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                1. Future Vocabularies
                2. Human-Inhuman-Posthuman
                Anthropocene Observatory
                BAK, Utrecht (NL)
                  Armin Linke, Territorial Agency, and Anselm Franke, Anthropocene Observatory, installation view, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst 2015. (photo: Tom Janssen)/5
                1. John Palmesino interview Anthropocene Observatory 2015
                1. Anthropocene Observatory, which takes place at BAK from 7 February–26 April 2015, is a research exhibition and discursive environment that proposes to rethink the contemporary world through the prism of the “Anthropocene thesis.” The Anthropocene is understood as an epoch in geological chronology during which the global impact of human activities is inscribed onto planet Earth. This geohistorical era—marked by the domination of the human species—has brought along transformations that bear unprecedented consequences for all facets of our present and future. Through what ways of looking and knowing, of feeling and being, can we assess these radically altered circumstances? What (future) vocabularies of politics, science, and art might enable us to know, envision, and do things otherwise? 

                  Developed by Territorial Agency (headed by the London-based duo of architects and urbanists John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog) in collaboration with Berlin-based artist Armin Linke and curator Anselm FrankeAnthropocene Observatory forms a complex knowledge archive and study environment that gestures towards ways of approaching these questions. Functioning as an observatory, it puts forth the data and knowledges collected and generated over the course of the last two years, offering them up for public inquiry and critical exploration, so as to probe how the Anthropocene thesis is being recognized and disputed, embraced and discredited, negated and applied across a wide spectrum of scientific, political, and cultural contexts.

                  Consisting of films, interviews, printed documents, and installations that uncover issues ranging from spatial and territorial modelling to climate change and environmental politics to applied systems analysis to supranational power operations and their institutions,
                  Anthropocene Observatory attempts to image and reconstruct the tangled interrelationships between geology and political history. By making visible how the capitalist world-system is interlocked with the rapid transformation of the Earth system—how changing sources of energy correlate with particular political, legal, managerial, and spatial orders, from city-states dependent on wood, to imperial reliance on the harvesting and uneven distribution of coal, to the global constellation’s dependency on fossil fuels and nuclear energy—the project asks whether the extant infrastructure of knowledge, politics, science, and art is adequate in meeting these colossal challenges. Anthropocene Observatory urges us to not leave these issues unaddressed.  

                  Anthropocene Observatory is made possible with support from Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. For more information on the Anthropocene Observatory at HKW, please click here.

                  Acquisition of Anthropocene Observatory by Centraal Museum:
                  BAK co-produced the Anthropocene Observatory, and brings it to the Netherlands for the first time ever. The collaboration between BAK and Centraal Museum titled Future Collections has led to an acquisition of a key work from Anthropocene Observatory for the Museum collection. The work consists of a video-diptych that focuses on the distinct Dutch practices of water management and coastal protection, as well as a series of filmed research interviews on climate change. The acquisition thus assures the presence of a work around one of the most crucial themes of our era for the public in Utrecht and beyond. 
                  The collaboration between BAK and Centraal Museum, Utrecht, has been made possible by the DOEN Foundation, Amsterdam. The acquisition of Anthropocene Observatory has been made possible by the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam.

              1. Future Vocabularies
                1. BAK Research Fellow: Prof. Rosi Braidotti, Director of Centre for the Humanities, Utrecht University, Utrecht

                  If art and the humanities share one thing, it is the human at the center of their respective realms, or rather, their mutual investment in how people process, document, and analyze their human experiences. Under the pressure of new contemporary realities, however—global neoliberal capitalism, migration, technological developments, depleted nature and devastated environment, to name but a few markers of our time—the concept of the human as we had previously known it has undergone dramatic transformations. Not only have some been dehumanized to the level of becoming “inhuman,” but even the phenomena we thought to have controlled (such as nature), or thought to have invented and control (the capitalist market, technologies, among others), have seized control over our lives in the current age referred to as “the posthuman.” Realized in collaboration with BAK Research Fellow Rosi Braidotti and the BAK team, this semestral program outlines potential artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries of working through this complex reality, and attempts to create an understanding of the altered meanings of art vis-à-vis such critical present-day developments.

                  The program includes a research exhibition, Anthropocene Observatory (February–April 2015), developed by curator Anselm Franke (Berlin), artist Armin Linke (Berlin), and the collaborative team of Territorial Agency (John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, London), as well as a series of discursive and performative assemblies preliminary titled The Posthuman Glossary. These assemblies revolve around critical issues of posthumanity, algorithm culture, and digital citizenship in present-day artistic and intellectual work. As a constituent part of the project, BAK’s Learning Place is structured around these questions, as are extensive educational curricula for the secondary schools involved in the collaboration.

                  Realized in collaboration with Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; MAR at Royal Academy of Art (KABK), The Hague; MaHKU, Utrecht; Posthuman International Network; and Utrecht University, Utrecht.

              1. Research
              2. Itineraries
              Future Vocabularies
              long-term research and propositional trajectory rethinking art's conceptual lexicon
                1. Future Vocabularies is a long-term, multifaceted research, education, exhibition, and publication project through which the program of BAK unfolds over the course of 2014–2016. Future Vocabularies both stems from and is developed in parallel to (the concluding phase of) BAK’s flagship research project FORMER WEST (2008–2015).

                  The project takes as its point of departure the transitional period in which we all find ourselves: an intricate moment of parting from the modern under the pressures of new contemporary realities. Referred to at present as a time of multiple crises—political, social, environmental, military, aesthetic, and other—it can in fact be understood as an interval in between two historical epochs; an interregnum (Antonio Gramsci), so to speak, when one era has ended but before a new one is born. It is our own time when the contours of the future seem extant, palpable even, but are yet unsettled and escape any meaningful synthesis. How can art, then, with its faculty of imagining and ability to connect to other terrains of thinking and acting—the terrains of politics, ecology, economics, aesthetics, and other—provide us with the tools to grasp that which is forthcoming? How might we imagine, and thus potentially shape, the world to come?

                  Future Vocabularies
                   is inaugurated with a year-long exploration driven by an opening vocabulary entry on survival. In order to draw a line of continuity from BAK’s past and ongoing projects, this foundational sequence of the series is developed in dialogue with artists, scholars, and activists from our variety of long-standing collaborations, in order to postulate propositional research trajectories into how to think—with and through art—about some of the most urgent issues that define our contemporaneity: the livelihoods of refugees, the endurability of the planet, and the future of (institutional) infrastructures. From 2015 onwards, the project evolves as a succession of four additional semesters, brought to life in dialogue with research fellows—artists, scholars, and activists—who accompany BAK in codeveloping the semestral agendas. Future conceptual lexicon marked for exploration include artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries around the notions of “the posthuman” and “degrowth.”

                  The current and upcoming BAK Research Fellows are: Aernout MikJonas StaalRosi Braidotti, Simon Sheikh and Boris Buden.

                  1. past

                      1. Future Vocabularies
                      Instituting Otherwise
                      1. Future Vocabularies
                      1. Future Vocabularies
                      Future Collections
                      1. Future Vocabularies
              1. Research