photo by © Theodore Wan, Bridine Scrub (For General Surgery), 1977


Therefore, when contemporary art or contemporary art theory uses terms of contemporary liberal democracy, a meaningless democracy given that the only right surviving today in fact is the right to dominance (I have the right to assert dominance, power), then, in reality, (art) does nothing but preserving the same system that creates it, doubting only on-demand. Such a characteristic example is the recent exhibition organized by the Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, “Art and Nature” by which it actually legalizes – through a much-promoted event with the participation of many artists – the adoption of the General Framework for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development, a text that flagrantly sacrifices natural environment on the altar of capitalist profiteering.(5)

We are not therefore interested in contesting the conditions under which contemporary art approaches the social field. And this is for we believe that art is clearly a part of society (the artist is primarily a social subject); art is based within the body of society, regardless how deeply rooted it is in social reality in any respective historical circumstance, or how much autonomous it becomes as an ideological construct of the bourgeois society. Art echoes society.

We believe that it is perhaps more important to re-state the initial question by keeping similar terms: How can a society in crisis – economic, social, political, value crisis – and turmoil hear the voice of an art, which is usually whispering behind the thick and high walls of the mainly institutionalized spaces (museums, institutes, galleries), inside hallways of television studios or newspapers, or in exhibition spaces where art events are organized with excessive government or private sector sponsorships?

The question is rather rhetorical since its phrasing embraces the answer identifying contemporary art practice (namely, the way art functions within the contemporary society, the institutions surrounding it, the system it is feeding on) with the conservatisation entailed by the practice of the dominant economic and political system (capitalism, neoliberalism) and definitely not with radical social and political demands. Contemporary art practice, many times even from the artist’s workshop to the large domestic and international art events, meets market mentality, and likewise the artistic work meets the value mentality (or surplus value / symbolic value) of the merchandise. Therefore, it meets the same mentality that imposes raw violence (upon the worker, the citizen, the citizen of an opponent state), the same mentality that imposes the relations of subordination, the exploitation and the individualization of our needs to such an extent that they are turned into infinite indifference towards the consciousness of our sociability and the collective demands and common claims.


excerpt from Let’s do politics, (1), by Reconstruction Community. continue reading here

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