Swimming Pool invites you to participate in our intense curatorial program to take place from 13 and 27 November 2019 in Sofia.

How do we work, live and think together? How do we dream together? The second edition of our curatorial program at Swimming Pool focuses on Collaborative Practices, a field of research, action and vision informed by recent changes in society towards new forms of political, economical, technological, ecological and cultural co-existence. We invite anyone interested in curatorship – artists, curators,writers, university students, cultural workers, and professionals –, to participate in a two-week intense program consisting of discussions, workshops and talks as well as collaborative writing and vision sharing.

In post-democracy, we observe the emerging of new communality bounds that are rarely confined by national borders. In post-capitalism, we recognize new forms of ownership that not only build the sharing economy and the new commons, but also develop non-monetary forms of exchange beyond the reach of the market. There are new forms of assembling along social media and new network technology that contribute to previously unknown scale of dissent. Furthermore, current biology science explores interconnections of human and non-human, and ecological thinking today seek to strengthen the awareness of the entanglement of all forms of life.

So, we ask, how do we co-exist together, and, in particular, in the art world? While posing these questions, we recognize the need to respond to social changes through our curatorial and artistic choices. During the school we will engage with the following:

Instituting When we start a project, initiate an art space, conceptualize an exhibition – how do we relate to a common ground, involve a community, create a collective body around it?

Cooperating In cities and regions with mainly local art scene, but also in metropolises with many different art worlds side by side, thinking about bounds is essential; same as anticipating and nourishing difference within any structures. How can we move from a model based on competition to a model based on cooperation? How to establish a dialogue while underlining the importance of differences and the specific characteristics of each of us?  Can our relationship be an “octopus in love”?

Infrastructure A possibility for small- and mid-size projects, spaces or organizations to grow is through entering partnerships with like-minded across geographies. This is not only a model for creating broader structures and frame-sets that respond to a globalized world; this is also the opportunity to create something both dynamic and persistent, which can move our world towards new values and behaviors. How do we build or support such an infrastructure?

Care Alongside any collectives and collaborations there are invisible hierarchies that are often neglected in order to uphold an ideal of togetherness. We need to learn, however, what are the power relations behind them and how we can cope with such – through replacing them with resonance-based approaches and care towards the collective self.

Exhibition as Collective Based on Beatrice von Bismarck’s homonymous essay, we will further examine assemblages, dependencies as well as agency in the relation art-space-spectator, and think of how it is extended or modified in a particular social context.

In practice, we need to consider these questions every time we start a new project and think of its social relevance; when we write a press release and both address and create an audience; when we apply for funding and we need to explain the interests involved, when we enter local or international collaborations and need to carefully consider differences while establishing a conceptual collaboration. In many cases today we work together with art collectives or artists who involve or respond to communities, we also make exhibitions based on a dialogue among the participants.

In the course of the program we will look into history of art collaboration, also in our past project experience at Swimming Pool built around collaborations. We will read theory and  meet practitioners to discuss contemporary practices on the field. Main purpose of the school is to enable learning from immediate experience; therefore, alongside our meetings, we will enter into a process of collaborative writing to examine the dynamics of our encounter. Also, we encourage everyone to participate with an own vision on the topics outlined in the open call that can be framed as fiction or exhibition draft, performative action or a theoretical inquiry; within the school we will have the chance to discuss and exchange so that we grow our tools and imaginary towards meaningful collaborations.

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