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Aestheticizing Activism: The role of exhibitions in politics

Museums/Institutes De Balie

Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10 
1017 RR Amsterdam
+31(0)20 5535100


Date 25 Nov

Time 10:30-12 hrs

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Bertien van Manen, Turkse meisjes tijdens feest Schiedam, 1977, ontwikkelgelatinedruk. Collectie Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

From documenta 14 to Stedelijk’s exhibition I Am a Native Foreigner, contemporary art and exhibitions are often political. Is it possible to influence political debate through art? Should this be an objective of exhibitions? What significance is left for the artistic or the aesthetic in such engaged frameworks? These questions will be the focus of the annual Stedelijk x Amsterdam Art Weekend x De Balie debate.

Bringing together artists, critics, and curators, the panel will consider the potential for activism in exhibitions and discuss how politically motivated exhibitions are received by various publics. Serving as cases in point are documenta 14 and the series of five exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum dedicated to the theme of migration. The most recent editions of the Stedelijk’s exhibitions – I Am a Native Foreigner, showing a selection of works from the Stedelijk collection that represent artists’ views on migration, and the installation The Crossing by Carlos Motta – triggered strong responses in the press. This critical discourse at De Balie questions what significance is left for the artistic or the aesthetic in such engaged frameworks. Put another way, one might question whether political exhibitions can successfully communicate political urgency. Or even more fundamental: Can exhibitions sway opinion?

Maarten Doormanis; philosopher, author and holds the position of special professor at the University of Amsterdam. He teaches at Maastricht University and writes for NRC Handelsblad, de Volkskrant, Human, Philosophy Magazine, and De Groene Amsterdammer. His most recent publication is Daphne’s navel: about art and engagement (2016).

Imara Limon; curator and program maker at the Amsterdam Museum. She recently won the award for Museum Talent 2017, for her work for the exhibition Black Amsterdam, which was about coloured role models in the city. Her most recent program, New Narratives, focuses on museum collections and awareness about the origin of the art and the inclusiveness of museums. 

Regular €15.– / Reduced €12.50
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