Art in Dark Times

Program by Galit Eilat and Erden Kosova

Art in Dark Times @ bi’baxchange

20.05.2020 to 30.11.2020

The current pandemic paralysis of world societies has changed the definition of the term of ‘‘crisis’’ irreversibly, reinforcing the sense of deepening tectonic changes in relation with the inner structuring of our contemporary societies and the destruction of nature under capitalism. Yet, the appeal to the term of ‘‘crisis’’ decade has already escalated along with successive complications within the political sphere: the turbulence of state sovereignty, the unravelling of basic premises of secularisation by the hands of new and traditional ideological movements, the rise of historical revisionism erasing past crimes to open up for new ones, increasing appeal to misogyny, majoritarian politics and authoritarianism, catastrophic consequences of hyper-consumption and conversely, undeclared resurgence of human slavery. The series of talks framed as ART IN DARK TIMES will try to trace the ways in which artistic and cultural practices (curatorial projects, academic texts, activist campaigns, video and films) have been responding to these antagonising complications. Relating to the specific conflicts of their own burdened geographies, the invited guests will examine the interconnected and global character of these shifting grounds. The program of the series was conceived last autumn and adapted recently to the current pandemic circumstance.

Art in Dark Times: A conversation between Galit Eilat and Erden Kosova

Art in Dark Times: Galit Eilat in talk w/ Erden Kosova from bi’bak on Vimeo.

At present sources of information are lacking and distrustful, the institutions seem to be failing us, the museums are no longer contemporary, they have become heritage museums for contemporary art. The artists advertise the art fairs and not on the contrary, and the curators, if they are not attending summer schools, are advertising only themselves. Is art good under authoritarianism? Is authoritarianism good for art?

Erden Kosova is an art critic in Berlin and Istanbul. In 2017 he curated the exhibition “Contemporary Syndromes”, which was shown in Thessaloniki, Izmir, Amsterdam and Berlin. In 2019, he was a co-organizer of the Young Curators Academy, which took place at the Maxim Gorki Theater as part of the 4th Berlin Herbst Salon. In 2019 he was also involved in the exhibition of the SIS collective “In the blink of an eye” at the nGbK. Kosova is the editor of the Istanbul online magazine


Jelena Jureša in discussion with Galit Eilat and Erden Kosova.

Art in Dark Times: Who has the freedom to forget? w/Jelena Jureša from bi’bak on Vimeo.

The video works of the artist Jelena Juresa deal with the psychological effects of political violence. State-supported terror and its dehumanisation policies, collective silence, and amnesia on crimes that have been inflicted on masses, and the therapeutic mechanisms of memory are among the motifs of her recent practice. Juresa’s films Aphasia and Ubundu from the year 2019 are a call to break the collective silence and to look at the blind spots that seem to have become a fundamental part of our European identity.

Jelena Juresa was born in Novi Sad and currently lives in Ghent. She has been extensively working with the questions of cultural identity, gender, politics of memory and oblivion through the media of photography, video and text. In her work, she relates individual stories and questions of identity to collective processes of oblivion and remembrance.


Jacqueline Rose in discussion with Galit Eilat and Erden Kosova.

Art in Dark Times: Women in Dark Times w/ Jacqueline Rose from bi’bak on Vimeo.

One of the main focal points of Jacqueline Rose’s writing has been the historical misogyny and asymmetric social conditions inflicted on women. Her recent book Women in Dark Times takes this focus on the tragic and creative biographies of famous women in history and merges it with a more contemporary framework in which she explores the lives of three women who have been victims of ‘honour killing’ and the works of three contemporary artists who deal with the global condition of women today. Rose will investigate the questions about the extent which our present time differentiates itself from previous historical conditions.

Jacqueline Rose is Co-Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the London Critical Theory Summer School. She is internationally known for her writing on feminism, psychoanalysis, literature and the politics and ideology of Israel-Palestine. Her books include The Haunting of Sylvia Plath (1991), States of Fantasy (1996), The Question of Zion (2005), The Last Resistance (2007), Proust Among the Nations – from Dreyfus to the Middle East (2012), the novel Albertine (2001), Women in Dark Times (2014) and most recently Mothers – An Essay in Love and Cruelty. Her new book, On Violence and On Violence Against Women will be published early next year. 


