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December 28, 2016


The possibility of art to reflect and influence local political situations has indeed always been the main focus of this journal. In recent years, «Creative Placemaking» has also become an academic field of its own. Anita McKeown’s article "Creative placemaking: How to embed Arts-led processes within cultural regeneration?" provides rich insights into this development. Notably her research inquires into the critical practice of «permacultural resilience», that fosters the ability of a location to adapt to changing conditions initiated by a systemic arts-led process.

The meaningful but just as often problematic intervention of art in the narrative of place and places is also well illustrated in Manoel Silvestre Friques’ article about the Bahia Biennale that was interrupted by the dictatorial government that saw its planned second appearance – proclaimed to be a celebration of artistic freedom – as a provocation. As a result, the biennale was postponed for 46 years. Returning in 2014, the Biennale seems to have recuperated its track in the sense that it

[...] addressed the limits of official norms and definitions, since Northeast was a term created in 1969 (just one year after the abortion of the second edition of Biennale by the dictatorial government) by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), grouping nine states into one word. This aggregate definition results in a creation of a stereotype of the inhabitants of this region, homogenizing the multiple differences under the denomination Nordestino. Referred as an object of study, this “type” of Brazilian is most of the times deprived of voice, even in ethnographical researches, which focus on him as a “subject”. What is it to be a Nordestino?

South African artist Willem Boshoff, whose works address the disappearance of languages as expressions of cultural nuance is the theme of Antonia Dapena-Tretter’s article. Many of South Africa's eleven national languages, that shape its cultural landscape and create a highly diverse narrative, are at the brink of extinction, the result being an evening-out of South Africa's distinctly heterogeneous culture. According to Boshoff,

My work deals primarily with loss. It points to the abject extinction of a people's collective myths and oral traditions—and to the loss of the unique cultural and aesthetic qualities that a particular language brings to these narratives—when they are no longer shared by word of mouth. […] Just like the wind needs the anchor of trees, buildings, and leaves to be heard, so too are languages and thought dependent on text, speech and our will to share for their preservation.

Whereas the focus on Argentina continues in this issue with part 2 of the articles “The fire and its embers” by Syd Krochmalny and “Reading conflict on the walls of Buenos Aires” by George Kafka, Holly Arden shows us how Jeremy Deller’s public work in recent years has addressed the public, both “as an idea and as an actuality”, often contradicting the uniform understanding of this concept, typical of official political discourse and news media. Notably, in his work about the Iraq war, It is what it is, he permits unofficial stories of war to be to be told from a number of incommensurable, subjective perspectives, without endorsing any of them:

[T]ogether, their stories of war represent the heterogeneous and usually anonymous voices of the public who are not the government officials and journalists who speak and write the vast majority of discourse about the war.