Real Democracy

What would real democracy look, feel and act like today? In recent years, social movements throughout the world have been spurred by an urge for new forms of democratic representation. Yet, whilst such a crescendo of voices revealed a widespread impulse for greater democratic freedoms, for the most part their failure to articulate specific demands or speak with one voice have heeded little tangible results. In many contexts, the backlash has seen a retrenchment of executive power and deepening social exclusion.

Concurrently, popular support for European politics wanes, primarily due to its perceived over bureaucratised, un-democratic framework, with disappointment in the global left on one side and the rise of fascism on the other. It is a claim that threatens to unravel the entire European project with the demand for a return to nationally-accountable and locally-visible democratic representatives. For many, the idea of internationalism, federalism and real democracy are incompatible bedfellows. Yet despite such a ground swell of public protest and resentment towards perceived democratic deficits, new forms of representation are yet to be found.

Museums often appear on the outer shell of representative democracy, both tied to and able to buck against the systems that support them. What historical precedents might we turn to –or reject– in search for the real democracy? How might we understand the role of culture and its institutions within a democratic project? How could art's production, mediation and dissemination be democratised and what effects would that have on its institutions and organisations? Would such a move force us to rethink art's role in society?

The Shame and Misery of Liberal Democracy: Europe and Migration Flows
Carlos Prieto del Campo
The excess (of the exploitation) is now the normality (of the dispossession and subalternisation). Today the dystopia of capitalism is the barbaric medicine against revolution. Only the constituent power of dominated classes and subaltern groups have, for short periods, tipped the balance of this democratic-liberal logic of poverty and annihilation, albeit at the immense and phantasmic costs of repression, war and misery. The world's misery is the misery of liberal democracy, now called the European Union in Europe. Today the world's wealth is the constituent power of its migrant, impoverished and excluded populations.
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Apricots from Damascus
Atıf Akın, Dilek Winchester
In 2015 Dilek Winchester teamed up with one of the original contributors, Atif Akın, to collaborate on a new zine and an exhibition program that was presented at SALT Galata in Istanbul and later at SALT Ulus in Ankara between 2015 and 2016. The title of this collaborative project, Apricots from Damascus, is translated from the Turkish "Şam'da Kayısı" that forms part of an idiomatic expression meaning "It doesn't get any better than this." The zines were printed in Arabic, English and Turkish. Apricots from Damascus took place as an apexart franchise exhibition in collaboration with SALT. A selection of the zines, namely those by Atıf Akın, Nadia Al Issa, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan and Dilek Winchester, Khaled Barakeh and Pınar Öğrenci, that most closely relate to the themes of this e-pubication are reproduced here.
Şam'da Kayısı
Atıf Akın, Dilek Winchester
In 2015 Dilek Winchester teamed up with one of the original contributors, Atif Akın, to collaborate on a new zine and an exhibition program that was presented at SALT Galata in Istanbul and later at SALT Ulus in Ankara between 2015 and 2016. The title of this collaborative project, Apricots from Damascus, is translated from the Turkish "Şam'da Kayısı" that forms part of an idiomatic expression meaning "It doesn't get any better than this." The zines were printed in Arabic, English and Turkish. Apricots from Damascus took place as an apexart franchise exhibition in collaboration with SALT. A selection of the zines, namely those by Atıf Akın, Nadia Al Issa, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan and Dilek Winchester, Khaled Barakeh and Pınar Öğrenci, that most closely relate to the themes of this e-pubication are reproduced here.
Apricots from Damascus
Atıf Akın, Dilek Winchester
In 2015 Dilek Winchester teamed up with one of the original contributors, Atif Akın, to collaborate on a new zine and an exhibition program that was presented at SALT Galata in Istanbul and later at SALT Ulus in Ankara between 2015 and 2016. The title of this collaborative project, Apricots from Damascus, is translated from the Turkish "Şam'da Kayısı" that forms part of an idiomatic expression meaning "It doesn't get any better than this." The zines were printed in Arabic, English and Turkish. Apricots from Damascus took place as an apexart franchise exhibition in collaboration with SALT. A selection of the zines, namely those by Atıf Akın, Nadia Al Issa, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan and Dilek Winchester, Khaled Barakeh and Pınar Öğrenci, that most closely relate to the themes of this e-pubication are reproduced here.
