ANK: Placing Experiment: Losing, Gaining and Shifting Ground, Bangor/online (03.12.2022)

Sarah Pogoda's picture

Colleagues might be interested in the online interdisciplinary colloquium that will explore avant-garde artistic legacies and their boundary-crossing futures: "Placing Experiment: Losing, Gaining and Shifting Ground".

Registration via Eventbrite:


Saturday 3rd December 2022

Bangor University


Placing Experiment: Losing, Gaining and Shifting Ground


Please register here:



Prof Zoë Skoulding and Dr Sarah Pogoda


This one-day online interdisciplinary colloquium will explore ways in which experimental process and procedure in art, music, performance and writing, influenced by avant-garde legacies of the twentieth century, may be newly imagined in a local and global context. Artistic avant-gardes are defined by contested conventions, by looking both to the past and and future, and their relation to political activism is rarely straightforward. Their methods and strategies are no longer bound to specific groupings, but they offer a means of exploring potential in language and materials, and relationships with the environment and place. Techniques based on chance or algorithms may be appreciated anew as a means of critiquing and understanding the limitations and potential of human autonomy, including the large-scale effects of humans on the environment. Avant-garde practices have challenged the separation between art and life, or art and politics, as they contest boundaries, yet they have often been seen within a predominantly European frame. How might they be understood within a more global perspective? What do we gain from adopting avant-garde perspectives and from stepping beyond conventions, including disciplinary boundaries?


The informal, exploratory presentations relate to a range of disciplinary practices. Questions we will explore include, but are not limited to the following: 


  • What specific places and/or constellations have been conducive to the emergence of avant-garde practice, and why?

  • How can artistic critique of subjectivity help to inform intellectual, scholarly, scientific processes? 

  • What role do experimental artistic practices play in contesting ideas of place?

  • How do forms of knowledge that are embedded in practice, such as writing and performing, suggest ways of understanding relationships between humans and the nonhuman world? 

  • What forms of interdisciplinarity does avant-garde practice draw on, or enable?

  • What forms of creative translation might enable artistic and scientific knowledge to inform each other?  What forms of transgression are involved in this encounter?

  • How does the re-use and re-appropriation of texts and materials suggest new forms of place and placing? 

  • How can dialogues be developed between non-Western epistemologies and the ways in which Western writing and art practices question human subjectivity?   

  • How can artistic practices help us to understand the wider distribution of agency and meaning beyond the human? Could this lead to better ecological understanding?  


Programme (subject to change)

all times are UTC time

12:45-1pm: Welcome & Intro

1pm -2:30pm:

Heike Roms (Exceter): When Yoko Ono did not come to Wales: Locating the early history of performance art (1965-1979)

Sarah Pogoda (Bangor): From Avant Garde to Afon Gad.

Thomas Guthmann (Berlin): Challenging the persisting, echoes from the past



Lucy Finchett-Maddock (Bangor): Law as Translation:       The Juridical Avant-Garde of Outsider Art

Zoë Skoulding (Bangor): Revolution and the Senses: Poetry, Avant-Gardes and Others 

Felipe Cussen (Santiago de Chile): Apruebo



Marc-James Léger (Montreal): Bad Luck Banging or the Loony Left

Alexander Sedlmaier (Bangor/Wiesbaden): Seeking out aesthetic forms adequate to the political demands of the age: Interventionist film in the Vietnam War era


6.00-6.15pm Conclusions



Heike Roms (Exeter)

When Yoko Ono did not come to Wales: Locating the early history of performance art (1965-1979)

In this paper I will consider the emergence of performance art practices in the 1960s and 1970s in Wales. I will focus in particular on the implications of locating within a specific historical, social and cultural context a (neo-) avant-garde art practice that was thought to be transcending such local contexts in the name of internationalism. How did performance art in Wales develop out of the tensions between localized and internationalist agendas? How did it grow from exchanges and collaborations between Wales-based artists and artists based elsewhere? And what historiographic methods may we use to understand the avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s as a localized practice?


