A conversation about Artistic Agency

Tuesday 29th May 2018, 3-5pm Master Institute AKV|St.Joost, 3rd floor

A conversation about artistic agency between Úna Henry, Head of Master Institute, Erik Hagoort, MFA Tutor and Researcher Fellow at Caradt: Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology and Sebastian Olma, Professor of Autonomy, Caradt: Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology.

Content of the afternoon
What is artistic agency? At face value, the answer to this question appears rather obvious: artistic agency is the agency of the artist. Yet, what are the specific parameters that define the emphatically artistic kind of agency? Is it sensible at all to speak of a particularly artistic version of agency? Or is artistic agency bound to the same opportunities and limitations as that of other social actors?

In recent years, there has been growing interest in artistic agency due to the proliferation of socially engaged art and the active participation of artists inserting subversive countenance in movements connected with wider circuits of social dissent such as Occupy, the Arab Spring, the anti-austerity movement in Greece or the occupation of Gezi Park in Istanbul. At the same time, artists and their work have become of central importance for the economy (creative industries, innovation) and policy making (creative city, regeneration, etc.).

In light of these developments, it appears that artistic agency is increasingly seen as the ability to act somehow differently, to act otherwise. Yet, is it fair or realistic to expect of artists to have this ability? Why are they expected to make a difference or to instigate change? Where is the magical source that gives them autonomy from the structural constraints of society?