Art in times of Collapsing Systems

Cercle Cité, Auditorium Henri Beck

Cycle of conferences organised in collaboration with the University of Luxembourg
"Contemporary Art in Flux: Artistic and Social Explorations and Questionings" (Part 1)

Discover the brochure for the University of Luxembourg conference cycle here

Modern Art appeared with industrialization and shared with it the belief in progress. Postmodernism and contemporary art developed in times of expanding globalization. But what is the state of art in times of collapsing systems?

After the decline of the grand narratives in the 1970s and a short period of prevailing micro-narratives, a new big narrative is slowly but surely making its way into people’s minds: the collapse of the world as we know it today. More and more observers and scientists agree on the fact that the present capitalistic world is showing serious symptoms of disintegration. The consequences of its insane logic of perpetual expansion are now becoming palpable on the small planet sustaining it: the world is rife with ecological disaster and growing politico-social instability, a corollary of the increasing gap between rich and poor.

Yet nothing seems able to stop the deadly cycle of profit and consumption. As a result, democratic governments are increasingly undermined by macro-economical diktats, championed by opportunistic politicians; authoritarian rule progresses, as regimes worldwide oppress their own citizens; the prospect of wars for vital resources such as water drives up global military expenditure; blind faith in salvation through technology leads to public responsibility being devolved to artificial intelligence and foolish dreams of space colonization (conveniently obscuring the question how the same human beings who depleted a bountiful planet are supposed to survive in waterless spaceships or on a cold rock in outerspace).

In light of the impending ecological breakdown, many people believe that only a radical change of paradigm can help to secure a liveable future for the next generation. The concept of degrowth – centred on the local production and consumption of necessary goods and a drastic reduction of energy and natural resource consumption – is gaining popularity with all those who no longer want to participate in what they see as a collective suicide.

What is the response of art to this situation? Are artists inventing new practices that question the sense of locality and sustainability? How do they think about memory, posterity and universal values in times of an insecure future? How does the art world contribute to the necessary change of paradigm? Does it actually want such a change? Or is it just hoping to do business as usual in global art fairs and blockbuster shows, contributing to the financialization of art through ruthless speculation and money laundry?

Curated by Zofia Cielatkowska (Independent researcher, art critic and curator), Zoran Eric (Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade) and Enrico Lunghi (Curator and Art Historian)

Speakers: Zofia Cielatkowska, Zoran Eric, Enrico Lunghi, André Hoffmann (Lecturer, University of Luxembourg), Dmitry Vilensky (Artist, writer, and founding member of the platform Chto Delat?/What is to be done?), Annie Anawana Haloba Hobøl (PhD Fellow, University of Bergen), Adrienne Goehler (Journalist and independent curator), Béatrice Josse (Chief, MAGASIN des horizons) a.o.

04.11.2019, 14:30–19:00 (lectures)
05.11.2019, 14:30–20:00 (lectures followed by panel debate)

Conference series in English language

Free Admission

Cercle Cité, Auditorium Henri Beck