Initiated by Tom Trevatt and Christopher Kulendran Thomas
Escape the Contemporary will gather to discuss the problem of – and develop solutions to – Contemporary Art's various adherences to subjective ideologies that, we claim, will preclude Contemporary Art from transcending the historical period of neoliberalism. Unregulated finance economies, laissez faire governments, shrinking states, and globalised networks of consumption and production, not to mention the wholesale belief by economists and politicians alike in the central tenets of free market capitalism and political freedom of the individual have led us deep into the long winter of a global financial crisis. Caused by a complex and unprecedented network of globalised forces, the economic crisis of 2008 looked like the ultimate opportunity to move beyond the doctrine of neoliberalism. However, the signal failure of Western governments to offer radical alternatives to the structures that led to the crisis has been the defining disappointment of this new decade.
If ‘Contemporary’ Art is the art of neoliberalism, which is to say an art that both promises a subjective freedom through its structure and denies that freedom through the unregulated economic disparities its subsequent circulation ensures, then our task is to think beyond the ‘Contemporary’. Our claim is that Contemporary Art is unable to account for the huge problems facing humanity now - economic, ethical and ecological. Art beyond the contemporary must, then, be able to think beyond its entrenched position as a subject-prioritising commodity towards a post-humanist, non-correlational and political object.
During the Escape the Contemporary residency we will work through key texts, artworks and exhibitions to develop new ways of thinking. If you wish to join us for this week-long residency, we ask that you commit to the full week, be prepared both to present your work/ideas and be capable of discussing the work of others.
Charlotte Warne Thomas