Events | "Arts in Times of Crises: The Role of Artists in Weakened Democracies“ | Conference

Los Angeles | November 17, 2023 – November 19, 2023

Arts in Times of Crises:

The Role of Artists in Weakened Democracies

In November 2023, the Thomas Mann House Los Angeles will convene a multi-day program to discuss the role of artists and art in times of political and social crises in the United States and Germany. Through this international conference that will include local artistic interventions, performances, workshops and conversations at REDCAT and the Thomas Mann House, experts, activists, cultural organizers and artists will explore how the arts can make a difference in a time of international crises and how artists can contribute to the functioning of democracies on a local and global level. With Werner Herzog, Lynne Thompson, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Suzanne Lacey, Catherine Opie, Snehal Desai, Nataki Garett, Paul Holdengräber, Shirin Neshat, Johanna Burton, Gregory Sholette and many more!

The freedom of art and artistic expression is one of the imperatives of every democracy. But what is the role of artists and art institutions when democracies come under pressure? Against this background, is it legitimate to speak about a political mandate of the arts? The global pandemic proved once again the important role of art for functioning societies: Museums exchanged in-person visits for virtual exhibitions and digital archives on display, musicians live- streamed concerts on social media from their bedrooms and film and television streaming services were in high demand: Art provided a beacon of hope in this uncertain time, while questions about the ‘value’ of artists for societies were widely debated.

Today, against the backdrop of global geopolitical tensions, wars and societal divisions in many western democracies, art shows again its transformational power to connect, heal, subvert, and bring together. From the consumption of art to its production, from local debates on arts and community engagement to questions of A.I. and changing digital art markets or the recent revival of “artivism” – current debates around the world prove it necessary to ask what difference the arts can make in a time of social and political crisis. In what ways can artistic media, objects, and projects, as well as the artists and cultural workers involved in their emergence, offer new ideas that address such crises?

More information coming very soon!


An Event by the Thomas Mann House Los Angeles co-presented by Zócalo Public Square, REDCAT, Los Angeles Review of Books, & USC Libraries.



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