On December 4, NICC has the pleasure to invite you to Politics without Poetics, a series of talks initiated by Dessislava Dimova and Filip Gilissen, that will attempt to uncover multiple artistic routes for configuring art as a political practice, weaving global and historical perspectives into the discussion.
What would an artistic practice without artistic unconscious be? A kind of pure construction, strategy, design? Can we formulate an idea of political art without poetics, its eternal twin that makes it possible as art, that makes it valid as politics?
Indeed, art today has become a space where politics proper can be imagined, rehearsed and even practiced, a kind of ‘poetic politics’—a staged ideal of politics, an artistic corrective of reality. Is poetics today a side effect, a ruse, an essential part of art as ‘imagined politics’? Or, on the contrary, is it a demand imposed on art in order to render its political claims inoffensive? The old modernist schism between committed and autonomous art still rears its head in the separation between the politics of form and the politics of engagement, between an art of the art world and an art of life, challenging art to do away with either politics or poetics.
Some twenty years ago, for documenta X in 1997, Catherine David used the mirror image of Politics/Poetics almost as a homonym, not only to put forward a decidedly political view of art but also to signal its global complexity. In fact, in the graphic design of the title, Poetics had overwritten Politics. It also inadvertently signaled a growing tendency whereby the political in contemporary art was perceived as the privileged domain of distant locations, shifting critical discourses away from Western cultural and financial centers.
In recent years, a general striving toward a re-politicization of life, mostly in the form of mass protests, has raised the question of art’s political agency again, less and less articulated as location, but at the heart of art’s (and politics’) relationship to capitalism instead. At the last Istanbul Biennial, art withdrew from the streets and into art spaces in solidarity with public protests. Is it time for Politics to overwrite Poetics?