Monday, 14 January 2019, Vid Simoniti (University of Liverpool),”Contemporary Art as Political Speech”

Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

The talk will be live-streamed and will remain available on YouTube. Remote participants can watch the live webcast and ask questions using the YouTube Live chat channel.


Abstract: Much of contemporary installation art presents us with a specific political commitment. Indeed, of all the arts today, biennale-based art comments on pressing political issues most explicitly: on issues such as the deterioration of the environment (e.g. Mark Dion, Agnes Denes), racism (e.g. Adrian Piper, Kara Walker), or the refugee crisis (e.g. Ai Weiwei, Wolfgang Tillmans). However, when do political messages in art hit home, and when do such works merely rehearse public pieties? Or, to put the question more philosophically: can art contribute something unique to political discourse, or does it at best reflect what politicians, pundits and philosophers come up with independently? Here I argue that art can indeed contribute something indispensable to political discourse. My defence requires an update of some of the accepted tenets of aesthetic cognitivism (the view that art is a source of knowledge), but I hope to make these revisions plausible.

Vid Simoniti is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. His academic work sits at the cross-roads of aesthetics and history of art; recent publications include “Assessing Socially Engaged Art” in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism; “Adrian Piper and the Rhetoric of Conceptual Art” in Adrian Piper: A Reader; and “Aesthetic Properties as Powers” in The European Journal of Philosophy. Before joining Liverpool in 2018, he was a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge between 2015 and 2018, and he obtained his doctorate from Oxford in 2015.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola, research budget: € 60.000).


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