Culture of Participation, Warsaw 17-19.11

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I consider activism, also the one done with and through art, as a form of building up unofficial infrastructures in the places left behind by the neoliberal acceleration. The role of an art producer is that of a participant and a user rather than an objective observer — involved rather than privileged and distant. My artivist involvement comes from the feminist leftist discourse, its antiauthoritarian stance and solidarity spirit. I always considered art to be, at the first place, an emancipatory practice, far beyond its representative function, which obviously connects it with activism. I am an artist and a member of Ciocia Basia collective, which was created out of necessity. We support people whose rights to decide about their lives and bodies are being broken. As Ciocia Basia we inform people about their reproductive rights and help with organizing abortions in Berlin, if necessary. The structure in the group is nonhierarchical and anarchistic, we have no permanent seat and stable financing. What keeps us together are our feminist beliefs.

In the times when public institutions are becoming dependent on totalitarian ideology and its regimes — alternative solutions are desperately needed — an extended field of art could give space for developing them.

A term I would like to focus on during the conference is an infrastructure, which is a word taken from the engineer and architecture field. I would like to apply it to art. As infrastructure I mean a network of organizations and grassroots initiatives, non-commercial, nonofficial  using the borderlines of legality. They unstable unofficial status make them unsuitable to no other fields but arts, which by definition and an avant-garde tradition gives them a shelter, a place …

Saying that the question would be what could be the specificity of the infrastructure of socially engaged initiatives in the art context? How could it technically work? I don’t use here a word — project — with the purpose, because I mean a different way of functioning, not limited to the short-term cultural events. I mean here sustainable structures, something like backup institutions, which situates art beyond the commercial, project-based and officially institutionalized context. Maybe as Steven Wright suggest the art is than valued in terms of its usability. With an artist figure as sb engaged in the social reality against its modern role as an objective observer, a celebrity figure in postmoderninty or as more or less successful entrepreneur of himself_herself according to the neoliberal bias. According to this understanding of art as a practice of participation, as sth socially useful, an artivist position is a situated one, which can not be based only on deconstruction, but resembles old-school engagement, passion and belief.

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Thank you: Tom RussottiElene BabakishviliAnna CzabanInka BrzuzanWilliam HollisterJoão Ventura i Franek Morka

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