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NOTES ON GATHERING: PHYSICAL ABSENCE


As “presence” slowly disappears, here is a brief throwback to some exhibitions from this year that are trying out post-pandemic public dynamics.


                                              

                                                    ŠKART, Defiant Pensioners, 2021

    

Die Balkone

Artists, curators, educators, and thinkers in the arts - hereby called art workers by the editors - have been crossing borders (the ones that they can), hopping between cities, countries and temporalities. Mobility, together with chronic instability, has been a dominant aspect of contemporary art. While the majority of art spaces and institutions work one to two years ahead of schedule, art workers with and without contracts constantly move to the beat, as the notion of “presence” slowly disappears. In The Murmuring of the Artistic Multitude, sociologist Pascal Gielen referred to this temporality, picturing a typical contemporary art worker as a Gastarbeiter, who is only around for a project or two and rarely dependent on local networks. (1)

But our encounter with COVID-19 has another departing point from this nomadic rule. As life goes on with certain restrictions, the notion of unpredictability and uncertainty replaces mobility and life in time-lapse. As we develop an immunity to the “new normal”, term coined by Benjamin Bratton and co-opted by the government’s to mask the need of overdue structural changes as a state of emergency, accepting the unpredictable, art workersstarted to explore ways to reach their audiences, continue artistic engagement, and respond to present conditions.

article available here
Arts of the working class, November, 2020