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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Ekow Eshun and the gas chamber for Live Art

Artistic Director of the ICA to close its Live & Media Arts department
Ekow Eshun, the artistic director of the ICA, in one of the most ridiculous decisions and making use of the most unbelievable arguments of recent times, has just announced the planned closure of the instutition's Live & Media Arts department justifying it with the lack of "depth and cultural urgency" of those art forms.

Now if we consider the birth of Live Art as a strongly political art form concerned with discussing issues so broad as identity, politics, freedom, the place of art, etc., in this so called "post-everything" world; if we take a look at important events that took place also at the ICA and that are still today (so many years after) the epitome of the experience of the possibility of freedom, we cannot but be sad and regret the mess that goes in this person's mind to suddenly take such a sad decision.

But then again art institutions are above all institutions of power and thus instutitions of control: through the exercise of the power attributed to them, they participate in a kind of natural selection or, in this case, an operation aimed at some sort of "ethnic cleansing" as it were - at the destruction of an art form that - you are right - could have the power, HAS the power, to question and bring change.

In this times where people are willing to sacrifice their freedoms in the same of (a fake) security, in this Orwellian times where "I-don't-mind-being-watched-24/7-if-that-will-save-my-life", in this present in which institutions and the State Apparatus are regaining more and more control over the populations, this is just another reactionary decision of another of those instutitions. Thank "god" (if he'd exist) that art practices can still live outside the realm of established art institutions.

Just to finish, I can't help to remember a quote from that very interesting film "V. for Vendetta":
"More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives."

1 comment:

Jen Rich said...

Would you want this man, with this nonchalance and insensitivity, to be an ambassador for live art anyway? Frees up some space for other institutions doing a far finer job.