Creative Time Summit: Confronting Inequity
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
October 12 - 13, 2012
Two-weeks ago at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York, Creative Time held their annual summit. For those of us unable to be there in person the entire slate of presentations were livestreamed and are now available for viewing online. Martha Rosler, Slavoj Žižek, A.L. Steiner, Laura Poitras, Steve Lambert, and the Otolith Group are just a handful of names from the impressive list of talks. The dichotomy between art that concerns itself with politics and that which focuses on formal issues seems as strong as ever. Arguments on both sides of the divide pop-up incessantly. Yet that division strikes me as increasingly odd, if not entirely dull and oversimplified. Art might not be able to change the world, but it is a powerful way to begin thinking about the social, economic and political frameworks that structure our lives. Aesthetics have a role to play in thinking through these issues both as a valid form for working and a potential strategy for critique. Common ground is found easily once one lets go of personal proclivities and well-trodden divisions. As I watched the livestream from my desk in Houston I was mesmerized by Žižek and nearly brought to tears by the Otolith Group. Powerful stuff. I was also forced to think critically about my current city and state of residence and the conversations in motion here. Could Texas host and support an event like this? While this is a topic for another time, it is also gets to the real heart of Creative Time’s Summit. The specific presentations and themes are certainly key, but the Summit’s unflinching look at difficult issues and complex ideas in a welcoming and humorous way makes even those thousands of miles away feel like part of a larger community and conversation in a striking way. Now that is powerful stuff.