Quinsy Gario in discussion with Galit Eilat and Erden Kosova.

Art in Dark Times: Disrupting the Dutch Cultural Archive w/ Quinsy Gario from bi’bak on Vimeo.

Quinsy Gario is the artist behind Zwarte Piet Is Racisme (2011–2012) and Action Image (2013-2014), the performance art work about the permit for the Amsterdam Sinterklaas parade that went all the way to the Dutch Supreme court. The works confronted the public perception about the racist figure and practice of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), which survived to the modern times as a result of structural and institutional  support on all levels in the Netherlands. Gario’s contribution will give an account of the aftermath of the campaign and delineate the specifics of historical escapism in the present-day Netherlands.  

Quinsy Gario is a visual and performance artist from the Curaçao and St. Maarten, two islands in the Caribbean that share continued Dutch occupation. He is a Master of Artistic Research graduate from the Royal Academy of Art The Hague, a 2017/2018 BAK Fellow, a board member of De Appel, a member of the artist collective Family Connection with members of his family and used to be a recurring participant of the Black Europe Body Politics biannual conference series. His recent writings were collected in the book, Roet in het Eten (Spanner in the Works). 

Links to the performances by Quinsy Gario
– How to prepare for a hurricane pt 2 :
– Speaking of borders:


Yael Bartana in discussion with Galit Eilat and Erden Kosova.

Art in Dark Times: Refugees Past and Present w/Yael Bartana from bi’bak on Vimeo.

Yael Bartana will elucidate her motives in producing some of her works dealing with the complexities around identity and the politics of memory. In Tashlikh (Cast Off, 2017), for example, a visual meditation that gathers personal objects linked to horrors of the past and the present, Bartana examined the difficulties of absolving from collective burdens. Another more recent project of hers, What If Women Ruled the World (2018) was an experimental performance which combines fictional settings and real life participants, setting up a particular forum for action while exploring possible alternatives to a world dominated by men. 

Yael Bartana’s films, installations and photographs explore the imagery of collective identities and the politics of memory by means of ceremonies, public rituals and social diversions. Her film trilogy And Europe Will Be Stunned, which discusses the relationship between Judaism and Polish identity, was shown at the Polish pavilion of the 2011 Venice Biennale. Bartana has been expanding her work within the cinematic world, presenting projects such as Inferno (2013) True Finn(2014), and Pardes (2015). Bartana’s works have been exhibited around the world and are part of collections at museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Tate Modern in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.


Didem Pekün in discussion with Galit Eilat and Erden Kosova

Art in Dark Times: United Nothing: The ‘Inarticulacy’ Of Images In Representing Atrocities w/Didem Pekün from bi’bak on Vimeo.

In her film Araf (2018), Didem Pekün looked at the ways in which the Bosnian society acts out its rituals of mourning and commemoration as a protest to the genocide committed 25 years ago. She is currently working on Disturbed Earth, a film project that will examine the international inaction through a choreography of bureaucratic incompetence in the case of Srebrenica despite clear evidence hinting at the coming atrocity . In her presentation, Pekün will discuss the meaning and the im/possibilities of representing visually traumatic experiences that are denied or obliterated by revisionist policies operating at present in different parts of the world, including her homeland, Turkey.

In her work Didem Pekün combines research and artistic practice. In her essay films, she addresses how violence and displacement define and destroy life. Her documentaries and video installations have been shown internationally and have received various awards. She is a founding member of the Center for Spatial Justice (MAD). She is currently a fellow at Graduate School / Berlin Center for the Advanced Studies in Arts and Sciences at Universität der Künste Berlin.


bi’baxchange aims to showcase cross-border collaborations with cultural actors, project spaces and initiatives. Based on interdisciplinary and transnational cooperation projects, bi’baxchange seeks to exchange ideas, perspectives and know-how. In lecture performances, pop-up exhibitions, readings and presentations, bi’baxchange focuses on the decentralized, rhizomic connection between art, design, academics, participation, urban space and local activism.

Funded by the Bezirkskulturfonds  Bezirksamt Mitte in Berlin.