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Jul 2020

Public Talk #1 | Laboratory of the Absent Body

/ ora 19:00 /

Ethical dilemmas in the contemporary art world: Challenges for artists, curators and cultural managers

Speaker: Milena Dragićević Šešić 🇭🇷

Moderator: Vava Ștefănescu 🇷🇴

Join us for a Public Talk with Milena Dragićević Šešić, Head of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy and Management, moderated by Vava Ștefănescu, manager of Centrul Naţional al Dansului Bucureşti, on the topic of Ethical dilemmas in the contemporary art world: Challenges for artists, curators and cultural managers as part of the 𝐋𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐝𝐲 | 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐭 𝐬𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐬, #CMA2020.

In new democracies a reflection on values in the cultural realm, both in cultural policy and in art management, had rarely entered into the theoretical and research fields. This lecture is aiming to explore certain dilemmas, controversies and dichotomies that are facing artists, curators and cultural managers in the arts world of today, but most of the cases will be taken from contemporary dance and more largely, performing arts.

At the time of globalization, migration and COVID-19 crises, populist political communication and new public management demands had affected the cultural realm and brought instability and confusion diminishing agency strength in this area, as well as citizenship dignity among its audiences (users). New public management asked the art sector for “performance measures”, efficiency, productivity – market, market values; populist policies asked for “national responsibility”, respect to traditions…

Art as a public value and public good stopped to exist, and cultural workers: artists and managers have been forced to become entrepreneurs, while “transversal” skills teaching and learning became the must of the art schools. Old (sclerotized) patterns of cultural governance were not replaced with those that would put public interest in the heart of the matter, but imposed new values and new moral rationales:
– ethnic-based policies vs. transculturalism
– market vs. public interest
– entrepreneurialism vs. institutional logic
– financial accountability vs. qualitative evaluation
– socially insensitive policies vs. socially over-sensitive policies, etc.

In both the practice and the theory realm there were for years certain debates about the need for the new aesthetics, that would replace aesthetics and spectacular performativity of the world market demands (Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Marina Abramovic… where some of the dance scenes also incline to…). To whom we are truly responsible? To whom we should be responsible?
New theories and aesthetics that are emerging (and to quote just a few names of artists, but of theoreticians also) might be named as:

  • of hospitality (artist – Maja Bajević, /Derrida),
  • of care (Dah Theatre, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatt / Thompson) and
  • of solidarity (Kabakovs, Janam Delhi with Freedom Theatre Palestine /Jestrović)
    that go beyond the usual activist critical (engaged) participative or non-participatory art practice (Boal, Perjovschi). It is about empathy, participation, activism, civic imagination – and citizens` responsibility.
    Thus, this public talk will be a “plaidoyer” for the new aesthetics of hospitality, aesthetics of care, and aesthetics of solidarity – and how all of us, cultural agents (artists, curators, and scholars) can contribute to their contextualization.

The talk will take place in English and will be live-streamed on the CMA2020 Facebook Page & EUNIC Romania Facebook Page.


CMA is a cultural project co-financed by AFCN – The Administration of the National Cultural Fund. The project does not necessarily represent the position of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. The Administration of the National Cultural Fund is not responsible for the content of the project or the manner in which the results of the project may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the funding recipient.