On the Aesthetics of Resistance: Zur Ästhetik des Widerstands

11.-12.12.2015, Tagung, Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz

A cooperation of the Minerva Research Group "The Nomos of Images. Manifestation and Iconology of Law" and the Ulmer Verein – Verband für Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften e.V. together with the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte in Paris.
"Ästhetische Fragen sind immer politische Fragen" / "Aesthetic matters are always also political matters" (Peter Weiss, Notizbücher / Notebooks)

Manifestations of resistance against normative orders are more than ever characterized by an aestheticization of political and social concerns. Besides the occupation of public space, it is particularly digital media that are used to radically question existing political and legal systems.

Given the long history of political protests, we can observe a reversal, or new reciprocity, of recording practices with new media. These practices of recording are used both by the actors of the resistance and the state systems and institutions, but also by the spectators and witnesses of these events. Thus, they serve both: the sympathizing networks as a means to disseminate information, as well as the system as a tool for surveillance and punishment. The circulating images are often themselves the source of artistic debates. These „media“ of resistance take on the aesthetics of contemporary visual culture while their images simultaneously reflect on the far-reaching dimensions of political action and agency. The global connectivity and rapidity of social media (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) not only enable an effective visible presence, but also document and even shape the content and concerns of the protests. The catchy aesthetics of a resistance that reflects itself within its images and manifests itself in various aesthetic practices is met by the state with censorship and often with the banning or blocking of access to these media platforms (e.g. China, Turkey).

A systematic description and archiving of the current aesthetics of resistance, and the analysis of the forms of artistic appropriation of these aesthetics, especially in terms of the history of public protest, is still missing.

The workshop is therefore devoted to the manifold forms of resistance, the multiple aesthetics of protest, as well as to the related forms of artistic and political creation of the public sphere.