The talk situates the current social role of institutional art within the frame of a geopolitical chain of military expansion and loss of human rights across the globe, and addresses how exclusionary, undemocratic and non-transparent selection processes by art institutions through curatorial practices correspond to the needs of the market. It explores how some curatorial practices have been pushed by neoliberal governments to appropriate vocabulary, discourses and achievements from social movements for resistance, liberation and social change - as a result transforming them into phenomena popularly known as: tokenism, pink washing, poverty porn, identity shopping, exclusion of critical voices, and other forms of emptying and whitening.
We will also acknowledge the work done by decolonial movements scrutinizing institutionality in the arts and opposing it by transforming from within, asking and proposing structural change, while often facing retaliation, invisibility and silencing. We will finish with some proposals and demands by The Octopus Artists Against Neoliberalism, comments by curator Priya Swamy, Judit Kende, Chiara de Cesari and an open mic moment.
About the speakers
Thais Di Marco (they/them) is a "badass Queer Decolonial performing arts director" specialized in democratisation of the arts and cultural politics with 15 years of practice. Thais is of Roma descent and was born in a Candomblé community called Redandá in Cipó-Guaçu - São Paulo, Brazil. Thais taught for 6 years in projects at Brasiliândia Cultural Center, the only Cultural center of the neighbourhood which has one of the highest rates of state genocide in Latin America. Later, they shared their research in different contexts such as Ocupa Ouvidor, the biggest cultural squat of the Americas, at the festival Les Echos de Lobozunkpá in West Africa and at the space Bongah in Iran focussing on power issues and working in social programs for democratization of the arts. Thais studied Lucha Libre at Escuela Arena México. They currently work with partners to either reform, or destroy the art market as a totem of neoliberalism, corruption, cosmological violence, heteropatriarchalism and white supremacy. More information on their website.
The Octopus Artists Against Neoliberalism is a rumor and social movement composed by various anonymous artists that contribute to open source repudiation letters against neoliberal cultural politics and for anti-racism, anti-classism, anti-misogyny, anti-tokenism policies implementation in institutional struggle. The artists have participated in meetings, working groups and educational activities aiming to empower themselves to understand the systemic characteristics of the context in which they live and work and to encourage them to be part of decision making processes and policy making.
Chiara De Cesari is professor of Heritage and Memory and Chair of Cultural Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Trained in socio-cultural anthropology (Ph.D. Stanford 2009), Chiara is an internationally significant voice in debates over the geopolitical trajectories of contemporary culture. In particular, she researches the ways in which colonial legacies live on today, especially in museums. Against that backdrop, Chiara’s work shows how countercultures, arts practices, and decolonial struggles can drive change within public institutions and cultural discourses around heritage and identity more generally.
Priya Swamy was born in England, raised in Canada, and has ancestry in urban and rural South India. She works as a curator and scholar with a passion for narratives of/in South Asian diasporas. Her institutional work aims to platform marginalised voices and perspectives in exhibitions and collection research.
Judit Kende is currently a Marie Sklodowska-Curie postdoctoral research fellow at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, soon starting at the University of Tilburg as an assistant professor. She received her PhD in 2018 from the University of Leuven in social and cultural psychology and later worked at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Lausanne. Her research focuses on intergroup relations and equality in the context of migration and ethnic inequality.
This talk was developed with the support of the Mujeres Creando - Anarcho Feminist Movement in La Paz - Bolivia and first presented at La Virgen del Deseo and received long term contributions by Chihiro Geuzebroek and Felizitas Stilleke. The talk is the result of the arts project Goldfish Bleeding in a Sea of Sharks, which was made possible by WORM - Rotterdam, AFK, FONDS21, FLAM Forum for Live Arts Amsterdam and Het Huis Utrecht. Tonight’s programme is organized by Decolonial Dialogues@Humanities and Amsterdam Museum.