Theater of Cruelty

Mikkel Bolt

Professor of political aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen.

Recent art activist projects

activism: The growing part of contemporary art intervenes in ongoing political debates and uses the relative autonomy of art as a starting point for art activist interventions outside the art space.

Whiteness as a political category

POWER: The storming of Congress in 2021 was an attempt to reaffirm the white world that emerged with the colonization and renaissance during the 14th century. A prerequisite for colonization was the devaluation of socially constructed others who were racialized as black or dark – as backward or as non-human.

What exactly is property?

RIGHT OF USE: Use assumes ownership. Homeless people can't just move into empty apartments. But it is a mismatch between use and property in late racial capitalism. Also when it comes to patents. Property can be financial violence.

‘Refolution!’

resurrection: Asef Bayat tries to challenge the analysis of the Arab Spring (2011) as an unequivocal defeat. He is absolutely right to focus on the space occupation model. Bayat has introduced the term 'refolution' as a description of the uprisings – without reference to the three dominant models of revolution.

Capitalism's reality and beyond

NEOLIBERALISM: Capitalist realism is a term for the late capitalist world, where it is not possible to imagine a different and better world – it is what it is. Did neoliberal capital take the form of a wall-to-wall ideology and constitute an affective regime? And was the 'end of history' nothing more than a class project?

The permanence and possibility of the crisis

PHILOSOPHY: Agamben's sketches for a theory of civil war are thus perhaps also a contribution to a new theory of revolution. Revolution beyond politics. Where the revolution is finally thought beyond any notion of a state and standing upright like a soldier who salutes. MODERN TIMES has chosen to print the afterword to Agamben's book about the civil war.

A contemporary diagnosis – without the ability to criticize?

ART: Is there no longer anything of revealing or distorting?

Aesthetic studies of state violence

POWER: The investigative rather than critical practice, characterizes a new generation of journalists, artists and NGOs. They process large datasets in order to point out abuses. Like the poison gas attack in Syria, or American secret prisons.

After corona – a technocratic, planetary order

COVID-19: It is difficult to read Bratton's positive biopolitics as anything other than a form of technocratic authoritarianism – where the subject is a point in a biopolitical network.