7 Walks (Congress)


Brussels – Meyboom Artist-run Spaces and Congres Station garden
Boulevard Pachecolaan 34-2, 1000 Brussel

18 – 19/05/2022, 10 - 18h


Tickets: 10,- (including lunch)

Reservations: info@jubilee-art.org


*from Latin congressus from congredī to meet with, from com- together + gradī to walk, step


7 Walks is an artistic research trajectory of artist duo Vermeir & Heiremans in collaboration with guests and participants, that aims to situate local practices of ownership in a broader social, legal and political context. With walking as its performative methodology, the project consists of site-specific instalments that connect the ecology of the arts with a natural commons – water. The project responds to current and recently intensified debates about the necessity and position of art in today's society. Like water, art can be considered a basic necessity of life, a proposal that many international resolutions have promoted.


September 2021, 7 Walks (resolution) performed 10 public walks in the 'therapeutic landscape' around the thermal city of Spa. The walks were complemented by a Cabinet de lecture in the city's Musée de la Ville d’eaux. From the 16th century onwards Spa was a peaceful haven where a wide range of philosophies, social questions, economic issues and artistic visions could be discussed by peers and adversaries alike. Kings and tsars, political refugees, revolutionaries, artists and philosophers crossed each other’s paths and exchanged ideas on their way to take the waters at the mineral springs. This two-day congress follows these walkers and brings some of their debates into the contemporary. Proudhon, Gambart, Delhasse, Constant are the protagonists that inspire presentations and trigger discussions on contemporary forms of monopolization and mutualisation of social or natural resources. They will spark our imagination to explore alternative modes of governance that aim to open up opportunities for redistribution, access and collectivity…


Programme


On Art – Wednesday 18 May, 10:00 – 18:00


10:00
Vermeir & Heiremans
Welcome and short introduction on the topic and on the programme of the day.


10:30
Atelier Cartographique
AC is a Brussels based cooperative whose practices focus on cultural issues of cartography, application development and information systems design. AC provides tools for administrations, NGOs, enterprises, academic research, and citizen driven initiatives. In their presentation AC members will question the power and authority of maps, and their so-called neutral and disinterested scientific perspective. Instead of impartial in its effects, they will elaborate on how maps are shaped by the conventions and power relations of the time. They will be balancing the visible, explicit agenda with its invisible, implied counterpart that is playing out in the practice of mapping.


11:00
Ingrid Goddeeris
Ingrid is an art historian in charge of the library of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. In her research she focuses on the 19th century Belgian and international art market. One of the art dealers that played a considerable role in the establishment of what we today know as an 'art gallery' was Ernest Gambart. His extensive network of artists, dealers, collectors and critics enabled him to establish a modern commercial art gallery in London, known as The French Gallery. After selling his gallery Gambart settled himself in Spa as a self-styled Maecenas. Ingrid Goddeeris will examine Gambart's various art dealing techniques, including his gallery model, through which he managed to "democratize" artists' work and simultaneously "monopolize" its artistic and financial value.


11:45
Nora Timmermans
Nora is a political philosopher. In her research, she has focused on the political ideas of the French thinker Benjamin Constant, also a visitor to Spa, in relation to contemporary liberal democracy. In his writings, Constant defends the modern notion of freedom which disconnects civic rights from the right to have a say on how the citizens are governed. Nora Timmermans will detail how Constant's ideas have laid the foundations for an understanding of politics that attributes a central role to the individual citizen and will argue that this understanding leads to a particular form of political conservatism that has repercussions for how change is understood in other spheres of society, such as, e.g., economy.


12:30
Walking Lunch at Congress Station Gardens


14:00
Christoph Rausch
In his work Christoph has focused on questions around value and art. In a way the gallery model that Gambart initiated mid-19th century liberated artists from the constraints of the rigid valorisation model of the academy, appropriating its ephemeral values and expanding them in a financial sense. The art market today still uses a similar discourse. In his presentation Christoph Rausch speaks about the assetisation of art. He ruptures the disinterested art market discourse, revealing some of the underlying ambiguities that it veils. Although the current hype of NFT (non-fungible tokens) claims to have re-empowered artists, they can also be considered as the market’s new form of extracting value.


14:45
Bassam El Baroni
Bassam is a curator and teacher at the School of Arts of Aalto University, Helsinki. In his work he addresses infrastructural issues in the arts that underwrite the art market as a winner takes all model and keep artists in the spell of speculation in the financial sense of the term. Since the 2008 financial crisis, artists, theorists and artistic researchers have been preoccupied with developing a more focused approach, one that engages our complex interdependence with systemic infrastructures. In his presentation Bassam El Baroni will look at the ways in which infrastructures, finance and imaginal capacities are intertwined and how to think through such entanglements to produce effects.


