Art And Politics

Extended Call for papers, Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics, Issue 6

Seismopolite Issue 6
Theme: The future of the biennial: experimental places to reinvent political space?

issue5

The upcoming issue of Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics will discuss the political future of the contemporary art biennial. How can biennials become experimental «sites» to rethink the relationship between art and politics, without lending themselves too easily to the confines of the contemporary art market and neoliberal political geography? While biennials have been criticized for subjecting themselves to urban/ regional marketing strategies, they have also been defended as valuable places for the formation of new alliances among art scenes of the ‘periphery’, that are today steadily changing the global art map.

For this issue we invite reviews, essays and interviews that discuss the future of the biennial and its potential to rewrite the history, political geography and epistemology of places and regions.

Topics may include (but are by no means restricted to):

– The art biennial as a global and regional phenomenon

– Biennials and political activism

– Art biennials as utopian political «sites»

– Mobility, relational geography and regionalization in contemporary art after the Nation State

– The biennial as a potential site for (re)negotiation of political geography, artistic interventions in geopolitical discourses and decolonization strategies

– Biennials as experimental regimes of bodily orientation and their politics of sensation

– Biennials as reimaginations of territorialities, and renegotiations of the concepts of space and place

Please send your proposal, CV and samples of earlier work to submissions@seismopolite.com within December 13, 2013.

Via Seismopolite.com

Call for papers, Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics, issue 6: The future of the biennial: experimental places to reinvent political space?

seismopolite logo
Call for papers, Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics, issue 6: The future of the biennial: experimental places to reinvent political space?

The upcoming issue of Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics will discuss the political future of the contemporary art biennial. How can biennials become experimental «sites» to rethink the relationship between art and politics, without lending themselves too easily to the confines of the contemporary art market and neoliberal political geography? While biennials have been criticized for subjecting themselves to urban/ regional marketing strategies, they have also been defended as valuable places for the formation of new alliances among art scenes of the ‘periphery’, that are today steadily changing the global art map.

Does this development indicate a future potential of biennials to rewrite the history, political geography and epistemology of places and regions, and to do so from standpoints that resist annexation by historical master narratives, neoliberal political geography as well as the demands and languages of the global contemporary art market? Or do we need to look entirely outside the biennial system for such standpoints to be realized in a consequential way?

For our next issue we welcome reviews of biennials worldwide as well as essays and interviews that address these questions through a high variety of possible angles.

We accept submissions continuously, but to make sure you are considered for the upcoming issue, please send your proposal, CV and samples of earlier work to submissions@seismopolite.com within November 21, 2013.

Many thanks!

Spirited discussions pt. 4 (by Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland)

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Dave Young, Carbon Catcher, and Sam Clark, artist and contributor to Spirited discussion 4, in the Meadows. Photo CO2 Edenburgh.

Dave Young, Carbon Catcher, and Sam Clark, artist and contributor to Spirited discussion 4, in the Meadows. Photo CO2 Edenburgh.

The last of our Spirited Discussions asking, ‘Can Art Change the Climate? was entitled:

Going Beyond the Material: Environment and Invisible Forces in the Literary, Performing and Visual Arts.

This, in some ways, reminded me of Wallace Heim’s reference in Spirited Discussion part 2 to Alan Badiou’s idea that the four critical kinds of event which change people are love, science, art and politics.

In the performing arts particularly there is arguably no ‘thing’ that is the work of art: there is the event that is found in the ether between the player and the audience; there is the growth of digital publishing which has emphasised that the same is true of the written work.  With the written word the format is sometimes less important than the content and the work of art is an event taking place in the reader’s head, brought about by the words in whatever form they are reproduced (consider audiobooks). This aesthetic view could of course be equally true of visual artworks; the event takes place when we view the work, but in an empty gallery or an unoccupied installation all that exists is some colour on a surface or a collection of items.