Sarah Pogoda (Bangor)

From Avant Garde to Afon Gad

What happens when we translate historic Avant Garde art practice into a contemporary context and different place? The paper will report from artistic research into this question and suggest a number of follow-on questions. Looking at a series of artistic engagement by NWK-AO (Neue Walisische Kunst-Aufbauorganisation) with Ynys Faelog, a tiny islet situated at the shores of the Menai Strait, the paper will propose how it might still be useful to apply the term “Avant Garde” and how aesthetics and techniques of the Avant Garde might show relevant for a contemporary art practice. At the same time, the paper wishes to trigger discussion of what the usage of the term “Avant Garde” overwrites in exiting arts practices not visible to an analytical framework informed by the Avant Garde. Addressing the theme of “Placement Experiment”, the paper will particularly focus on how Avant–Garde practices can find new ways to engage with sites. Here, the proposed translation into semantics and politics not original to the historical predecessor will open discussion into ways of transforming place through artistic experimentation that transgress usual forms of site-specificity.

If interested, here are video works resulting from the experiments to be discussed:

Heiligenstätte des Fluxus (German Only)

Emergent State of Emergency

Capel problemau heb ateb


Thomas Guthmann (EHB Berlin)

Challenging the persisting, echoes from the past

Popular culture in Bolivia as decolonial avant-gardist practice

Popular dances and processions play a big role in Bolivia. Most of them are contemporary and modern. At the same time. they claim representing pre-Hispanic cultures of Bolivia. This contemporary-historic notion is not contradictory. A circular idea of time dominates the Andean perspective. Things can be modern, old, and postmodern at the same time. This concept of time gives the idea of avant-garde, which is usually linked to progress, a different notion. A circular time concept links progress to regress and makes pre-Columbian cultures avant-gardist. This perspective becomes an artistic experience through hundreds of processions, that take place every year, in the Bolivian cities of La Paz and El Alto. Pre-Columbian cultures present their millenary age and modernism and challenge present power structures that follow the chronological time. 


Lucy Finchett-Maddock (Bangor)

Law as Translation:  The Juridical Avant-Garde of Outsider Art

In this contribution I would like to posit law as a form of extra-human translation, in written, embodied, cultural and disciplinary forms, with specific reference to the juridical morphology of art forms that are not usually considered avant-garde.  These art forms are those of storytelling and outsider art, argued as integrally replicating the Dadaists, Situationists and other movements of the 20th century’s concern for breaking down the art/life boundary, within their practices, rituals and mark-makings.  This breaking down of art/life boundary is presented as law itself, a boundary and edgework that incorporates human, non-human and material forms in its movement, epitomised by the story-based laws and traditions of indigenous cultures, and the visceral engagement with mark-making and channelling found within outsider art genres.

The paper draws from two projects Storytelling as Disorder and The Materio-Legislative Entanglement of Outsider Art.  Using legal doctrinal analysis, discourse analysis, translation studies, combined with practice-based research using sculpture, sound, video and vibration, the project Storytelling as Disorder explores the role processes of entropy play within the creation of laws and the dynamics of community, language and the natural environment, through material formation and cultural engagement.  The material forms of ice, slate, natural resources that are integral to the surroundings of native Sámi and Welsh cultures in turn, based in, on and around, the Norwegian Arctic Circle and Welsh Snowdonia; are investigated as to how these minerals, processes and formations create materio-linguistic cultures of law.  The Materio-Legislative Entanglement of Outsider Art seeks to pinpoint materio-legislative junctures in the development of outsider art’s entanglement with psychiatric institutionalisation (such as assimilating the physical structures within which the patients were confined, with the aesthetic forms produced), with a particular interest in carceral architecture’s impact on the creation of outsider art, is the focus of this piece; and the law’s wider role in the construction of aesthetic forms. 


Zoë Skoulding (Bangor)

