Jan Bryant Discipline Lecture
Monday 22 June, 8am
200 Gertrude Street200 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Gertrude Contemporary–Discipline Lecture #6, 2015
6pm for a 6.30pm start
‘I plead guilty to the indictment of “avowed optimism”’
What does it take to make art with political intent today? Surely it means retaining a modicum of hope? But what is it to have hope in such dire political times? Even if we find a way to affirm hopefulness, it doesn’t follow that a way to approach politics will spontaneously rise from it. I am using ‘approach’ here in the double sense of a signpost and a method (a ‘how to speak’ and a ‘how to make’). This double-approach carries with it an understanding that artists have the power and the right to have an encounter with politics today: that is, the ‘power’ in the Agamben-Aristotle sense of having the power to act, whether one exercises it or not, and having the right in the sense that Foucault uses it in his lectures on parrhesia, as the ‘right to speak the truth.’ We remember, though, that such power and such parrhesia carries risks, since artists, speakers, writers, and philosophers must also accept the consequences of their ‘outspokenness.’ The tyrant has the power to react, but not in the sense above, but in a much weaker form (ethically, ontologically) as the power to impose force. Is this where we are today, stuck in the tyrant’s glare?
This lecture will look at the problematic of how art might approach political questions in its continuing encounter with neo-liberal capitalism.
Jan Bryant’s teaches art history and theory in Fine Arts at Monash University. Her recent publications are: ‘Adelle Mills,’ ACCA–New15, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 2015; ‘Fiona Macdonald at Margaret Lawrence,’ Eyeline, forthcoming in 2015; ‘Et. Al. For the Common Good,’ West, Groenewegje Den Haag, The Netherlands, 2015.
The lecture forms part of a forthcoming book on contemporary approaches to politics and art.
Daniel Cass has many years experience working in green politics and renewable energy. He has advised Greens leaders Bob Brown and Christine Milne, was Communications Manager for Greenpeace Australia Pacific and consulted to Sungevity, Pacific Hydro and Vestas. He has an honours degree in history of science and was Curator of Science and Society at Scienceworks.
He has written on sustainability for The Guardian, ABC, Fairfax and News Ltd. Dan was a member of the Melbourne art group Damp. He is an honorary associate at Sydney Business School.