Intimacy and Cosmopolitanism: Space, Difference and Media


DATE: June 18

TIME: 9am—5pm

LOCATION: Conference Room 1. Monash Conference Centre. Level 7, 30 Collins St Melbourne.


This symposium aims to explore contemporary social dynamics through two central concepts: intimacy and cosmopolitanism. The age of globalisation, migration and online social networking would seem to offer new cosmopolitan formations. However, it is increasingly apparent that many people prefer to strengthen their intimate connections rather than deeply engage with socio-cultural difference. Moreover, media systems such as filter bubble algorithms often enclose people within intimate groups while foreclosing meaningful encounters with difference. Difference is often proximate but uncommunicative.

This symposium explores these issues through a variety of speakers from different disciplinary perspectives, including media studies, philosophy, gender studies, post-colonial critique, and the creative industries.

Convenor: Dr Alex Lambert

Book Launch Sebastian Olma | Art and Autonomy: Past, Present and Future 

DATE: June 20

TIME: 6pm - 7pm

LOCATION: Bus Projects, 25-31 Rokeby Street, Collingwood


What does it mean to speak of artistic autonomy at a time when art is fully commercialized and aesthetics has become the guiding principle of economic production and policymaking? In his new book, Art and Autonomy: Past, Present, Future, Sebastian Olma takes a fresh look at this question by summoning three heroes of the aesthetic revolution to confront the challenges artistic practice faces today. Turning Kant into a campaigner for the Anthropocene, Schiller into a creative entrepreneur and Schelling into a political activist, he lays the groundwork for a critique that identifies the contemporary itself as contemporary art’s greatest challenge. Only by taking up a struggle against the contemporary, he argues, can art reinvent its autonomy and regain its relevance to society. 
Celebrating the Australian launch of Art and Autonomy: Past, Present, Future, Bus Projects Melbourne hosts a conversation between the author and Monash Professor of Communications and Cultural Economy, Justin O’Connor. At the same time as art became contemporary, culture increasingly sought to become an economy, and the results are all around us. What if, now, culture sought not an escape from the economic but to hold it to account?


Sebastian Olma is a professor of autonomy in art, design and technology at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Breda and Den Bosch, The Netherlands. Alongside his academic work, he has advised policymakers throughout Europe on the facts and fictions of the creative economy. He lives in Amsterdam, where he edits the subcultural magazine Amsterdam Alternative and tries to help keep the spirit of cultural activism alive. His book In Defence of Serendipity: For a Radical Politics of Innovation was published in 2016.


CONFERENCE: Cultural Economy After Neo-Liberalism

DAY 1: June 25, 9am—5pm

DAY 2: June 26, 9:30am—5pm

LOCATION: Monash College. Level 7, 271 Collins St Melbourne.

The last forty years of cultural policy have been dominated by economic value, as the arbiter and final legitimation for cultural policy decision making. Even when other public values or goals are admitted, these are held to be best achieved through the allocative efficiencies of ‘the market’, and by inculcating ‘market rational’ behaviour.

In parallel we have seen a rapid decline in public funding for culture; the disruption of public media and information; the fragmentation of audiences into market niches and data sources; the erosion of wages and working conditions for cultural workers; a deepening lack of diversity within the sector, and the on-going exclusion of small scale cultural activities from inner cities.

There is crisis of the cultural sector - the ecosystem in which it operates and the values that sustain it as a public good. This is part of a wider crisis of our collective culture. This conference hopes to outline new approaches for the future as a matter of urgency. Rather than the stale ideas of creative industries and creative cities, we seek to engage with post-growth and sustainable economics; Indigenous and cultural rights; new approaches to ‘good living’ in the face of human and ecological distress; revisit making and manufacture in cities, as a question of sustainability and equity; and new forms of global cultural connectivity outside the imaginary of a mobile creative class.

The conference is in three parts over two days: Cultural Economy Futures; Shaping the City for Cultural Production; from Fringe to Famous.

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