DEMOCRACY

A series of performance events at ArtBox.

Exhibition dates: December 3rd – December, 17th, 2015.

Participating artists: Atoosa Pour Hosseini | Teresa Gillespie | Justine McDonnell

Schedule (all 6-7pm):
December 3rd: “MIRAGE”, Atoosa Pour Hosseini
December 10th: “You and Me”, Justine McDonnell
December 17th: “moot”, Teresa Gillespie

In the idea of art we find the moment in which human alienation is overcome and the need for the experience of meaning and value is satisfied. Through art, in the aesthetic experience, the rift in the world that frustrates our primordial desire for encountering a sense of meaning and value is healed. (1)

Against the assumption that there is a single public sphere in which citizens come together to argue about the great issues of the day, performance art shows us how fragmented and plural public spheres are in contemporary democracies. For there can be no doubt that this is art by, and for, a minority audience, an art that cannot even pretend to mass appeal. When it does intersect with the more general public sphere, it is precisely its challenge to the reigning assumptions about decency, artistic value, and the role of state sponsorship of controversial art that has a democratising effect. Democracy, we might say, works best if such enclaves are allowed relative autonomy and allowed to serve as laboratories for unorthodox and even offensive ideas and practices, which can then invigorate, outrage, and provoke the general public, whose pieties need to be challenged from time to time. Although the more general public can easily dismiss what it finds objectionable as self-indulgent and exhibitionist, and often has, in time, a kind of learning process can take place in which at least some of the provocations produce more general reflections on the cultural and political issues raised by the offenders. (2)

1. Thomas Alexander, “The Art of Life: Dewey’s Aesthetics,” in Reading Dewey: Interpretations for a Postmodern Generation, ed. Larry A. Hickman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, l998)

2. Excerpt taken from, Somaesthetics and Democracy: Dewey and Contemporary Body Art, by MARTIN JAY, Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 36, No. 4, Winter 2002

Main image: Justine McDonnell, image below Teresa Gillespie “moot” (2015) video stills. Series curated by Hilary Murray, assisted by Daniel Bermingham.

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