This panel examines practices of political art-making, by which it means creative practices that frame politics in terms of progressive change. In building on ethnographic research, it maps practices that inspire new modalities of political thinking, and highlights their stakes for our world today.
This panel examines practices of political art-making, by which it means creative and imaginative practices that frame politics in terms of progressive change. In building on ethnographic, visual, and performative research in a variety of settings, it 1) documents, outlines, and maps concrete artistic practices and imaginations that inspire new modalities of political thinking, and 2) highlights the stakes of such practices and imaginations in moments of political change and crisis, and for a citizenry trying to reposition themselves in relation to structures of power and oppression. In taking as its theoretical starting point the notion of "art-making," this panel joins a number of anthropological and other critical analysts (Yurchak, Morris, Suhr and Willerslev, Bishop, Bal) who draw on artistic practices to open up a political space beyond more conventional electoral and governmental concerns. Although this panel recognizes that art and artistic productions do not offer ready-made solutions, or occupy a privileged place in the making of the political, it nevertheless takes it cue from the creativity of analysts who argue that we need to shift attention away from a "what is" toward a "what could be." In taking seriously art's ability to create alternatives in the face of seeming impossibilities, this panel resonates with artistic techniques of "making strange" (Shklovsky), as well as anthropology's own proclivities towards "defamiliarization" as a mode of knowing that forces us to step out of our own habitual worlds to engage with those of others, no matter how strange they may seem.