Being An Incidental Person -- An Autoethnographic Account From The Frontline Of The Culture Wars- DRAFT UNDER PUBLISHING
This essay focuses on the entanglement of art and politics by providing an autoethnographical encounter with Hungarian "feminism", which, in the author’s case, has been the backwater of political parties and lobbies. The essay provides a brief overview of the criticism of the participatory turn in contemporary art, which claims that such participation is a public ritual, and it has been politically co-oped for different means such as producing fake consensus or the illusion of democratic engagement. However, the author argues that co-optation would have been unavoidable as it stemmed from certain dynamics internal to the field.
What the author describes belongs to the domain of totalitarian cults: silencing dissent, breaking someone’s free will, and bending the perception of reality. Through the fusion with politics, art was instrumentalized as a set of status games and an inherently social (interactionist) phenomenon, (discursive) means to gain symbolic legitimacy, or at most a set of strategies for moral posturing, yet it generated way more than discourse and effects on the discursive register. Furthermore, participants engaged in lots of free labor, which further contributed to the instrumentalization and devaluation of human beings.
The author concludes that besides exploitative labor conditions, what contributed to co-optation was the obsession with discursive meaning-making, the elevation of discourse above intuition, feeling and experiencing, and an elusive, ephemeral notion of meaning.
As a result, cancel culture is a direct consequence of the participatory ethos, and perfectly shows why art and politics should be treated as separate domains.
Keywords: feminism, cancel culture, tactical media, art and politics, participatory turn