Lucy Miu, Business Manager of the Bedlam Theatre and driving force behind this year and next’s Dramatic Impacts, is also an Environmental Sciences student, effectively straddling the line between the arts and the sciences. She argued that for people to be informed by information they need to be engaged with it. This is backed up by plenty of behaviour change research which shows that plain information has almost no effect on the recipient’s behaviour.  Kate Foster concurred: her experience with biology students saw them overwhelmed by the sheer level of information they were being asked to take in. Her artistic practice allowed them to make sense of it, focus their new knowledge and understand it, rather than just know it. Lucy felt that the arts, which engage us emotionally, can help, and that perhaps they also help where the original experience is not available to all, (murdering the King of Scotland, experiencing the bombing of Guernica), and the artist can bring that experience to a wider audience.

For me, what is particularly important here is that an artist may, perhaps must if they are to be described as an artist rather than a mere reporter, have special insight into the experience that they transmit to the audience along with the basic information: information + insight is what gets the event lodged in the audience’s understanding. Information + insight creates the sort of event we are interested in.

Lucy also made the point that all performing arts events are group activities.  At the very least there is an audience as well as a performer, whilst engaging with visual arts is, or can be, a more solitary business. In her view this made the performing arts more engaging but Tim Collins argued that different forms do different things. (The similarities and differences between the visual and performing arts were questions that arose regularly and usefully during CO2 Edenburgh: Spirit in the Air.) The question of whether feeling is enough arose again, just as it had been raised by Chris Speed in Discussion 1, and it clearly isn’t enough: pornography, a well-made horror film or Love Story make us feel, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to change people or their behaviour as Badiou seems to be getting at.

Here Sam Clark made her first intervention noting that, to the writer Rebecca Solnit, the difference for the writer between discarding an article and having it published is minimal, but history starts when events happen. The event may happen almost accidentally, or is at least subject to chance, and is not solely in the artist’s gift. How does this square with Wallace Heim’s view that the artists’ practices create the conditions where [Badiou’s] change can happen (remember love, science, art and politics)? The answer is surely that art is a fairly slippery thing with fuzzy boundaries. Questions of intention, insight, engagement and emotion swirl around this subject, which is perhaps what makes the question of whether art can change the climate so difficult to disentangle, let alone answer.

Sam Clark chose to address the title Going Beyond the Material more directly in her short and very beautiful talk, speaking about scientists working on matter. Only 4.7% of reality is material, according to a physicist she knows; 75% is dark matter whose existence is only deduced from its interaction with matter and gravity. Even less concrete is dark energy, only imagined because the universe is expanding and accelerating, not shrinking or slowing down. These scientists are working on a relationship between the visible and the invisible, or in artistic terms the knowable and the ineffable (strikingly similar in my mind to Andrew Patrizio’s conjunction of the mercantile and the religious in fifteenth century Florence – see Discussion 3). The scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern use non-detection as a means of detection; 95% of the universe is only knowable through the instrument of the mind. Here we surely get into the realm of philosophy and for me insight comes to the fore again. What we want from artists – why societies from the year dot have supported, encouraged and valued them – is access to the knowledge of the things that are unknowable just through experience, knowledge that requires use of the instrument of the mind. Sam made the same point – insight and experience of things we don’t understand or things we hate, creating a space of wonder, are the things we want from artists. And as Harry Giles made clear in the first of the Spirited Discussions, actually artists and scientists do many of the same things. But maybe Sam’s last suggestion is what artists do but scientists try to avoid: making the familiar strange.

The session came to a close with a short discussion about empathy, a subject that Reiko Goto Collins had touched upon in her introduction. Sympathy is when you simply feel for another; empathy is when you place yourself in their shoes, which takes more than just emotion. Lucy suggested that maybe if art can change the climate, it is because it can help connect the brain and the heart. If we have done that, just a bit, with CO2 Edenburgh: Spirit in the Air, it will have been well worth it.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

Powered by WPeMatico

Call for papers on The Politics of African Contemporary Art – Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics

seismopoliteRecent approaches to African contemporary art often celebrate the advent of a global contemporary art scene in which they see an abolition of the provincialist and historicist concepts that were imposed by the West during the colonial period. One assumes that by taking part in new and post-historical/ post-national networks of exchange, facilitated by large-scale international exhibitions, biennials and fairs, artists can express themselves more truly as they are no longer doomed to wrestle with the notions of the pre-colonial/ colonial; to be measured against Western art-historical paradigms, or to be defined via enduring fictions about their own parochialism.

