Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Thinking about next week
I'm looking forward to next week and meeting everyone properly. One thought that I have about the arts and social cohesion is the idea that the arts can be very critical of the state of things and raise and air difficult issues. In some of the academic projects I have worked on with Kate this gets called 'agonism' . I often say that artists don't sign the Hippocratic oath and their work can do harm or be harmful. Sometimes art can ask difficult questions or probably more constructively build spaces where difficult questions can be asked. For example Ai Weiwei posing as a dround Syrian child on a beach asks us some very difficult questions about the world, the image and what it is possible and not possible to do with art.
At the moment though in Sheffield between saving trees and libraries and anti trump rallies it feels like the best way to unite specific communities is to have a clear thing to fight against. At our adventure playground it was always easier to get people involved if it was under threat of closure, much harder to recruit people into the long haul job of working to keep it open. So the question in terms of social cohesion is how do we work with some of the difficult things that bind people together. A collective enemy, someone to blame, to hate to be afraid of, a council, a political part, a proportion of the population who vote for something we don't want, a proportion of the population who don't vote.