Platform for discussion003
Can Artistic Practices Negotiate the Demands of Cultural Institutions, Public Space, and Civil Society?
The question implies a view on artistic practice informed by a liberal framework of reception and interpretation: artistic practices are expected to politely negotiate within and with the larger sphere of culture; they are expected to expose, reveal, unmask, reform and finally find a place within various institutional configurations. The question proposes cultural politics wherein the formal, conceptual and sensorial impact of art works is reduced to being instrumentalised either for institutional critique or political contestation in the name of democracy and civil society. In its stead, I would like to reverse and paraphrase the question: ‘Can cultural institutions, public spaces and various ideals of civil society negotiate the demands of artistic practices in the MENA region?’
This gesture of reversal puts the burden on institutions to come to terms with the impact of artistic practices on cultural politics. In this proposition, a specific authorial position and theoretical, curatorial and critical articulation of an artwork – as a site of both formal and conceptual contestation – opens up the possibility to force the existing cultural and political institutions within the region to reposition themselves accordingly. Instead of negotiating with institutional structures and/or representing politics, through this reversal, art practices articulate a politics of representation in which it is the artwork itself that formulates a set of demands and dispositions with which institutional structures are confronted: the latter are forced to negotiate their roles, positions, ideologies and modes of operation in relation to art practices, rather than the other way around.
What is a platform?
A platform is a space for speaking in public. It is an opportunity to express ideas and thoughts. It also suggests the formal declaration of a stance or position on any given subject.
Unique to Ibraaz is a 'platform', a question put to writers, thinkers and artists about an issue relevant to the MENA region. This platform is sent to respondents both within and beyond the MENA region and contributions will be archived every 12 months.