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All that is solid melts into air but I can’t change anything

Stuart Hall Library Reading group discussion post. Thursday 10th February


Dimitrakaki, Angela. “All that is sold melts into air but I can’t change anything”: on the identity of artists in the networks of global capital’ in Jonathan Harris (ed.) Identity theft: the cultural colonisation of contemporary art. Liverpool UP, 2008, pp.221-245.

Thanks to everyone that attended our reading group discussion. Unfortunately due to technical problems we were unable to record the discussions from the evening. Previous audio recordings can be found here

Key questions for discussion

    • What did you think of the text?


    • Dimitrakaki seems to be asking, ‘what is the role of the artist in the age of globalisation?’


    • p.224 Interesting quote from Rashid Araeen about the ‘logic of multiculturalism’, and ‘how the dominant culture can accomodate those who have no power in such a way that the power of the dominant is preserved.’ How far do you think that multiculturalism has been about acknowledging difference without questioning or changing exisisting power structures?


    • p.240 ‘[…]today identity has become suspect, and this happened as it exchanged the ‘soft’ realm of culture for the ‘hard’ realm of non-cultural politics’. Diitrakaki then asks, ‘What fills identity’s negative space’?


    • p.240 Would you agree with the statement, ‘[…]art appears to be disempowered in a milieu where power is reportedly everywhere[…], including the institutions where this powerless art circulates’.


    • p. 241 ‘[…] we are witnessing the return to a subject in terms of economic relations […]’ and Dimitraki sees this as the interrelation of aesthetics and politics. What does this locate us as thinking subjects (who might be artists)?


  • Dimitrakaki acknowledges the historical and cultural shifts that have taken place, the forces of globalisation, ie. p.239 ‘ the persisten and meticulous transference of meaning from the economic to the cultural subject’, and in addition I would argue that September 11 was an ideal justification for the demonisation of ‘cultural difference’. – Arguably cultural difference has never been seen as harmless, particularly in the West.

Next meeting


Our next reading group will take place Thursday 10th March 2011.

We will be reading Kopytoff, Igor ‘The cultural biography of things: commodification as process’ in Arjun Appadurai (ed.) The Social life of things: commodities in cultural perspective. Cambridge UP, 1986 (reprint 2003), pp.64-91

To reserve a place please contact us library@iniva.org