15:30
The Spa Ferruginous Water Sommelier Performance, but also sweets & coffee


16:00
Plenum: Commodification of Art & Water
Considering art a social commons Vermeir & Heiremans have invited David Aubin to join the other speakers to draw out the dynamics that equally play out in context of the governance of water, a material commons. David has researched the natural assets of the city of Spa, both its forests and water sources. His insights will offer the basis for a collective discussion between all speakers and David, exploring the underlying conditions that have transformed both art and water into commodified forms. Vermeir & Heiremans will moderate the discussion.


18:00
Drinks

 



 

On Water – Thursday 19 May, 10:00 – 18:00


10:00
Vermeir & Heiremans
Welcome and short introduction on the topic and on the programme of the day.


10:30
Guido Erreygers
Guido takes an interest in the history of economics. In his research he finds ways to expand on historic arguments in a contemporary context. In the course of the 19th century Belgium attracted many refugees with radical ideas on the 'the social question'. In his presentation Guido Erreygers will address social liberalism which offered a range of visions on private property. For some private property would be a fundamental obstacle to freedom and equality, for others the fruits of property should be better re-distributed, resulting in proposals that would provide a 'citizen dividend' on the exploitation of common resources like water, land, wood... Next to Brussels many of these refugees also found each other in Spa, through the mediation of the journalists Alexander and Felix Delhasse. One of their cherished guests was Pierre Joseph Proudhon, today remembered for his book: ‘What is Property?’


11:15
Maria Francesca De Tulio
Maria Francesca is a legal scholar and activist based in Naples. She is currently involved in running l’Asilo (www.exasilofilangieri.it), an art center in Naples that is operated as a commons. In her presentation she will give a contemporary reading of commons, and use rights in general, in context of art, but also in context of water. She will expand on the Italian Water movement which has used the commons as a strategy to counter the privatization of water. Speaking from her experience in both fields Maria Francesca De Tullio will offer theoretical and practical insights relevant to the debate on the appropriateness of opposing privatisation of water or culture in the name of 'human rights and commons.'


12:00
Hendrik Schoukens
Hendrik specializes in environmental law. In his presentation he will address some of the contemporary urgencies around water from a legal perspective. More and more water is considered an economic good as any other commodity. Yet water is also an indispensable source of life. It is essential to any living being, and in any international resolution access to it is a human right. Until recently, the idea that a river or a forest could go to court in its own name was not taken seriously. But there has been a turning point here. In 2008 Ecuador gave nature legal personhood in its constitution. In New Zealand, in turn, parliament legalized a river by law, implying that it can act in court in its own name. In his presentation Hendrik Schoukens will enter into different scenarios that give legal personhood to nature and in particular 'water'.


12:45
Walking Lunch at Congress Station Gardens


14:00
David Aubin
David's research focuses on public policy and government regulation through property rights. Private property, a pillar of our liberal democracies, is nowadays challenged in its absoluteness by citizens’ initiatives. However this claim for more ‘commons’ is generating questions on investments and forms of governance. They represent competing claims that must be politically solved. In his presentation David Aubin will elaborate on these claims in view of the exploitation of the natural assets of the city of Spa, both its forests and water sources.


14:45
Tom Vos
Tom conducts research on corporate governance. One of the main reasons for listing a company on a stock exchange is the possibility to attract capital from a multitude of investors. There are two main competing theories that argue how a company should be run: the shareholder and the stakeholder approach. On the one hand, the shareholder approach claims for profit maximisation of the shareholder as the only objective of business. On the other hand, the stakeholder approach suggests satisfying the interest of various stakeholders. In his presentation Tom Vos will weigh up shareholder against stakeholder capitalism, building his argument taking water as a case.


15:30
The Spa Ferruginous Water Sommelier Performance, but also sweets & coffee


16:00
Commodification of Water & Art
Considering water a natural commons Vermeir & Heiremans have invited TWIIID (Jens Van Lathem & Tobias Van Royen) to join the other speakers to draw out the dynamics that equally play out in context of the governance of art as a social commons. Jens and Tobias are currently working on authorship and intellectual property relations in the arts, more specific on the market for NFT's. Vermeir & Heiremans will moderate a collective discussion between all speakers and TWIIID, exploring the underlying conditions that have transformed both art and water into commodified forms.


18:00
Drinks

 


Bio's

David Aubin is associate professor of political science at UCLouvain where he teaches policy analysis, policy evaluation, and sustainability policies. Embedded in Belgian and European collaborative research projects, his comparative research activities concern policy work and policy advice, integrated management of natural resources, and learning processes in collaborative networks. David Aubin published in journals such as Policy Sciences, Journal of Public Policy, and European Policy Analysis. He has also edited the book Policy Analysis in Belgium with Marleen Brans (Policy Press, 2017).


