Zeitgeist

Value of art in social fabric

A Short History of Unnoticed Notifications

Gathered around the storyboard of a comic book describing an Eastern European art worker, an uncanny, quirky cast of characters find themselves in a heated political debate. Revealing layer upon layer of unanswered questions, forgotten convictions, eternal doubts, ethical inconsistencies and abandoned dreams, Milikic depicts a world in which art workers navigate between cynicism and ideals. With strength, conviction and lots of humour, he advocates for keeping one’s course in the murky waters of compromise and concessions.

Agencies of Art: A Report on the Situation of Small and Medium-sized Art Centres in Denmark, Norway and Sweden

How can one fathom the implications and values of smaller arts institutions within the greater art ecosystem? One key aspect is their ground-breaking approach to relations between art and society, education, and the formation of public spheres. Another is their important role in local communities whilst maintaining a constant dialogue within the international arts context. But how can we create dialogue around the values that are being built – beyond visitation numbers and media coverage? What cooperative processes can be adopted so that artists and culture, small and large institutions, municipalities, regions, states, and federal politics all cooperate to encourage art’s potential?

ETMAC: The Extra-territorial Ministry of Arab Culture

At a time when Arab countries are bleeding away their creative capital with the departure, emigration, or exiling of pioneering intellectuals and artists, one wonders about the future of their practices and legacies. HaRaKa’s performance theorist and artist Adham Hafez and anthropologist and urbanist Adam Kucharski pose the following question: can the institution of the ministry of culture be rehabilitated to serve this new diffuse community of art producers and serve as a locus of cultural production outside of the traditional boundaries of the nation? Can the institution evolve to meet the needs of an artistic and cultural community that is, at least temporarily, extra-territorial? And can it help to rebuild shattered national institutions on artists’ terms?

The Art Institution as a Hole in the Ground

According to the author, art institutions mirror today’s dominant powers. Sarah Vanhee wants a plurality of institutions connected to different, heterogeneous forms of living and being. A longing for a feminization, decolonization and queering of the art institutions. Looking for art institutions that do politics instead of presenting art programmes about politics, that take care of the people who work there and engage with them, support them on the basis of equal dialogue and lend themselves as tools.

Feminisation, Democracy, Labour: Towards a Socialised Cultural Institution

This essay is the programme document of a research project Porozumienie (Agreement) at the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, about the participatory transformation of the public theatre ‘Powszechny Theatre’ in Warsaw into a feminist cultural institution. A year of research and interviews with employees resulted in texts and practical steps, such as the establishment of an arts and programme board. The authors of the project were Agata Adamiecka-Sitek, Marta Keil, and Igor Stokfiszewski.

Hope Through the Fog

McGonagle argues that a similar solution like that to the Covid-19 virus, to the other virus – the virus of the small state agenda which has infected societal provision and expectations – lies in a cultural turn towards reciprocal social relations, which can be articulated in a total art process that is not limited to rhetorical modes of production and consumption. The stakes could not be higher for individuals and communities right now in this immediate crisis but questions about what principles will inform the future are also necessary and important, to see hope through the fog.

Museums: Essential or Non-essential?

In a crisis of survival in the aftershock of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, everything that we have taken for granted is questioned: is it considered ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential’? Museums are by no means a sacred institution any more than newspapers, educational systems, the music industry, the norms of governance and checks and balances in a democracy, the secular pillars of science, truth seeking and rational discourse, the preservation of the commons, public lands and spaces, good manners, common human decency and decorous behaviour, and so on. All these things hang in the balance right now along with our treasured museums. All of them turn out to be things we have to decide to fight for if we are to keep them, or that must be reinvented to find new relevancy and life.

From Staging to Enacting Politics: The Case of Alternative Theatres in Istanbul

In her empirical study of alternative theatres in Istanbul, Zeynep Uğur focuses on artistic micro-practices that reshape public life. Alternative theatres are making the narratives of minorities visible, they reorganize the relationship to space by creating new ways of working and being in society, and they become autonomous spaces where people can socialize differently. In authoritarian political contexts, autonomous physical places become sites of resistance against the closure of public space and against the political system

I Am Multitudes

Last year, something snapped in the Kenyan performance artist Ogutu Muraya, who was living in Amsterdam at the time. He decided to stop applying for European visas and return to Nairobi. His decision was motivated by a desire to ‘go beyond Europe’, to free his imagination, to transcend internal limits rather than merely trying to cross physical borders. In this text, he tells us how he intends to continue his artistic practice and maintain his presence – but strictly on his own terms.

Feminist Practices, Radical Politics

Feminism seems to be gaining momentum in many countries, but most organisations and groups are still working on the basis of patriarchal standards. The ‘feminisation of politics’ includes different elements, which all aim to change the way activism and politics (in a broad sense) are done. A feminist way of organising includes considerations such as gender balance, building power through cooperation, collective leadership, democratic decision-making, care (for peers, for dependent beings and for oneself), intersectional understanding of issues, and non-violence.

Overproduction

This article was published in an issue (1/2020) of the Polish Magazine Dialog that deals with artistic labour. Overproduction results from the penetration of market mechanisms to all areas of our lives, fields of creativity, and institutions in which we work. It is an element of the system preying on our activity, because it is primarily this mobility – not content and sense – that generates profits. When we stop, get tired or stand aside – we become redundant to the system.

Art and Culture after Covid-19

Everyone seems to agree that the Covid-19 pandemic has a huge impact on the economy, social relations, politics, and culture. We’re nowhere near through this crisis yet, and alternative futures are already being promoted, others wait to ‘get back to normal’, while most people are too busy coping with the emergency. In this ferment of events and contestation, it’s valuable to be reminded of the bigger picture. This essay by Professor Justin O’Connor (University of South Australia) places the current situation of cultural organisations and workers in a historical context, reminding us of their developing relationship with the political economy of recent decades. It is also challenging because it asks what compromises have been made by cultural actors in pursuit of recognition and at what costs.

Wages for and against Art Work: On Economy, Autonomy, and the Future of Artistic Labour

In her article, Katja Praznik deconstructs the idea of artistic work as an expression of individual creativity independent from the economy and its processes. She demonstrates that this persistent ideology of autonomy of the arts contributes to the precarious position of artists and the exploitative working relations in the arts sector. Instead, she suggests to look at artistic work as labour, embedded in economy and subject to the economic relations. Taking inspiration from the arguments for the recognition of invisible labour put forward by Marxist feminists, Praznik calls for a demystification of creativity and supports the imperative of artistic remuneration, as a necessary step towards a broader goal of redefining value and labour in our society.

Reframing European Cultural Production: From Creative Industries towards Cultural Commons

Professor Pascal Gielen (Antwerp University) did research on the biotope around artistic careers, on the role of institutions, and how the transnational creative industries and the longing for a monotopic European identity put pressure on this biotope. Gielen formulates a number of suggestions on how a healthy artistic biotope may be maintained in the future, and how artists can offer us a more complex heterotopic understanding of Europe in a globalising world.

Solidarity Economies

Politicising Piracy — Making an Unconditional Demand

Pirate Care is a transnational project connecting activists, scholars, and practitioners working on the collective practices of care that are emerging in response to the current ‘crisis of care’: welfare cuts, rollback of reproductive rights, austerity, and criminalisation of migration and solidarity. These initiatives are experimenting with forms of self-organisation, alternative approaches to social reproduction, and the commoning of tools. They share a willingness to openly disobey laws and executive orders, whenever these stand in the way of safety and solidarity, and politicise that disobedience to contest the status quo.

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