From Sustaining Democracy to the State of the Civic: 20 Years of the Vera List Center for Art & Politics
Tishman Auditorium at The New School (66 W. 12th St., Manhattan)
On its twentieth anniversary, the Vera List Center assesses the unique role art plays at the intersection of politics and civic life. This daylong conference addresses the changing cultural and political landscape shaped by new global social movements, and provokes responses and reflections from an international group of artists, activists, and scholars.
While the last twenty years have been marked by a general interest in the convergence of art and politics, the current moment is being characterized by the construction of new systems and networks for imagining, discussing, and ultimately creating new cultural and political realities. In the wake of upheaval and creativity, generated by the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, this phenomenon has been referred to as the return of the civic. This contemporary shift directly affects how artists consider their practice today, for whom they make their work, and how they relate to society at large.
The conference is organized as a series of roundtable call-and-responses from some of the most astute and insightful individuals analyzing these issues today. Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People(1830) provides a launching point. Created to celebrate the July 1830 revolution which toppled the monarchy of Charles X, the painting depicts the image of Lady Liberty leading the citizens to the battle for freedom and equality. The iconic depiction of the bare-breasted Grecian goddess continues to shape and reinforce notions of revolutionary moments and idealistic fervor, for better or worse. The aim of this conference, as with all of the center’s programs, is to take a critical look at such relationships between art, politics, and civic engagement in relation to their representation, their own histories, and the present moment.