1. Documents, Constellations, Prospects
        2. Contributions
        Pre Recorded Lecture, Insurgent Cosmopolitanism

        From Permanent Red to Into Cosmos: John Berger’s Art Criticism

        Nikos Papastergiadis

        22 March 2013

      1. Nikos Papastergiadis: From Permanent Red to Into Cosmos: John Berger’s Art Criticism, screening
      2. The more we look back at art critic John Berger’s work, and comparing it to his current interest in hospitality through the artistic process of collaboration and creation, the more clear is his affirmative vision of art and politics. Berger’s early work saw a cosmopolitan agenda embedded in an anti-colonial and transnational revolutionary ideology. This implicit cosmopolitanism was never subordinate to insurgent politics. Ways of Seeing (1972) was a polemical text: it sought to challenge the political prejudices of the art world establishment, correct certain gendered biases, and clear away a range of misconceptions concerning the place of the artist in everyday society. However, this brief collaborative book was also a summation of positions and perspectives developed through close critical analysis of the contemporary art scene and also a sustained engagement with a generation of artists, philosophers, and political thinkers. It not only debunked false idols of the art establishment but expressed a vision for art that engaged with the everyday and addressed the widest frames of meaning and possibility. In the past decade, his writing on art has adopted a more metaphysical approach and renewed political focus. This lecture traces the imaginative swerve in Berger’s writing that touches on such fundamental polarities as home and exile, connection and displacement, and violation and redemption in order to consider his enduring fascination with the artist’s capacity to both see this world and to create others.