Political Imagination

30 April - 27 June, 2014
Oliver Ressler. Take The Square. Installation, 2012
Oliver Ressler. Take The Square. Installation, 2012

The relationship between art and play has always been interpreted ambiguously. On the one side, via Friedrich Schiller's romantic thought, play entails freedom from ties to reason and the promise of connections with a world distanced from norms and codes. On the other side, it connects with public festivals and carnival, which, as Mijail Bajtin wrote, form a temporary space fenced in by ordered chaos. This ambiguity echoes the English polysemy of "play", between abiding by the rules of the "game" and the intuitive improvisation of "play".

This course and seminar, related to the exhibition Playgrounds (30 April - 22 September), seeks to discuss this contradiction and endeavours to approach periods of twentieth-century art through play as a space for critical intervention from which to try out a new public sphere, proposing other relationships and subjectivities that enable play to be considered as the exercise of creative and political imagination. Thus, it is no coincidence that Courbet's realist stance coincided with and participated in the libertarian utopia of the Paris Commune at the origins of modernity in 1871, that Giacometti's squares echo the atavistic world upheld by the Surrealists of the 1920s and 1930s, or that Guy Debord's cartography transmits the social convulsions of May '68. Equally, the return of protest in the present day appears to confront a new power system that is no longer solely based on show, but rather on participation and relationships. Play elucidates another sociability, spontaneous cities based on affection and care that replace the factory city that characterised the 20th century.

With participation from Gerald Raunig, Luis Navarro, Marcelo Expósito and Paloma Blanco, among others, The Political Imagination combines a series of classes, with free registration, and public conferences. The course is divided into two parts: the first focuses on a historical review that draws on basic references from Avant-garde art; while the second offers a current look at different artistic interventions that have traversed and transformed public space over the past three decades.


Tamara Díaz. Researcher, curator and coordinator of the Museo Reina Sofía Curatorial Department. Co-curator and coordinator of the exhibition Playgrounds.

Marcelo Expósito. An artist and lecturer in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Castilla-La Mancha, in Cuenca, and the Independent Studies Programme at MACBA. Member of the Scientific Committee for the exhibition Playgrounds. He has also edited, among other publications: Modos de hacer. Arte crítico, esfera pública y acción directa (Universidad de Salamanca, 2001), Producción cultural y prácticas instituyentes. Líneas de ruptura en la crítica institucional (Traficantes de Sueños, Madrid, 2008) and Los nuevos productivismos (MACBA/Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 2010).

Common Notions. A self-education project that revolves around practical knowledge and skills related to militancy and empowerment. Through different core themes (feminism, post-colonialism, technopolitics, global crisis and metropolis), this series of courses aims to articulate circuits of self-education and critical reflection on the fringes of classic channels of academic and university discussion.

Gerald Raunig. Philosopher, lecturer at the University of Arts, in Zurich, and member of EIPCP (European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies) and the editorial board of transversal. He is also the author of Art and Revolution: Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century (Semiotext(e), 2007), Producción cultural y prácticas instituyentes. Líneas de ruptura en la crítica institucional (Traficantes de Sueños, 2008) and Mil máquinas. Breve filosofía de las máquinas como movimiento social (Traficantes de sueños, 2009).

Oliver Ressler. Artist. His work comprises installations, projects in public spaces and film and video work that approaches themes such as alternative economy, democracy and forms of resistance and social antagonism. He forms part of the exhibition Playgrounds, and has recently exhibited at the Centre d’Art Contemporain (Geneva), Basis (Frankfurt), Platform Garanti (Istambul) and Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin).

Adrià Rodríguez. An audiovisual producer and researcher, he is currently working on the Kairós Project, video-documentary archive on social movements in the Mediterranean. He is also resident researcher in the Museo Reina Sofía in 2013-2014.

Alan W. Moore. Art historian, artist and activist. In 1980 he participated in the creation of ABC No Rio, a collectively run centre for art and activism in New York City. He was also highly involved in the artists’ group Colab and the distribution project MWF Video Club, between 1986-2000. He is author of Art Gangs: Protest & Counterculture in New York City (Autonomedia, 2011) and co-editor of ABC No Rio Dinero: The Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery (1985).


Actividad pasada 30 April, 21 May, 4-5 June, 11 June, 2014 - 7:00 p.m.

Access: Free, until full capacity is reached

Gerald Raunig. Revolution as an Expressive Machine
Date: 30 April, 7 p.m.
Location: Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200.

Marcelo Expósito, Tamara Díaz and Nociones Comunes team. Introduction to the exhibition Playgrounds
Date: 21 may, 7 p.m.
Location: Nouvel Building, Protocol Room

Alan W. Moore. NYC Art '80s: Space, Permission, Aspiration
Date: 4 June, 7 p.m.
Location: Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200

Oliver Ressler. Spatial Occupations
Date: 5 June, 7 p.m.
Location: Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200

Adrià Rodríguez and Lilia Weslaty, in conversation. Kairós. Reinventing Democracy in the Mediterranean
Date: 11 June, 7 p.m.
Location: Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200

Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 and Protocol Room