Conversation

26 October 2007

Radical Democracy, Art and Spaces of Conflict

While the neoliberal, economy-driven democratic regime seems to maintain the order of things through the production of emergency and mass consensus, art, too, risks being coopted in the service of reinforcing that consensus policy. In the face of this, BAVO pleads for a “wild” or “crazy” artistic gesture that would disrupt the authorized and constricted line of thought and horizon of imagination in our post-socialist age. Artist Thomas Hirschhorn’s 2004 project Swiss-Swiss Democracy is one particularly daring and constructive example of such a gesture. Held at the Swiss Cultural Centre in Paris, the project responded to the success of the neoconservative party in Swiss elections, questioning the state of democracy in the country by means of Hirschhorn’s unique artistic language—a complex installation/construction of cardboard, foil, duct tape, found objects, images and clippings from the printed media and graffiti-like statements as well as a theater play and lecture series. Swiss-Swiss Democracy caused an uproar among Swiss politicians, leading, among other things, to cuts in the budget of Pro Helvetia, a state foundation for visual art that had supported the project. Given projects such as this, which take place in the so-called public sphere and generate active debate and contestation, could one argue that the core of the radical potentiality of art lies in disrupting the established order and creating a space for conflict? Following an introduction by BAVO and lecture/presentation by Thomas Hirschhorn, Marcus Steinweg, a philosopher and writer who has often collaborated with Hirschhorn (on projects including Swiss-Swiss Democracy), elaborates upon and critiques this question about the political relevance of art and engages in a discussion with the audience.

Suggestions from the archive

Exhibition

31 October–31 December 2004

Cordially Invited, episode 3

Cordially Invited examines the issue of hospitality in relation to a topic of major global, political, and moral consequence today: migration. The project explores these issues through the notion of a cordial invitation, understood here as a symbolic tool which can be used to negotiate between two imaginary, unattainable ideals: the unrestricted right to move across political and economic boundaries, and the unqualified acceptance such rights imply.

Exhibition

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture Program

12 November–17 December 2005

Undercurrents

Undercurrents is a dynamic, informal forum for reflection about what is behind the contemporary state of warfare. It is developed as an equal parallel to the exhibition Soft Target. War as a Daily, First-Hand Reality.

Summer School

22-26 July 2019

BAK Summer School: Art as Politics

BAK Summer School: Art as Politics brings together those involved in arts, academia, and social action to collectively think through, learn about, and imagine critical, politically-informed artistic practices that grasp and influence our dramatically changing times. Deadline for applications: 1 May 2019.

Lecture

Education Program

11 March–15 April 2019

Course: Art and Politics

The basic course of the BAK School for Art and Politics is organized from 11 March until 15 April 2019. In six weekly sessions, the participants learn about how contemporary art relates to the political in an accessible way. The course is taught by Maria Hlavajova, BAK’s general and artistic director.