When the late Mark Fisher wrote about ‘the slow cancellation of the future’, he was referring in part to the ways in which neo-liberal enterprise culture (Fisher would say ‘capitalist realism’) eviscerates the freedom to live life as an experiment. Is there a way of transfiguring this situation that doesn’t come at the cost of enclosing the imaginable by prefiguring the future?
In this talk, Two Fuse* take a bifurcated approach to a politics of (im)possibility. One path moves through the terrain of socially-engaged art by examining a series of collaborative projects spanning fourteen years in Rialto in Dublin, Ireland. The focus here is art as a practice that stages critical inquiry through a collaborative ethos that enters into dialogic encounters with power. Through an open ended process, individual experiential stories of power are collated, re-presented and collectively performed in public spaces as powerful stories evoking alternative futures.
The other pathway approaches the field of socially-engaged art via an historical arc that takes Foucault’s lectures on parrhēsia as the point of departure, following the trajectory of his brief remarks concerning modern art as a reactivation of the ‘shameless’ and ‘barking’ life of the Cynics of antiquity. Through the public staging of an ‘other life’, Cynic askēsis operates through impropriety and provocation, thereby also summoning the possibility of ‘other worlds’. The question here is whether the contemporary field of socially-engaged art reactivates or relinquishes the radical attitude of Cynic askēsis.
*Two Fuse is a collaborative platform that brings Fiona Whelan and Kevin Ryan together through a commitment to thinking across the boundaries of disciplinary enclosures (http://twofuse.com/). Kevin Ryan is lecturer at the School of Political Science & Sociology, National University of Ireland, Galway. Fiona Whelan is a Dublin based artist, writer and lecturer at the National College of Art and Design.