Creative Arts

News and Events

14 December 2016

Contemporary Art and Democracy - Politicized Practice Research Group

Presented By Politicized Practice Research Group

About this event

Dr. Emma Mahony is a Lecturer in the School of Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. From 2004-08, she was exhibitions curator at the Hayward Gallery, London. Emma will talk about the role that politicized art practice can play in radicalizing democracy. It considers how, by mobilizing a number of values that are the antithesis of the normative values disseminated within our liberal democratic and neoliberal order (including dissensus, philistinism, imagination, possibility and love), Dutch artist Jonas Staal and Irish artist Kerry Guinan are variously testing out and disseminating alternative democratic forms.

Guinan ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 Irish General Election on a platform of liberating art from class. Her Marxist-inspired manifesto of provocative proposals for radical alternatives to the current art system, highlighted not only art’s systemic and class-based inequalities, but also the ultimate inadequacy of liberal democracy: its fundamental inability to deliver on an egalitarian society and, by extension, an art system that is not fraught with class divisions.

For Jonas Staal, the false limits of actually existing democracy is the catalyst for his New World Summit, an artistic and political organization that provides an alternative and agonistic forum for political organizations that are currently excluded from their state’s democratic systems.

Both Guinan and Staal envisage art as an alternative political space with a radical capacity to imagine things otherwise. As Staal puts it, art is a space ‘where the promise of an emancipatory, fundamental democracy can take shape’ (New World Summit, 2016).

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