After the wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, sometimes unstable and somewhat disputed peace-time arrangements became established. Nationalism and borders remain burning issues in the region. Even the ways in which the war is remembered are still controversial. The countries involved have completely different cultures of remembrance, which thus also means there is no uniform interpretation of the Balkan wars. This leads to tensions again and again. A democratic crisis can likewise be observed. There was cautious democratization in many countries after the authoritarian systems in the Western Balkans were overthrown. However, the transformation process did not proceed as rapidly as people had hoped. What does that mean for art from this region, especially for the younger generation, for artists who were children or adolescents during the war and were shaped by those experiences?
Date of publication: 21st January 2019
Liberality is one of the most fiercely contested concepts today. On the one hand, there is growing concern as to whether any universally valid concept of freedom can be salvaged. On the other hand, we find familiar attacks directed specifically at freedom in the name of vigorously invoked illiberalism. The “illiberal” leanings that can be observed in many places seek—and manage!—to replace the liberal view of humankind and the world, which is the fruit of centuries of effort, by a negative, distorted vision: a separatist notion of freedom, often conceived in a racist vein, reserved for just a few nationally/ethnically elect. In the process, liberal democracy, achieved thanks to the discourse of political enlightenment, is increasingly crushed by the ideological force of new forms of authoritarianism, which now enjoy considerable support. How is it possible to halt the spread of this politics of separation and which specific means can be deployed to do so? To what extent do increasing globalization and digitalization define developments that are incompatible with a liberal conception of humankind? And how must the freedom of art be recalibrated to avoid unwittingly fostering a climate of increasing restrictions on liberalism? In short: what kind of new dialectic of liberation should be devised for contemporary culture?
Date of publication: 15th April 2019