If the concept of the avant-garde has any meaning in the aesthetic regime of the arts, it is -not on the side of the advanced detachments of artistic innovation but on the side of the invention of sensible forms and material structures of life to come. This is what the aesthetic avant-garde bought to the political avant-garde by transforming politics into a total life program. The history of the relations between political parties and aesthetic movements is first of all the history of this confusion, sometimes complacently maintained and sometimes violently denounced, between these two ideas of the avant-garde, which are in fact two different ideas of political subjectivity
– Jacques Ranciere
Graphic: Zanny Begg
Over the last few years, a number of artists have succeeded in both realizing and finding the theoretical grounding for a variety of works which allows us to speak of a new situation in art. These projects have found points of connection between art, new technologies, and the global movement against neo-liberal capitalism. The lineages of this interest in political art can be traced back to Documenta 10 (1997) and coincides with the emergence of the ‘movement of movements’ which erupted onto the political horizon in Seattle in 1999 – an event which, it can be argued, has crystallised a new political subject (named the Multitude by Hardt and Negri’s Empire published in 2000). This situation has subsequently been manifested through a variety of cultural projects whose critical stance towards the process of capitalist globalisation and emphasis on the principles of self-organisation, self-publishing and collectivity has evoked the idea of a return to ‘the political’ in art.