Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Jonas Staal - New World Summit


Started in 2012, the New World Summit defines itself as an artistic and political organization dedicated to providing alternative parliaments in an alternative political space to host organizations that currently find themselves excluded from democracy. Politics has failed the promise of what Staal calls a "fundamental democracy".

- Aiming for the deconstruction of the monopolies of power that want us to believe that democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech are the exclusive domain of the self-proclaimed “enlightened” Western world

NWS launch at 7th Berlin Biennale, 2012

- 5 editions so far (Berlin, the Netherlands, India, Brussels, Rojava). 
Together with BAK (basis voor actuele kunst, a politically driven art institution) in Utrecht, in 2013 the New World Academy was founded, which invites stateless political groups to develop collaborative projects with artists and students.

- On the launch at the Berlin Biennale: "the non-transparent terms by which the activities of these organisations are determined as terrorist, is never fully disclosed to the public. Within the exhibition space, the flags of each organisation are suspended from the ceiling accompanied with a model of the political agora. Significantly the majority of the insignias of each group include an emblem of violence, such as a closed fist gripping a Kalashnikov machine gun. Whether violent or not, the call to arms appears to be an embedded ideology in the majority of these organisations." 


- A politically secular region declared autonomous by Kurdish revolutionaries in the northern part of Syria in 2011, included a celebration of the start of construction of a new public parliament developed together with the Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava. 

-Rojava has a "co-governance" policy in which each position at each level of government in Rojava includes a "female equivalent of equal authority" to a male. Similarly, the "top three officers of each municipality must include one Arab, one Kurd and one Christian" providing for ethnic balance. 

Construction of New World Embassy Rojava's Idealogical Planetarium

New World Embassy Rojava's Idealogical Planetarium

The New World Embassy: Rojava is a temporary embassy that was constructed in Oslo for the Oslo Architecture Triennale and which represents the ideals of “stateless democracy” developed by the communities of the autonomous region of Rojava, northern Syria. An architectural model of sorts, it was built to resemble the soon to be completed Rojava parliament in Dêrik. Collaboration between the Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava, Studio Jonas Staal, Oslo Architecture Triennial 2016 and Art in Public Space Norway 

Inside the Ideological Planetarium, there were public discussions by people of different cultures and backgrounds. 

Ideas/topics include:
- analysis of the history, ideals, and implementation of stateless democracy 
art and architecture as tools to envision new forms of society 
ideology as form - Studio Staal's approach 

Temporary Art Review: 

"What we witnessed was, in other words, mainly a political revolutionary movement using an artistic platform to gain visibility for their cause...attempt to demonstrate the explicitly political promise of socially-engaged art

"The artistic proposal New World Embassy: Rojava was in fact a call out for a permanent embassy in Oslo." 

"One question is whether a cultural frame like this makes it easier for politicians to reject the organization’s seriousness in diplomatic negotiations"

"If one remains hopeful, it is possible to imagine that New World Embassy: Rojava could be a step on the way to broader knowledge of the Kurdish people. Whether the political promise that art can envision and therefore make possible new futures, remains more obscure. It is also not clear how seminars can work to change the course of things, even if they serve an enlightening function. To be honest, I feel they are not really taking us anywhere. Considering the now almost five year lifespan of New World Summit, it seems important to ask what kind of institution it has become. Staal could perhaps follow through their project with a closer look at the ideology bootstrapped with the seminars formal aspects, beyond its architectural premise, to help make this more clear. It is a committing dialogue Studio Jonas Staal and KORO, as the Norwegian representative, have initiated when calling out for permanent representation of Rojava in Oslo. I am anticipating how well these very different organizations are able to follow up on their promises – as of now they appear to have fallen quiet, leaving the hopeful in a kind of vacuum."


"Art is not neutral. art has never been neutral. for everyone who is involved in art, we have to ask ourselves what is our aesthetic approach, what is our political approach, and do these two influence one another other?...I think the very shape of our society, and the human relations that exist within it - this is the real artwork. The proof of a good artwork for me is if it can contribute to that process, to bring a new social imaginary into being."

3:53 - on democracy being turned on itself today and NWS' role: "how the imaginary in art can play a role in developing experimental and emancipatory forms of democracy...a moment of egalitarianism can manifest". The NWS site states "the NWS thus claims art as a radical imaginative space more political than politics itself".


The Geert Wilders Works, where he turns his prosecution for threatening the life of a politician with a public artwork by considering the trial part of his work. He had invitations designed and printed to announce the court case as a ‘public debate’ in which key figures in the trial were presented as actors in a play entitled The Geert Wilders Works – A Trial I-II.

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