In his essay ‘Politics as a Vocation‘ that Max Weber wrote in 1919 as a reaction to the German Revolution, he defines the state as ‘a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory’. More than one hundred years after Weber diagnosed the necessity of violence for a state to sustain its power, we have witnessed global conflicts evolving from this oppression of people. The strong state therefore refers to the physical and psychological strength of the state that becomes a constant threat to the one who opposes it.
Contemporary nation states mirror what Max Weber had expressed in his writings. They use violence in multiple forms to keep their citizens at bay from fighting for their basic rights. The pandemic has fueled social conflicts throughout the world while leading to nationalist tendencies. Because of the increasing isolation, international solidarity and awareness is lacking when and where it is most needed.
Political Art is under governmental surveillance in many states, leading to censorship, detention or worse. Political artists use their cultural production as means to reveal injustice that stays invisible within the country and abroad. This function of art is essential to obtain and question social structures. ‘Manifesto for artists in a strong State’ explores the possibilities of multiple artistic practices evolving beyond the safe spaces of Western democracies. The artists develop distinctive strategies to negotiate with the authoritarian state. The project takes reference from the artists‘ works and captures the main arguments in a manifesto that provides the curatorial framework. Therefore it becomes a platform for global solidarity among cultural practitioners that spreads out over time. This exhibition started with an Open Call and was initially shown in Weimar, Germany. It displayed nine works from nine different countries. In ‘A House in Many Parts’ the exhibition extends the dialogue with three artists from Thailand who react to the existing manifesto.
TEXTS BY ARIJIT BHATTACHARYYA AND LEA MARIA WITTICH
GRAPHICS BY LEA MARIA WITTICH