Next week I will join a number of artists, activists and scholars at Hochschule Luzern – Design & Kunst to participate in the symposium ‘How critique becomes translocal – Reclaiming the commons’. Here is the presentation of the event:
In 2014, Mexican artist Teresa Margolles presented her installation La Búsqueda at Migrosmuseum in Zurich. The work probed a mysterious series of female homicides. La Búsqueda is a monument to the extreme violence in the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez. The experience of seeing La Búsqueda in a Swiss art museum is the starting point for our conference, which explores the effects of art addressing topics that are situated in a specific local and cultural context and which use activist artistic or mediating strategies for reclaiming the ‘commons,’ as Alvaro Sevilla-Buitrago defines it.
What happens with unique codes and knowledge when they cannot be deciphered in their full complexity elsewhere? How can activist strategies against ‘enclosures’ take place in public spheres—sites that constitute, after Ancenl/Girel, ‘new territories of art’—which grow at the city center as much as on the outskirts, and which question and re-define the place of the artist in the city and in people’s everyday life.
Does the transfer of artwork into a different context change its meaning and reception, and if so, what are the consequences? Are misunderstandings by the audience an inherent part of these negotiations, and can they therefore be productive in a critical way? Can a work still become political without an understanding of its specific translocal implications? Or can critique only work within a specific local constellation? How can we reclaim the commons in mediation and artistic practices taking into account that, on the one hand, every translation creates new meanings, and, on the other hand, it reflects one’s specific position?
The title of my presentation is ‘Art and the collective imagination of the commons’. This is part of an ongoing attempt to deal with the enclosure of popular imaginations—particularly urban imaginations—as a new frontier of dispossession related with Modernist design. Although my main focus is planning and urban policy, I am also exploring their connection to broader expressions with the capacity to visualize and disseminate a certain pattern of urbanity such as literature, art and advertising, especially during the interwar period. In Lucerne I will illustrate this integration of governmental/visualizing devices with the experience of Neue Sachlichkeit in painting, architecture, photography and literature. You can find more information about the event here.