25th September, 18:00
Museum of the National Theatre in Belgrade

Lecturer: Jelena Vesić
This lecture will lean on the exhibition Lecture Performance, shown in Köln and Belgrade in 2009/2010 as the first exhibition directly concerned with this art form which has become extremely popular and present at art scene in the last decade. The exhibition has been organized in cooperation between Belgrade Museum of Contemporary Art and the museum Kölnischer Kunstverein, as a result of collaboration between four curators: Anja Nathan-Dorn, Kathrin Jentjens, Radmila Joksimović, and Jelena Vesić.
Lecture Performance as such contains two practices – the one of lecture and the one of performance – with their long and changeable histories and policies. A genre approach would raise a question if rich tradition of performance and body art recognizes the specific form of “lecture performance”. The lack of agreement about what lecture-performance actually is (or could be) creates the need to explore various phenomenal concepts or modes of action, and their supporting ideologies. That process brings us to the questions of “institutional” competencies and disciplinary limitations because, regardless of contemporary “interdisciplinary approaches”, as soon as we tackle the issue we come upon various contexts and interpretations within visual and performing arts. When it comes to performing arts, the form of theoretical performance was the central point of numerous performances and critical texts long before the concept of lecture-performance has been created, and yet the term Lecture Performance has become a dominant “theoretical brand” that comprised these practices. In those practices, artists act between lecture and performance, introducing the elements of self-reflection, social reflection, and discussion into their own speech, or inviting participation, action and critical intervention of various kinds. The genesis of lecture-performance can be traced back to the activities typical of conceptual artists, through theoretical articulations of artistic work suggested by the group Art&Language, although the notion itself wasn’t introduced as a part of terminology until the end of the nineties, through contemporary dance, where work of artists such as Xavier Le Roy played the crucial part.
The exhibition Lecture Performance, which tried to deal with “definitions of genre” but also with the policies that follow the “lack of consensus” in the articulation of phenomena, was built around four basic problems: the question of the policy of artistic speech and the far-reaching quality of artistic voice, as well as the question “what does contemporary art teach us?”, and how its specific knowledge co-opts or diverges depending on the reality of contemporary capitalism.
All these questions can be placed within the historical context of art development. In the classical art tradition, knowledge, realization and morale are inseparable from artistic gesture. One of the crucial aesthetic and social explanations of artistic actions in times of the creation of “art institution” was Horace’s Ars Poetica and his vision of the role of art as something that should “educate and delight” (docere et delectare), or more precisely, something that teaches using other means, communicating knowledge and truths through aesthetic experiences. Modernism interrupts this tradition by creating the paradigm of abstraction and autonomy of visual language which claims that art should be seen as art, as a social activity whose language is an autonomous form. On the other hand, the art of 60ies and 70ies, reintroduces the role of artist-orator who dissolves “illusionist scenography” of artwork’s autonomous form (as an object of commodity fetishism) and appears “in the first person” thus creating aesthetic moment in the space of direct experience between artist and audience. Contemporary art shows interest for “outer world” where it again meets everyday life but also the reality of transformed capitalism. The borders between learning, information, aesthetic gesture, political act, entertainment and joy are very porous nowadays – art is used as a media for communicating information, education and political intervention, or it turns into a part of entertainment industry, in the same way that business or politics use performative and aesthetic forms for their goals. The vague but turbulent field of contemporary creative practices that cover a vast area of life is the starting point of this lecture.

JELENA VESIĆ is an independent curator, critic and lecturer. She is a co-author of the magazine Prelom – Journal for Images and Politics, Belgrade 2001 – 2009, and one of the founders if Prelom Kolektiv, Belgrade 2005 – 2010, active in publishing, research and exhibiting, connecting political theory and contemporary art. Since 2009, she has been a co-editor of the Journal Red Thread – Journal for Social Theory, contemporary art and activism, and a member of the journal Art Margins for art and theory (MIT Press) since 2011. She held her latest lectures at the international curator course at Gwangju biennale in Korea, at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, in New York (New Museum), at Bone festival in Bern, and at the Art University (curator studies) in Belgrade.