Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) presents st_age, an online platform for new commissions

September 28, 2020

st_age is an online platform for new commissions initiated by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) as a response to the Covid-19 crisis. It is a provocation to artists, institutions, practitioners, and activists to engage with the many issues that the pandemic has made even more visible in the precarious current moment.

As TBA21 founder Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza says: “Drawing on the experience of almost two decades of commissioning contemporary art, architecture, and research projects, st_age reflects a new TBA21 mission to generate frameworks of light-footed production and possibility in the most ethical and caring manner possible. What is meaningful to us? How can we relate to others, whether human or non-human, to strengthen networks and build a community of care and support? st_age is a refuge, and hopefully the tip of the iceberg.”

st_age is not only a digital address for new artworks, it also aims to generate critical discourse as a mitigation against cultural loss, to stimulate mutual learning, and to spur direct fundraising and support through calls to action. A podcast series and research clusters accompany the commissions, deepening the narratives behind each artist’s project through the voices of journalists, curators, and other advocates.

st_age aspires to stand by artists and the ideas and institutions that sustain them, moving beyond a framework of merely “highlighting” issues, and one-way broadcasting, to try to agitate for a shared blueprint for a new cultural space. A new commission “episode” will be introduced each week in relation to eight curatorial key topics, including “Staging Resistances” and “Spaces of Unexpected Learning.” Each project goes hand-in-hand with one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, strategies for improving the wellbeing of people and the planet.

st_age reflects a broad bandwidth of contemporary artistic practice by collaborating with artists within their communities throughout the globe, from India to Chile, Saudi Arabia to the U.S. Moreover, in Season 1, TBA21 has joined efforts with a range of international partners and peers—including FLORA ars+natura in Bogotá, Khoj International Artists’ Association in New Delhi, and TBA21–Academy.

Yeo Siew Hua’s short film An Invocation to the Earth (2020) is the first episode on st_age. Co-produced with NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Yeo confronts climate collapse and the destruction of the forests of Southeast Asia through the lens of pre-colonial folktales and animistic ritual. The accompanying st_age podcast is led by journalist Jhesset Thrina Enano. It examines the state of ecological peril in the Philippines, a country where, since 2016, more than 150 activists have been killed in their struggle against illegal logging, destructive mining, and corrupt agribusiness.

Dana Awartani, Patricia Domínguez, freq_wave by Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Dorine Mohka, Courtney Desiree Morris, Eduardo Navarro with BaRiya, Christian Salablanca Díaz, Saraab (Omer Wasim and Shahana Rajani), Yeo Siew Hua, Himali Singh Soin with David Soin Tappeser, and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané.

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