Radical imagination.

Radical imagination.

Imagine for a moment that, not Donald Trump, but Bernie Sanders had been elected US President. Imagine also the skyline of Antwerp, with not only the cathedral, but also a mosque and a synagogue. And what would we think of contemporary art if our references included, not only the likes of Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, but also Andrea Fraiser and Kara Walker? What would contemporary dance mean if, after Maurice Béjart, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker had not broken through? What would our view of humankind and society be if, instead of Jean-Paul Sartre and Pierre Bourdieu, we had taken Audre Lorde and Donna Haraway as our reference points? How would we handle our everyday affairs if we didn’t allow ourselves to be swayed by the issues of the day through social media? And imagine for a moment that the news included as much cultural news as sport.

Under the banner ‘Radical Imagination’, Integrated2019 is inviting leading international artists, designers, architects, scientists, politicians and activists who offer us a radically different view of the world and of our future. We are not talking about creative visionaries who hold this or that otherworldly idea, nor about those who, under the diktat of ‘mainstream influencers’, want to saddle us with the latest trends. No, what we’re talking about is a platform for unique perspectives that speak to the collective imagination, panoramas that realign our image of art, technology and design, that readjust our perspective on a city, country or society and that, as a result, make us restless and self-critical. These new visions – whether they are political, scientific or aesthetic – not only have the power to move our world view, but also inspire us to think and act differently. So the imagination speaks not only to the individual in the first place, but also to the collective consciousness, or as, Max Haiven and Alex Khasnabish, the sources of inspiration for this Integrated edition, put it: ‘we understand the imagination as not merely the “private property” of the individual. Through shared experiences, language, stories, ideas, art and theory we share part of our imagination. We create, with those around us, multiple, overlapping, contradictory and coexistent imaginary landscapes, horizons of common possibility and shared understanding. These shared landscapes are shaped by and also shape the imaginations and the actions of their participant individuals’ (Haiven & Khasnabish, 2014: 4). …

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The manifesto announcing the Integrated2019 international art & design conference. Written by Pascal Gielen (professor of cultural sociology at the University of Antwerp) in collaboration with Hugo Puttaert. Published online at integratedconf.org. Language: English & Dutch. Photo by © Jelle Jansegers.

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