4 part project within the exhibition Anti-Establishment curated by Johanna Burton at CCS Bard Galleries, Hannah Arendt Collection and Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, YES! Association/Föreningen JA!, 2012–2016

YES!/JA! contributed with the following statement to the exhibition brochure:

– Hostilities/Events/Inclusion/Assimilation/Disruptions and Beginnings

An institution is the people who run it, but not only, it is also its legacy, its past and its aspirations for the future. It is full of living people, ghosts, and the ones not yet born. The institution becomes that which is negotiated between the living, not yet born, and dead. It is a site of contestation.

YES! Association/Föreningen JA! is an art collective, an institution, an art worker, a group of people working to overthrow the ruling system of heteronormative, patriarchal, racist, and capitalist power structures by putting into practice a structural redistribution of access to financial resources, space and time within the art scene.

Sometimes YES! Association/Föreningen JA! gets invited to other institutions. That invitation usually comes with conditions, hopes, and a set of rules. The hope is that something will get disrupted and this disruption is both celebrated and expected. But we are all pre-conditioned by the administrative formalities that organize the spaces of manoeuvre for bodies within institutions—to classify, categorize, normalize, and strive for efficiency, and somehow, everything suddenly slips back to business as usual. The tendency is so strong. And it often comes with good intentions.

Åsa Elzén




Fall 2016

Hannah Arendt Memorial Smoking Porch +

Space of Appearance
A commemorative project
Hannah Arendt Center, Bard College

A brass plaque 30 x 40 cm to commemorate the “Hannah Arendt Memorial Smoking Porch” was installed permanently on the porch to the Hannah Arendt Center building.

HD Video, loop,16 min in collaboration with Elizabeth Orr

As part of their project SMOKING AREA, YES! Association / Föreningen JA! worked on the idea of commemorating Hannah Arendt with a plaque and an inauguration of the Hannah Arendt Smoking Porch— commemorating Arendt’s love of talking and smoking. For Hannah Arendt, action and speech create a space between participants, which can find its location almost any time and anywhere. It is the space of appearance. The space where I appear to others, as others appear to me. By mounting the commemorating brass plaque at the building we propose that the porch at the Hannah Arendt Center becomes a space of appearance – a space stripped of some layers of legislation, for negotiating, engaging, testing and acting in relation to each other and specific materials and objects in dialogue with some aspects of Hannah Arendt’s life and thinking. (below)

October 8-November 5, 2012

A stay for Annika Ruth Persson

As part of its contribution to Anti-Establishment, YES! Association hands over time and space to writer and translator Annika Ruth Persson who will do research for her literary project “Arendt’s 1940’s – paths, luggage, stations” in the Hannah Arendt Collection at Bard Collage during a four-week period in October.


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above: the plaque mounted at the Hannah Arendt Center, Bard College

left: video stills Space of Appearance


SMOKING AREA consists of the following works:

A way of disrupting the institution is to claim the position of the in-between-spaces, insist on acting in there and from there. The in-between-spaces are the unruly ones, the willful ones, the contingent ones. But because they are situated outside legitimizing discourses they also runs the risk of becoming the non spaces, the invisible spaces, understood as simply awkward and impossible. Pariah position.

This is the moment that we have to resist the lure of assimilation. Because assimilation always means that the pariah becomes her own worst enemy. It is impossible to assimilate and at the same time refuse the hostility towards your own pariah group. If you oppose that hostility you break the assimilation and become exposed as pariah again. Thus, assimilation means that you take part in hostilities against yourself. The cost of assimilation is different, depending on how strong the hostility is against your pariah group at a particular time in a specific context. A strong drive for assimilation and inclusion in the institutions is related to economic benefits.

Here we are with our longing for equality and diversity, for another new beginning. Hostility pushing through our skin, from inside out, from outside in. Someone in the room (Judith Butler) wants to give us advice: Instead of striving to gain equality within an inherently unequal dominant order we must “refuse its terms, to let the term itself wither, to starve it of its strength”. We stand up and speak: We are the people in the house. Dreams, unhappiness, rage are all over the architecture.

(Hannah Arendt later whispers from her grave: Don’t forget to smoke and to think in dialogue, then you will be able to forgive.)

June 23, 2012, 4.30 pm

Hostilities/Events/Inclusion/Assimilation/Disruptions and Beginnings
A reading/speech/performance, performed by Malin Arnell,

Åsa Elzén and Annika Ruth Persson.
30 minutes
Bard CCS Galleries (below)

June 23, 2012 – December 21, 2012
Floor painting, 157 x 157 in. (400 x 400 cm) (top of page)