Exhibitions

JOURNEY TO EDEN @ DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY

6 May - 12 May 2024

Events

MARRIAGE (IN)EQUALITY IN UKRAINE. Screening and a panel discussion

9 May 2024

Events

Casey Orr artist talk and SEPN North West meet-up

18 May 2024

Events

Poetry reading: Coast to Coast to Coast

11 May 2024

Exhibitions

National Pavilion of Ukraine @ Venice Biennale

20 April - 24 November 2024

Exhibitions

Open Source 28: Sam Patton – Room to Breathe @ Digital Window Gallery

10 April - 18 May 2024

Exhibitions

Forward, Together @ Wigan & Leigh Archives, Leigh Town Hall

23 March - 28 September 2024

Exhibitions

As She Likes It: Christine Beckett @ The Rainbow Tea Rooms, Chester

1 March - 30 June 2024

Exhibitions

Shifting Horizons @ Digital Window Gallery

27 March - 31 March 2024

PLATFORM: ISSUE 6

26 March 2024

Past Events

Saturday Town: Launch Event

10 April 2024

Exhibitions

Saturday Town

11 April - 18 May 2024

Past Events

PLATFORM: ZINE LAUNCH EVENT

21 March 2024

Home. Ukrainian Photography, UK Words: Tour

4 March - 28 February 2025

Exhibitions

Home: Ukrainian Photography, UK Words @ New Adelphi

4 March - 8 March 2024

Past Events

CREATIVE SOCIAL: IN THE ABSENCE OF FORMAL GROUND

2 March 2024

Exhibitions

We Feed The UK @ Exterior Walls

8 February - 31 March 2024

Past Events

Contrail Cirrus: the impact of aviation on climate change

7 March 2024

Exhibitions

Tree Story @ Liverpool ONE

16 February - 1 May 2024

Open Source #27: Saffron Lily – In The Absence of Formal Ground @ Digital Window Gallery

6 February - 31 March 2024

Past Events

Contemporary Photography from Ukraine: Symposium @University of Salford

4 March - 5 March 2024

Past Events

Is Anybody Listening? Symposium: Commissioning and Collecting Socially Engaged Photography

29 February 2024

Past Events

Different approaches: Artists working with scientists

15 February 2024

Past Events

LOOK Climate Lab 2024: All Events

18 January 2024

Exhibitions

Diesel & Dust @ Digital Window Gallery

18 January - 31 March 2024

Events

Tree Walks Of Sefton Park with Andrea Ku

21 January 2024

Past Events

Artists Remake the World by Vid Simoniti: Book Launch

31 January 2024

Past Events

Shift Liverpool Open Meeting

6 February 2024

Past Events

We Feed The UK Launch and LOOK Climate Lab 2024 Celebration

8 February 2024

Past Events

Cyanotype workshop with Melanie King

17 February 2024

Past Events

End of Empire: artist talk and discussion

22 February 2024

Past Events

Book Launch: What The Mine Gives, The Mine Takes

24 February 2024

Past Events

Local ecology in the post-industrial era: open discussion

14 March 2024

Past Events

Waterlands: creative writing workshop

23 March 2024

Past Events

Plant a seed. Seed sow and in conversation with Plot2Plate

16 March 2024

Past Events

Erosion: panel discussion

9 March 2024

Past Events

Waterlands: an evening of poetry and photographs

23 March 2024

Past Events

Force For Nature Exhibition

27 March - 28 March 2024

Voices of Nature: Interactive Performances

28 March 2024

Past Events

Sum of All Parts: Symposium

27 February 2024

Exhibitions Main Exhibition

LOOK Climate Lab 2024

18 January - 31 March 2024

Past Events

MA Socially engaged photography Open Day event

1 February 2023

Past Events

Tish: Special screening and Q&A

13 December 2023

Past Events

Book Launch: A Look At A New Perspective

23 November 2023

Past Events

Community workshops @ Ellesmere Port Library

6 November - 5 February 2024

Past Events

Book Launch: ‘544m’ By Kevin Crooks

30 November 2023

Past Exhibitions

Bernice Mulenga @ Open Eye Gallery Atrium Space

17 November - 17 December 2023

Past Events

Bernice Mulenga: Artist Talk

18 November 2023

Past Exhibitions

Local Roots @ The Atkinson

14 October 2023

Exhibitions

Community @ Ellesmere Port Library

26 October - 11 April 2024

Close
Close

Art as Experimental Politics: a Review of Vid Simoniti’s Artists Remake the World: A Contemporary Art Manifesto

We live in an ever-increasing political world where art and politics cannot be as easily separated as before. Vid Simoniti’s recently published book, Artists Remake the World: A Contemporary Art Manifesto, uses examples of contemporary exhibition-based art projects to investigate the relationship between art and politics. Simoniti begins by asking the broad question “what can art do for politics?” (p. 9), and offers a possible answer by emphasizing art’s unique approaches towards political change. As Simoniti explains: “Art … can help us achieve a kind of looking, a kind of understanding. … Art is an experimental form of politics,” (p. 10). 

