In recent months, culture and the arts have suffered severely under pandemic-related restrictions. While artists, freelancers, independent projects, and even publicly funded cultural institutions are struggling for economic survival, we easily overlook the fact that—also in “normal times”—the autonomy of culture is increasingly being called into question. With respect to the immediate effects of this political and economic pressure on the arts, there is a major divide between cultural centers and those operating on the periphery. Most heavily affected by the asymmetric consequences of these pressures are not the trend-setter elites in cultural centers, or the publicly funded (non-)artists on the semi-peripheries, but all those who do not move to the cultural capitals. That is, those who decide to uphold cultural projects on the periphery—where they are most direly needed. Within Europe, there is also a significant East-West divide, not only in terms of the distribution of funding, but also in regard to the autonomy of art. This talk dealt with the situation of cultural actors on the periphery, confronted with emigration, poverty, de-/nationalization, walls, borders, ghettos, diseases, regime changes, and a new intra-European colonization.
Noemi Kiss is a freelance author from Hungary. She is Visiting Fellow at the IWM from March-April 2021.