This issue of Seismopolite aims to assess the validity of this perspective and to further inquire into the possibilities and limitations pertaining to the global contemporary art scene in terms of addressing political issues in, and rewriting the history and future of African societies (as well as African art history) in a consequential way through art.

In particular we wish to shed a critical light on how the contemporary art economy influences the political agency and interaction of artistic expression in African societies, and reversely, how African art, although it may be free to address political issues, can retain or represent such a political agency once it has become part of the global contemporary.

Contributors from diverse disciplinary backgrounds are invited to submit essays, exhibition reviews or interviews that address the theme “The politics of African contemporary art” through a high variety of possible angles.

Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

  • The role of art and artists in the rewriting of (art) history and political geography.
  • The development of international contemporary art venues/ festivals/ biennials in African countries, and their impact on the societal function and meaning of art in these contexts.
  • The agency and potential of art to stimulate new future trajectories in precarious socio-political situations.
  • Political activism and post-colonial consciousness in art and art communities under colonial rule.
  • The relationship between cultural politics/ geopolitics and international contemporary art venues/ festivals/ biennials in African countries.
  • Changes to the role and the economy of the artist in African societies.
  • Processes of translation in the global mediation of African contemporary art.
  • Aesthetics and politics of art in ‘African diaspora’.

We accept submissions continuously, but to make sure you are considered for the upcoming issue, please send your proposal, CV and samples of earlier work to submissions@seismopolite.com within February 20, 2013. Completed work will be due March 8, 2013. Commissioned works will be translated into Norwegian and published in a bilingual version.

Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics is a bilingual English and Norwegian quarterly, which investigates the possibilities of artists and art scenes worldwide to reflect and influence their local political situation.

Current issue: www.seismopolite.com

Previous issues: www.seismopolite.com/artandpolitics

Contact: submissions@seismopolite.com

Call for papers on Art and Freedom of Expression for Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics

www.seismopolite.com

The next issue of Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics will discuss how art can promote freedom of expression.

Contributors from different disciplinary backgrounds are invited to submit articles, reviews or interviews that address this theme through a high variety of possible angles.

Topics may include (but are not restricted to):

  • Forms, causes and consequences of censorship of art in countries and contexts worldwide.
  • Art’s potential to create new prospects in political contexts where the freedom of expression/ Human Rights are violated.
  • Artistic decolonization strategies; art’s potential to challenge and rewrite geopolitical, economic, cultural or historical master narratives, as well as to promote understanding of, and cooperation between peoples whose lives, voices and histories are suppressed/ alienated by such narratives.
  • Minority perspectives in art.
  • Art’s democratic role under global capitalism and neoliberal political geography.
  • Advantages and obstacles pertaining to the globalized scene of contemporary art (and its center-periphery-relationships) in terms of freedom of expression.
  • Art/ architecture/ literature/ film/ music/ theatre or other cultural events which address these topics.

We accept submissions continuously, but to make sure you are considered for the upcoming issue, please send your proposal/ draft, CV and samples of earlier work to submissions@seismopolite.com within July 24, 2012. Completed work will be due August 7, 2012. Commissioned works will be translated into Norwegian and published in a bilingual version.

Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics is a bilingual English and Norwegian quarterly, which investigates the possibilities of artists and art scenes worldwide to reflect and influence their local political situation. Read more about Seismopolite here

Current issue: www.seismopolite.com

Previous issues: www.seismopolite.com/artandpolitics

Contact: submissions@seismopolite.com

Deep sustainability and the art and politics of forests

This post comes to you from An Arts and Ecology Notebook

Internationally, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) still classifies clearfell (clearcut) monocrop plantation sites, like the one above pictured, as a ‘forest’Internationally, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) still classifies clearfell (clearcut) monocrop plantation sites, like the one above pictured, as a ‘forest’

‘I thought again of our fundamental inversion of all relatedness, of how we nearly always ask the wrong question –What can I get from this?–and so rarely the right one–What can I give back? Even when we try to learn from others, it is from the same spirit of acquisition: What can I learn from this forest ecosystem that will teach me how to manage if for maximum resource extraction? Rarely: What can I learn from this forest community that will teach me better how to serve it?

Derrick Jensen, A Language Older than Words, 2000, p. 319

Last December on the 30th celebration of the Irish Green Party and in the last few weeks of the UN International Year of the Forest, I presented on behalf of the forestry policy group, a comprehensive new sustainable forestry policy for Ireland. It was accepted that day!!! The policy development had taken several years with the input and hard work of a small number of committed members. It had involved wide consultation with forest and other environment/ natural heritage groups, professional foresters and policy makers from here and overseas.

My own personal involvement in policy development was propelled for a number of reasons: over several years my partner and I, with the help of a local sustainable forester, have been transforming our very small 25 year old conifer plantation into a permanent (non clear-fell) forest using Close-to-Nature continuous cover sustainable forestry methods. This is because I have a strong belief that we need to create radical new ways of relating to our natural environments, if we and those environments that support us all are to thrive in the long-term. I have spent considerable time too on a long term art & ecology project of which my forest is central to my work.

I also wanted to help introduce policy that would finally address the appalling irresponsibility of current Irish policy that ignores the devastation that we inflict on other human and natural communities when we continue to allow the importation of timbers and wood products from countries where unsustainable logging, often still from old growth forests, are occurring. As hidden behind the everyday headlines of economic collapse we are now living in an unprecedented age referred to as the age of the 6th great extinction. This Anthropocene age is where our own species actions alone are dramatically altering the very fabric of our finite biosphere. Around the world, the degradation of natural environments, the way we interact with our supporting land bases, has and continues to lead to unprecedented species, habitat and much cultural loss. This age of extinction, where we are losing 200 species every day,  mirrors the ecocidal growth-at-all-costs politics of our hyper-consumerist industrialised societies, the now globalised dominant cultural model that fails, in a mixture of blind ignorance and short-term profiteering, to understand the limitations and sensitivity of environments that supports all life. For example, short-term returns obscure the fact that clear-fell forestry that relies on serial plantings of monocrops, will lead, in 4 or 5 rotations, to severe soil degradation and ever reducing timber volumes. Such practices also limit and disrupt other species and dull the social and cultural values of our forests in the meantime.

On a global scale, we know our forested areas are critical in regulating our climate and storing carbon and are the most important habitat for most terrestrial species, but do we relate that every effort should be to grow more now, to sustain and create more resilient and diverse  (uneven aged and mixed species) permanent forests? Diverse forests, for instance, will be crucial to counter the effects of changing climate with its increased likelihood of tree disease. On a national scale and when other fuel costs are set to keep rising, local fuel independence provided by well managed, selectively harvested permanent forests must be part of the equation to support local economies and communities fuel requirements not to mention improving local  biodiversity. I now also understand why leading sustainable European foresters see such potential in transforming much of Ireland’s pioneer conifer plantations to permanent forests. I’ve long known we have the best tree growing conditions in Europe but I can now see that we have too long focussed solely on short-term economic returns of forest plantations forgetting the intrinsic ecological and cultural wealth that our ancient biodiverse Irish Forests once provided. In some small measure I hope ideas in the new Irish Green Party forestry policy will help enable a new expanded vision of permanent forests potential to circulate more widely in Ireland and elsewhere.

