The Beast and is the Sovereign

October 17 + 18, 2015

At the premiere of the exhibition “The Beast and the Sovereign” this March in Barcelona (now: “The Beast and is the Sovereign”, October 17, 2015–January 17, 2016, WKV Stuttgart) it came to an éclat. Just before the opening, the MACBA director at the time, Bartomeu Marí, decided that one of the artworks was not suitable for presentation in this museum and demanded that it be removed. The work in question was a sculpture by the Austrian artist Ines Doujak that is part of a longstanding project on questions related to (neo)colonial contexts of textile production. In addition to countless other references, the sculpture—which was previously on show at the São Paulo Biennial—can also be read as a caricatur of the former Spanish King. Neither the curators, nor the artists participating in the exhibition were willing to tacitly accept this act of censorship. As a result, Marí chose to cancel the entire exhibition on the day of its opening. After a wave of protest on both local and international levels, the exhibition was opened to the public four days later after all. Marí announced his resignation. The two MACBA curators involved, Valentín Roma and Paul B. Preciado, were dismissed without notice.

Our experiences at MACBA sparked a whole series of questions that we would like to discuss in the scope of a conference: a discussion, which extends beyond this concrete case and which will relate to the exhibition’s subject—dealing among other things with the function of modern institutions. How far does the influence of politics and economics extend in impacting the program and content of public art institutions in Europe today? What role does the increasing commercialization and business structure of museums, art halls etc. play in the process? Must art take into account feelings of a religious, moral, and / or patriotic nature? Which working approach do we—as directors of art institutions, as curators or artists—want to take in the future? 

Speakers: Edit András, Daniel G. Andújar, Banu Cenneto?lu, Hans D. Christ, Ines Doujak, Iris Dressler, Antke Engel, Martin Fritz, Itziar González, Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, Philippine Hoegen, Paul B. Preciado, Valentín Roma, Simon Sheikh, Sergio Zevallos and others



Detailed Program

After the Conference …

– Continuation of the discussions at e-flux conversations, see:

–  Charles Esche, Vasif Kortun and Abdellah Karroum resigned from their positions as board members of CIMAM – the International Committee of ICOM for Museums and Collections of Modern Art.
Their resignation is based on their lack of confidence in the board of CIMAM and its current president, Bartomeu Marí, because of his act of censorship in the context of the exhibition "The Beast and the Sovereign"
Their Statement

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