A two part conference developed alongside, and in response to, Witte de With’s current exhibition of the work of artist Eric Baudelaire.

The Form of a City as a Political Outcome

Time: 2 - 4 pm
Participants: Eric Baudelaire, Paul Guillibert, Tara Lewis and Malique Mohamud
Moderated by Xavier Wrona

Post-war reconstruction was a pivotal moment for both Paris and Rotterdam. Like countless others, both cities were thrown into alternative and unforeseen paths of transformation after the massive destruction of WWII. Like other cities, their transformation was also very particular. Paris kept its historical core untouched and expanded outwards. Rotterdam, rebuilt its annihilated historic core by inventing something radically different and new. However opposed in morphology, those two places facing enormous housing crisis were massively transformed through an ambitious, pro-active and optimistic embracement of the possibilities of their time: new cities, new forms, new shapes, large spaces, amenities generous access to air, light and nature. Today, both cities are experiencing violence, spatial segregation, terrorism and witnessing the return of violent discourses regarding parts of their populations which were until recently thought to be banned from political language.

However, the problem of these urban forms do not seem to be only contained within the most televised and eruptive parts of these recently built territories. The quiet middle class suburban form also induces a shared feeling of anxiety. It is also through these spaces that Baudelaire's film Also Known as Jihadi evolved. What happened? What did we build? What are these forms of territories and what do they cause or are part of? Could it be that these massive efforts of built utopias aren’t part of these problems? Or if they are, how? Through which mechanisms? These were new urban forms. But what part of these forms could participate in consequences so drastically opposed to the original intents of their authors. What part does the built environment play in our current state of affairs?

In a moment of great instability, when reconfigurations are occurring, acute violence is deepening, and the difficulty of comprehension is expanding, this discussion will attempt to reconsider what we have massively produced as an environment after WWII. It will do so by articulating types of voices that aren’t accustomed to working together and by inviting them to debate on issues that are not their primary field of knowledge.


Time: 4:30 - 6:30 pm
Participants: Grégory Castéra and Milad Doueihi

Assemblies is the first event organized by Council in the frame of 2017 Witte de With Curatorial Fellowship. Assembly is a long-term inquiry that investigates how the way people gather shapes their thinking and actions. The inquiry collects cases (historical or contemporary, fictional or real) where assembly can be approached as a practice that stimulates critical thinking, political imaginary and production of objectivity as well as the creation of forms of spoken words, architecture and choreography. In an attempt to study, compare, experiment and formalize different experiences, protocols and ethics of assembly, Assembly tends to open a space to think and experiment assembly making in the crossing of sciences, arts and politics.

Conceived in dialogue with Eric Baudelaire, the event reacts to one the artist’s statement in reference to Pierre Zaoui for his movie Also Known as Jihadi (101 min., 2016): “I want to make a film that affirms the position of trying (not) to understand the Jihadi”. Implementing a cinematic approach called “landscape theory”, the movie attempts to trace the route of a young man native from Val-de-Marne who went to Syria in 2012, eventually joined the rank of the Islamic state and is currently serving a nine-year sentence.

Starting from the use of a maritime metaphor to describe the Internet, Milad Doueihi will investigate the mutations of the forms of spatial, religious and legal organisation in digital space, and its consequences for the individual and collective representation. Milad Doueihi’s talk will be introduced by Grégory Castéra.

Assemblies is curated by Council (Grégory Castéra in collaboration with Francesca Bertolotti-Bailey and Sandra Terdjman). Council is an institution that researches, produces and supports artists and projects that endeavour to renew the representation of societal issues.

This event is part of the program of the exhibition The Music of Ramón Raquello and his Orchestra by Eric Baudelaire, on view until 7 May 2017. The series started with conferences on Fukeiron, or the Politics and Poetics of Landscape (28 January 2017), organized with the International Film Festival.