New Zealand old growth forest, South Island, photo Cathy Fitzgerald 2003

New Zealand old growth forest, South Island, photo Cathy Fitzgerald 2003

I am very fortunate that my thinking and practical knowledge about forests has come from both long associations with leading people from Crann (an Irish forest group), ProSilva Ireland and ProSilva Europe (sustainable forestry organisations) and from living within a small forest. In recent years on study tours I have experienced the vibrant mixed species, permanent forests in Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and the Netherlands that are managed carefully for ecological, cultural, as well as economic benefits. Fifteen years ago, when I first came to Ireland from New Zealand, I worked on a Crann Leitrim project and witnessed the largest Forest Service supported county-wide planting of broadleaf woodlands amongst local farmers and those interested in doing something different with their land. My friendships with leading forest practitioners from then continues to this day and some years ago I had the good fortune to go back to Leitrim to make a small film of the ‘local project’ as it had been called, where I interviewed the new woodland owners and the vibrant mixed woodlands that I had seen planted not many years before. Such projects were so important in practically illustrating the need for new policy then. We have come a long way in that broadleaf tree planting and increased afforestation are now well supported but we still have so much to learn that planting any species as crops is shortsighted and will never lead to longterm wealth or real forests.

Cathy Fitzgerald and her dog Holly in their small Hollywood forest                      Co. Carlow, Ireland 2010

Cathy Fitzgerald and her dog Holly in their small Hollywood forest Co. Carlow, Ireland 2010

On the practical side, my own observations of the small forest in which we live has been invaluable. Our tiny, 21/2 acre forest-in-the-making, comprising of 25 year old conifers undergoing periodic selective harvesting, now supplies us with over 70 tonnes of firewood every three years!  We have had to start selling firewood to our neighbours to cope with our clever, fast growing forest.  And as the integrity of our small forest remains intact, since we do not clear-fell, we have more and different birds every year and incredible range of fungi too. More valuable ash and some oak trees are self generating and growing quickly in the shelter of our large conifers (they’ll grow quicker and straighter in such company without us having to waste energy to prune them too). So from my window I can see our small acreage is a more vibrant community where the real wealth is embedded and accumulating in the diversifying, aging forest! Such forestry does require a long-term, slower mindset. Its one that attempts to respect all aspects of what makes a forest (which is very complex and dynamic when you think of it) and with it, thinking of new ways of relating to its living inhabitants so all thrive and survive. Its a type of slow-forest, interdependent management where one seeks to carefully observe and understand rather than quickly exploit and move on. So thinking and working in forests has for me been an important means to think about some very real aspects of deep sustainability in the wider context too. Where deep sustainability refers not only implementing measures for our own benefit but measures that ensure all aspects of a forest thrive. By the way, our small 2 1/2 acre site is now listed with a growing number of other sites around the country on the new Coford research database of forests undergoing transformation, or as they refer to it, being managed by implementing low impact silvaculture systems (LISS).

From a completely different view, as an artist I have long being fascinated and in turns equally concerned by what has created contemporary culture’s short-sighted ecocidal perspective. I have been influenced and inspired by artists and writers before me.  However I am often shocked and at a loss how too few artists today examine our relation to the living world in any depth. Perhaps my previous working background in the biological sciences means I have always been drawn to and feel more able to engage with ideas and concerns about our increasingly growing ecological crises. I have of course always been drawn to artists that have related to forests too.