Şam'da Kayısı
Atıf Akın, Dilek Winchester
In 2015 Dilek Winchester teamed up with one of the original contributors, Atif Akın, to collaborate on a new zine and an exhibition program that was presented at SALT Galata in Istanbul and later at SALT Ulus in Ankara between 2015 and 2016. The title of this collaborative project, Apricots from Damascus, is translated from the Turkish "Şam'da Kayısı" that forms part of an idiomatic expression meaning "It doesn't get any better than this." The zines were printed in Arabic, English and Turkish. Apricots from Damascus took place as an apexart franchise exhibition in collaboration with SALT. A selection of the zines, namely those by Atıf Akın, Nadia Al Issa, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan and Dilek Winchester, Khaled Barakeh and Pınar Öğrenci, that most closely relate to the themes of this e-pubication are reproduced here.
Apricots from Damascus
Atıf Akın, Dilek Winchester
In 2015 Dilek Winchester teamed up with one of the original contributors, Atif Akın, to collaborate on a new zine and an exhibition program that was presented at SALT Galata in Istanbul and later at SALT Ulus in Ankara between 2015 and 2016. The title of this collaborative project, Apricots from Damascus, is translated from the Turkish "Şam'da Kayısı" that forms part of an idiomatic expression meaning "It doesn't get any better than this." The zines were printed in Arabic, English and Turkish. Apricots from Damascus took place as an apexart franchise exhibition in collaboration with SALT. A selection of the zines, namely those by Atıf Akın, Nadia Al Issa, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan and Dilek Winchester, Khaled Barakeh and Pınar Öğrenci, that most closely relate to the themes of this e-pubication are reproduced here.
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Škart Maps
Đorđe Balmazović
In 2013, Group 484 invited several associates, artists, to work with asylum seekers in an asylum centre near the village Bogovađa, in the vicinity of Valjevo in Serbia. Several years before, Group 484 had collaborated with that asylum centre and others in many ways. The idea was to expand cooperation and introduce different research methods by working with asylum seekers thus developing new contents in their everyday life. Twenty nine of asylum seekers were asked why they had embarked on such a journey, what troubles they had survived, how they had crossed the borders, how much they had paid the smugglers, about their experience with the police, with the people in the countries they had passed through. Together with them, the artists sketched their answers in the form of maps, in order to piece together their routes, which in some cases lasted up to seven years.
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A Few Notes On A Time Of Uncertainties
Merve Bedir
Many of us 'in peace' have displayed our empathy for many of those 'in war' through charity. It is as if they are better away from our sight but still at our mercy – certainly most of us simply don't want them 'at home'. Most of us don't actually feel responsible for what has been happening, at most we feel guilty. In our conversation, remembering his university times in Sofia, Walid Kowatlı referred to the Bulgarians' Slavic Orthodox feeling of collective guilt, which is, for him, maybe the closest to responsibility. This was also an explanation as to why the Bulgarians didn't betray the Jewish people who were hiding from the Nazis in Bulgaria during the Second World War... Indeed, guilt seems to be another element in the infrastructure of our pain, but what is the difference between guilt and responsibility?
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Interview with Oliver Ressler
Oliver Ressler, November Paynter
Borders have become tools for managing, governing and calibrating the movement of people and of course of goods and other things as well. Borders can be imagined as a kind of membrane that lets certain movement through and blocks others. Their fictive nature, rather like the fictive nature of nations, does not make them less real in their effects. Borders are a central element in configuring the capitalist world, through the creation of zones with different modes of labour, different kinds of exploitation and different forms of consumption.
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Syria as a Global Metaphor
Yassin al-Haj Saleh
The attacks on the field of representation are one aspect of a global crisis of political, economic and cultural representation. The crisis in democracy manifests itself in different ways: in the existence of large misrepresented, or completely unrepresented, areas and populations in the world, such as the Middle East and the territories of the Russian "Empire". This crisis also appears in the deeply undemocratic nature of the international system, exemplified by the Security Council and the Group of Eight (G8).
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Under Attack (or Expression in the Age of Selfie-Control)
André Lepecki
Why is it that the self is being reified and pushed from all sides of power (governmental and corporate) to constantly be in a state of expression? And why is this self-expression at the core of the entire corporate-governmental machine of screenal 'social-networking'...
