Creative Arts

Staff research

Art Activism and Political Violence

Workshop at Loughborough University, September 20-21, 2016
Sponsored by the Independent Social Research Foundation
Convened by Ruth Kinna  & Gillian Whiteley
This workshop is the result of a collaboration between colleagues in the Anarchism Research Group and the Politicised Practice Research Group at Loughborough University and is designed to build new relationships between artists and political theorists and to explore questions of political violence and art activism.
The intuition informing this workshop is that art activists not only contest prevailing norms about political violence but also engage consciously and overtly with publics in debates through their activism. By looking at the ways that violence is constructed, reconstructed and iterated through art we invite participants to explore the potential of art activism to offer an accessible, albeit challenging platform to open up complex, abstract concepts of legitimacy, provocation, domination and social responsibility in the public realm.
The workshop has been conceived as a dialogue between art activists and scholars working in radical art practice and political theory. The aim is to employ art activism as a lens to analyse/re-examine concepts in political theory which seek to explain violence. We are seeking to develop a theoretically-informed but non-philosophical approach to political violence and to explore its fluidity. We want to consider how art activists situate and depict violence, how (if at all) they attempt to communicate to wider publics, how the contexts in which art activism operates influence the types of action artists take and how questions about the use of violence are addressed through interventions. Specifically, we are asking participants to address four questions:
(i) how is art activism defined or described
(ii) how can political violence be understood or interpreted through art activism
(iii) how are publics understood or identified
(iv) how are art interventions designed to shift, challenge or respond to public perceptions of political violence and/or are constrained by them.