In July 2019, we organized a meeting at the Verbeke Art Foundation. It was a gathering of people—artists, designers, architects, researchers—where we discussed, imagined and prefigured a society of total automation. The Last Meeting became a meta-meeting—a meeting in which we considered the possibility of never again holding another meeting. To deepen and refine this experience, we propose a second last meeting.
In September 2023 a gathering will take place in the monastery of the Trappistines of Brecht, a monastic order of the most strict observance. This time-old religious community will be our guide in discussions and reflections on the foundations of the social organization of daily life and its impact on artistic practices and research.
Opposing the portrayal of the artist as the driving agent of radical change, we will experience the withdrawal from the narrative of progress and novelty. We want to challenge the archetype of the bleeding edge by retreating to a community which has done so for 1500 years. By reflecting on its fundamentals of sustainability, preservation and maintenance, we question change altogether, whether it is incremental or revolutionary.
The observation of the absence of societal initiative, and the nuns’ refusal to participate in the change-driven ideologies of the general public, will be the protocol of our gathering. Combining the concepts of a summer school, an artist retreat, a residency and a performance, the Second Last Meeting is an opportunity for artists to synchronize thoughts on the importance of their role within a whole.
For SAR 2023, we want to present our insights gathered during the first meeting, and share our plans for the next. We will, again, ask ourselves the question: what does it mean to meet?