Art Institutions in the Age of Existential Risks. What Is the Impact of Activism?
Colour-distorted photo of a flooded street. A street sign with a running person on it rises out of the water. The building in the background reads "Museum of Art".
Online event + Film screening
Thu, December 16, 2021 6.30 pm CET, Conference
Language: English

Activists are at the forefront of the struggle against the existential risks of our time. We talk about the relationship between activism and art, as well as activism and art institutions in the second part of the ZKM event series »Art Institutions in the Age of Existential Risks«.

Guests include Luisa Neubauer from the German Friday for Future Movement, artist and activist Lucy Orta, founder of »Fearless Collective« artistic group Shilo Shiv Suleman, and representative of »BP or not BP?« activist collective Bayr(y)am Mustafa Bayr(y)amali. The event is followed by a live screening of »Dear Future Children« (2021), a film by Franz Böhm exploring young activism worldwide.

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After decades of global crises, from the climate crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic, at the beginning of the 21st century the art world is also changing its paradigms and criteria, as the ZKM already showed in 2013 with its exhibition »Global Activism«.

Activists are at the forefront of the struggle against the existential risks of our time. From protest movements on the streets to academic discourses on racism, colonialism, gender, and migration, activism takes many and diverse forms. Is this a new Age of Reason, a defense of life confronted by existential risks? Activism challenges the status quo and the traditional structures of the public sphere, from politics and the press to cultural institutions, by creating new platforms for making things public and putting the most urgent existential questions facing humankind at the top of the agenda for public attention.

How can alternative visions for the future be imagined utilizing art and activism? How do activism and art institutions influence each other? Will the art world in the future operate as an ally of activists? Will major art events such as the Documenta and the Biennale di Venezia become the new sites of activism in these times of global crises?

ZKM | Karlsruhe is inviting prominent representatives of artistic activism, climate activism, as well as other »artivists« to discuss the influence of art and activism on society and institutional practice. ZKM opens up a »thought space« to rethink the future of society and art institutions from the perspective of activist practice.


Bayr(y)am Mustafa Bayr(y)amali (visual researcher, journalist and art activist, London)

Shilo Shiv Suleman (artist and founder of Fearless Collective, Bangalore)

Lucy Orta (visual artist, UAL Chair of Art & the Environment, Paris)

Luisa Neubauer (climate activist, Fridays for Future Germany, Berlin)

Franz Böhm (film director, London)

The event via live stream
Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe