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Contemporary Art, Epistemology, Politics of Knowledge

Tom Holert

Friday, 6.7.2018

In German
Moderation: Renate Wöhrer

The central assumptions of the discursive framing of contemporary fine art include the idea that the dimension of the aesthetic has become indivisible from that of the political and the epistemological—for better or worse. But what about the role that agents, practices, and social structures of art play in what we might call the contemporary politics of knowledge?

What expectations and tasks for such a politics are bound up with an epistemological conception of fine art, such as we find dominant among artistic research, post-conceptualism, the documentary turn, or Biennale talks? Beginning with this question, my lecture will discuss the widespread emphasis on the connection between art and knowledge in relation to a global transformation in concepts of knowledge under the sign of a neoliberal knowledge economy, as well as projects of decolonialization and making knowledge more accessible.


Tom Holert works as an art historian, writer, curator, and artist in Berlin. In 2015 he cofounded the Harun Farocki Institut in Berlin. Currently, his work focuses on the dialectics of interwar avantgarde art, thinking and politics, architectures of teaching and learning in a global cold war context (c. 1957–1977), and the politics of knowledge in contemporary art. Recent publications include: Marion von Osten: Once We Were Artists (co-ed. with Maria Hlavajova, 2017), Troubling Research. Performing Knowledge in the Arts (with Johanna Schaffer et al., 2014), Übergriffe. Zustände und Zuständigkeiten der Gegenwartskunst (2014). In 2018 he co-curated (with Anselm Franke) Neolithic Childhood. Art in a False Present, c. 1930 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. An exhibition at HKW on learning and research environments of the 1960s and 1970s is scheduled for 2020/21.