The arts must secede from the creative industries. The sooner the visual arts, dance, or music realise that they must fend against the industrial exploits of giants like gaming or streaming, the higher the chances of them finding and articulating their purpose anew.
In absence of an official memorial, Steve McQueen’s film Grenfell poses the tower as a hyperreal monument of itself dedicated to those who perished in it, an encounter with both a scene of tragedy and an aesthetic object.
Who is this person, exactly, and what is she doing? You’d be surprised how quickly a ‘hey, you alright?’ turns into a declaration of war.
Anticipating that the post-truth condition will only deepen, I have decided to believe nothing new from now on unless I’m there to see it with my own eyes. If you want me to think that the Earth isn’t flat, you’d better have a hot air balloon ready to show me the curvature of your so-called ‘oblate spheroid’.
In the 1960s, the German Marxist activist Rudi Dutschke proposed that the road to the revolution would involve a ‘long march through the institutions’ first. A few decades on, Dutschke got what he wanted but the revolution isn’t coming. In its place, a reactionary backlash.
In Martine Syms’s art school-insider satire ‘The African Desperate’, clichés such as ‘the work’ or dramatic jeopardy are long gone. Everybody is trying so hard to look like they’re not trying that they nearly succeed.
Rishi Sunak wants everyone to study Maths. Perhaps he’s a philistine. Perhaps he secretly craves cultural validation. Or maybe he just read Goethe more carefully than I did.
The success of the Non-Fungible Token reveals a severe ‘speculative deficit’ haunting our culture. Its passing marks the urgent need for art to break its aesthetic limits.
Where one is from and who one works for has heavy consequences. The arts are expert at flat-out denying this, but isn’t it time to trial radical transparency and honesty?
Knee-jerk accusations of fascist thought and the refusal to embrace aesthetic ambiguity have meant that that ‘the left can’t meme’. It’s all Walter Benjamin’s fault – but artist like Joshua Citarealla and Monira Al Qadiri offer alternatives.
Who are biennials for? Recent examples suggest that these events put the intellectual and political desires of their organisers ahead of those of their audiences or host cities.
Who really has a say in what museums do and for whom? Will museums heal the wounds inflicted on them and their audiences by the past decade’s political, social, and economic upheavals? At what cost?
The Monkeypox outbreak exposes the failings of the technocratic biopolitical rule and the erosion of our ability to act as moral agents that plagued the Covid pandemic.
Sometimes, ‘it’s not race, it’s class’ is the correct response to inequality.
Queer Britain and Queercircle mark capital’s transition from appropriation of queer culture to full-scale colonisation.
Documenta 15 reads like a series of creative workshops staged by corporate HR departments to boost loyalty at the lowest possible cost. Perhaps the next Documenta should be curated by an artist.
Kader Attia’s Still Present!, the 12th Berlin Biennale is an attempt to unpick the centuries-long threads of imperialism one by one in the hope that they can reconstitute a universe capable of averting its demise. But this is a vain hope.
This year’s Biennale is in denial of the circumstances that have forced the event to shift from odd to even years. To find artistic politics in Venice, one has to consider form and matter on their own terms: in the long term.
Attempts at overturning or reforming globalisation will fall short of expectations unless they strike at the heart of Davos.
Snow asked his literary colleagues about the Second Law of Thermodynamics. “The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s?”
In the biennial, art could do all the things that we like to believe that art can do: deliver us from our concerns, transcend the limits of our imaginations, inspire us, give us hope. Art could do all those things. But often, it doesn’t.
I tried to throw a New Year’s Eve party. What could go wrong? The responses I received revealed a deep and lasting trauma among my peers. Is this what is now left of our public sphere?
The philosophy of science, the politics of evidence, and the biases that shape our decisions. For anyone who spent their Christmas trying to fact-check their family into submission.
My generation of gay men has no memory because it never became acquainted with a previous generation whose time came and went leaving a mere caricature as a historical record.
Is the fiction of art’s economic value now the key measure of culture? Does it matter that we don’t understand the figures? What would Baudrillard say about NFTs? Can we hope to restore aesthetic ideas of value?
OnlyFans went on strike. It wasn’t the workers who threatened to walk out, it was the factory. But this factory’s success does not lie in skimming off excess labour from its sex performers. OnlyFans went on strike to demand more capital.
In August 2021, the world gawked at images of Taliban fighters riding around in bumper cars as their forces completed their takeover of Afghanistan. Are these the images which that best symbolise the reality of this latest act in the War on Terror?
The deceptive magic of NFTs is that the items they represent – memes, animations, screenshots – can be claimed to be collectable and therefore valuable. But art’s tendency to trade claims of value outside of its own field without check is profoundly worrying.
Are we witnessing a solidarity turn in art production? If artists are workers and workers are artists, who’s standing in solidarity with whom?Artistic solidarity could be a powerful tool, but only if it is twinned with a careful examination of the claims that art makes about its own needs, desires, and abilities.
We need new institutions, not new art, writes Coco Fusco. Who, if not artists, will build them? Could wind power lend an unlikely hand?
Who decides how much culture is enough? Even before the pandemic, the laws of supply and demand could not explain the art industry’s bubble-like growth, nor could the market forces or policy be blamed for the precarisation of artistic labour.
The relationship of skills to education and employability has been marred for some time by politicised narratives that include immigration, and class, abstract ideas like creativity, and an industry of educators resilient to change.
The arts might have hoped for a clean slate – but the post-pandemic art world is unlikely to be much better than the old one.
Almost fifty years separate the Paris riots of 1968 and the opening of the first WeWork office – but both events could prove useful in preparing for the next revolution in our working lives, which may have already begun.
Now More Than Ever, Help Us Do “Whatever It Takes”
Ai WeiWei may be ‘the perfect Asian artist for lazy western curators’. He may also be the lazy marketer’s idea of viral cool, and the lazy politician’s idea of a progressive thinker.
When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer… Eric Bristow’s only 27.
It’s a peculiar moment, to recognise so clearly one’s own feeling as belonging to an altogether different story, and in which either version of events could well be true. In my own seaside afternoon, I thought I was playing out some French film classic, perhaps the Louvre scene from À bout de soufflé.
When Marshall McLuhan coined the term ‘global village’ in The Gutenberg Galaxy of 1962, he could not have imagined how quickly reality would outgrow the model he proposed.
Look far enough, and things will begin to appear more red than you’d expect.