Agonistic Intelligence/s (or another AI/s)
Summer School curated by Ali Akbar Mehta for the Helsinki Biennial 2023: New Directions May Emerge
Agonistic Intelligence/s (or another AI/s) is a gathering of invited provocateurs, guest speakers, and participants to form a research-led working group that engages with a shortlisted selection of the HAM art collection as a key focal node and as an archival site of inquiry. The working group will convene for an intensive 6-day period during the Helsinki Biennale 2023, from August 14-19, 2023, at HAM Salli, Helsinki Art Museum, with open-to-public evening lectures and discussion programs.
A play on the words AI (Artificial intelligence), Agonistic Intelligence/s as a title borrows the word ‘Agonistic’ from Chantal Mouffe’s conception of Agonistic Democracy that outlines a necessarily conflictual nature of pluralism – one that stems from the impossibility of reconciling all points of view – as being not only an inevitable aspect of public action and collective identities but one that cites confrontation as a positive and integral method for challenging consensus-driven politics. Dissensus, as a longing for instability, counters the ossification and cementing of values, opening the possibilities for continually evolving decolonial, queer-feminist and norm-critical readings of the archive, where narratives may be formulated to describe realities otherwise made invisible. Encapsulated in the formulation of the title of being another kind of an AI – one premised on exclusion – a key question is raised: Whose intelligence is deemed artificial?
Agonistic Intelligence/s operates from a conceptualisation that archives investigate contaminated circumstances. Invited speakers, provocateurs and participants respond to the Helsinki Biennale 2023’s curatorial framing of contamination, agency, and regeneration organized around complementary research threads, including: ‘Technodiversity’, ‘Datafeminisem’, ‘Politics of Exclusion within the Archives’, ‘Affective Agencies and contamination’, ‘BIPOC community building as activist technologies’, and ‘decolonization within institutions. The gathering will remember and formulate technologies, methodologies and praxes that centre the building of anticolonial, antipatriarchal, anticaste, and antifascist practices and futures.
Such encounters open up spaces for dialogue in the summer school, enabling the working group to formulate a series of questions that must be asked of a collection and what a collection and, by extension, its host institutions must be accountable for – what is archived, who is collected, what can the museum teach us beyond what it shows us? how may a collection be viewed beyond the dialectics of inclusion and exclusion, beyond its designation as a status symbol? How can the active participation of communities and public(s) that often remain beyond the gaze of the institution help to reactivate, rejuvenate, and reconfigure culture, for all?
And so, Agonistic Intelligence/s invites its participants to perform a critical diagnosis, to generate insights into how to read the collection differently and reconfigure new relationships with the collection located within the museum, across the city, online, and elsewhere. They are also invited to form a long-term working relationship to access within each other a wealth of diverse, embodied, situated knowledges/ non-knowlegdes, that often resides outside the purview and domains of traditional museum working conditions and interests.
More information about the Summer School and links for particpation may be found here