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Re: <nettime> notes from the DIEM25 launch
Brian Holmes on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 07:48:07 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> notes from the DIEM25 launch

On 02/24/2016 09:20 PM, Research Unit in Public Cultures wrote:

Transversal Cultural Spheres and the Future of Europe -- Nikos

This text is interesting but it's not getting to the heart of things.
What's missing are the core questions: racialized class, generational
time, and professionalized culture (i.e. art).

Europe 1.0 staked a lot on the existing forms of professionalized
culture (from classical music to contemporary art) while ignoring
the racialization of class altogether. Professionalized culture
was somehow supposed to overcome an almost absolute color line
that confined non-white people to low paid jobs and zero political
representation. At the same time, the same culture was supposed
to magically "open the minds" of racist whites who were stuck in
dead-end jobs or outright unemployment while opportunistic people
around them caught the escalator of the cognitive economy and moved
upward where all the high-end art was. Meanwhile, the kinds of
colloquial cultural practices that come out of deep generational time
- childhood and childrearing, rootedness or long wandering, lingering
dialects and cross-language experience, aging and inter-generational
caregiving, and don't forget religion - were basically abandoned
by professionalized culture in favor of packaged mono-heritage or
ultramodern hybrid transnationalism. There were exceptions to this
abandonment - in the communist cultural centers of the Parisian
banlieue, for example, or in the Black Arts movements in the UK,
and surely many others - but they were grassroots exceptions on
scant resources. Billions of cultural euros were spent for the
upwardly mobile middle classes and the already-rich. The deep time of
communities all across the color spectrum and the geographical map was
not elaborated into complex art.

How could that situation be transformed? I would love to hear some
ideas. It has to start by admitting that there is no cultural/
artistic solution when people are trapped in poverty and isolated
by racism. Cross-cultural art needs the explicit demand for
social justice. There's also a big question about what kind of
professionalized culture to make and to promote. Is it possible to
interest people in the pleasures of each other's problems? Comedy does
that, hip hop does that, activist art does it when it's community
oriented. How to support experimental practices that aim for popular
audiences and interactions, rather than producing vanguard artefacts
for cosmopolitan neoliberals? I don't see how to do it except in the
context of a real struggle against the bankers and the bureaucrats,
so maybe DIEM25 is a good place to talk about it. But there's no use
talking if the table is all white, and it's no use attacking racism if
you don't propose to change some very basic things about the society
that creates it. What does equality mean in a society of radical
difference, where some people's stake is based on the centuries their
family lived there, and other's is based on the need to migrate
because the economic and military system of those long-rooted
societies has sown war and desperation all across the earth? It's
gonna take a tremendous political-philosophical shift for white
people in Europe to say: Everyone in the EU has a right to be here,
and everyone on the EU borders has a right not to be exploited to the
point of societal breakdown. Culture and its concentrated artistic
expressions can be part of that shift, but they can't bring it about
on their own. We need an egalitarian ideal that's willing to build a
thousand cultural bridges to a society where everyone has a job and
some respect just for existing. The whole concept of what art is, and
what it's good for, will have to change on the way down that path.

so here's to another world! Brian

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