Monday 12 March, 7pm
FREE YOUR MODERNITY #1: Talk on the Congress for Cultural Freedom by Paz Guevara
UKS, St. Olavs gate 3
Throughout UKS’ spring program, Scandinavia’s high level of trust in freedom of speech within arts and culture will be called into question. How ideas of modernist contemporary art or “fri kunst” were conceptualized in Norway and abroad in the post-war era is a reoccurring subject, to which Lene Berg, Will Bradley, Anselm Franke, and Paz Guevara, among others, will contribute their perspectives through addresses, collected notes, and moving images.
On Monday 12 March at 7pm, UKS inaugurates this program with the Berlin-based curator and researcher Paz Guevara talking about how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) notoriously sought to consolidate intellectuals and cultural personas of allied countries as non-communist in the early years of the Cold War, discussing the aesthetic and political debates of the period that still haunt contemporary art. The talk will be hosted by UKS’ #7 MINIBAR serving Dry Martinis. In her talk, Guevara will walk audiences through the CIA’s secret sponsorship of a dizzying number of magazines, conferences, and lobby groups around the globe including Scandinavia via the umbrella organization entitled the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF). CCF was founded in West Berlin in 1950 and was, for many years, run from Paris by Michael Josselson whose direct liaison with the CIA was scandalously revealed in 1967.
Josselson’s story and deception is, in turn, discussed in the film piece The Man in the Background by Norwegian artist Lene Berg, on display at UKS. This film loops Josselson’s private super-8 footage from the 1950s while interviewing his widow Diana nearly 50 years later. At UKS, it will play a central role in a larger display including, among other findings, articles and magazines documenting CCF’s influence in Scandinavia, such as ephemera from the troubled conference “Race and Colour” held by CCF in Copenhagen in 1965, just before the organization’s cover was blown.
Guevara recently co-curated Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom and the Cold War together with Nida Ghouse, Antonia Majaca, and the director of the visual arts department, Anselm Franke, at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. The large-scale research project and exhibition Parapolitics was devoted to the global dimension of cultural politics during the Cold War and CCF’s aim to promote a “universal” language of modernism in literature, art, and music. Guevara has generously contributed to the display at UKS via her indispensable research into CCF’s operation in Scandinavia, as have the other contributors to this program.
Image: The Man in the Background, Lene Berg, 2006 (film still).