‘What Keeps Mankind Alive?’: the Eleventh International Istanbul Biennial. Once More on Aesthetics and Politics

in Historical Materialism
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Abstract

Starting from the 2009 Istanbul Biennial, with its Brechtian curatorial theme, this essay considers the Left’s varying responses to art’s so-called ‘political turn’. Discussion ranges from the local and regional context of the Biennial’s function as part of Turkey’s bid to join the EU, through to a longer theoretical perspective on the critical debates over ‘art and life’, artistic autonomy and heteronomy, and the revival in avant-gardism. The authors propose that the standard accounts of the intimate connection between the commodity and art have become politically counterproductive. They suggest that Marxist analysis needs to develop a more complexly-articulated philosophical reflection on the relation between economy, politics, and art ‐ and between political and aesthetic praxes ‐ if it is to advance its longstanding contributions to considerations of ‘aesthetics and politics’.

‘What Keeps Mankind Alive?’: the Eleventh International Istanbul Biennial. Once More on Aesthetics and Politics

in Historical Materialism

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