Interventions. Crossing borders between aesthetics, politics and economy - the title of the book refers to a new trend and transnational movement treading the borderline between art, politics and economy which became noticeable in different aesthetic and socio-political sectors since the 1990s. Nevertheless this movement could not be described as a phenomenon in terms of an artistic or political formation of groups. Instead, it seems more likely to conceive it as a global counterculture against the neo-liberalism as well as against the well-established art business.
Like the word avantgarde the term intervention originally emerges from a military background and describes the mediation along with the interference in (critical) situations. It comprises comparable but at the same time heterogeneous and highly diverse forms of artistic practices. All of them refer to concrete social and political problems and circumstances.
The artistic intervention can take place in areas and institutions of art. However, an increasingly large part is to be located on the streets, in public spheres of daily life, in the physical space of cities and also in differentiated media sectors, the internet in particular.
The term ranges from the terrain of anti-globalization movement and genetic engineering to the management of multi-national corporations. The change of the traditional (aesthetical) cultural criticism appears to be of special significance by becoming influenced by tendencies of economic criticism as well as by practices of integration and exclusion within social systems and institutions.
The critical potential of interventions in these terms should be analyzed with a focus on the production of difference and visibility, balances of power, communication structures and behavioural models and patterns. It additionally has to be conceived as a form of innovation. From this derives a necessity to question and (re-)define potentials and limits of the political dimension of contemporary art along with its scopes of development and action respectively.
Moreover, a historical contextualization is of vital importance – along with the question of how far contemporary interventionist action could be differentiated from and affiliated with artistic avantgarde practices. Vice-versa, the formation of a transnational, interventionist post-avantgarde movement gives reason to re-evaluate the political theory and practice of the actual avantgardes and neo-avantgardes.
The assimilation of social spheres is an important topic as well: In this context it would be expedient to focus on aspects such as occupancy and questioning of social spaces (for example street art, surveillance arts and -studies), the process of gentrification, privatization and commercialization of urban locations, and the enforced control along with the disappearance of a public sphere.
On top of this, different forms of intervention – conceived as social interaction or cultural performance – should be analyzed as an aesthetic-performative survey of social dis/integration and standardizations. Another central topic is the shifting of the action from physical spaces into the virtual space or the media – (see Creative Commons, the open source movementand the appropriation of digital software). At this point the contexts of information, economy and globalization are as relevant as the relation to pop-cultural movements (such as cultural jamming). The (critical) reference to the products of pop culture and the mass media alongside their forms of representation, give sufficient reason to discuss ‘the politics of pictures’ and ‘the politics of the self’ in self-reflecting, presentative and performative media practices, which are apparently based on specific crisis situations and postmodern discourses (crisis of representation, crisis of individuality and subject conception).
The aim of the book is a survey of the current conditions for interaction of art and politics, with a special focus on artistic actions and manifestations resulting from the interventionist dimension of art. It also asks for concrete changes and opportunities in sophisticated fields of the aesthetical and political practice.
This publication brings together scientists from different
disciplines (art and media studies, sociology and philosophy, as well as theatre, performance, gender- and urban studies).
This book is the result of a conference about interventions,
organized at the University of Paderborn, Germany (October 2010). For further Information, see: www.symposium-interventionen.de