★ Happy holidays from the Art Institute ★
To reflect on Christmas should be to ask oneself: What does it mean to think about politics? Do we need to rehearse in order to find new meaning to such an exercise? Days of peace, it is written in every Christmas card, but for whom? For those who try to escape the misery by risking their lives on the seas? For those who suffer? Or simply for all those who are deeply worried about the fate of constitutional democracy in times of both real and artificial crises? But we could also say that the question of politics—like the right to peace, to renewal, to rebirth, to hope (Christmas)—relies on our capability to ask unanswerable questions. And, as Hannah Arendt wrote, if we should ever lose the ability to wonder and cease to ask unanswerable questions, we will also lose the faculty of asking the answerable questions upon which every civilization is founded.
We tend to associate politics with urgency, and urgency with agency. There is nothing wrong with this logic, and yet, unintendedly, it shadows the importance of political engagement, as well as the social space and function of thinking as a form of such activity. Thinking here stands not for thoughts but for art, for all the unanswerable questions that need a time that scares the now, that takes the form of an intense commitment towards speculation… I often think that we need a new pedagogy—a method—to convey this, one that is capable of coming closer to penetrating the life of all those who never had the possibilities of experiencing anything but urgency, poverty, and the deprivation of an experience of life beyond function.
There must be a way to undo the feelings of anger and defensiveness that have made millions turn their feelings towards xenophobia in all its forms. Such method implies an understanding from the part of the public office, and all capable private parties, of the immense investment necessary for bringing thinking—as you would bring oxygen to those who cannot breathe on their own—to all the cells that form the social.
¡¡ Feliz Navidad !!
From all of us at the Institut Kunst in Basel