One way art and politics interact in the gallery space is through activist art. Simoniti describes an important contribution of art for politics, since art aids political change through “conceptual clarification of the movement,” (p. 68). Art helps us by providing unique ways of seeing the political crises we face and possible solutions forward, which is different to listing facts or assessing political debates. In other words, we can become aware of a political aim through facts or debate, or we can be creatively shown a political aim through art. Art as creative action allows an audience to learn more about politics, but Simoniti’s distinctive point is that art allows politics unique conceptual clarification: “By reorganizing perception, art becomes relevant to politics,” (p. 84). 

In a later chapter most interesting for Open Eye Gallery’s current LOOK Climate Lab 2024 exhibition, Simoniti describes contemporary ecological art, or ‘eco art’, as including “…three dominant artistic approaches: artists trying to instill a sense of emergency in their audiences, create a sense of solidarity with non-human nature, or impress the audience with human ingenuity in finding solutions,” (p. 132). We can understand these points further through comparing Simoniti’s claims with the artworks on display with the LOOK Climate Lab.

For the first approach found in eco art, Simoniti claims: “…emergency-inducing works … attempt to make tangible the climate disaster in the here and now,” (p. 133). We can see this through Cirrus Aviaticus by John Davies, whose photographs document jet engine exhaust fumes in the skies above Liverpool and Lancashire. However, Simoniti describes the difficulty in representing climate emergencies as an enduring crisis: “… it seems questionable to me as to whether art can truly sustain a sense of emergency, since the very emotional structure of emergency tends to be fleeting,” (p. 133). We can see images of exhaust fumes in the sky and sense a state of emergency, but could this image of emergency last long enough to enact positive change?

For the second approach, Simoniti describes the difficulty with eco art created by humans for the purpose of solidarity with non-human nature: ‘Human empathy is a fickle thing,” (p. 135). He explains further that even towards fellow humans, which we all typically agree deserve empathy, we often act without empathy for their problems. We can see this idea through the project Strange Eden by Mario Popham, whose photographs and site-specific materials explore whether society can offer empathy for postindustrial green spaces. If this project convinced audiences to adopt attitudes which give empathetic solidarity with non-human nature, would this solidarity lead to a better ecological future? 

For the third approach, Simoniti describes intervention-based eco art as art “which often arises out of collaboration,” (p. 136). Artists often collaborate with non-art groups to enhance their overall message and impact, as seen with Home Grown Knowledge by Gwen Riley Jones. For this project, the artist has partnered with the Royal Horticultural Society to document the importance of community gardens through photography. It would be interesting to compare the effect of Jones’ project without the partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society, or perhaps if the project partnered with another royal society: in what ways do partnerships between artists and royal societies enhance the political impact of art? 

Overall, art can help us work through political uncertainty not by rehashing the same facts but by presenting them in a new, creative way. To conclude his book’s exploration on the importance of art for politics, Simoniti writes: “…contemporary art enters at those junctures where our ordinary modes of thinking have been exhausted … it can shape thoughts in ways a journalist, scientist, activist or politician cannot as easily achieve,” (p. 172). The power of art for politics, for Simoniti, is not to present new debates, but to creatively present debates in a new way that may cause us to rethink ourselves and our attitude towards the world around us. 

Join Open Eye Gallery for the book launch of Vid Simoniti’s Artists Remake the World on 31 January from 6 pm – 8 pm. The book will also be available for purchase in our bookshop.

Look Climate Lab 2024 will be on free view at Open Eye Gallery from 18 January – 31 March 2024. 

 

Text: Lauren Stephens

Cover image: Maurice Mbikayi, Unitled.

Lauren Stephens is Philosopher in Residence at Open Eye Gallery and a PhD researcher in the philosophy of art at the University of Liverpool. 

 

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