The Irish Museum of Modern Art is hosting a free summer school with a public programme on 'Art and Politics: Statecraft'

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 14:30

IMMA Summer School Seminar #1: Gerry Kearns 'Statecraft and the Cultural Politics of AIDS'
Aug 6, 2020 06:30 PM, Dublin time

States have long been concerned with issues of vitality, or what Foucault called biopower (Kearns 2007). Epidemics have allowed the extension of state power in the service of securing public health (Kearns 2014). Producing new powers required legitimation and this in turn rested upon new representations. The iconography of these powers includes such instruments as the bills of mortality during plagues and the online dashboard during Covid. These representations are essentially contestable. In this seminar, Gerry Kearns will illustrate this by looking at the visual representation of providence with the global map of AIDS (Kearns 2017) and the visual representation of contagion with contact tracing (Kearns 2016). The powers of statecraft may be devalued by questioning the metaphorical basis of the representations but also by developing new metaphors and new representations thereof. Kearns will illustrate these points with reference to cultural activism during AIDS raising questions about its prospects under Covid.

This online talk is part of the IMMA International Summer School 2020, taking place between the 3 and 28 August 2020. The Summer School comprises a month-long programme of seminars, discussions and workshops by a range of national and international artists, theorists and educators focusing on the theme of ‘statecraft’ and the role of art and artists in relation to the state. For information on other seminars and activities, please visit

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