Revolution and the Senses: Poetry, Avant-Gardes and Others  

In this paper I will reflect on the writing and performance of A Revolutionary Calendar, a sequence of poems that explores the plants, animals, objects and minerals of the French Republican Calendar of 1793, informed by twentieth-century avant-garde poetics and more recent new materialisms. Poetry makes time sensory, as noted by Marx: ‘The element of thought itself – the element of thought’s living expression – language – is of a sensuous nature’. In this paper I argue that the recovery of the senses is at the heart of the revolutionary modernisms of the twentieth century, following Marx’s observation that ‘[i]n the place of all physical and mental senses there has therefore come the sheer estrangement of all these senses, the sense of having’. Private ownership overrides and diminishes the other senses: in the relentless pursuit of capital, the senses are degraded, and can only be emancipated through a shift away from private property to the commons of public ownership. While asserting a humanist sensibility, Marx’s materialism locates the human body within a history of interactions that includes formation of senses in response to the nonhuman external world. Likewise, the Republican Calendar may be centred on human agricultural work, but it foregrounds the presence of the more-than-human. The reawakening of the senses must include others, a commons that makes room for non-extractive relations with other species and entities. With reference to Stephen Collis’s 2014 manifesto for the biotariat, and the new materialist perspectives of Jane Bennett and Donna Haraway, I will consider the senses as a hinge between old and new materialisms, and between historical avant-gardes and their posthumanist futures. 


Felipe Cussen (Santiago de Chile)


On the occasion of the first plebiscite for a new constitution in Chile, I published a letter to the editor in a newspaper in which I simply listed several synonyms for the expression “I approve”. That same text was later included in a couple of poetry anthologies and was part of a public space projection by the Delight Lab collective and a publication with Libros del Pez Espiral. After the drafting of the constitutional proposal and the new plebiscite for its approval, I returned to rescue this same text in other collaborative versions, again with Delight Lab and also with Interesante Material.

All these experiences were very suggestive to think about the proliferative nature of a very simple structure in its circulation through different physical spaces and also in social networks. On the other hand, the collaborations through various procedures and supports strengthened the collective condition that was latent in this text from the beginning.


Marc James Léger (Montreal)

Bad Luck Banging or the Loony Left

In 2021, the Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for his film Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, A Sketch for a Popular Film. Divided into three parts, the film follows the cancel culture mobbing that ensues after a history teacher at a private secondary school posts a sex tape online. This paper is concerned with the potential of Jude’s avant-gardism to break the constraints of low-budget experimental work and access cosmopolitan audiences through the directives that come with EU membership and funding. Like many of the most serious filmmakers, Jude’s repertoire is filled with references to the best of world cinema. Moreover, unlike the members of the so-called Romanian New Wave, the artist takes commercial risks by making work that explores the techniques and ideology of visual representation. Through these techniques and references, Jude’s films have sought to bring the problems of Romanian history and culture to critical public attention. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn challenges the “new spirit of fascism” that has now spread across the globe by also biting the EU hand that feeds him, problematizing the way that progressive neoliberalism attacks universality. Torn between Eastern Europe’s former Stalinist rulers and the EU/NATO, the Romanian working class is at a crossroads where the radical left that is represented by the legacy of the avant garde has been dismantled. The complexities of this situation, which I compare to the conundrum that teacher Emi Cilibiu finds herself in in Bad Luck Banging, is related to the stance adopted by Slavoj Žižek in his desperate attempt defend the right of Ukraine to political autonomy against the critique of NATO imperialism by the radical international left.


Alexander Sedlmaier (Bangor/Wiesbaden)

Seeking out aesthetic forms adequate to the political demands of the age: Interventionist film in the Vietnam War era

According to a questionable popular image, the Vietnam War was a “living room war” or a “mass cultural war”. There are at least 400 US films dealing with the Vietnam War, but these are mostly fictional ex-post representations. During the war, Hollywood showed no great interest in supporting a war that was controversially discussed in US society. The PR campaign of the US government relied more on television. At the same time, independent critical films, fictional and documentaries, that countered the official government image of the war were being produced around the world and within the US.

This online presentation sketches out how filmmakers took up the mantle of the political avant-garde to protest the war of the United States in Vietnam. It highlights the technique of re-mediation whereby found picture and sound are repurposed to unveil the inconsistencies and insincerities at the heart of official political discourse. The analysis focuses on avant-garde art’s alliance with movement politics. It makes clear how perceptions of war were being manipulated artistically for the sake of “bringing the war home”, to make global power structures visible in one’s own living environment. Finally, a look at contemporary responses to these films will show how they served as practical tools of movement mobilisation, but also how their creators were boycotted and slandered. These films are still relevant half a century later because they show ways of global understanding and an emancipatory critique of military violence.

Please register here:

Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Nils Gelker] betreut –