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The Myth of Unfamiliarity
Banu Karaca
Postcolonial and feminist critiques have taught us that we can work against notions of radical alterity by revealing forgotten histories, obscured encounters and connections that allow us to understand the past and envision the future in a different manner. Artistic expression has been a powerful vehicle in enacting these critiques of representation, recovering these connections, and opening imaginative horizons. Yet, the institutional outlets for arts and culture have had greater difficulties in this process..
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The Welfare State Is Not a Thing of the Past
Anders Kreuger
The welfare state has become synonymous with the synthesis of a market economy and active government that characterises both 'Western' and 'emergent' societies today. The term itself can no longer be reserved only for countries such as Belgium or New Zealand, the US or Japan; it also describes how countries as different as Brazil, Turkey, South Korea and China treat their populations.
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Bourgeois Censorship: No Representation Without Taxation!
Anej Korsika
A rare sight of political unity followed the attack on Charlie Hebdo editorial staff, a march that "united" Angela Merkel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, François Hollande and dozens of other high-ranking politicians. Under the surface however, a more sinister face of this "political unity" reveals itself... How something is represented and the issue of representation as such is at the very heart of the matter.
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Representation Under Attack through the lens of the collections and archives of the members of L'Internationale
This first online presentation by the confederation of L'Internationale of their collections considers the collections and archives through the lens of "Representation Under Attack". It is the result and effect of the use and mode of reading of archives and collections to find traces of attacks and controversial approaches towards art and artists in relation to artistic freedom in all its forms. At the same time, it looks critically for evidence of actions that demonstrate the limits of museological and bureaucratic protocols from the perspective of the institutions themselves. These limits intentionally, or not, limit artistic freedom.
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Kaj vse je pomenil izraz "civilna družba" : Jugoslovanska alternativa
Rastko Močnik
Posebnost jugoslovanske alternative je bila, da so jo sestavljala protisistemska gibanja v državi, ki je bila sama tudi protisistemska. Socialistična Jugoslavija je bila socialistična, torej protikapitalistična; bila je samoupravna in se je v svoji uradni ideologiji izrecno mislila kot alternativa etatističnim zgodovinskim socializmom; naposled je bila ena od vodilnih držav v neuvrščenem gibanju, torej je hkrati nasprotovala blokovskemu sistemu in uveljavljala alternativo blokovski razdelitvi sveta.
The Vagaries of the Expression "Civil Society": The Yugoslav Alternative
Rastko Močnik
It was a particular feature of the Yugoslav alternative that it was composed of counter-system movements in a state which itself was counter-system. Socialist Yugoslavia was socialist, that is, anti-capitalist; it was self-managerial and, in its official ideology, it viewed itself explicitly as an alternative to etatist historical socialisms; finally, it was one of the leading countries in the Non-Aligned Movement, and was thus both opposed to the bloc system and asserted an alternative to the bloc division of the world.
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Assembly (L'Internationale)
Agency
The international initiative Agency's artistic contribution, Assembly (L'Internationale), reports on a legal case in Australia. An elder from the indigenous community was charged with theft of the Australian Coat of Arms, while he claimed his action was in response to the fact that his community had never been asked for the right to use images of two animals that are sacred to them. His lawyer's attempt to transfer the case into the field of copyright law turned out to be unsuccessful.
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Charter for Europe, 1.2
open source
(1) We live in different parts of Europe with different historical, cultural and political backgrounds. We all continuously arrive in Europe. We share experiences of social movements and struggles, as well as experiences of creative political work among our collectivities, on municipal, national and transnational levels. We have witnessed and participated to the rise of multitudes across the world since 2011.
In fact, the European 'we', we are talking about here, is unfinished, it is in the making, it is a performative process of coming together.
Eine Charta für Europa, 1.2
open source
(1) Wir leben in verschiedenen Teilen Europas, mit verschiedenen historischen, kulturellen und politischen Hintergründen. Wir kommen alle ständig in Europa an. Wir teilen Erfahrungen sozialer Bewegungen und Kampfe, sowie auch gemeinsame Erfahrungen kreativer politischer Arbeit in unseren Kollektiven auf Gemeinde-, nationaler oder transnationaler Ebene. Wir waren und sind Teil des Aufstands der Vielheiten seit 2011 an verschiedenen Orten der Welt. Wir gehen hier von einem unfertigen europäischen „wir" aus, das im performativen Prozess der Begegnung entsteht.
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