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
A new focus on the geopolitical status of the African continent has begun to take shape, even before new migration routes emerged (and were immediately blocked). For some time now, discourses on decoloniality, the Global South and the dangers of a continuing “Afro-pessimism” have aimed to correct the continent’s image (in as much as that can be said to constitute any kind of uniform formation). Continuous attempts to bring multiple art practices from various African regions closer to a global audience also play a decisive role. How can the thought patterns and pictorial regimes concerning “Africa” that still prevail be freed from their traditional rigidification? How is it possible to overcome the obsessive linkage of the continent with certain geopolitical markers (an endless reservoir of raw materials, a market for cheap products, above all production of “human waste”)? The “Out of Africa” issue raises the question of new approaches to such a discourse of liberation and the corresponding diverse spectrum of art forms. It also examines new lines of connection currently opening up between art and migration, as well as asking how an expanded concept of blackness can contribute to promoting a contemporary way of thinking about Africa that is stripped of predominantly negative connotations.
Date of publication: 15th July 2019