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Art Basel: Art As Politics

Artists from all over the world are gathering this weekend in Miami, Florida for the US showing of the annual Art Basel art show, which happens in Miami and Hong Kong. Located centrally to North America and Latin America, work from all over the world will be on display for both private showings and lots of public viewing time. The event draws over 70,000 visitors each year to see art from over 250 global galleries.

Of special interest at this particular art show are the talks that will take place at the event (and are also available to live stream!). This Saturday afternoon, four curators discuss “how the internet has radically changed the field of art production, distribution, and reception and explores the following questions: What is the effect on our relationship to bodies, race, gender, and sexuality? How has all digital media changed the way human beings relate to each other? What can we expect from future generations?” in their talk titled “I Was Raised on the Internet” after an exhibition at MCA Chicago.

On Friday night, several artists participated in a panel titled “Is Culture in the Americas in Big Trouble?” They facilitated a discussion about how the perceived global conservative shift and the changing economies may affect art and culture. How must artists and funders adjust to these changes, and ultimately diving into the deeper question, is culture at risk?

Artists of all mediums here in New York and around the world are asking themselves these questions. What can we do, or what should we be doing, as artists, and writers, and musicians, and dancers, to make our work important and relevant to the causes we believe in?

When dramatic events are unfolding almost every day that deeply affect the way we look at ourselves in the world, it forces us to consider how we can use what we have to make change. Artists’ work is their own, but how can they make it into something that involves its audience and brings about change?

We also run into the question of if art should even intersect politics at all. I think that is left up to the artist- art can be made and shown simply as art without any necessarily intended political purpose, and that art is just as valid and important to maintaining and growing culture as that art intended to act as politics. Artists shouldn’t feel pressured to change their work in relation to current events if they feel the change would make it less authentic, but art can be and is being used as a powerful tool to connect people and bring about change.