I suspect that many members of the Green Party and the public in general would be unaware that some of the early formative material for the first Green Party in Germany evolved from ideas from the leading 20th century German artist, Joseph Beuys. Beuys was a  founding member of the first Green party and later unsuccessfully stood as a Green Party candidate for the European Parliament. A highly charismatic, self-professed shaman-like figure, Beuys was an outspoken artist attracting considerable media attention for his ideas about the central and essential role of art in society. He considered all members of society active agents in shaping society (he’s widely known for his claim that ‘everyone is an artist‘ and also that truly healthy societies support and understand that ‘art = capital’).  Beuys also had a deep understanding that a healthy environment is a necessity for healthy societies.  As an arts professor he had controversial ideas that the arts must be freely available to all, opening his classes to un-enrolled students. Although very popular with students and other artists such controversial ideas eventually lead to his dismissal as Professor from the Dusseldorf Arts Academy.  Though his political ideas about society, education and the environment were instrumental to the newly forming Green Party, his involvement in politics was not to last either, as he was frustrated by the slow democratic process of the new party and in hindsight, his own eccentric character seemed ill suited to connect with the general public. Even so, he carved a considerable public profile for his works and ideas, and to this day he is highly regarded in bringing art out of institutions and galleries to create projects that combined community actions, what he termed ‘social sculpture’, to address eco-societal concerns in the wider public domain.

Beuys at Kassel

While it is difficult to condense Beuys’ work into a short article, his final large scale project, 7000 oaks for the International Documenta Arts Exhibition in Kassel (1982) city left a lasting legacy for the German city and contemporary art. Creating a huge mound of 4 ft high basalt stone pillars outside the entrance of Documenta, he stipulated that each of the 7000 stone pillars could only be moved to be placed alongside a planted oak, both of which were to be put in the environs of Kassel city. After considerable city-wide debate, communities and individuals working with local government and other community institutions carried out his forced urban tree planting project over 5 years. Though initially greeted with much skepticism this new type of community art project eventually gathered wide and popular support and has been replicated in other cities. Beuys instinctive understanding of relational community art practice has also been immensely important to contemporary art.

Beuys’ idea of the oak each being planted along with a stone pillar also presented an intriguing means to project this artistic endeavour well into the future; the pillars act as permanent markers of the townspeople actions to future generations, reminding them of the long-term thinking and environmental actions of its previous citizens. Such deeply symbolic practical actions encompassing long-term thinking for society is much needed now but not only in our cities. In fact Beuys sought to have this project replicated all over the world. An important legacy of Beuys work continues now through the Social Sculpture Unit in Oxford and last year when I visited I heard that over 80 art and forest projects from around the world were connecting with their University of Trees network project. Of course, when you think of it, we have our own standing stone reminders in Ireland. Our ancient Ogham alphabet carved on our standing stones all tellingly describe our then high regard for our native forest species, each letter corresponding to a native tree or shrub. It might be that Beuys had remembered this as he a deep interest in celtic Ireland too.

Permanent forests, Slovenia 2009

A Slovenian permanent forest - where clearfelling (clearcutting) has not been performed for 64 years!

Postscript: when I started writing this article a week ago I received a short Skype message from a leading sustainable close-to-nature forester in Tasmania. He had discovered and enjoyed looking at my short, birdsong narrated film I had created about our forest practices, called Transformation but noticed an error under a photograph I took of fabulous permanent forests in Slovenia where I had noted that clearfelling in Slovenia has been illegal these past 25 years. He wrote, ‘Just noticed the comment under the photo from Slovenia. Clearfelling in Slovenia was ended in 1948! That is 64 years of changed thinking and planning and operating”

… I hope we too reach such longterm forestry practice in the very near future both here and Ireland and beyond.

 

Further Reading

Strangely like war: the global assault on forests by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan (2005), see also A language Older than Words, Derrick Jensen (2000)

Forests: the shadow of civilisation by Robert Pogue Harrison, 1992.

Beuysian Legacies in Ireland and Beyond: Art, Culture and Politics by Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes and Victoria Walters, European Studies in Culture and Policy, Lit Verlag, 2011

Note: This article was first published on HerCircleEzine.com on 20.1.12 and on my www.ecoartfilm.com site too.

An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.
Go to An Arts and Ecology Notebook

Call for papers – Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics issue 3

Theme: Reimagining the political geography of place and space

In the coming issue we wish to focus on political geographies, as well as artistic interventions in, and reimaginations of, such geographies. The distinction between “place” and “space” is of particular interest, as it is fundamental not only to much art, but also to our global situation within neoliberal political geography. If time has come for us to reimagine this geography, as well as the interrelationships between, and definitions of “space” and “place”, is it thinkable that art could be an ideal site for such reimagination?

