Afterall will be launching issue 42 (autumn/winter 2016), which looks at art as a tool for social transformation, at the /edition Fair this weekend:
"Through the work of Arahmaiani, Tania Bruguera, Inji Efflatoun and Jo Spence, and projects such as Chiang Mai Social Installation, Afterall 42 examines cultural memory and artists working at the intersection of activism and biopolitics.
Just as Walter Benjamin, in conversation with David Morris, claims that "art" as we know it is obsolete, Tania Bruguera’s concept of Arte Útil—useful art—proposes an alternative role for art in the world. W.J.T. Mitchell speaks to Bruguera about the relationship between art, activism, loss and utopia, and John Byrne analyses the broader movement around Arte Útil, from international art museums to grass-roots community organising. The work of Arahmaiani suggests a different approach to art-as-resistance. Angela Dimitrakaki explores the artist’s ongoing exposure of the complex of capitalism, religion and patriarchy, while Wulan Dirgantoro explains how her work confronts the categories imposed on her by western critics and museums. Arahmaiani participated in Chiang Mai Social Installation, a series of DIY artist-led festivals in Thailand—introduced in an essay by Simon Soon—which coincided with the rapid spread of globalisation during the 1990s. It was at this moment, when the festival was at the peak of its success, that its organisers chose to withdraw: a rejection of the emergent global art field.
Arahmaiani’s brief imprisonment by the Indonesian military government in the 1980s might bring to mind Bruguera’s antagonisms with the Cuban state, and it is a point of commonality with Inji Efflatoun, who was also imprisoned for her rebellious politics. As essays by Anneka Lenssen and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie show, Efflatoun’s practice suggests a lifelong ethics that plays itself out through personal and political life, as a celebrated artist and leader in the Egyptian women’s movement. Conversely, through an engagement with the final photographs of Jo Spence, Anne Boyer addresses such questions within a moment of vulnerability and sickness. What kind of activism, what kind of art is possible at the limits of life?
These questions also connect with the role of cultural institutions—museums, libraries and archives—and what they conceal or reveal. Charles Stankievech uncovers the interconnected histories of art, military technology and espionage, and Georgina Jackson explores the traces and taxonomies of war as they appear in Abbas Akhavan’s Study for a Monument (2013–15). Anders Kreuger’s critique of a recent exhibition of Gely Korzhev addresses the recuperation of Socialist Realism within contemporary Russia, whereas Peter Osborne traces how the alternative art practice of Ilya Kabakov has both shaped and been shaped by western art categories. Finally, Helena Vilalta’s assessment of the recent exhibition Empty Fields at SALT in Istanbul, addressing the political erasure of the Armenian genocide, reflects on how to exhibit histories that remain unacknowledged.
Afterall journal is published by Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, in editorial partnership with M HKA, Antwerp; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto, and in association with the University of Chicago Press."
- Press release