Art in Revolution – The Challenges of Art in Situations of Political Repression

January 18.2018 – Kunsthal Extra City – Antwerp

Kunsthal Extra City, Eikelstraat 25-31, 2600 Berchem
10:00AM – 17:00PM


Initiator: Pascal Gielen

In times of war and repression, artists and intellectuals often become the first victims of political measures. In Syria, Turkey, Russia and China, for example, many of them have been arrested, prosecuted or forced to remain silent. But artists are also very good at developing strategies and tactics to counteract, develop protests and safeguard public voices. Taking Syria and Turkey as a starting point, this seminar will analyse the more general dialogues between art and politics in dramatic human and political conflict conditions. How does authoritarianism actually work and how do artists and intellectuals produce their works in such a context? Can art become a spokesperson for all in such dramatic situations? How do artists become civil actors and what kind of risks do they take? How do they operate in larger frameworks of resistance and what are the limits of such resistance in arts and writings? What’s the value, but also the danger and the price, of such activities?

Contributions by:

  • Sana Yazigi
  • Sarah Vanhee
  • Roschanack Shaery-Yazdi
  • Hakan Topal
  • Gurur Ertem
  • Pascal Gielen
  • Liselotte Sels


10:00 – 10:15  Introduction by Pascal Gielen & Sara Vanhee
10:15 – 11:00  Sana Yazigi: Artists as “citizens”, dangers and challenges
11:00 – 11:20  Roschanack Shaery-Yazdi: Resistance in Syria past and present. Memory as a Political Project
11:20 – 12:00  Q&A
12:00 – 13:00  Lunch
13:00 – 13:45  Hakan Topal: A Stage for Resistence: The Cultural Scene in Turkey
13:45 – 14:30  Gurur Ertem: Radical Politics, The Arts, and Social Hope
14:30 – 15:00  Q&A
15:00 – 15:45  Liselotte Sels: New music in the Islamic Republic of Iran
15:45 – 17:00  Q&A and debate


In collaboration with the Centre for Political History, University of Antwerp, Kunsthal Extra City, Culture Commons Quest Office and Co.Labs Antwerp.