On the Heroisms of Today: Experience, Memory and Risk as Anti-fascist Politics in Contemporary Art
Since around 2000, the strategies of participation and compromise in socially engaged art have contributed to modest victories providing at the same time an excuse to left-wing intellectuals to work with institutions of power. While these strategies allude to the redundancy of gestures of negation, the rise of explicitly far-right or neo-fascist tendencies in today’s world can challenge their efficacy from an emancipatory point of view. This article draws on recent art practices to think through modalities of oppositional intransigence and disaffirmation as means to achieve political ends, including negation, zealotry, heroism and sacrifice. At least since the early 1990s, these modalities have been largely viewed with distrust in cultural and critical theory for allegedly reproducing epic, pure and fixed identities, certainties or grand narratives Yet, as this article discusses, intransigence and the construction of sacrificial lifestyles or heroic representations was and will be part of any struggle for social equality in which individuals or collectives put their lives and well-being at risk so as to construct a better future.