Antonio Gramsci said that whenever you think you are at a turning point in history, people always keep on using the word ‘new’ – just like now, everything to do with globalization is new: new economies, new telecommunications, new materials. Gramsci said that whenever you hear this word ‘new’ you have to understand that you stand in a very fragile relation of the past to the present, and that is incubation. It is not as if you stand at the end of something or in the middle of a brave new world. It is a middleness of a different kind. It is, in a way, starting from thinking you are always in the middle of something […].

Homi Bhaba, 2007

In the arts, the concept ‘new’ is an ideal as well as a curse. The avant-garde has been declared dead and ‘the cult of the new’ is past its peak. The pursuit of absolute originality and total innovation has given way to concepts such as remix and postproduction, eclecticism and syncretism. Is ‘new’ still permitted, how new is neo, how innovative is retro? By looking at the term ‘new’ in light of ‘old’ subjects such as virtuosity, beauty, knowledge and idealism, the lecture series THE OLD BRAND NEW proposes to free ‘new’ of its ‘stale’ image and present it in its full complexity.

The multidisciplinary series is held on a monthly basis from January to September 2009 at Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam. The series was initiated and developed by de Appel arts centre, If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, Research group Art Practice and Development at the Amsterdam School of the Arts, LISA, Studium Generale of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, DAI / Master Programme / ArtEZ Institute of the Arts and Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam.

THE OLD BRAND NEW – a title in which the word ‘brand’ may be read in two different ways – does not concentrate on a single art form, but concerns culture in its broadest sense. THE OLD BRAND NEW aims to gather insights, thoughts and outlooks that contribute to the understanding and interpretation of contemporary cultural forms. Thinkers and practitioners with backgrounds in disciplines ranging from fine art, theatre and dance to architecture, from the Netherlands and abroad, reflect from varying perspectives on an ‘old’ concept that constantly resurfaces in the arts and is thereby made anew. On each evening, two speakers will examine a particular theme in depth, followed by a discussion in an informal atmosphere amongst others moderated by cultural philosopher Karim Benammar.

21 June 2007
With Bazon Brock, Tim Etchells and Adrian Heathfield

THE OLD BRAND NEW enjoyed a successful prologue in the main theatre auditorium of Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam in June 2007. Art historian Bazon Brock (DE), theatre maker Tim Etchells (GB) and writer Adrian Heathfield (GB) considered the age-old question, ‘Why Art?’ In the coming months, a range of new themes will undergo the scrutiny of THE OLD BRAND NEW. The day after the inauguration of new American President Barack Obama on 21 January 2009, the lecture series will be launched officially and will be inaugurated by media theorist Marina Gržinic, writer and curator Michael Uwemedimo and artist Joep van Lieshout speaking on the topic of ‘New Subversion’.

In the upcoming months speakers with backgrounds in diverse disciplines will reflect on 'the old in the new' (and vice versa) taking the themes New Subversion, New Knowledge, New Virtuosity, New Centre, New Idealism, New Beauty and What is New? as a point of departure. We hope to welcome you on a regular basis this year at Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam.