Robert Atkins on Mon, 11 Nov 2002 09:05:02 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Robert Atkins lectures on The Artworld, Community and Activism: AMeditation Inspired by the Events of September 11th London, Bristol,Valencia

November 13:  6:30 pm
CARTE/University of Westminster, Portland Hall  at the Univ of Westminster,
Little Titchfield Street London

November 20, 6:30 pm:
Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol

November 25
Polytechnic University, Valencia

The Artworld, Community and Activism:
A Meditation Inspired by the Events of September 11th

In the wake of September 11th, we are awash in government- and mass media
rhetoric about "patriotism," "sacrifice," and "change." Many of these
representations serve to further the already-defined agenda of those in
power, rather than to promote discussion and democracy. Art's role in
crisis--if it is regarded as relevant at all--is seen as entirely

Crisis creates pressures to dispense with business-as-usual, sometimes
revealing the real (cultural) fissures of the day. In terms of arts
practice, we might consider such questions as: What does community mean in a
Western culture of increasing transience, materialism and diminishing public
space? Given the apotheosis of the artist as an individual genius for the
past 500 years, is the very idea of post-Renaissance art involving community
a contradiction in terms? Why have exemplars of community-minded, often
public art been excluded from the art-historical canon? (Consider the
performances of Suzanne Lacy, the confrontational AIDS-activist works by the
Gran Fury collective and many others, and even Joseph Beuy's founding of the
Free University in 1972.) Is the Internet the last, best hope for art
attempting genuine social change? What effective community-oriented
initiatives have been created online? What catalytic or symbol-making role
can artists play in times of crisis? How can critical works find their place
in an entertainment-oriented museum culture? And in an increasingly
monolithic, mass-media age how can the arts promote the emergence of diverse
and independent voices?

This illustrated lecture will address these matters, tracing the
post-sixties history of activist art and the emergence of organizations such
as Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America and Visual
AIDS, as a backdrop for considering both current cultural conditions and
artistic practice. The evolving interpretations--and use and abuse--of
representations of September 11th during 2002 will also be discussed.

Robert Atkins--a New York and California-based art historian, author and
activist--is  a former columnist for The Village Voice, the author of books
including "ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contempory Ideas, Movements and Buzzwords"
and "From Media to Metaphor: Art About AIDS," as well as the recipient of
numerous awards for art criticism . A  fellow at Carnegie Mellon's Studio
for Creative Inquiry, he is arts editor of The Media Channel
(,  editor in chief of Artery: The AIDS-Arts Forum
(, an instructor at the Rhode Island School
of Design, and the former editor-in-chief of the Arts Technology
Entertainment Network. He is a founder of Visual AIDS, the group that
originated Day Without Art and the Red Ribbon, the initiator of 911THE
SEPTEMBER 11 PROJECT: Cultural Intervention in Civic Society
(, and is currently at work on an anthology of his
writing called "I Witness: Art Writing as Activism, Criticism and

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