The construction and exploitation of a particularism of the local also seems indigenous to the logic of neoliberalism, in the sense that it relies on the opposition between place and space to be able to expand in the first place. Among other things, the space-place dichotomy facilitates the reduction of developmental issues, political unrest or violence to irrational expressions of local misguidance, backward culture or belief systems. When the evolution of neoliberal space is merged with democratic and civilizing pretentions, the otherness and fixed specificity of places appears to be a legitimate pretext to expand into always new (potentially profitable) areas in and beyond the periphery.

The self-fulfilling prophesy of neoliberal geography also constitutes an effective impasse in alternative visions of political geography – on the one hand, by making the critical reconstruction of place and its interconnectedness with a larger picture, beyond the dichotomies of space/place and local/global, superfluous – on the other, by dissimulating any locally based meaning of universality that cannot be reduced to the civilizing prospects and ideals of neoliberal universalist geography. In this sense, the self-upholding myth of the local which neoliberal geography feeds on seems to express another form of orientalism, convincingly presenting itself and its worldview as the necessary cure to global and local problems, and reversely; presenting political issues in localities beyond its borders as a temporary void in its over-arching, inescapable logic.

Contributors from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds are invited to submit articles, exhibition reviews or interviews that address the theme “Reimagining the political geography of place and space”, through a high variety of possible angles.

Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

  • Artistic approaches to political geography, artistic intervention in geopolitical discourses and decolonization strategies.
  • The concepts of space and place in art, and their renegotiation through art
  • The role of art and artists in the rewriting of history and political geography in post-colonial situations.
  • The relationship between neoliberal political geography and orientalism
  • The art biennial as a global phenomenon, and its role in the (re)negotiation of political geography
  • The relationship between the global art scene and neoliberal political geography.
  • The relationship between art and geography

For guidelines and payment rates, please contact Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics at submissions@seismopolite.com

We accept submissions continuously, but to make sure you are considered for the upcoming issue, please send your proposal, CV and samples of earlier work to us within February 10, 2012.

Completed work will be due March 5, 2012. Commissioned works will be translated into Norwegian and published in a bilingual version.

 

Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics is a bilingual English and Norwegian quarterly, which investigates the possibilities of artists and art scenes worldwide to reflect and influence their local political situation. Follow this link to visit the journal: www.seismopolite.com

ashdenizen: representing the unrepresentable

In this guest post, Kellie Payne, reports on Bruno Latour's recent talk at the Tate.

The French sociologist Bruno Latour gave the keynote address at this month's Tate Britain’s symposium Beyond the Academy: Research as Exhibition. His address considered the environmental crisis as a particular challenge which would require natural history, art museums and academia to join forces. The challenge, he said, was that “climate change is currently unrepresentable”.

In an effort to address this, Latour has embarked on a number of projects. One is the School of Political Arts at the Sciences Po in Paris. The school, which will be formally launched this year, will bring together young professionals in the social sciences and arts to attempt to represent the political problem of climate change. Latour says the school will “not join science, art and politics together, but rather disassemble them first and, unfamiliar and renewed, take them up again afterwards, but differently.”

Latour is also working on establishing a new type of Biennale in Venice, which will incorporate social scientists into artistic production. By bringing together social scientists and artists, Latour wants to address these issues in new ways. He expressed interest in Avatar, calling it the first ‘Gaia’ film, beginning this task of rethinking the ecological crisis and exploring ways of making it representable.

His engagement with climate change includes his participation in the Nordic Exhibition of the year Rethink: Contemporary Art and Climate Change which was staged in Copenhagen during COP15. He contributed to the Rethink exhibition catalogue with the essay “It's Development, Stupid” Or: How To Modernize Modernization. It is a response to Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, Break Through – From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. In this essay, Latour argues that the separation of the subjective from the real into dichotomies such as 'nature' and 'culture' must end. In order to begin to tackle the challenges we are facing, we must acknowledge just how closely human and nature are entwined. He has given a lecture on ‘Politics and Nature’ at the Rethink The Implicit venue at the Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art.

