The Futures Series #1: The Exhibition as a form of Attentiveness and Escape, by Paul O’Neill, 7 Mar 5pm


In this series of lectures various artists and thinkers present their ideas and visions to think about the emergent nature of futures. The focus is on artistic practices but in the broader context of humanities, social sciences and society at large. The lecture by Paul O’Neill will launch the series. The lecture series presents the voices from distinguished experts from different fields, who in their work open various reflective, critical, utopian, dystopian, creative or other perspectives on the possible futures within arts and society at large.  The lecture series will continue in Autumn 2019.

 “The Exhibition as a form of Attentiveness and Escape” by Paul O’Neill

Through this performative lecture, Paul O’Neill will reflect upon his curatorial practice, collective exhibition-making and the public as a constructed readymade. Taking his recent exhibition project We are the Center for Curatorial Studies, Hessel Museum, 2016-17 as its starting point, the lecture reflects upon curatorial studies and extends a conception of the curatorial to account for multiple sites of contact, assemblages and gathering of diverse bodies and subjects as well as their discursive connections. In doing so, it opens up a concept of the formation of the ‘exhibition’ itself as a potential mode of research action in its own process of becoming.

O’Neill will further explore how different points of contact are made possible when exhibiting becomes a form of escape for the artwork as much as for the viewer. Here, O’Neill identifies escape as a key concept for the curatorial which defines itself as an act of release – from something, somewhere, someone – accompanied by the wish to be transformed. Escape implicates language itself as being complicit with our need to be able to, at least, imagine ourselves elsewhere, in the futures sense. How can a language of exhibitions therefore enable us to think attentively about escape as a curatorial form of ‘exhibiting’, and as a space of transformation for art?

About the Futures Series:
The Futures Series is organized by the master’s degree programmes in Choreography, Dramaturgy, and the Live Art and Performance Studies in collaboration with the Centre for Joint Studies at Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy.

The series proposes that we need to regard the future as plural futures. The futures often seem indeterminate or uncanny. It is precisely for this reason that we need to ask whether artistic practice, with its various modes of thought, has the capacity to approach such unforeseen possibilities of the emergent futures. How should we regard these futures, which ought to be an essential part of research in choreography, pedagogy and the performative capacity of art?

To ponder these capacities, we could see how the performative practices produce the visions and emergent futures and prehensions where artistic practices and thinking are not bound with ideologies, mediated truths or preconceived aesthetics. They are necessary alongside with contemporary science and theory, where prehension of futures are transversal and cross-contaminated. The proposal and experiments presented in this series aim to present how we could create space for thinking the indeterminate futures.

Dr. Paul O’Neill is an Irish curator, artist, writer and educator. He is the Artistic Director of PUBLICS, a position he took up in September 2017. Between 2013-17, he was Director of the Graduate Program at the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS), Bard College. Paul is widely regarded as one of the foremost research-oriented curators, and leading scholar of curatorial practice, public art and exhibition histories. Paul has co-curated more than sixty curatorial projects across the world including most recently:  We are the (Epi)center, P! Gallery, New York (2016), and the muti-faceted We are the Center for Curatorial Studies for the Hessel Museum, Bard College (2016-17). Currently he is co-editing the book Curating After the Global; Roadmaps to the Present, MIT Press, CCS bard and LUMA Foundation, Arles 2019. He was visiting tutor on the de Appel Curatorial Program, Amsterdam from 2005-17, and was international research fellow with the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin between 2010-13. His most recent anthologies, The Curatorial Conundrum…, and How Institutions Think are co-edited with Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson, published with The MIT Press, CCS Bard College and Luma Foundation, in 2016 and 2017 respectively. He is currently working on the co-authored Durational Aesthetics: Time and Contemporary Art (London, Bloombury Press, 2019).

PUBLICS is a curatorial agency and event space with a dedicated library, and reading room in Vallila Helsinki. PUBLICS develops out of Checkpoint Helsinki, a contemporary art initiative established in 2013. In its spirit, PUBLICS continues this organization’s commitment to critical social thinking, contemporary art and publicness.

The Futures Series kicks off Visiting Experts lectures
The new Visiting Experts lecture series showcases the myriad guest lectures of the University of the Arts Helsinki (Uniarts Helsinki). It shines a light on the active collaboration and exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise between the university’s community and the professionals of its vast international networks.

More information here.