Draft – The 2016 Zurich Conference

Ju Anqi, Drill Man (still), 2016. Photo: Ju Anqi Studio.


Draft explores contemporary art that produces, contributes to or provokes public debate. It involves nine interdisciplinary collaboratives from nine cities: Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Mumbai, St. Petersburg and Zurich. The conference is focused on the projects developed and carried out by the collaboratives over the past 12 months in their local contexts. The projects intervene in contexts of action, production and discourse, by exploring the imaginary, rendering the latent visible or critiquing concrete circumstances.

Media censorship, state authoritarianism, social injustice, xenophobia, nationalism, various forms of violence, migration, the effects of frantic urbanisation, real estate speculation, commodities trading and repatriation are some of the pressing issues highlighted by these year-long investigations. Artists respond to these circumstances through critique and fiction, by establishing infrastructures, educational programmes and counter publics, and by employing re-enactments and mnemonic techniques. They reveal the consequences of such phenomena and processes on our affective and intellectual life — in short, they draft a different history and a different present. The conference will address the notion of debate: debate as a device for managing conflicts, negotiating standpoints, making things public and defining the space we live in. It will be focused in particular on the debate around the crises of belonging — i.e. who can belong, to what and how much — a subterranean reverb that runs through each of the projects.

Draft was launched in June 2015 with a conference in Mumbai where the positions and working methodologies of the collaboratives and their members were presented. The 2016 conference in Zürich seeks to provide insights into art activities undertaken as part of Draft, and discuss them in terms of their sources and research materials, approaches adopted and their consequences for life-worlds. How do these projects change their context, our worldview or concrete action? How do they maintain dissent and promote complexity? What do they appeal for?

The  conference is also imagined as a research and pedagogical environment; it will be attended by approximately 40 students visiting from universities across Alexandria, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Mexico City, New Delhi, Palermo, St. Petersburg, and Zurich. The students are in Zurich for Negotiating Space: Art and Dissent, the International ZHdK Summer School 2016, convened in cooperation with Manifesta 11.

The conference is open to the public. Admission is free.
For more information and details of the programme, please click here.

Limmat Hall – Hardturmstr. 122a 8005 Zurich West, Switzerland
28 – 30 July, 2016