Talk: Art in Polarised Times (LCF)


Some notes and thoughts about the talk which was chaired by Jeremy Till – Head of CSM:

  • pragmatic acceptance (worst approach to issues)
  • current politics – accentuation of the old form but with a more corruptive method


  • Populism:
    • political parties tend to represent sectional interests but populists pretend to promote themselves as ‘beyond politics’
    • populism of the left not as powerful as populism of the right
    • commerce (media) often anti-political
    • populism helped by the uncertain outcomes of social media
    • populism is cultural as well as economic
    • in populism art as seen as something of the elite
    • there’s a division between new populism and other forms
    • ‘post’ has changed to ‘alt’
    • demagogues = risk takers
    • If art is a bubble to some, how do we expose t to those who resent it in a populist climate?


  • A speaker brought up the notion of  ‘the tools of art’
    • art as propaganda (choose your side and deploy)
    • art can be healing
    • art is world-making
    • art as provocation


  • abstract expressionism used to speak about american freedom in Soviet era
  • memes are cultural ideas that have developed
  • restricted code – linguistic code????


  • Exhibitions to look at:
    • The place is here
    • This way out of England


During the talk I tried to formulate a question (I was incredibly nervous!!). Here are a variety of different questions I tried to formulate:

  • Referencing Robert, in a populist climate art has its place with the elite, but within populism we live in other bubbles too that social media creates, not intentionally, but has also been said can be used as a tool…..
  • The populist climate we live in in the Western world is defined and augmented by the power of social media and its consequential filter bubbles…
  • I feel what exacerbates the plight of art in polarised times is the power of social media in a populist climate…


I found it hard to formulate a question because I had so many questions to ask and it was too big of a topic. I managed to ask one which was just something along the lines of how do you think social media plays a part in polarised times, something quite general and I found that perhaps I hadn’t formulated a good enough question but they couldn’t respond immediately. One speaker I think just didn’t understand the question so she went on a different tangent, one speaker who was a literature professor seemed to get what I mean and gave me a few suggestions of things to read and one of the speakers said in response to my question: I wonder why people came to this talk today? Which I thought was a fascinating question. I thought the talk would help enlighten me in certain ways, and it did around the thinkings behind populism but not necessarily how to go about art in polarised times.

I thought it was interesting that social media hadn’t been focused on because as I was listening to them it reminded me of a radio 4 show that I’d listened to where a journalist said he felt that social media and filter bubbles were the single biggest issue in terms of communication that we face.


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