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This year’s theme 2022/23: Art and Class

Art and Class

The arts have always played an ambivalent role in great emancipation movements. On the one hand, it was the creative artists from the visual arts, music, literature and theatre who captured their times in thoughts, images, words and songs and recognised the fractures, injustices, power relations and class differences in society, exposing them and playing them back to the public. Many social and political changes were ignited, fuelled and debated through the media of politically engaged art and literature, socially critical films, provocative theatre pieces and sharp satire. On the other hand, this so-called ‘creative class’ has itself now become a new opinion-forming cultural elite. The question is, how inclusive or indeed exclusive is this new class?

In current discourses about inequality, social background has so far remained behind. It is not mentioned once in the German constitution, even though it is one of the strongest factors limiting life choices and development opportunities. It can also overlap with other forms of discrimination, such as on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age or disability. At the same time, class is often not even visible to people at second or third glance and can shape the path of one's own life just as invisibly.

It is a particularity of the current historical period and today, the majority of people who can express themselves creatively in their professional field belong to an educated elite.

In the tradition of progressive, (self) critique, we want to ask, how diverse are the arts? How do art colleges select candidates in the application process and in subsequent training? How do the social networks that determine the art and culture market form and solidify? How do class positions overlap and reinforce other issues of inequality? What processes of recognition and depreciation are found in a diverse society? How is taste formed? What do we perceive as beautiful? In which ways does the language of the art world and the academic world include or exclude? How is our view of the arts effected by our social background? How does the relationship between the state and the arts develop and how did it historically? Who makes art and for whom?