What Must Art Become to Advance a Left Postneoliberalism?

Thursday, March 30 | 8PM

The recent electoral successes of the far right in the North Atlantic clearly signal what has been apparent for some time: the neoliberal settlement of the past forty years is now either in terminal decline or undergoing a significant phase shift. Unlike the financial crisis of 2008, this transformation of political economy cannot be contained or mitigated by emergency financial measures: it is now a directly political problem, not least in that the legitimacy of the political institutions of global modernity are now in crisis. And because of the continued economic and political prominence of the North Atlantic in political and business world systems, it is a historical transformation that cannot be delimited as being only a local curiosity; it is rather a globally systemic development.

Though the emerging condition of postneoliberalism has been effectively mobilised by the far right, it is also a transformative conjuncture that the left has sought for some time. The critical claims of contemporary art are one formation of this long-standing demand, a sanctioned site for the invention of imagined possibilities counter to the many destructive effects of neoliberalism. Yet, as this talk contends, contemporary art is not up to the task of constructing a left postneoliberalism. To do so, to seize the construction of a postneoliberalism back from the right, art must now abandon the terms of criticality assumed as condition for its politicality — terms that have been key to contemporary art since the emergence of neoliberalism's takeover of state power.

Suhail Malik is Co-Director of the MFA Fine Art, Goldsmiths, London, where he holds a Readership in Critical Studies, and was 2012-15 Visiting Faculty at CCS Bard, New York. Recent and forthcoming publications include, as author, On the Necessity of Art's Exit From Contemporary Art (2017) and 'The Ontology of Finance' in Collapse 8: Casino Real (2014), and, as co-editor, Realism Materialism Art (2015), Genealogies of Speculation (2016), The Time-Complex. Postcontemporary (2016), a Special Issue of the journal Finance and Society on 'Art and Finance' (2016), and The Flood of Rights (2017).