Mittwoch, 31. August 2011

The World Question Center Questioned

Koen Brams

The lecture addresses two films made by Jef Cornelis in 1969: James Lee Byars: an American artist and The World Question Center. The first film is a fairly typical documentary on the occasion of Byars’ exhibition at the Antwerp Wide White Space Gallery in 1969 – his first show on the European mainland. The World Question Center is without a doubt one of the most curious programmes made by Cornelis: it is the live broadcast of a performance that took place in a studio of the Belgian public broadcasting corporation in Brussels. During this performance, entirely led by the American artist James Lee Byars, more than twenty personalities – artists (like Joseph Beuys and Marcel Broodthaers), scientists and media figures – were given the opportunity to ask what they considered the most relevant question. Some questions were posed, no answers given. In his lecture, Koen Brams will elaborate on this exceptional experiment, initiated by the artist James Lee Byars, and realized by Jef Cornelis.

Jef Cornelis was born in Belgium on 10 June 1941. He studied at the Film Academy in Amsterdam, founded in 1958. From 1963 to 1998, Cornelis worked as a director and screenwriter for the VRT, the Flemish public broadcasting company. In those thirty-five years he built an impressive oeuvre comprising more than 200 titles on highly diverse subjects. Cornelis has made films about authors, but also about literary events, about artists and exhibitions, about buildings and cities, about politicians and social problems.

Koen Brams (*1964, BE) studied psychology at the Catholic University in Leuven (BE). He is director of the Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL), and former editor of the Dutch-language art journal, De Witte Raaf. He is the editor of the De Encyclopedie van Fictieve Kunstenaars (Nijgh & van Ditmar, 2002), published in German as Erfundene Kunst (Eichborn, 2002) and in English (together with The addendum, edited by Krist Gruijthuijsen) as The Encyclopedia of Fictive Artists (JRP Ringier, 2010). Together with Dirk Pültau he conducts a research project about Belgian art since 1945, of which projects about Belgian television maker Jef Cornelis, the conceptual art gallery MTL (Brussels, 1970-1979), and the artists’ initiative NICC (1998-present) form an integral part. His most recent publication (together with Dirk Pültau): The clandestine in the work of Jef Cornelis (Jan van Eyck Academie, Argos, De Witte Raaf & Marcelum Boxtareos, 2010).

Public lecture (in English) by Lucie Kolb and Romy Rüegger, lecture series "With With: Everything but an Artist Talk", in cooperation with Michael Hiltbrunner, Institute of Popular Culture Studies, University of Zurich
Generously supported by the Swiss Society for Cultural Studies (SGKW)

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 14.45 Uhr

Pelikanstrasse 40
8001 Zürich
Illustration: James Lee Byars, The World Question Center (1969), videostill

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