The Arts of Critique

Mexico City, Mexico
September 6-8, 2018


This workshop seeks to prompt anew the question on the dialectic of art and criticism from the standpoint of social and political exigencies of our times. It attempts to address the transformative capacity of contemporary art and art criticism to inscribe in and actively condition or mobilize collective imaginaries and struggles contesting domination. The “contemporary” here does not only refer to contemporary artistic forms and productions but, more widely, to art that, in its afterlives and futurity, is signified and contextualized as contemporary. We would like to explore art as a mode of political performativity and embodied critical engagement with the geopolitics of injustice, normalized anesthesia, fascism, destructive violences of displacement, and occupation, as well as contemporary forms of dissent, protest and rearticulations of democracy. As the risks of aestheticization continue to contentiously engage art, art theory, and critical theory, the old but persistent question of the affirmative and/or deconstructive relationship of critique to its objects gains new currency in discussions of critical theory and art criticism today. The questions we would like to address and thematize include: How do different genres of art and humanities alert us to the intimate publics that are formed and deformed in times of loss and crisis? How do feminist, queer, postcolonial/decolonial, postnational perspectives and interventions call attention to, and reclaim, the political implications of art as critique beyond Eurocentric ramifications of critical discourse? What kinds of (un)belongings and displacement, figured through tropes of gendered, sexualized, ethnicized and racialized vulnerability, could allow us to think (with) the limits and the resistant potential of art? What sorts of epistemic violence, infrastructural claims and institutional commitments are at work in art as critique in the age of global capital, border securitization, and neocolonial governmentality? While we pay attention to new critical imagination and political discourses emerging in tandem with and in response to art, we are also interested in the unending and newly-configured questions regarding regimes of censorious power and the normative codes of public permissibility. In all, this workshop seeks to trace the ways in which critical theory and the arts affect –and are affected by- one another, as this political alliance can provide the means to critically imagine the contemporary.



Natalia Brizuela
University of California, Berkeley, USA

Elena Tzelepis
University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece