Curator: Binna Choi, You Mi
Co-ordinator: Nikos Doulos
Date: June 3, 2018
Time: 14.30 - 19.30h
Eurasian Steps Roaming Assembly
Part of the first itinerant movement of Unmapping Eurasia
Date and Time: Sunday, 3 June 2018, 14:30–19:00 hrs
Location: State of Concept, Tousa Botsari 19, Athens / Dutch Art Institute Planetary Campus
Eurasia, in its most simplistic term, is a landmass that embraces a vast space between a western end of Europe and an eastern end of Asia. Taking this notion of Eurasia beyond the tropes of West and East, however, promises an exploratory, open-ended journey into one of the most complex thinkings which questions existing borders and distinctions in all dimensions such as the geographical, cultural, political, and social ones– and in turn calls for new connections and pathways including the cosmic, geologic and spiritual dimensions. Unmapping Eurasia is a long-term trans-cultural project initiated at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons that approaches Eurasia as a broad yet non abstract field for commoning practice and take an itinerant approach by evolving in several itinerant movements along with other institutional and non-institutional partners on board to be co-initiators, researchers, and cartographers. Each movement involve several stopovers where encounters, studies, discoveries, speculation and imagination overother kinds of movements, institutions, infrastructures, resources, and culture take place in collective forms, becoming pathways that lead to and materialize as artworks, maps and/or texts.
Eurasian Steps is the first itinerant movement of Unmapping Eurasia, that takes a journey from Amsterdam via Athens to Seoul. While the name recalls the Great Steppe of Central Asia, known as the heart of Eurasia, it tries to deconstruct any centralism and assemble different narratives and methods in approaching Eurasia – hence the modest, initial step towards (un-)making Eurasia as a collective body.
Eurasian Steps in Athens in the context of Roaming Assembly focuses on (de-)constructing the city as a “Eurasian gateway”, from where the Hellenistic culture was spread from Europe to middle Eurasia, as well as serving as a node point for transcultural dialogues in various periods in history. Binna Choiand You Mi, two initiators of Unmapping Eurasia, along with Russian artist/curator Nikolay Smirnov will map out aesthetic, cultural, political, and economic Eurasian projects in the past and present, and then unpack their ambitions, pitfalls, and legacies – from Russia’s right-wing Eurasianism to the lesser known left-wing Eurasianism, from imperial Chinese tributary system and decentralised trade networks to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The contrapuntal narratives will be provided by the Athens-based collective Kernel Operations (Pegy Zali) in conversation with Athens based curator Xenia Kalpaktsoglou (The Laboratory for the Urban Common), which, through its research and artistic projects, probes at the material strata of the current infrastructure and logistical projects. This will find the resonance and another counterpart in the presentation by New York-based Korean artist Sung Hwan Kim who conjures perspectives on labor, movement and landscape in his current research into the rarely traced history of migration in Asian minor in the United States, that offers itself an allegorical potential for Eurasia, if not challenging its boundary. Ultimately, the Roaming Assembly iteration of Eurasian Steps, with artists, researchers and Dutch Art Institute participants stages an image of a “slower Silk Road” envisioned by the French anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus. They will perform variations, disruptions and contingencies around the narrative of shared histories in Europe and Asia. And with that, an acute sense of ethics or heightened consciousness comes to the fore – resonating the thinking of Reclus: how can the humanity’s collective self-awareness form one body with the planet itself?
Eurasian Steps continues in Seoul on 30 June in a form of “walking exhibition”, departing from the Nam June Paik Memorial House in Seoul. The first movement - Amsterdam - Athens - Seoul - unfolds with support of Dutch Art Institute, Dutch Embassy in Seoul for its NEDxPO 2018 program, and Media City Seoul / Seoul Museum of Art.