Accepted Paper:

›Artivism‹ - a new form of politics?  


Nora Rigamonti (Technical University Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Contemporary debates on social issues are accompanied by various enactments of publics and their aesthetic practices, experimental interventions and materials. Do these forms of collective knowledge and participation by activists and artists contain specific possibilities of democratic politics?

Paper long abstract:

The contemporary issue of the European refugee crisis is directly connected to an emergence of situational publics, their aesthetic practices and experimental interventions in urban spaces and into dominant discourses on refugees: Activists and artists are attempting to constitute aesthetic oppositions by disrupting and negotiating dominant social structures as well as by establishing new forms of collective knowledge and participation.

These forms are coalescing outside the prescribed, institutionally orchestrated democratic formats and are not exclusively discursive processes, which are restricted to the mobilization of terms and ideas by human actors. There is also a heterogeneous multiplicity of non-human actors involved in producing aesthetic and experimental enactments of publics: different material things such as information and communications technology, buildings or specific artifacts. This constant interaction between human and non-human actors therefore constitutes the micro-structural conditions of felicity for collective knowledge and participation.

Drawing upon work in STS (i.a., Marres/Lezaun 2011; Braun/Whatmore 2010) and assemblage thinking (i.a., Farías/Bender 2010) the present study examines the ways in which these practices, interventions and materials may enable conditions of enactments of publics by focusing on the co-constitutive interaction of human and non-human actors. Methodologically, the study attempts to cross-fertilise a mobile ethnography (Blok 2010) with digital methods approaches and different web-native techniques (Rogers 2013).

Whether, and if so, how these practices, interventions and materials may contain specific possibilities of democratic politics is explored with ongoing comparative case study research on the artists' collective Center for Political Beauty and the transdisciplinary project The Gardening in Berlin.

Panel T012
The Event of the Public: Convolutions of Aesthetic and Epistemic Practice