20.10.2011 | Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius, Vokieciu 2, LT- 01130, Vilnius, Lithunia

Curators and artists in postdemocratic times: art – politics – market/ing

Workshop with Joanna Warsza and others

October 20, 2011, 6.30 pm

organized by Well Connected in cooperation with the Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius


Venue: Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius

Vokieciu 2, LT- 01130, Vilnius, Lithunia



Art is made of people

People organize themselves in states

The state is a wonderful creature

Artists of the world – design your states

Are we bound to be mimetic artists, enemies of the state?

Can we become performers of our citizenship, designers of the real?

(Omer Kriegier, Public Movement)


In her text Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the Transition to Postdemocracy (http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/181) Hito Steyerl discusses the contemporary politics of the art field. Thereby she does not so much focus on the so-called political art but rather on the strategies of the political field to appropriate art and culture as a symbolic capital. Steyerl particularly analyses processes that can also be increasingly observed in many postsocialist cities such as Vilnius. In the context of neoliberal economic structures, ‘postdemocratic’ influences and the current financial crisis, the field of art and culture gains an important function for city marketing and even for election campaigns in the Lithuanian capital.


The ‘Transition to Postdemocracy’ which Steyerl speaks about is just as visible elsewhere where it becomes the core of increasing European protests. A post-democratic state is a state where a democracy is limited or not fully executed for various reasons. The European march of Les Indignés, The Wall Street Occupation or other various counter-movements in Europe manifest themselves against the State run as corporation or as exclusive, aristocratic clubs. Their slogans like ‘People over profit’, ‘we are the 99%’ or ‘Fuck the May 68 act now’ make us rethink the concept of a representative democracy.


The workshop wants to draw a new perspective on the widely discussed delicate entanglements of art with politics by, on the one hand, analyzing concise examples and, on the other hand, by asking, how a new perspective on the ambivalent relationship between art – politics – and the market can be linked to topical questions of curatorship. First: What are the analogies of (urban) politics/(city) marketing strategies and curatorial processes (e. g. in regard to notions of symbolic capital a. o.)? Second: What is the place of artists and curators in those circumstances other than questioning the status quo? How to practically implement the concepts and discourses produced within the art field? Third: How to overcome the decorative and marketing function that is imposed on art by the state and by the market? What are the possibilities of art’s self-empowerment?


The participants are asked to prepare a 5 min presentation (with a picture or internet link) showing a strategy of artistic or curatorial work, which is not only critical but also effective and performative.


The workshop is part of the project Well Connected.


Joanna Warsza is the founder of Laura Palmer Foundation (http://www.laura-palmer.pl) and currently holds the position of associate curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale.

10. Berlin Biennale