TO TELL THE TRUTH Lecture series - Part I
On two Wednesday evenings in May, members of Witte de With’s programming team will set forth their ideas about cultural politics and the public role of Witte de With.
Wednesday 18 May, 7 pm THE DANGER OF MEDIOCRITY by Nicolaus Schafhausen, Director of Witte de With
As debates around public funding for culture continue to rage, it has become clear that today we suffer from the absence of people engaged in the arts who are willing to speak up in defense of ideals. With a few exceptions, this lack particularly afflicts the visual arts and contemporary artists, whose often solitary practice is less suited to mass protest than the fields of theater and cinema. In a political atmosphere increasingly dominated by reactionary rhetoric, cultural institutions are under great pressure to be popular, to be liked, to appeal to the mythical ‘‘masses.’’ As his tenure as director of Witte de With draws to a close, Schafhausen’s talk will explore alternatives to this dangerously simplistic approach to culture and how they are relevant to institutions of contemporary art.
Wednesday 25 May, 7 pm THE EMPTY CENTER by Monika Szewczyk, Witte de With’s Head of Publications
Public discourse of late has been preoccupied with the emptiness of certain contemporary art centers (Witte de With amongst them), which several journalists and politicians have insinuated are void of people and therefore irrelevant. What is at the root of this line of critique? What does it tell us about the political and the journalistic culture that produces it? Proposing a politically constructive way to scrutinize contemporary art institutions, Szewczyk’s talk will argue for their role in shaping a truly open public sphere. This begins with a celebration of ‘‘the empty center’’ – which in part implies an art space that is not void of visitors or of art or of radical ideas, but of a logic that turns people into numbers.