News |Thomas Mann House Annual Conference

The Thomas Mann House is hosting a two-day conference, co-presented by Zócalo Public Square & Los Angeles Review of Books, 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, and conversations at REDCAT and the Thomas Mann House, experts, activists, cultural organizations, 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.

Speakers include director Werner Herzog, artists Suzanne Lacey, Catherine Opie, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, interviewer & curator Paul Holdengräber, director emeritus of the Whitney Museum, Adam D. Weinberg, theater director Nataki Garrett, poet Lynne Thompson, and many more.

Visit our event page to read the entire program and the list of speakers on both days of the conference. Please note that RSVP is mandatory, and participation on day 2 is by invitation only.

In addition to the two conference days, Villa Aurora is hosting a kick-off event on the evening of November 17 with Joshua Cohen and Andrea Grossman. Learn more about the event here. Participation at this event is by invitation only.

Parts of the conference will be live-streamed! Follow our social media channels for coverage from the conference and stay tuned for articles and videos in the coming weeks!

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?

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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