Art Festivals and the City
The 2017 edition of the Documenta art festival featured a satellite event in Athens, outside of its regular host city Kassel. Held every five years, Documenta is widely considered one of the most influential contemporary art festivals, which has historically been known for its field-configuring provocations. The latest edition, however, garnered criticism of its excursion abroad as "crisis tourism," a way to exploit the political and financial situation in Athens for cultural consumption.
This panel takes Documenta as a starting point to discuss the relationship between art festivals and cities, exploring the way that contemporary art serves a particular function for the urban imaginary. Especially given the proliferation of the art biennial in cities outside of Europe and North America, this raises questions about audience, representation, and the spatial politics of cultural production. Contemporary art and its attendant symbols, references, institutions, actors, and immense wealth of resources, shapes cities in powerful ways. How do scholars from different fields assess the risks of exploitation, or the impact of aspirational politics?
Chair: Dr. Hyun Bang Shin, Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science
Introduction: Dr. Julie Ren, Research faculty, Geography Department, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin and Visiting Fellow, Department of Geography & Environment, LSE (Editor of Art and the City (Routledge, 2017); currently working on comparative study of art biennials in Dakar and Taipei)
Panelists: to be confirmed.