By outlining a general overview, this talk will cover the desire for community within the activism and art of the 1990s. From the orchestration of local dissent to the global protests of the anti-globalisation movement, it will move towards the attempts to unite art and activism and finally deal with the collective practices of contemporary art. It will address this so-called “social about-face” as part of the latter by relating it to the context of neoliberalism. It will therefore pose the following question: is it possible to read practices such as public art, relational art or contextual art as symbolically compensating all that has been lost through neoliberal capitalism?
Cuts in the welfare state and the individualism of an increasingly commodified society have obviously left a challenging void for us. Between confrontation and compensation, between practice and representation, the imaginaries of the nineties appear to us as the ghosts of a possibility that resurface as the residual remains of our present.