Rural Agonistics and Collaboration as Curatorial Method

Lecturer: Katalin Erdődi

The course combines reflections on curating critical rural art practices and collaboration as not only artistic, but also curatorial methodology, as a means of working in a locally engaged, site-specific and context-responsive way, involving local inhabitants, groups or communities as producers of knowledge in their own right.

We start with a discussion of “the rural as a place for and of cultural production” (Myvillages), looking into the practices of artists (Asunción Molinos Gordo, Myvillages, Alicja Rogalska), art organisations (Grizedale Arts) and para-institutions (such as INLAND by Fernando García-Dory). This exploration of critical rural art will be informed by contemporary thinking on the rural in social and political theory, including a critique of the rural-urban binary (based on a list of recommended readings). ‘Rural agonistics’ is a notion proposed by Katalin Erdődi that applies Chantal Mouffe’s thinking about agonistic politics and artistic practices to rural public spheres and asks how curating with a collaborative approach can be understood within the context of counter-hegemonic struggles and foster rural counterpublics. The first session culminates in an open exchange with the participants about their understandings of the rural and the political potential of critical rural art, stemming from their respective socio-political and cultural contexts as well as their own experience.

The second session will be dedicated to an in-depth discussion of collaboration as curatorial method, drawing on the writings of art theorists such as Claire Bishop and Grant Kester, but also feminist anthropologists such as Anna Tsing. We will turn our attention to the practice-based methodology of collaboration ‘on the ground’: How do we conceptualize exchange with others, both artistically and curatorially? What are the challenges, dilemmas and discontents of collaborative practices? How do we work across difference, with the eventual discomfort, uncertainty and open-endedness of a starting collaboration? We will adopt a practice-driven approach: participants are encouraged to bring their own ‘case studies’, in particular focusing on challenges and dilemmas that they had faced in their curatorial or artistic experience and would like to discuss collectively.

Katalin Erdődi (Vienna/Budapest) is a curator, dramaturg and researcher in the fields of visual and performing arts, with a focus on politically and socially engaged art, experimental performative practices and artistic interventions in public space. She works in a diverse range of formats from performance and exhibition-making to site-specific and process-oriented approaches, exploring the possibilities of art as social practice and as a tool for knowledge production. She has worked as a curator for art institutions and festivals, such as steirischer herbst (Graz), Impulse Theater Festival (NRW), brut/imagetanz festival (Vienna), GfZK / Museum of Contemporary Art (Leipzig) and Trafó House of Contemporary Arts (Budapest).

Her recent projects explore processes of rural change through collaborative artistic and curatorial practices: News Medley with Alicja Rogalska and the Women’s Choir of Kartal (OFF Biennale Budapest, 2021); I like being a farmer and I would like to stay one with Antje Schiffers/Myvillages and three farmers in Hungary (Ludwig Museum Budapest, 2017-2018). This research also forms part of her PhD-in-Practice in Curating at the ZHdK Zurich and the University of Reading, dissertation title: Working Towards a Rural Agonistics – Curating Critical Rural Art Practices as Counterpublics. In 2020 she received the Igor Zabel Award Grant for her locally embedded and inclusive curatorial practice.