Roberts Building, G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming LT UCL Engineering Front Building, Torrington Place London WC13 7JE
Contemporary artists are increasingly engaging with some of the most pressing issues facing our world today, from globalisation, migration and citizenship to conflict, sustainability, gentrification, and social activism.Anthony Downey will discuss the implications of this engagement in relation to human rights and conditions of displacement. If the disavowal or absence of legal and political representation is a feature of being a refugee, then what happens, he will ask, when artistic representation is inserted into this already compromised regime of visibility? In an all too amenable substitution that can often reconfirm the absence of legal accountability, is it possible that cultural forms of representation are compensating for—if not replacing—the very systems and procedures of political and legal responsibility that are being denied refugees in the first place? Who, we need to ask thereafter, really benefits from the work of art?
Professor Anthony Downey
Birmingham City University
Anthony Downey is an academic, editor, and writer. He is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa within the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Birmingham City University, and is currently involved in several funded research projects that explore, respectively, transnational cultural practices, digital media, education, and the politics of cultural production in the Middle East and Global South. He sits on the editorial boards of Third Text (thirdtext.org) and Digital War (digital-war.org), and is the editor-in-chief of Ibraaz (ibraaz.org). Recent and upcoming publications include Unbearable States: Cultural Practices, Political Activism, and Human Rights in a Post-Digital Age (forthcoming,2021); Displacement Activities: Contemporary Art, the Refugee Condition, and the Alibi of Engagement (forthcoming,Sternberg Press, 2020); and Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet: The Works of Hiwa K (Walther König Books, 2017). In 2019, he launched a new series of books, Research/Practice (Sternberg Press), that examine interdisciplinary research methodologies in contemporary visual culture.
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