ARTMargins Online Blog

"It's Very Exciting to Talk About Artist-run Countries": Edi Rama, the COD, and the Problematics of Celebrating the Artist-Politician

Written by Raino Isto

The dream of the artist's involvement in politics is not a new one. For well over a century, artists and critics have been engaged in debating the ideal combination of an ever-growing number of approaches: realism, aestheticized politics, politicized art, art-into-life, relational aesthetics, art-as-industry, and artivism, to name just a few. In the early 21st century, the avant-garde's desire that the artist might take up an active role in political processes continues to exercise a strong sway over curators, theoreticians of art, and artists themselves. It should come as no surprise, however, that many of the apparent examples of artists involved in politics are drawn from geopolitical peripheries, sustaining an image of small and geographically distant cities, nations, and regions as 'research and development' zones for debates that are then carried out at a remove in Western Europe and the United States. In this post, I examine the problematics around one particular example of an artist's involvement in politics: the case of Edi Rama, once mayor of Albania's capital city, Tirana, and now Prime Minister of the country. Rama's friendships with well-known contemporary artists such as Anri Sala, and curators such as Hans Ulrich Obrist, have made him a popular example of the possibilities of an artist entering the contemporary political realm. As Obrist put it in his introduction of Rama at a talk associated with an exhibition of Rama's work Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, "In the artworld we talk about artist-run spaces, but it's very exciting to talk about artist-run countries."

Read more: "It's Very Exciting to Talk About Artist-run Countries": Edi Rama, the COD, and the Problematics...

"For a Permanent Revolution in Switzerland!" Nadya Tolokonnikova presented her Book "How to Start a Revolution" in Zurich

Written by Matthias Meindl

It is eight pm and I am standing in the ballroom of Zurich's Kaufleuten, a chic locale in the 1990's, which has become ever more commercial since. The reading of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's Anleitung für eine Revolution (Manual for a Revolution) should start in a minute. As most of the readers will recall, Tolokonnikova was one of the three members of the art-activist group Pussy Riot who were convicted for their 'Punk Prayer' in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February 2012. She was sentenced (as was Mariya Alyokhina) to two years of hard labor for hooliganism and allegedly inciting violence against a social group (the orthodox believers).

Read more: "For a Permanent Revolution in Switzerland!" Nadya Tolokonnikova presented her Book "How to Start...

Schooling at Home and Abroad: Chto Delat's School of Engaged Art, or Winter Notes on Summer Impressions

Written by Matthias Meindl

Summer School with guest lecturer Boris Buden in Front of the building of Neues Deutschland

The Art Collective Chto Delat, based in Saint Petersburg, has been around for twelve years and is quite prolific. Members have participated in many of the major art biennales in the world and among others they have had solo shows at the Institute for Contemporary Art (2010), London, and the Vienna Secession (2014). Naturally, such an inexorable career has raised some doubts about the group's self-professed leftist agenda. in the case of the Chto Delat, criticism is, not only inevitable but also useful. Such criticism is inevitable on the one hand, because making left political art is always caught up in dialectical contradictions.

Read more: Schooling at Home and Abroad: Chto Delat's School of Engaged Art, or Winter Notes on Summer...

Before Globalization: Pop as Transnational/Transitional

Written by Godfre Leung

The following text is slightly revised from a talk given at a panel discussion on the catalogue to the 2015 Walker Art Center exhibition International Pop at the Swiss Institute in New York. The exhibition, curated by Darsie Alexander and Bartholomew Ryan, revises the familiar narrative of Pop art as primarily a British and American phenomenon, instead chronicling the emergence and migrations of Pop art from an international perspective. Godfre Leung’s sixty-four-page “Visual Chronology” in International Pop’s catalogue mapped the international circulation of Pop art across more than thirty nation-states over four continents, from the immediate postwar period to the early 1970s. Below, Leung discusses the Chronology’s periodization scheme and methodology.

[Left: Dalila Puzzovio, A Load of Serious Smiles, 1963/1997. View of the exhibition International Pop, 2015 Photo: ©Walker Art Center ]

Read more: Before Globalization: Pop as Transnational/Transitional

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