Thursday, July 15, 2021, 5 pm
Radical Democracy and Art Institutions

Discussion with Vasyl Cherepanyn (head of the Visual Culture Research Center, Kyiv), Oliver Marchart (professor for political theory, University of Vienna), Nora Sternfeld (professor of art education, University of Fine Arts of Hamburg), and Dana Yahalomi (director of Public Movement, Tel Aviv)



For some time now, the political condition of Western democracies has been described as ‚post-democratic‘ by several philosophers: the participation of the people within the democratic system is mainly reduced to the periodic election of government officials, the eligible political parties do not convincingly represent the will of the population, and the government affairs are taken care of by technocrats. In light of these developments, voices calling for a radicalization of democracy have increasingly been raised. The claim of so-called ‚radical democracy‘ is simple and yet complex to implement: radical democracy is to be understood as an emancipatory project that goes beyond the call for more participation, its aim is the democratization of the existing liberal democracies. Radical democracy is the project of radicalizing the democratic principles, namely popular sovereignty, freedom, equality, and solidarity, and of expanding the scope of these principles to sectors outside the traditional scope of politics. The art field constitutes one of these sectors. As a terrain on which alliances are established and constantly renegotiated, on which representatives of different public discourses come into conflict with one another in their aim to define the way people think about the world, and as organizations that assume an educational function, art institutions are political per se. The discussion
Radical Democracy and Art Institutions initiated by Neuer Berliner Kunstverein parts from the premise that art institutions contribute to the democratization of democracy and that, as political actors, they can play an important role in the service of the project of Radical Democracy.

How can a radical democratic art institution be conceived? Oliver Marchart, Nora Sternfeld, Vasyl Cherepanyn and Dana Yahalomi discuss the question of how a radical democratic art institution should be organized and what purpose it should serve. To what extent can art institutions put into question the political status quo, and what political expectations should the public have of the artistic field? What different functions can an art institution fulfil within the project of Radical Democracy? What role do the artists play in a radical democratic institution? The participants in the discussion debate the function of art institutions as a social meeting point and as ‚safe spaces‘ in which people can resolve conflicts and create alliances, they talk about the idea of ​​the museum as a “battlefield” on which different social forces enter into conflict, about the interdependence between the state and art institutions and to what extent the political conditions and ideological conflicts influence the functioning of art institutions, as well as about the different problems that art institutions are confronted with in the post-Soviet countries.
(Concept: Anna T. Steffner de Marco)


Vasyl Cherepanyn (b. 1980, lives and works in Kyiv) is Head of the Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC) in Kyiv. He holds a PhD in philosophy and has been a lecturer at numerous institutions, a.o. University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), University of Helsinki, Free University of Berlin, Merz Akademie Stuttgart, University of Vienna, Institute for Advanced Studies of the Political Critique in Warsaw, and Greifswald University. He was also a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. Cherepanyn co-edited the Guidebook of The Kyiv International (Kyiv: Medusa Books, 2018) and '68 NOW (Berlin: Archive Books, 2019), and curated the projects The European International (Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam) and Hybrid Peace (Stroom, The Hague). VCRC is an organizer of the Kyiv Biennial (The School of Kyiv, 2015, The Kyiv International, 2017, Black Cloud, 2019) and a founding member of the East Europe Biennial Alliance. VCRC received the European Cultural Foundation's Princess Margriet Award for Culture in 2015, and the Igor Zabel Award Grant for Culture and Theory in 2018.

Oliver Marchart (b. 1968 in Vienna, lives and works in Vienna) is professor for political theory at the University of Vienna since 2016. From 2012 to 2016 he was professor of sociology at the Art Academy Düsseldorf, and from 2006 to 2012 he taught at the Sociological Seminar of the University of Lucerne. Marchart has worked as a fellow at the Cluster of Excellence Cultural Foundations of Integration at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Konstanz (2016), the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK) Vienna (2013), Columbia University Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall (2005), and Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) Paris (2005), a.o. His main research areas are political theory, social theory, democratic theory, history of political ideas, social movement research, and political discourse analysis. Among his numerous publications are: Conflictual Aesthetics. Artistic Activism and the Public Sphere (Berlin: Sternberg Press 2019); Thinking Antagonism. Political Ontology after Laclau (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2018); Das unmögliche Objekt. Eine postfundamentalistische Theorie der Gesellschaft (Berlin: Suhrkamp 2013); Die politische Differenz. Zum Denken des Politischen bei Nancy, Lefort, Badiou, Laclau und Agamben (Berlin: Suhrkamp 2010).

Nora Sternfeld (b. 1976 in Vienna, lives and works in Hamburg) is professor for art education at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts. Sternfeld is an art mediator and curator and was documenta professor at the Kunsthochschule Kassel from 2018 to 2020, and from 2012 to 2018 she was Professor of Curating and Mediating Art at Aalto University in Helsinki. In addition, Sternfeld is co-director of the /ecm – Master Course for Exhibition Theory and Practice at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, member of the core team of schnittpunkt. Austellungstheorie & praxis, co-founder and partner of trafo.K, Office for Education, Art and Critical Knowledge Production (Vienna) and since 2011 part of freethought, Platform for Research, Education and Production (London). In this context, she was one of the artistic directors of the Bergen Assembly 2016 and fellow of basis voor actuele kunst (Utrecht) in 2020. Sternfeld publishes on contemporary art, educational theory, exhibitions, historical politics and anti-racism. Her publications include Das radikaldemokratische Museum (Berlin: De Gruyter 2018); Kuratieren als antirassistische Praxis (co-editor with Natalie Bayer, Berlin: De Gruyter 2017); Kontaktzonen der Geschichtsvermittlung: Transnationales Lernen über den Holocaust in der postnazistischen Migrationsgesellschaft (Vienna: Zaglossus 2013); Das pädagogische Unverhältnis: Lehren und lernen bei Rancière, Gramsci und Foucault (Vienna: Turia + Kant 2009).

Dana Yahalomi (b. 1982 in Israel, lives and works in Tel Aviv) is sole director of the performative research body Public Movement since 2011, which was founded in December 2006 by Omer Krieger and herself. Public Movement investigates and stages political actions in public spaces. It studies and creates public choreographies, forms of social order, overt and covert rituals. For the last 15 years, Public Movement has explored the regulations, policies, and formations of identity that govern the dynamics of public life and public space. Public Movement won the Essential Art Prize (2021), the Rosenblum Prize (2017), and was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize at the Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev, (2014). Their work has been presented at numerous international exhibitions, a. o.: M HKA Antwerp (2020); Vistamarestudio Milan (solo, 2018); Guggenheim Museum New York (2016); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2015). The group has performed at the Asian Art Biennial, Taipei (2013); Steirischer Herbst Festival, Graz (2012); Berlin Biennial (2012); New Museum Triennial, New York (2012); Gothenburg Biennial (2017), VanAbbemuseum, Eindhoven (2009-2011); Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw (2008); Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin (2010), a.o.