Art in Times of Disintegreation

Panel discussion as a part of Biennale Sessions Venice

The University of Applied Arts Vienna cordially invites to a panel discussion as part of the Biennale Sessions Venice.
Carol Becker, Professor and Dean of The School of the Arts, Columbia University, NY, USA Brigitte Kowanz, Artist and Professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna
Helga Nowotny, Science researcher, formerly President European Research Council (ERC), Chair ERA Council Forum Austria; Professor emerita, ETH Zurich, CH
Erwin Wurm, Artist, Vienna
Gerald Bast, President of the University of Applied Arts Vienna
Moderated by Clarissa Stadler, journalist and author, Vienna
The event will be conducted in English
Ever more people are realizing that the political and economic systems as well as individual life situations (job, family, social security) are not developing anymore as positively as during the last decades. This applies not only to the so-called “Western” world, where growth and well-being until recently increased the same, but also to emerging and developing countries. Although world-wide hunger and poverty go back, the feeling of insecurity and threat increases. Standards of human rights, democracy and freedom seem to be shaken even where they seemed to be secured.
Once digitalization and robotics lead to the foreseeable massive loss of jobs, this threatens future prospects for many people and creates existential stress, anxiety and aggression. Once artificial intelligence and genetic engineering even question the role of humans in steering the course of civilization, then scientific skepticism may become replaced by forms of hostility against education. If the so-called “alternative facts” make ignorance socially acceptable, then this creates a consciousness-helix that can end in societal destruction.
What is the role of art in this scenario?
Is art the “governor of Utopia” (T. W. Adorno)? Is art the mirror of society? Is art the plaything of the “invisible hand” of the market? Is art currency and commodity in the global economic system?
Art lives from its association with doubt, uncertainty, discontinuity and ambiguousness.
Will art receive new meaning beyond the traditional art markets in a society formed by these tendencies? Must art interlink with the sciences in order to achieve efficacy in an increasingly complex world? Should society be allowed to request expectations or even consequences from art (and the sciences)? And if not: Does that mean retreat in the Ivory Tower? Or will art penetrate and change our future societies anyway - more and faster than ever before?