This conference was conceived in order to develop and extend key themes emerging from the ground-breaking conference 'Complex Entanglements: Art & Cultural Difference & Globalisation' held in Sydney in 2001. It also is an attempt to address the new conditions of cultural production as the focus of globalisation expands from its economic origins to an explicitly military agenda.
Empires, Ruins + Networks examines the place of art in a world that is being deliberately polarised by the fear of terror. After September 11 the political imaginary has been gripped by a need to build defensive measure against unknown threats. The map of the world is being redrawn. Civil liberties and critical discourse have been pressed into new loyalty tests.
This conference sets out to provoke a dialogue between art and politics. It will ask artists, critics and curators to think of the place and function of art in the contemporary world. It will question how artists can contribute to cultural and technological change. While the debates on art and cultural difference have been raging for decades, current circumstances are compelling us to reframe the issues. The complexity of cultural flows and exchanges sustained through new media practices defy older ethno-nationalist representations of cultural identity. In the context of new border crossings by migrants and refugees, and the formation of new social collectivities, there is a need to develop links that can be forged both across distant spaces and within local places.
developing new cultural maps and critical frameworks
This conference will question the function of art and its potential for predicting the changes to come. Does art retain a leading role, with a degree of autonomy, or are artists better placed when they become part of broader debates and social movements? What are the new frameworks for representing contemporary culture?
This conference will seek to explore the shifting forms of otherness and the new modes of cultural production in contemporary culture. It will question the politics of fear that is supporting a new authoritarianism. It will seek to build bridges across the South. It will speak against the attempt to silence the histories of indigenous and immigrant communities. It will propose new models of artistic and cultural collaboration that will expand the democratic principles of public culture.
peer to peer participation
The emphasis in the content and form of this conference will be peer-to-peer participation and discussion. To facilitate a genuine form of reflexivity this conference also proposes a unique model of presentation, partnership and critical feedback. The conference will be structured around a relatively small number of high quality presentations, opening the space for discussion workshops and critical feedback to the presenters in open fora.
Visit the Empires website.