Politika – Art & The Affairs of the City

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Featured Artists:

Peter Kennard (UK)  // Epos257 (CZ) // Jeremy Deller (UK) // Ztohoven (CZ) // Chim-Pom (JP) // VOINA (RU) // Shift//Delete (UK) // Brandalism (UK+) // Francisco Tapia (CHI) // WochenKlausur (AT) // Bill Posters (UK) // Franck Allais (FR) // Leah Borromeo (UK) // Steve Lambert (US) // Robin Hood Minor Asset Management Cooperative (FI) // The Vacuum Cleaner (UK) //  John Beieler (US) // Tracey Moberly (UK) // Lea Redmond (US) // Peter McCaughey (UK) // Ben Parry (UK) // Ed Hall (UK) + citizens of Manchester.

Introduction:

‘It does often seem that, whenever there is a choice between one option that makes capitalism seem the only possible economic system, and another that would actually make capitalism a more viable economic system, neoliberalism means always choosing the former. The combined result is a relentless campaign against the human imagination. Or, to be more precise: imagination, desire, individual creativity, all those things that were to be liberated in the last great world revolution, were to be contained strictly in the domain of consumerism, or perhaps in the virtual realities of the Internet. In all other realms they were to be strictly banished. We are talking about the murdering of dreams, the imposition of an apparatus of hopelessness, designed to squelch any sense of an alternative future. Yet as a result of putting virtually all their efforts in one political basket, we are left in the bizarre situation of watching the capitalist system crumbling before our very eyes, at just the moment everyone had finally concluded no other system would be possible.’

- David Graeber

Manchester is where the world’s first manifestations of industrial Capitalism took shape. If the city is both the producer of citizenship and the generator of innovation, it is the soil in which democracy lives. Without the city and maximised exchanges, democracy loses strength to create potential futures.

Is there scope to generate another answer, another view, in order to sustain another ideology against consumerism and the disempowerment it represents? Politika presents opportunites for people to transform themselves from passive consumers into active participants – active citizens.

From local community activists reclaiming their cultural heritage, to the burning $500 million of student loan contracts to free poor students from debt, to collectively organising the world’s largest reclamations of advertising space in history as a revolt against the privatisation of public space, the artists contributing works for Politika are creating in relation to consumerism. They are prising open the cracks in Capitalism and redefining community art as the boundaries between art and community action evaporate. Politika features works from 20 urban interventionist artists from 9 countries.

Politika brings together art, social justice and activism as artists and the citizens of Greater Manchester assert their right to the city.

The diverse program includes an exhibition of provocative art works, live urban interventions across the city, public workshops, talks, documentary screenings and debate.

The exhibition is situated in a grade 2* listed cotton mill and launches a new contemporary cultural space – The Engine Room, in Ancoats – the world’s first industrial suburb.

For more information see our artistsabout and programme pages.

Regular updates and content from the live programme, contributing authors and other assorted theory can be found on our blog.