Art / Politics

In the light of political and social crises, expectations of art are growing: it is expected to react to grievances and ask itself whether and how it can be politically effective. Already in the course of the 20th century avant-gardes, numerous artistic approaches evolved that considered art from a political standpoint. Whether the attempt was made to dissolve the separation between art and life or to critically examine the institution, the change of prevailing conditions was always at the forefront. The central question to what extent art can not only address the crises of its time, but also influence their resolution, remains relevant to this day.

Postcolonial, feminist and queer approaches play a particularly important role in the current debate. Equally on the agenda are the critical questioning of the increasing economization of the art market, Eurocentric perspectives and globalization. At the same time, the question arises to what extent art can position itself independently of the economic and social processes and structures that it criticizes. How can art create political spheres of action? How can socio-political problems not only be depicted, but how can an active part be played in dealing with them? How can artistic practice represent and create a counter-consciousness? How does it succeed in establishing new patterns of thought and viewing habits?

The conference Art / Politics in cooperation with Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) explored the diverse questions and strategies that determine the relationship between art and politics. It examined concrete examples of the politicization of artistic practice as well as the general possibilities of political art. The presentation of artistic approaches as well as theoretical and curatorial positions was intended to provide a comprehensive picture of political practice in the art field. Artists, theorists and curators of different generations presented their particular practices and then discussed them together. This provided an insight into current artistic political approaches and a space for negotiating fundamental questions of the connection between art and politics.

With Boris Buden, Catherine David, Hans Haacke, Alfredo Jaar, Trevor Paglen, Alexandra Pirici, Kerstin Stakemeier, Hito Steyerl, Adam Szymczyk, Klaus Theweleit, Rosemarie Trockel, and Franciska Zólyom.

What is Critique? (2016)

The capacity to give and take critique might easily be considered vital for an enlightened, democratic and pluralistic society. What meaning and function does critique have today? Does it still constitute the bedrock of European civil society? International philosophers, scholars, artists, theorists and authors discussed these questions at a philosophy symposium spanning several days and locations.

Talks and discussions revolved around applied critique in the cultural field, and special attention was given to the decline of critique in mainstream papers. Aside from visual art and philosophy, debate also touched on literature and music.

The symposium was conceived as an open space for thinking and discourse, a structure that would draw a broader public into the philosophical debate than the usual academic circles.

Jean-Luc Nancys Vortrag "Unser Zeitalter ist nicht mehr das eigentliche Zeitalter der Kritik" (“Our Age Is No Longer the Actual Age of Critique”) opened the symposium at the HAU (Hebbel am Ufer) in Berlin on 28 January 2016. The multipart symposium continued at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein on 06 and 07 February 2016 and at the Zurich University of the Arts on 01 and 02 April.