Friday, October 19, 2012


Whenever art questions its limits, ruptures and advances take place. Art can be brilliant when moves beyond phases of activism and politics, and finally ends up transformed into aesthetic form. The 2012 Creative Time Summit was a diffused scenario where important parts of the presentations reflected an inconsistent desire to travel between the realms of art and politics.

This fourth version of the summit focused on economic inequity. This year the problems are bigger and the global economic crisis is more serious. This event mainly consisted of projects from outside the art world. With Nato Thompson premise - “it doesn’t matter if it is art or not, what matters is if it’s just great” – as a guiding principle, the summit could gather “cultural makers” with social activists, who handled political codes, and developed different methods to generate artistic practice. It was a curatorial practice of resistance, forcing our gaze to face the crisis. Thompson’s intentions did not succeed with all the presentations.

The day was divided into four sections; the quality and content of the presentations as the day progressed.  The lack of preparation in some presentations in the morning was obvious. This made it difficult for the audience to witness how some projects were explained. The weakest presentation was during the second section: the feminist intervention by A.L. Steiner in the name of Pussy Riot. This forced-mic-check-style presentation didn’t work because she assumed that the entire audience had similar political interests, which is not realistic. Her presentation felt out of place.

Interest peaked in section 3, called “Making,” which gathered projects that could find a concrete form in the visual arts. Among the notable participants were Fernando GarcĂ­a-Dory, Michael Rakowitz, and Hito Steryerl; and finally, the very lucid philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, who was probably the highlight of the summit. Zizek gave a proactive and masterful lecture about the role and necessity of public space in society. By the same token, the speaker Martha Rosler emphasized the use of public space through her garage sales, she exemplified how different museums are pursuing and inviting practices from real life to ‘perform’ and active their spaces.

The summit demonstrated an over diversity of projects and clear contradictions, which today inhabit the cultural world. Apparently remained in the air what is the solution to various crises: the notion of being and going ‘public’ should be re defined, once again. Unfortunately, only some presentations generated an air of loaded questions. Finally, hierarchies and power systems exist in all places and areas; the summit this year was no exception.


  1. Great rundown on the first day of Creative Time 2012! The flow of your first four paragraphs fused a narrative of the day’s events with a commentary on presentation highs and lows, which I think aptly summarized what all of us experienced at the summit. Your last paragraph however feels a little rushed. I would think about revising the conclusion as I get what you’re hinting at but the impact is lost because of the phrasing being a little awkward. The contradictions in the cultural world and the “hierarchies and power systems” that you mention are topics that I think readers would be interested in so perhaps you should allot more space to expound on these to give your closing argument more meat.

  2. Hi Raul! You have some good insights on the summit (i.e. “the contradictions of the cultural world” ). And I agree with your comments on the low quality of some presentations, which made part of the conference lost focus although it was supposed to be logically organized (based on the schedule).
    It’s good that you include some details on specific presentations, however, I think it would be better to use detailed examples to support your arguments, such as how “ the presentations reflected an inconsistent desire to travel between art and politics”, instead of just showing the worst/best presentations.
    I’m not sure if we can say “this year mainly consisted of projects from outside the art world” - I understand some presenters were from non-art sectors, but there were still many art projects being presented, and the main purpose of this summit is to recognize artists’ role in promoting social changes, as addressed in the opening.
    (Also I personally think it would be interesting to mention that there were invited presenters boycotting the summit, as the summit itself talked about activism. But this is just a thought.)