Cosmopolis: collective practices at Centre Pompidou, Paris

The Centre Pompidou presents the first edition of Cosmopolis, a new cultural platform that highlights research-based and knowledge sharing practices, alongside ideas of cosmopolitanism. 

Through a series of shared encounters – including exhibitions, interventions, performances and exchanges – Cosmopolis hopes to create conditions through which social, urban and political questions can be raised.

Esquisse du projet Jarai Dew Hammock Café © Art Labor Collective. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

Sketch for the project ‘Jarai Dew Hammock Café’. © Art Labor Collective. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

With a focus on the multidisciplinary and the collective, the Centre Pompidou presents the first edition of Cosmopolis, a new biennial cultural platform which sprawls across various disciplines and output methods. Opening in October 2017 and running until 18 December 2017, Cosmopolis

highlights a spectrum of creative approaches that are both rooted in a particular context and engage in international conversations reflecting on cultural translation and the situatedness of knowledge.

© Emeka Okereke, Lagos-Sarejevo 2014 Courtesy of Invisible Borders

A collage of realities. Berlin, Germany. Invisible Borders Trans-African Road Trip: Lagos- Sarajevo, 2014. A collage of realities, Berlin. © Emeka Okereke, Lagos-Sarejevo, 2014. Image courtesy Invisible Borders.

The first edition, entitled “Cosmopolis #1: Collective Intelligence”, focuses on creative collaboration through a broad series of micro-residencies, research, exhibitions, talks, performances and screenings. Calling upon the influx of collaborative, social-based practice in the art world during the 1990s, Cosmopolis will focus on this drive towards collectivity, highlighting practices that are centred on knowledge-sharing. Meals, trips, publications, schools, festivals, encounters, discussions are the types of social structures that inform this presentation, as they constantly question the role of art within cultural institutions and society.

Beyond the Wall (I) © The Tentative Collective. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

Beyond the Wall (I) © The Tentative Collective. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

The new platform gathers together artists, curators, researchers, publishers and architects, as well as other types of social and collective producers, who choose to work in a collaborative capacity. Cosmopolis seeks to draw parallels between their cosmopolitanism, with the representation of difference and mobility, including migration, exile, diaspora. Cosmopolis reflects the complexity of the movements and communications of our time, rather than a sense of rootlessness  – a concept and feeling often associated with work concerning migration, diaspora and community.

The Vine Collection © Mixrice. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

The Vine Collection © Mixrice. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

Cosmopolis takes form through 15 cultural collectives who engage with subjects from collectivism and history, to ecology and food ethics. Micro-residencies are an important component of the platform, provided by Cité Internationale des Arts and giving artists the opportunity to conceive and develop new work for the exhibition, including videos, installations and other work.

Collectives invited are from all over the world, including Arquitectura Expandida (Colombia), Art Labor (Vietnam), Chimurenga (South Africa), Chto Delat (Russia), Invisible Borders (Nigeria) and The Tentative Collective (Pakistan).

Arquitectura Expandida / Ateliers Médicis © DR. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou

Arquitectura Expandida / Ateliers Médicis © DR. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

In this sense, the Centre Pompidou spans a spectrum of creative practices. Projects include the Chinese collective Polit-Sheer-Form Office’s exploration of the legacy of Communist collectivism in China and the St. Petersburg-based Chto Delat’s project based on lessons drawn from communitarianism of Mexican Zapatista communities. As a result, each project has an inherently local feel, as the different works and collaborations tackle issues crucial to their country’s own geopolitical issues and histories.

Dessins du projet Maher’s Groundplan Drawing © Foundland. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou

Dessins du projet Maher’s Groundplan Drawing © Foundland. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

The nine-week programme, including concerts and key note lectures, presents weekly talks, discussions and screenings on key themes including indigenous knowledge, identity, biopolitics, ecology, new pedagogies and artistic research strategies.

Highlights include a series of concerts – “Music as knowledge: collectivity, transmission and improvisation” – which explore African music as the source of a large majority of new musical forms of the last 100 years, in collaboration with interdisciplinary collective Moorish Elements.

À qui appartient la Terre ? © Iconoclasistas. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou

À qui appartient la Terre ? © Iconoclasistas. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

A further highlight is Chimurenga, a pan-African collaborative research and writing project based in South Africa. Founded by Ntone Edjabe in 2002, the collective draws together voices from Africa and its diaspora, “operating as an innovative platform for free ideas and political reflection about Africa by Africans”. Through various modes of output including a journal of art, culture and politics (Chimurenga Magazine), and an online radio station – Pan African Space Station (PASS) – Chimurenga aims to

not just to produce new knowledge, but rather to express the intensities of our world, to capture those forces and to take action.  This has required a stretching of the boundaries, for unless we push form and content beyond what exists, then we merely reproduce the original form – the colonized form, if you will. It requires not only a new set of questions, but its own set of tools; new practices and methodologies that allow us to engage the lines of flight, of fragility, the precariousness, as well as joy, creativity and beauty that defines contemporary African life. 

As part of Cosmopolis, Chumurenga will be staging a number of events from 13 to 17 December 2017 at La Colonie, a local, Parisian venue run by artist Kader Attia. Presenting discussions, installations and performances, as well as a library and radio broadcast, all events take place in relation to a project, Who Kills Kabila, which will host an exhibition alongside discussions and performances, subject of a future issue of one of Chimurenga’s publications.

Capture d’écran du projet vidéo présenté dans le cadre de Cosmopolis © The Tentative Collective. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou

Shershah and other stories. © The Tentative Collective. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

Another highlight is the work of Vietnamese collective Art Labor, founded in 2012 and combining research in the field of social and natural sciences, alongside tools to interact with the public. The collective presents a hammock café serving Vietnamese coffee and a video evoking the stages to be crossed after death in a bodily transformation to dew according to the cosmology of the Jrai people, against the background of the industrial coffee cultivation on Jrai lands. In this sense, colonial history, the cultivation of coffee, its industrialisation and the cosmology of the native Jarai people are entwined.

Prix de Rome 2015 exhibition at De Appel in Amsterdam. Work from Foundland. Artists: Hedwig Houben, Magali Reus, Foundland, Christian Nyampeta. Prix de Rome 2015 © Foundland. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou

Prix de Rome 2015 exhibition at De Appel in Amsterdam. Work from Foundland. Artists: Hedwig Houben, Magali Reus, Foundland, Christian Nyampeta. Prix de Rome 2015 © Foundland. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

Skate El Trebol Bogotá © Arquitectura Expandida. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou

Skate El Trebol Bogotá © Arquitectura Expandida. Image courtesy Centre Pompidou.

As part of the public programming, each Saturday throughout the exhibition the Centre Pompidou invites artists and cultural activists in a programme devised and moderated by Catherine David, Deputy Director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne. David explains:

We could write a global history of thinking and modern art based on the numerous collaborations developed between artists and other cultural players since the late 19th century, in highly varied geo-cultural areas. Closer to our times, numerous projects involving reflection and collective action have explored the inspirations and conditions for shared creativity in political, social and sensitive contemporary contexts. As part of this discursive programme, we want to host singular projects from highly diverse cultures, highlighting interdisciplinarity and the complex arrangement of multiple areas of knowledge (geography, urban planning, anthropology, sociology, philosophy and geopolitics) to propose new sensitive, cognitive configurations.

Anna Jamieson

1922

“Cosmopolis #1: Collective Intelligence” is on view from 18 October to 18 December 2017 at Centre Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris.

Related Topics: curatorial practicecuratorsart and communitypoliticalsocialmuseum showsinstallationevents in Paris

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