigerim Kapar, Robel Temesgen, Sinkneh Eshetu, Biljana Ciric, Dragan Stojmenović
Duration: 22 – 31 March 2021
Time: 11 a.m. Ljubljana (CET) time / 9 p.m. Melbourne time / Addis Ababa 1 p.m. / Shanghai, Guangzhou 6 p.m. / Astana 4 p.m.
Live stream via e-flux
Live stream via WCSCD / Moderna galerija / Artcom platform / Rockbund Art Museum Facebook and You Tube
Zdenka Badovinac (curator, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana); Robel Temesgen ( artist, Addis Ababa); Larys Frogier (director, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai); Sinkneh Eshetu (writer, Addis Ababa); Marija Glavaš (sociologist, Ljubljana); Berhanu (anthropologist, Canberra); Aigerim Kapar (interdependent curator, Astana); Jelica Jovanović (architect, Belgrade); Hu Yun (artist, Melbourne); Jasphy Zheng (artist, Xia Men); Dragan Stojmenović (Public Library, Bor); Nikita Choi (chief curator, Times Museum, Guangzhou); Robert Bobnič & Kaja Kraner (researchers and lecturers, Ljubljana); Aziza Abdulfetah Busser (architect and academic, Addis Ababa); Alex Ulko (artist and researcher, Tashkent); Brett Neilson (professor, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University); Yabebal Fantaye (astrophysicist and a data scientist, co-founder of the 10 Academy initiative, Addis Ababa); Salem Makuria (independent writer, producer, director, videographer, and professor emerita of Art Department at Wellesley College), Biljana Ciric (interdependent curator and founder of WCSCD)
As you go… roads under your feet, towards the new future symposium is the first public moment of sharing not only our research, but also our mode of working based on relationality and interdependence that we bring with us as we move forward.
As you go… roads under your feet, towards the new future is a long-term project and research inquiry that reflects on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how it will alter the aesthetics and practices of everyday life in different local contexts of Ethiopia, Serbia, Slovenia, Uzbekistan, China, Kazakhstan.
Many of these localities situated on the margins of the global economy re-gained a momentum of visibility through geo-political conflicts when the BRI entered a sphere of interest of other global powers. Could a new visibility and set of geo-politics create alternatives to our existence, or will it uphold the extractivist capital logic done for so many years by Western European modernity are some of the questions that we try to unpack through research case studies.
BRI defined as a major infrastructural project throughout 2020 has proven to be very dynamic. Since the pandemic started BRI is slowly transforming defining new direction focusing on digital services and public health and these transformations we will continue to research and understand in the year to come.
The project started in February 2020 just before the pandemic was announced, and since then, we have continued to work, learning how to co-exist under our new living conditions. The current conditions transformed the project into much more than just examining the BRI. It became an examination of our own existence, the way we walk with in the world, how we practice inter-dependence, and stretch existing institutional structures through which we as practitioners navigate.
Throughout 2020 we needed time and space to practice intimacy between cells and create a safe zone for sharing. What we learned is that rather than visibility, what is needed is opacity. The intimacy that arose from this defines how ideas are shared with others and to what extent what we create together stays within the cells or is shared further.
Throughout the year we have practiced our right to opacity, and only gave visibility to the research happening through our online journal which follows works and research in progress. This journal has served as a tool in responding to crises within the contexts we are caring with.
Since April 2020 due to pandemic we have employed strategy dig where you stand and we have working with fifteen researchers across Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Serbia, Slovenia, and China. The research inquiry has been developed trying to listen local urgencies and learn from them. Acknowledging and reflecting on our previous way of working, we have employed a dig where you stand strategy, where a number of case studies had been formulated and from here, local research has been conducted.
This symposium will share thinking with and walking with or partners cells, as well as researchers through six days symposium that will be available through live stream.
A tool kit created together with researchers and cells that would allow for deep listening with all five senses, challenging visual aspects and presence through Zoom.
Researchers and cells were invited to provide tools for listening, seeing, smelling, touching, and tasting that could overcome our physical distance.
Tool Kit should allow us to grasp physicality of places we will be sharing research from.
