For the autumn 2010 semester, David Bussel, Research Consultant in Art, Space & Nature, has organised a display selected from the library’s own collections. The display comprises objects in various media dating from the 1960s to the present, arranged thematically around the complex relationships between art and politics. Through printed matter and the moving image, it playfully re-imagines these constructed relationships to think through the politics of representation historically, to pick apart the tensions and gaps that lie between practice and the political.

In the 60s and 70s, the inclusion of oppositional politics in art was fashioned, subsequent to the ‘failure’ of modernism, dialectically, as non-art, as the negation of art’s so-called autonomy away from affirmative institutional culture and the market, often taking the form of ‘dematerialised’ objects, discourse and performance. In current practice by contrast, politics can be seen as immanent to art due in part to the lack of oppositional narratives with political centrism and consensus, in general, and to the appropriative strategies of the art system (the market) to ceaselessly augment art’s relative autonomy, the struggle between its symbolic value and its commodity character, in particular. In this way, art’s structural contradictions paradoxically serve both the conditions of its capture and its historical promise for radical critique and change.
The display attempts to stage historical parallels and asymmetries in miniature, searching potential horizons to imagine future aesthetic and political acts that transverse momentarily, imagining how things could possibly be.