Art and the Social: Exhibitions of Contemporary Art in the 1990s

A conference, “Art and the Social: Exhibitions of Contemporary Art in the 1990s,” will take place at Tate Britain on Friday, April 30th…

Art and the Social
Exhibitions of Contemporary Art in the 1990s



Friday 30 April 2010, 10.00–18.00

This symposium will explore the social turn in exhibition-making in Europe and North America in the 1990s, looking at the part played by political activism, institutional critique and forms of socialisation influenced by the media and moving image. Questioning labels such as ‘Kontext Kunst’, ‘social engagement’ and ‘relational aesthetics’,developments in recent contemporary exhibition history will be discussed. Speakers include Claire BishopCharles Esche and Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen.

Organised by Afterall, at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, as part of the Exhibition Histories project and in conjunction with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and FORMER WEST.


10.00 Welcome by Charles Esche

Exhibitions and Activism

10.10 Doug Ashford on the 1988-89 exhibition ‘Democracy’ at the DIA Art Foundation New York (a project by Group Material)

10.45 Renate Lorenz on the 1993 exhibition ‘Trap’ at Kunst-Werke, Berlin (curated by Minimal Club in Munich, Büro Bert in Düsseldorf, Art in Ruins in London)

11.20 Questions – led by Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen  

11.40 Tea and coffee

Art in the Social Sphere?

12.00 Claire Bishop on three exhibitions from 1993, ‘Culture in Action’ in Chicago, ‘Unité d’Habitation’ in Firminy and ‘Sonsbeek’ in Arnhem

12.40 Christian Philipp Müller in response

13.00 Questions – led by Charles Esche

13.20 Lunch break

Context, Relationality, Participation

14.30 Sabeth Buchmann on Kontext Kunst and Institutional Critique in exhibition-making in Germany in the 1990s

15.00 Stéphanie Jeanjean on the viewer’s experience and the social dimension of the exhibitions that gave rise to the Relational Aesthetics label in France in the 1990s

15.30 Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt on the social dimension of artist-run spaces in the UK in the 1990s, specifically in Glasgow and London

16.00 Questions – led by Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen

16.30 Tea and coffee

Panel Discussion

17.00 Review of the day, with questions to all the speakers, led by Charles Esche

Tate Britain  Auditorium
£25 (£15 concessions), booking recommended

For tickets book online
or call 020 7887 8888.