DAY 1: 22 March 2021, 11 a.m. – 1.30 p.m. CET
Introduction to the project and its mode of working during the pandemic as a proposition towards interdependence by Biljana Ciric and Zdenka Badovinac
Screening of the film Awra Amba's E(u)topia by Salem Mekuria
Zumra Nuru was born into a traditional agrarian Muslim family in a remote village in Northern Ethiopia, near Awra Amba. He never went to school. As he observed life in his village as a child, he started questioning why things were as unequal and unjust. He dreamt of a society where people could live in peace and full equality regardless of who they were. Fifty years ago, that dream materialized into what is now known as Awra Amba, a community based on true equality in all aspects of life and where religion is a private affair. This story introduces a revolutionary society thriving in the heart of a very conservative Ethiopia. With interviews and compelling scenes of the village and its people, Awra Amba’s E(u)topia will give us a glimpse into their unique lifestyle.
Joined by Marija Glavaš and Robel Temesgen, this opening symposium day explores the possibilities for new modes of working and how we may learn to (re)write our own narratives.
Robel Temesgen: The Addis Newspaper
Marija Glavaš: The Cultural Interweaving of China and the Balkans
Q&A from the audience
DAY 2: 23 March 2021, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. CET
Disjointed Images from Afar and Fragmented Stories in Proximity
Moderator: Nikita Yingqian Cai
Alex Ulko: Seeing the Invisible: Documenting and Interpreting China’s Cultural Presence in Uzbekistan
Hu Yun: Untitled
Salem Mekuria: Spacial and Other Memories: Maskal Square’s contribution
Q&A and discussion
DAY 3: 25 March 2021, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. CET
Alternatives to new forms of geo-political and economical administration of localities and people: archiving, reacting, creating.
Moderator: Larys Frogier
Jelica Jovanović: Infrastructuring the Region. Materiality and Intangibility of the New Silk Road in Serbia
Sinkneh Eshetu, Berhanu, Aziza Abdul Fetah: The Danger of Ambition and Neglect: The Case of Beautifying Sheger Project
Aigerim Kapar: The many secret scapes of Balkhash Lake: a travelogue of the crossboundary contexts, communities and ecosystem
Q&A and discussion
DAY 4: 26 March 2021, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. CET
Situated Research, Situated Practices
Convened by Aigerim Kapar of the collective Artcom, this seminar utilises Donna Haraway’s 1988 essay: Situated knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective as its point of departure. Joined by Robert Bobnič and Kaja Kraner, Astrobus and artist, Jasphy Zheng, this panel will further explore the situatedness within their local contexts (and newfound global ones), and the practices embedded within these to explore what it means to be connected to a place and ultimately, to one another.
Moderator: Aigerim Kapar
Robert Bobnič and Kaja Kraner: Bor is burning: From mining to data mining in socialist Yugoslavia
Yabebal Fantaye: Astrobus-Ethiopia: A dynamic response to fast changing challenges and opportunities
Jasphy Zheng: Stories from the Room –
Q&A and discussion
DAY 5: 30 March 2021, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. CET
The importance of Ports
Moderator: Sinkneh Eshetu
Nikita Yingqian Cai: Performativity of a Guarded Globalization - How is the Maritime Silk Road represented in China’s Public Museums?
Brett Neilson: Logistical Worlds, or, Research before the Pandemic
Q&A and discussion
DAY 6: 31 March 2021, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. CET
How we work together: a round table discussion of partner cells:
Zdenka Badovinac, Aigerim Kapar, Robel Temesgen, Sinkneh Eshetu, Biljana Ciric, Dragan Stojmenović
The symposium will come to a close with a roundtable discussion between partner cells: Moderna galerija, Times Museum, Rockbund Art Museum, Robel Temesgen, Sinkneh Eshetu, Artcom platform, What Should Should Curating Do, Public Bor Library. Together, they will discuss their modes of working as built on interdependence, the right to opacity, and horizontality.
As you go…roads under your feet, towards the new future is initiated and conceived by Biljana Ciric.
The inquiry and research cells include What Could Should Curating Do (Belgrade), Moderna galerija (Ljubljana), Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai), Guangdong Times Museum (Guangzhou), ArtCom (Astana), Robel Temesgen and Sinkneh Eshetu (Addis Ababa), and The Public Library (Bor).
The first stage of the project has been supported by the Foundation for Arts Initiatives, CURTAIN (Rockbund Art Museum), Austrian Cultural Forum, Curatorial Practice (Monash University Art, Design and Architecture), and the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.