the emancipatory
potential of
cultural practice

TEH Meeting 81
WUK, Vienna

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Instituting Critical Spaces: Rethinking the (im)potential of performance and activism

Key note speech by Gigi Argyropoulou

Staircase 2, Kunsthalle Exnergasse

During the last couple of decades we have experienced radical sociopolitical paradigm shifts through both economic and social crises. As welfarist approaches are increasingly replaced by neoliberal ideologies cultural workers today appear to be engaged in a ‘political turn’ that has grown out of the ‘social turn’ in the artistic production of the previous decades.

However, as this ‘political turn’ is often manifested through and at the behest of hegemonic institutions it would seem worth thinking anew about the (im)potential of this ‘political’ work in conditions of precarity as well as emergent practices that contest distinctions between cultural and political praxis.

What kind of sociopolitical intervention might cultural practices produce today in public space? And how might such evolving practices resist incorporation and aestheticisation?

This lecture explores forms of collective practice such as occupations of public theatres and buildings that cultural workers instituted within a specific sociopolitical and cultural landscape – that of Athens during the crisis. It examines the emergence of diverse forms of resistance and theorises how critical spaces might be ephemerally produced. Argyropoulou will seek to problematise the relation between art and activism, occupation and intervention, resistance and incorporation in order to propound potential positions we might seek to institute in the coming years.