Readings for Art Users #7
Art and Social Evil
Illustration: Krzysztof Pyda
If art indeed used to be a promise of happiness, its unfaithfulness should make it hide its face in shame – that is the drastically simplified idea of Theodor Adorno after Shoah. Despite that, art endures. And perhaps it still can be used to confront the radical social evil: mass murder, persecution, pogrom. But this is not merely a question of appropriateness but also one of expedience. The use we make would suggest we can also gain something from such use.
This problem concerns, however in different manner, ethnography. Since it is a science based on both scientific neutrality and intimacy between a scientist and its object. How can ethnography tackle this ambiguity when confronted with extreme social evil? And what would be the use of ethnography in this context.
Michał Kozłowski will introduce and moderate the seminar. Magdalena Kowalska and Tomasz Rakowski will discuss the texts.
The texts will be sent to those interested in participating in the seminar a week before the event. Please e-mail ZAPISY@ARTMUSEUM.PL with the title “Art User Readers” to receive the texts. The reading material will also be available at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw reception at Pańska 3. The meeting will take place in the auditorium on the first floor of the Emilia pavilion.
The team of the Free/Slow University of Warsaw invites to a new series of seminars accompanying the exhibition "Making Use: Life in Postartistic Times"about Readings for Art Users. With reference to the legacy of flying universities, F/SUW organizes a series of self-educational meetings for users of art. Readings' participants will assemble a theoretical toolkit, which will enable them to operate freely within a vocabulary and concepts crucial for understanding the role and position of art in the contemporary world.
Seminars will refer directly to the exhibitions organized simultaneously at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw ("Making Use. Life in the Post-Artistic Era", "Why We Have Wars. The Art of Modern-Day Outsiders", "Bread and Roses. The Strategies of Class Identification"), grounding theoretical reflection in the most recent curatorial and artistic developments.
The cycle will serve as a discursive platform, taking on such questions as:
- What is the use value of art?
- Is art purposeless?
- What does making use mean in such a context?
- Are we living in postartistic times?
- Does an avantgardistic dream of fusing art with life remain an unreachable horizon?
- Can art facilitate radical changes in society and everyday life?
- What is artistic competence?
- How does this extend to other domains of life?
- What kind of plausible art worlds are there?
- What is the value of institutions sustaining artistic autonomy?
- Is the art world capable, and under which conditions, to empower disenfranchised communities?
- What brings together DIY enthusiasts with hackers?
- What kind of work is being conducted by users of social media?
One of the main texts to resurface over the course of several seminars will be "Towards a Lexicon of Usership" by Canadian philosopher Stephen Wright. This work is to be juxtaposed with canonical texts (Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Friedrich Schiller) and contemporary positions (Howard Becker, Hakim Bey, Claire Bishop, Yann Moulier Boutang, Peter Bürger, Guy Debord, Hal Foster, Miwon Kwon, Lucy Lippard, Jerzy Ludwiński, Jacques Rancière, McKenzie Wark).