Jens Hoffmann: Exhibitions have to change, what we except from them

Free School for Art Theory and Practice

The Free School for Art Theory and Practice considers as the basis of its philosophy the concept that contemporary art and culture produce an excess of knowledge and experience, which can be recycled and used in broader social discourse, beyond their own primary context. The aim of the Free School is to increase the theoretical and practical arsenal of the local art scene based on active participation and dialogue in seminars, and also by analyzing artistic positions, critical aspects and the institutional system. With its name, the school marks community gatherings for people to meet with a view to exchange knowledge and learn from one another.
The school will function in the form of regular weekend seminars, held by invited curators, theoreticians and artists, allowing for the specificities of the contemporary Hungarian art scene and local discourses.

Application deadline for the forth seminar: December 3, 2006
Send applications to:

Jens Hoffmann
is a curator and writer based in London where he is the Director of Exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and a faculty member of the Curatorial Studies Program of Goldsmiths College, University of London. Since 1998 he has curated over three-dozen exhibitions internationally and written over 100 articles on visual art and curatorial practice for art magazines and museum publications.

Emerging, unusually, from a training in theatre rather than art history or curatorial studies, Jens Hoffmann has used his directorial knowledge in particular to articulate his unique approach to curating. Of key importance for all of his exhibitions is the actual staging of the experience‹ranging from the design of the space and installation, the conceptualization of the catalogue and related programming, to the attention paid to the performance of the work itself. The ‘stage-set’ or rather the exhibition space, site, or geographical location is itself an important factor in the development of his ideas which respond to both time and place. Hoffmann takes into account both the larger historical and socio-political context in which an exhibition takes place as well as the relevant curatorial or art historical relationships pertaining to a project. Using the ideas and strategies of artists, in particular a conceptual tradition of art making, and applying this approach to a curatorial idea of authorship is a defining characteristic of Hoffmann¹s work and results in a personalized exhibition history reflective of a creative development not dissimilar to that of an artist.

Exhibitions have to change, what we except from them
Over the last decades exhibitions have more and more become vehicles for intellectual, cultural and often also socio-political expression. Only few, though, managed to create a particular type of mental space proposing critical insight into societal concerns. In his seminar curator Jens Hoffmann will initially discussed some of the exhibitions he has curated, which constructively (re)activated this very potential of art. He will specifically address how their significance lies in the way they engage with the everyday, new political realities, audience and other disciplines, and how these exhibitions cross boundaries, take risks and allow experimentation. The seminar will furthermore look into and discuss the shifts and changes in curatorial practice which occurred over the last decade to outline how the profession of a curator has changed from being purely an administrative and organizational task to become a creative discipline in its own right.

The Free School for Art Theory and Practice
Goals are:
- To examine the current phenomena of contemporary visual culture in artistic and curatorial practice;
- To enhance critical thinking and dialogue within the art field
- To define the role of art theory and art criticism, to analyse critical concepts and study the possibilities for their adaptation to different contexts
- To discuss the identity /role of the curator and the artist in an international context.

Subjects covered:
- The role of context in cultural production
- The interplay of theory and praxis
- The public domain between the institutional system and forms of self-organization
- Constructive interplay between curatorial and artistic practice

Target audience: Artists, curators, students and anyone interested in contemporary art

Dates and lecturers 2006
21 - 24 September, 2006
Barbara Steiner, director Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig

19 - 22 October, 2006
Who What and for Whom (WHW) formation, Zagreb

23 - 26 November, 2006
Branislav Dimitrijevic, art historian, curator. Founder and lecturer of the School for History and Theory of Images, Centre for Contemporary Art, Belgrade

16 -17 December, 2006
Jens Hoffmann, artistic director, Insitute of Contemporary Arts, London

How to apply
Artists, curators, students, who undertake to prepare for and to take an active part in the seminars (as is relevant to the lecturers), are invited to send a letter of motivation.
One seminar may be attended by maximum 15 participants.
Application deadline for the forth seminar: December 3, 2006
Send applications to:

Planned Schedule
Thursday Public lecture by invited lecturer (s), afterwards discussion;
Friday-Sunday (Fri-Sat 10-13, 14-18 , Sun 10-13) seminar for the closed seminar group with the lecturer.

Attendance at the free school is free. On request we can help in organization of accommodation.