Victor Burgin: Art and politics, a reappraisal

Issue 20 of A Prior magazine (2010) includes an interview with Victor Burgin and Hilde Van Gelder, reprinted in Eurozine as “Art and Politics: A Reappraisal.” Burgin argues:

Art, at least in our western populist liberal democracies, has no direct political agency. When I joined the protest march against the Iraq war in London, when I joined demonstrations against the National Front in Paris, I acted as a citizen, not as an artist. (By the way, it does seem that the days when street protest could have a real political effect have now passed into history.) When I refused to cooperate with “obligatory” but intellectually ridiculous government research assessment exercises, when I refused to join a “compulsory” training day for academic staff run by a private management training consultancy, I acted as a university teacher, not an artist. The work of “political artists” usually harms no one, and I would defend their right to make it; what I cannot support is their self-serving assumption that it “somehow” has a political effect in the real world.