Agents & Provocateurs

14. May 2010 - 18. July 2010 Dortmunder U, Level 3
An exhibition by Hartware MedienKunstVerein Dortmund in cooperation with the Institute of Contemporary Art – Dunaújváros (Hungary)

In the framework of the festival "Scene Ungarn in NRW / 40. Internationale Kulturtage der Stadt Dortmund"
The research-based art project Agents & Provocateurs surveys certain forms of confrontation: agency and provocation, both understood as dissenting artistic attitudes. Starting out from the counter-cultural scenes of state-socialist East Central Europe, the project asks what sort of critical potential the oppositional artistic positions of the time really had. Was "oppositional" a (self-)chosen stance, or did the narrow confines of a repressive regime constitute dissident thinkers so? Did artists engage with various aspects of social reality under an autocratic political rule, or were they rather concerned over the infringements of their artistic and intellectual freedom?
Agents & Provocateurs goes on asking if within the context of the much-desired democracy, the individual is prepared to take advantage of the situation that democratic power wielding, theoretically, no longer infantilizes, silences, or paralyzes critically-minded individuals but perceives them as potential social actors? In a transformed political climate is the continuing practice of provocation sustainable or dysfunctional in political democracies, or does it reproduce patterns of thinking and acting that were acquired under an oppressive system?

Certainly, any political, economic, social or cultural system has its oppressive features and unjust hierarchies. Agents & Provocateurs therefore asks how genuinely critical attitudes need to reconfigure again and again in order to capture these? The focus is on instances when artists think of themselves as social agents and are willing to work politically with the "enemy". The predominantly East-Central European cases will be juxtaposed with, and accentuated by, contemporaneous examples from contexts with different political cultures.

The Hungarian title, Illetékesség és provokáció, borrows the first term, designating one’s concernment, from a writing by Miklós Erdély, Characteristics of post-neoavantgarde behaviour. According to Erdély, "One must acknowledge one’s involvement with regard to one’s own life and destiny, and adhere to it without compromise." The title's association to Kontroll Csoport’s (Control Group) 1983 song, Informers and Provocateurs brings into play the other generally known meaning of the English word 'agent'. The lyrics by the underground cult band brings up issues like self-censorship, mocks the fact of surveillance, and flirts with the idea of mutual surveillance.

Agents & Provocateurs  is a research-based artistic project consisting of an  exhibition, film program, an online archive, lectures and workshops. As an afterlife of the exhibition shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Dunaújváros and Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund, the online archive will contain additional materials accumulated during preparation and research. The compiled material is to be activated through workshops and educational modules organised in collaboration with the network of artists and experts established in the process of realising the project.

Curated by Beata Hock, Franciska Zólyom and Inke Arns.

For security reasons access to the third floor of the Dortmunder U on the evening of May 14, 2010, has been limited to 200 persons. In case you should have to wait, please bear with us - and meanwhile join this event:

Audiodigitale presents: Budapest Nights
Electronic music, VJing and club culture from Hungary
Friday, May 14 (starting at 20:00) and Saturday May 15 (starting at 21:00) in the basement of the Dortmunder U, check for more information

Agents & Provocateurs
May 14 – July 18, 2010

Beata Hock, Franciska Zólyom (Budapest/Berlin)

Beata Hock, Franciska Zólyom, Inke Arns
HMKV at the Dortmunder U (3rd floor)
Center for  Art and Creativity
44137 Dortmund, Germany

Opening hours
Thu — Fri, 14:00 — 20:00,
Sat — Sun, 10:00 — 20:00,
closed on Mon — Wed

5 € / 3 € (reduced)

Funders and Partners

In the framework of:
Scene Ungarn in NRW

Funded by:
Kulturbüro der Stadt Dortmund
NRW Kultursekretariat Wuppertal
Der Ministerpräsident des Landes NRW

Supported by:
Polnisches Institut Düsseldorf


Media partner:

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