Neoliberalism is manufactured through a set of tactics, policies, and strategies that produce subjects bracketed into competition. It induces labourers to think of themselves, not as political beings working in a society and thus capable of collective forms of organising and solidarity-building but rather as ‘companies of one.’ This has had strong consequences on the democratic project and led to the development of theories that – since the 80s – have been proposing ways of organising and mobilising pluralism anew to push back against this tendency. The talk looks at the influence these theories have in shaping institutional imaginaries and art practices. It analyses them and asks if their deep-seated insistence on the positive role of conflict in pluralist politics is in-sync with our times. Furthermore, it suggests that more work should be done on articulating systems for reasoning and dialogue and looks at this as a possible avenue that curatorial work can be involved with without the ‘internalisation of parliamentarianism’. This internalisation has become a characteristic of institutional practices grappling with these concerns and perhaps one aspect that holds back their possibilities.
Bassam El Baroni is a curator and researcher from Alexandria, Egypt and a member of the faculty at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem, the Netherlands since 2013. He was co-curator of Manifesta 8, 2010, Murcia, Spain and director of Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum, 2005 – 2012. In 2016 he curated ‘Nemocentric’ at Charim Galerie, Vienna. And in 2015, he curated ‘What Hope Looks like after Hope (On Constructive Alienation)’ at HOME WORKS 7, Beirut. Other exhibitions include AGITATIONISM the 36th edition of Eva International - Ireland’s Biennial, Limerick, 2014; the Lofoten International Art Festival, Norway, 2013 (with Anne Szefer Karlsen and Eva González-Sancho); and 'When it Stops Dripping from the Ceiling (An Exhibition That Thinks About Edification)’ at the Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, 2012. El Baroni is a PhD candidate in Curatorial / Knowledge at Goldsmiths, University of London.