Aleksandra Lazar – From grey to pale: reflections on freedom and creativity before and after accession towards the culture industry

Creative industries are a contested zone in the making. While policy draws on a set of presuppositions around the borderless nature of cultural and economic flows, situated creativity is anything but global. Concepts are always contextual.

Creative industries discourse is about who is in and who is out. The process of accession is the process of shifting some real and mythical borders, but also of hardwiring some new concepts and ideas into infrastructure – where local ideas lead to regional policies, urban developments, work conditions and flows of economic investment. But how will art largely created on the premises of intangible or grey economies fit into this landscape? What if you do not fit into the statistical regime of governance that determines productivity and conformity to policy within the creative industries? Even if you do fit in, are you aware what it means?

How does art produced within the realm of standardised research-based policies differ from art that works against, or in spite of, official policies, based on invisible economy and on adapting or stealing of ideas and methodologies? How will the current economic and social shift affect creative models in Croatia and neighbouring Serbia following the expectations of Croatia’s accession to the EU? How will it redefine freedoms, value, desire, representation and creativity in the region?

If ‘value’ is no longer determined by grey markets and their accompanying institutions such as think tanks, charities, bank secrecy jurisdictions and protectorates, as well as various mechanisms of laundering, cross-border smuggling, gambling, procuring, embezzlement, blackmail, forgery, and other unauthorised, unofficial, illegal and semi-legal actions – how will it be determined, and who will determine it?

If creativity has a choice of being an integral part of the creative industry or becoming invisible, how will it affect art production in the region? Does culture mapping represent visibility or self-surveillance? And what are the differences between the (neoliberal) self-surveillance and (socialist) self-criticism? Are we looking at a potential hybrid model, where the remnants of the previous systems are grafted onto ‘new’ institutions of governance? Is it possible to qualitatively evaluate the difference between (artistic and human) freedoms – the freedom that is individually negotiated on the grey side of governance, versus the regulated freedom within the neoliberal capitalist production chain? Which of these models carries more freedom for the artist?

This interdisciplinary seminar is based on research stemming from these questions, and on interviews with the artists, critics, sociologists and theoreticians from the region who are interested in this phenomenon and address it in their work. The seminar consists of powerpoint presentation in English language, and accompanying visual and film material.


eulogo   “With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union”

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