The Labours of Shine

16 April 2013, 19:00–21:00 / Casco HQ

The subject of the seminar revolves around Holert’s recent video The Labours of Shine (2012). In a surprising juxtaposition between the figure of the shoeshiner in classic movies and Constantin Brancusi’s polished metal sculptures, Holert examines how the labor of shine, of producing shining surfaces, generates its own contradictions and conflicts. In this way, the work answers the weary complaints of the “loss of substance to surface” (especially through design) by investigating the substance of the surface itself, more specifically the shine of various objects and the labor invested in the process.  

About Open Seminar

The Open Seminar at Casco is a new framework that hosts public seminars. Any master study programme in any one of the various disciplines at universities and academies in the Netherlands can make proposals to Casco to co-organize an evening public seminar with special (inter)national guest(s) in conjunction with their own academic seminar. Through the structure of the Open Seminar, a professional learning environment opens up for artistic inquiries and encounters, during which theory and practice play together, unrestricted by discipline. The format is developed after inspiring collaborations with the Faculty of Humanities of Utrecht University, especially its Graduate Gender Programme and the Dutch Art Institute / ArtEZ Master of Fine Arts. To submit your proposals, please contact Yolande van der Heide.  

About Tom Holert

Tom Holert is a Berlin-based art historian, critic, curator and artist. Holert is honorary professor of art theory and cultural studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna where he, from 2008 to 2011, held the chair of Epistemology and Methodology of Art Production and co-coordinated the Center for Art/Knowledge (CAK) and the PhD in Practice. He also (with Johanna Schaffer) headed the WWTF-funded research project Troubling Research. Performing Knowledge in the Arts (2010 – 2011). Alongside his writings on contemporary art, Holert has (co-)authored books on visual culture, politics, war, mobility, glamor and the governmentality of the present. Currently his research focuses on questions of art and knowledge developing ideas first elaborated in his Künstlerwissen. Studien zur Semantik künstlerischer Kompetenz im Frankreich des 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhunders (1997); he is also working on a book on the visual culture of experimental psychology titled The Diagnostic Modern. As an artist Holert recently participated in the 8th Gwangju Biennale (2010), Forum Expanded (Berlin Film Festival, 2011), Transmediale (Berlin, 2012) and Animismus (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2012). 

Reading references 

Tom Holert, Art in the Knowledge-based Polis, 2008, download text here. 

Tom Holert, Hidden Labour and the Delight of Otherness: Design and Post-Capitalist Politics, 2010, download text here. 

Tom Holert, Birth of the Rebel Citizen in Germany, 2011, download text here.


An Open Seminar with art critic, art historian and artist Tom Holert is organized with Visual Arts, Media & Architecture (VAMA), an international research master’s programme of VU University Amsterdam. Admission is free for all and no reservation is required.

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