“When was the moment you chose to go from being a passive spectator to a politically engaged actor? Did anyone give you a pamphlet? Did you read an academic article? And tweet? Or did it tie into a personal experience? ”The questions were asked to the public by New York University professor and longtime activist Stephen Duncombe during the conference Public Calling, which took place at the National Theater in early November. The event was organized by the state professional body Art in Public Spaces (KORO) and the Fritt Ord Foundation, and was about the conditions for freedom of expression in public space, in both physical and mediated terms, and about the possibilities of art under these conditions.
The question of the affective nature of politics – and by extension, the political art – is central today, both in view of the more or less spontaneous protest movements in the last five years, from Tahrir Square to Ferguson, and on the emerging nationalism that is emerging. all over Europe.
The point of Duncombe and his Danish partner Silas Harrebye was that political engagement is rarely rationally justified, but has affective and emotional causes – therefore a truly mobilizing activist art should also be "affectively effective" as they put it.
Public Calling was in many ways itself an answer to Duncombe's and Harreby's call: of the more than 20 speakers, the majority were personal and occasionally outrageous testimonies, so to speak from the front lines. Among them was Turkish artist Pinar Ögrenci, who can wait many years in prison after participating in peace marches in Turkey. Another was British activist Lisa Robinson, who told about brutal treatment by police during Black Lives Matter UK's demonstrations.
People Enemies. Also the title itself Public Calling implies a mobilization from spectators. . .