Latour spent most of his Tate talk discussing two of his previous exhibition projects which combined the talents of artists and social scientists. Both exhibits were produced with Peter Weibel at ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. The first, Iconoclash (2002), which brought together a team of curators, including Hans Ulrich Obrist from the Serpentine Gallery, examined how iconoclasts are represented in art, religion and science. The second, Making Things Public, partnered artists with social scientists to create individual exhibits. The exhibition was centred on a number of themes: Assembling or Disassembling; Which Cosmos for which Cosmopolitics; The Problem of Composition; From Objects to Things; From Laboratory to Public Proofs; The Great Pan is Dead!; Reshuffling Religious Assemblies; The Parliaments of Nature. The exhibition sought to materialise the concept of a ‘Parliament of Things’.

Latour conceptualised his exhibitions as thought experiments, but found the exhibitions themselves to be failures, saying that most of the individual projects within the exhibition failed as works of art. The books that accompanied the exhibitions, in particular, Making Things Public, a large book created after the exhibition, were more successful.

This was one of the themes that emerged from the day at Tate: whether certain exhibitions work better as books. Latour said that working on exhibitions has been one of the most interesting parts of his academic life. Exhibitions, he said, have a different rhythm and intensity of work and creating the ‘thing in the space’ adds to intellectual life. But creating an exhibition must be different to writing. When exhibitions merely illustrate a point, no gain is made.

Latour’s interests have now moved towards ecology and the role of the arts in representing our environmental challenges and the need for artists and social scientists to collaborate on these issues. He said he himself is writing a play on climate change.

Kellie Payne is a PhD student in the Geography department at the Open University researching culture and climate change.

via ashdenizen: representing the unrepresentable.

Aesthetics, Art, and Politics at University of Helsinki

Finnish Society for Aesthetics
PO Box 4, FIN-0 0 0 1 4 UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI
www.estetiikka.fi

“Aesthetics, Art, and Politics,” 6.5.-7.5.2010, University of Helsinki

The Finnish Society for Aesthetics together with the research project Artification and its Impact on Art (http://www.artification.fi/) will arrange a two-day seminar on the theme “Aesthetics, Art, and Politics” from the 6th of May to the 7th of May 2010 at the University of Helsinki. The keynote speaker of the seminar is Professor Aleš Erjavec (Slovenia).

Significant connections between aesthetics, art, and politics continue to exist in the new millennium. However, alongside traditional questions about art’s relationship to politics and the political aspects of aesthetic phenomena, a new set of issues has gradually arisen which are as much a
result of changes occurring in aesthetics and art as they are a result of changes that have recently shaped politics. The criticism that different traditions of contemporary aesthetics have aimed against the idea of “pure aesthetics,” i.e., an aesthetics severed from political considerations, has been widely accepted. But what is the position of aesthetic theories which emphasize the social function of art and aesthetics today? Do the main traditions of contemporary aesthetics any longer manage to account for the current forms that the relationship between aesthetics, art, and politics takes or are novel approaches required for analyzing those connections?

Many other social practices besides art are to a growing extent characterized by features which have traditionally been associated primarily with art. What sorts of aesthetic and political consequences could this process known as “artification” involve? What are the effects of this development, for
example, to the alleged autonomous nature of art or is this supposition a mere fallacy anyway? Different artistic traditions and movements embody different kinds of ideologies. How should one understand the relationship between art and politics in a world where faith in the impact of politics is
increasingly diminishing? Changes of approach in recent art research also provide a new outlook on the theme of the seminar. Do the different research approaches articulate specific views of the connection between aesthetics and politics and what sorts of political underpinnings, if any, could these approaches themselves involve?