What is going wrong in our societies and what can we do about it?
Invitation to four public conversations by TASAWAR Collective
The framework of the TASAWAR Transcultural Talks has been developed during the first edition of the TASAWAR Curatorial Studios that started in September 2019. The TASAWAR Collective is an open framework for students and alumni/ae of the TASAWAR Curatorial Studios and their associates to realize curatorial projects.
The TASAWAR Curatorial Studios are a one-year-study program on art-in-context. It is open to those who are interested in exploring the potential of curatorial praxis on contemporary art in Tunis, North-Africa, and the MENA Region. It is hosted by the GOETHE-INSTITUTE Tunis and consists of study units, explorative conversations, and experimental practices.
It is a learning environment referencing contemporary artistic research and praxis as well as sociocultural engagement and contextual awareness. It advocates for societal responsiveness, critical debate, and democratic culture. It combines transforming learning practices to inspire curatorial approaches that engage with contemporary art as much as with relevant issues of our times.
Research on contemporary artistic approaches and studies of curatorial conceptions are embedded in reflections on personal positions, collective being, and cultural structures. Formats of curatorial action encompass all kinds of onsite exhibitions and online displays, public talks and debates, writings, and publications. The “TASAWAR Transcultural Talks” are one of the practice fields.
Responsive Learning Environment
The first edition of the TASAWAR Curatorial Studios was planned to be an on-site and in-person program consisting of “studios,” as the main study units, and workshops with local experts on adjunct topics. An accompanying strand is the monthly lab “Moving Between Languages” with focus on language as a key medium of curatorial expertise. The guiding idea is to refine and expand the possibilities of wording of artistic and curatorial in the Tunisian dialect and vice-versa to reflect if curatorial praxis can profit from culture-historic knowledge embedded in the spoken language. After the Corona pandemic hit in March 2020, the program was transformed into an online program that allowed an intensification of international co-operations. These talks reflect the international perspective that accompanied the 2019 TASAWAR edition.
Located in Tunis, at the periphery of the art world with its hegemonic competitions, the TASAWAR Program fosters curatorial positions that can identify interdependencies or correlations to define contexts; whether in art, society or beyond. Contexts can be formed by built environments or by collective tie-ins, by inherited structures, or by ideological systems. Context-conditioned practice can refer to the material features of an environment as well as geo-political, socio-cultural, or hyperlocal aspects.
The TASAWAR Program supports curatorial positions engendering responsive situations that are capable of reacting to problems or to conflict, incorporating different voices, allowing non-hierarchic sharing of knowledge, and hosting non-linear historic narratives. It comes with a set of parameters to detect and to address unwanted settings, biases, and narratives. It aims at curatorial acting committed to initiatives that challenge standards by reflecting assumptions, rethinking hierarchies, or countering erasure. This encompasses promoting margins over the center, and minorities over majorities, intending to provoke intelligent debate, to diversify knowledge, and – following Hannah Arendt – “to think without railing”.
The TASAWAR Transcultural Talks are an example of curatorial positions that are informed by cultural disorders – in particular sexism and racism, discrimination, and injustice – as pertinent issues of present tense. The curators chose topics that are of importance for the cultural environments they belong to, as for their personal developments. They are backed by the idea of taking responsibility, looking out for networks of solidarity, and taking action to ignite change. The choice of topic and contributors, as well as the design of debate, profits from the curator’s sensibility to detect and address issues that hinder productive identity-building or violate human rights, that limit tolerance and democratic culture, and thwart sustainable, resilient developments.
The TASAWAR Transcultural Talks aims to generate a framework for meaningful interaction. We wish to cultivate insightful conversations, to address issues of self- and collective care. We hope to feed our strategies for critical thinking and further our independent curatorial praxis. We activated our networks and invited contributors with various backgrounds, from art and science-related disciplines, at home in different cultures. We will meet in small panels to share our experiences, to explore the interactions of our positions and to discuss artistic and curatorial practice as enabling condition. We hope to push the confines of our understanding, to expand our knowledge of the world around us. Please join the conversations and share your point of view.
Author: Bettina Pelz