Anna McNay

Review of Frieze Talks: Sexuality, Politics and Protest at Frieze London Art Fair 2013


Frieze London Art
Fair 2013

Frieze Talks:
Sexuality, Politics and Protest

Friday 18 October
2013, 13:30

Neil Bartlett (Theatre Director, