Thesis Eleven Annual Lecture 2015

Public Cultures Research Unit, The University Of Melbourne

6pm to 7.30pm
Thursday, 5th November
View Street Gallery,
La Trobe University





Heading South

What is the nexus between art and world? At the surface level of representation it is apparent that artists produce images of the world. These images are commonly interpreted through a normative framework: they can be seen as representations that assert a given order in the world. Then there is a mode of interpretation that relates the imaginary process of constructing an image of the world to the cosmological expression of an emergent order for the world. It should come as no surprise that the critical and philosophical interpretations tend to operate mostly within the framework of a normative worldview. By contrast, artists prefer to assert that the point of creativity comes from something prior to the intellectual abstractions that arise from the existing social norms. Between these frameworks that highlight the capacity of art to engage with socio-political structures, and create a sensory experience in which the world suddenly comes forth again, as if, for the first time, there is also another fundamental question that needs to be pursued: what is the nature of the relationship between art and world? I will argue that the terms are co-constitutive, or that the nexus is comparable to the relation between space and time. Thus going south is not a geographic destination, but in the course of this essay will be another heading that leads to the mercurial conjunction of art-worlding.


Nikos Papastergiadis is Director of the Research Unit in Public Cultures and Professor at the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. He studied at the University of Melbourne and University of Cambridge. Prior to returning to the University of Melbourne he was a lecturer at the University of Manchester. Throughout his career, Nikos has provided strategic consultancies for government agencies on issues relating to cultural identity and worked on collaborative projects with artists and theorists of international repute, such as John Berger, Jimmie Durham and Sonya Boyce. His current research focuses on the investigation of the historical transformation of contemporary art and cultural institutions by digital technology. His sole authored publications include Modernity as Exile (1993), Dialogues in the Diaspora (1998), The Turbulence of Migration (2000), Metaphor and Tension (2004) Spatial Aesthetics: Art Place and the Everyday (2006), Cosmopolitanism and Culture (2012), Ambient Perspectives (2013) as well as being the editor of over 10 collections, author of numerous essays which have been translated into over a dozen languages and appeared in major catalogues such as the Biennales of Sydney, Liverpool, Istanbul, Gwanju, Taipei, Lyon, Thessaloniki and Documenta 13. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Fellow of Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, Member of Clare College Cambridge, Visiting Fellow at the University of Tasmania School of Art, Advisory Board Member to University of South Australia School of Art and Architecture, and co-chair of the Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture and chair of the International Advisory Board for Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore.

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