In this two-part program, Cristina Ricupero casts light on “secret societies” through the prism of contemporary art and focuses on them as a fruitful locus of resistance to the excesses of today’s “open society.” Artists have always been fascinated by the obscure and the occult, and by the visual representation or transmission of secret knowledge and hidden identity. With examples from sociology, philosophy, art history, and film, as well as from her own practice as a curator and critic, Ricupero will reframe and expand our conception of the secret and the secret society in order to question the relationship between knowledge and power, exposure and protection, in relation to art and its broader social context. She invites participants to explore ways in which artists can work with and around the mechanisms of secrecy.
October 5 – Lecture and Screening
free and open to the public
Ricupero will present her curatorial approach to the exhibition Secret Societies (Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and CAPC de Bordeaux, 2011–2012) as well as The Crime Was Almost Perfect (Witte de With, Rotterdam and PAC Milan, 2014) and New Ways of Doing Nothing (Kunsthalle Vienna, 2014). She will also present a selection of film extracts to explore the aesthetic codes and scenographic strategies of secret societies.
October 7 – Workshop in Visual Language: Secret Society as Artwork
Ricupero invites participants to devise a visual identity for a fictitious secret society, and to convey this in their preferred form—e.g. video, poster, newspaper. She will set the stage by introducing participants in more detail to the main characteristics of secret societies through numerous examples (Mafia, Free Masons, Rosicrucians, Madame Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, and others) and their structures, symbols, rites, and methods of maintaining integrity and autonomy; as well as introducing examples of artists and writers who have either created their own “secret societies,” invented a fictitious secret society as an artwork, or have simply operated in a similar manner with exclusivity of membership and strict rules of behaviour: Georges Bataille (Acéphale), LI-Lettrist Internationale, Martin Kippenberger (Büro and Momas project), Jim Shaw (O’ism project), Joachim Koester, among others.
Cristina Ricupero recently co-curated together with Vanessa Müller a group show for the Kunsthalle Vienna called “New Ways of Doing Nothing” (2014) as well as a large group exhibition “The Crime was Almost Perfect” at Witte de With in Rotterdam (2014), which traveled to PAC-Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan later that year. This group show featured over forty artists and led to a publication. She also curated together with Swiss-German artist Fabian Marti a group exhibition and publication called “Cosmic Laughter – timewave zero then what?” for the Ursula Blickle Stiftung, Germany (September-October 2012) and a major exhibition project, “Secret Societies,” for the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfort (2011), which then toured to the CAPC de Bordeaux (2011–2012). A catalogue in German, English and French was published for this occasion.
In 2006, Ricupero was commissioned to cover the European section of the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea. She worked as a curator at NIFCA (Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art) in Helsinki from 2000 to 2005 and also as Associate Director of Exhibitions at the ICA in London from 2000 until 2004. She has also been a frequent lecturer at the Faculty of Art and Architecture at NTNU, Trondheim in Norway, at Kunstuniversität Linz, Autstria, HEAD-Haute école d’art et de design, Geneva and other art academies in Europe.
ACT’s fall 2016 lecture series is conceived by Gediminas Urbonas, ACT director, and developed and coordinated by Ashley Rizzo Moss, ACT Senior Communications & Public Programs Assistant and Lucas Freeman, ACT Writer in Residence, in conversation with ACT graduate students.