Art After Activism?

This debate will address some of the doubts that hard core activists have about the usefulness of art in a political context.

For many, the urgency of some of the questions we are facing generate an angry skepticism around any practice that raises art or media questions. For real actionists the equation is simple, discourse = spectacle. They insist on a distinction between real action and the merely symbolic. From this perspective media tacticians are accused of merely talking, not doing anything. By focusing on the art and media questions are we in danger of just creating more empty signs?

If we value art for its effect rather than its economic or symbolic value then can we describe some of the starting conditions necessary for real effectiveness?

Although campaigning media activism lie at the heart of N5M because they prevent us from making the frequent mistake of only posing the questions that we can answer and then crediting ourselves with knowing something definitive about society. Art is one of the discourses that lie at the nucleus of the N5M because, at its best, it refuses to simply separate good from bad, *that is give answers*. Rather it dramatizes the difference between what we want and what we are. If politics is about control, art is about knowing how and when to let go of control. Artists in N5M are involved, are not only generating spectacle but should be fully integrated; triggering, supporting or interrupting discourse.