Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden

Open Lecture by Maria Lind


The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?)

Maria Lind, director of Tensta Konsthall and curator of 11th Gwangju Biennial 2016 (GB11) will introduce the concept and works of the biennial.

In light of the art sphere’s focus on infrastructure in many parts of the world, in the treacherous terrains of existing public and private systems, art itself seems to be partly forgotten. At GB11, attention is directed to artworks and projects addressing the agency of art in terms of the question: ‘What does art do?’ A central part of this interest in the performative aspect of art is its projective and imaginative qualities—art’s active relationship to the future. Other concerns of GB11 include the mediation of art, art’s embeddedness in various contexts, and the potential of connecting dots between already existing activities and people near and far.

The ‘eighth climate’ of the exhibition’s title refers to a state one might reach using imaginative capacities. The notion of the eighth climate dates back to 12th century Persian mystic and philosopher Sohravardi, and was elaborated by 20th century French philosopher Henri Corbin. It is an addition to the seven physical climates of the earth identified by ancient Greek geographers. Unlike the seven earthly climates, the eighth climate is not based on a separation of matter and spirit, history and myth; rather, it is ontologically real and has concrete effects.

The eighth climate might well resonate with global warming. However, in the context of GB11, the eighth climate helps us explore art’s capacity to say and do something about the future, without either being paralysed by its prospects or defaulting to established technologies of prediction. The eighth climate evokes art as a seismograph, detecting change before other means of observation, whether the artists are conscious of it or not, allowing for slightly different—and perhaps ambiguous and conflictual perspectives on how art engages with what lies ahead of us. This neither implies art for art’s sake nor a utilitarian approach.

The open lecture is part of Prof Nina Möntmann’s masterseminar ‘BECOMING PUBLIC: How Exhibitions Relate to the Contemporary Moment.’

Date: 14 December, 15:00-17:00 
Place: Royal Institute of Art, Skeppsholmen. Lecture room 1