Celebrated works like Ragnar Kjartansson's The Visitor offer a romanticized glimpse into art's capacity to build community, not only in the metaphorical representations of separate but togethered bodies, but in the audience's collective responses to the work. It's not surprising that our age of optimism has spawned large numbers of work that speak to hope for a more cohesive and progressive social agenda. What is surprising, however, is that the elections of Trump and Boris Johnson haven't signaled the death of optimism and thus the very dangerous effects of conceptually romanticizing community in art and literature. In fact, the reverse is true: The rise of xenophobia and fascism will most certainly ring in a new and necessary focus on the decrepit nature of human relations. This paper argues that curators have a responsibility to radically abandon the optimistic and usher in a more democratic melancholic social truth by exhibiting works that depict the "depressive reality" of our polarized anti-community world.
Social Activism, Curation, Depressive Realism
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Associate Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Wentworth Institute of Technology
Lizzie Falvey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Wentworth Institute of Technology is Boston, MA where she teaches classes in media analysis and production. She holds a PhD in Communication and Rhetoric and an MFA in Visual Arts.