Think Tank Aesthetics reflects on art and its relations to current debates about the political and the social against the backdrop of neo-liberalism. It proposes the following experiment: to use the lenses of art history, and more precisely its takes on post-modernism, in order to more clearly discern how neo-liberalism has appropriated artistic and cultural strategies to strengthen its empire. It also considers the ways in which contemporary art practices have been tracking and trailing the flows of financial, governmental and public capital. Through readings, screenings and discussions, participants in the workshop are invited to consider, and even enact, these collisions by identifying and appropriating tools and theories from various disciplines. Key questions: what becomes visible and what remains disguised in these operations, and how is our perception as public created, influenced, and directed?

Convening the writings of political scientist Wendy Brown (on neoliberalism), critic and political theorist Fredric Jameson (on culture and finance capital) and artist Andrea Fraser (on the art market and the art world), as well as films by Chilean director Patricio Guzman and Richard Serra’s Prisoner’s Dilemma (1974), Think Tank Aesthetics will explore the relationship between aesthetics and the Cold War, with special focus on the RAND Corporation, in order to investigate the surprising relationship between shadowy institutions and modern art history. Following Pamela M. Lee’s investigations as presented in her most recent book New Games (2012), participants will consider the ways in which the discourses and research protocols of American military strategy – including systems theory, operational analysis and cybernetics – paved the way for the think tank’s own brand of “mid-century modernism.”

Think Tank Aesthetics continues Bik Van der Pol’s investigation of a set of issues previously introduced at Witte de With during Everyone For Themselves, a program of workshops, screenings and a symposium discussing the Ethics and Economics of Art in May 2012, which drew a great part of its inspiration from Pamela M. Lee’s New Games.

November 14, 10-5pm:
Closed workshop with Pamela M. Lee and the students of the School of Missing Studies and the Piet Zwart Institute at Karel Doormanhof 45, Rotterdam.

November 15 & 16, 10-5pm:
Public workshop with Pamela M. Lee at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.

November 15, 7pm:
Public presentation by Pamela M. Lee, in conversation with Benedict Seymour (writer, film-maker and editor of Mute magazine, London) hosted by Bik Van der Pol, at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.

Entrance fee: 5 euros, free for workshop participants.

To receive more information about the workshop and to sign-up, please contact [email protected] Participation of the workshop is free.