Maria Francesca De Tulio is researcher in Constitutional Law at the Federico II University of Naples. She was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp — Commons Culture Quest Office. Her main research areas are culture, political representation and participatory democracy, Internet law and legal tools for urban commons. She is acquiring specific competences by acting as juridical expert in the dialogue on commons between grassroots movements and administration in different cities of Italy.


Bassam El Baroni is assistant professor in curating at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Finland. His current research engages with financialization in relation to artistic practices, artists’ engagement with infrastructural futures and histories, and new forms of artist-led activism. Recent curatorial projects include: Infrahauntologies at the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Oldenburg, Germany and La Box ENSA, Bourges (2021-2022). He is the author of various essays on artists, art and curating, and editor of Between the Material and the Possible: Infrastructural Re-examination and Speculation in Art (Sternberg Press, 2022) and co-editor, together with Ida Soulard and Abinadi Meza, of Manual for a Future Desert (Mousse Publishing, 2022).


Guido Erreygers is Professor of Economics at the Faculty of Applied Economics of the University of Antwerp. His research interests include history of economics, linear production theory, inheritance, and natural resource economics. He has published on the history of economics in various books and journals.


Ingrid Goddeeris is an art historian and archivist. Besides being the Head of the Library of the Brussels Museums of Fine Arts, she is also a researcher. She is preparing a dissertation on the international network of the Belgian art trade (1830-1914). Starting from a number of 'Belgian' 19th century art dealers, such as Léon Gauchez, Ernest Gambart and others, she will unfold their network of mutual contacts, as well as their entanglement with contemporary artists, collectors and other art connoisseurs.


Christoph Rausch is associate professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences at University College Maastricht (UCM) and co-founding member of the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH). Christoph’s main research interest is the global relations between art and finance in the 21st century. His work draws from the critical repertoires of cultural anthropology and sociology, as well as history and philosophy. Christoph has published on the intersections of the art and heritage worlds with a focus on the study of values, including economic value.


Hendrik Schoukens is a professor of environmental law at Ghent University and environmental lawyer at the bar of Brussels. He publishes regularly in both the general press as well as in scientific journals on topics such as nature protection, eco-restoration, climate change and environmental impact assessment. He is the author of several books on environmental law and sustainability in Flanders.


Nora Timmermans is a political philosopher. Prior to her studies in philosophy, she worked as a lawyer at the Leuven bar. Her research expertise is situated in democratic theory and constitutional thought. Working with both contemporary and historical sources, she is especially versed in French political philosophy and its intellectual history, from the 18th century onwards. Within this domain she is interested in the analysis of contested concepts such as 'constituent power', 'representation', ‘democracy’, and ‘sovereignty’.


Jens Van Lathem & Tobias Van Royen offer a legal sounding board for the arts. By experimenting with different media, methodologies, and pedagogical strategies they try to introduce reflection on and sustainable solutions for legal challenges and evolutions within the creative sector. Within TWIIID they make legal issues around the artistic practice comprehensible and provide the cultural sector and its advocacy organizations with inspiration and rationale for building solid artist’s statutes. Tobias Van Royen has a Master’s Degree in Law, Tax Law, and Cultural Management from the University of Antwerp. Jens Van Lathem has a Masters Degree in Law from the University of Ghent.


Vermeir & Heiremans
Defining their own house as an art work in 2006 became the basis for a long-term artistic practice together. The 'house as art work' is a framing device to open up a meta-perspective on their own work, the art world and daily life in general. Their practice investigates the dynamics between economy, law, and governing, deploying the arts and the socio-economic conditions of artists as their preferred case studies. Considering the art world a micro cosmos for the dynamics that play out in wider society they look into the possibilities for a more equitable distribution of values produced.


Tom Vos is an academic researcher in corporate law. Currently he is a full-time visiting professor at the Jean-Pierre Blumberg Chair at the University of Antwerp, where he conducts research on corporate governance. Tom is also a voluntary scientific collaborator at the Jan Ronse Institute for Company and Financial Law at the KU Leuven.


7 WALKS (Congress)(2022)
Vermeir & Heiremans in collaboration with David Aubin, Maria Francesca De Tulio, Bassam El Baroni, Guido Erreygers, Ingrid Goddeeris, Christoph Rausch, Hendrik Schoukens, Nora Timmermans, Jens Van Lathem & Tobias Van Royen, Tom Vos and with Atelier Cartographique.
Co-production Les Musées de la Ville d'eaux (Spa) and Jubilee (Brussels). Supported by the Flemish Community and the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Un Futur pour la Culture)
7 Walks will be developed in different localities internationally. The number 7 is a symbolic reference to the most important water sources of the city of Spa, but it is in no means an indication of the number of walks that will be performed.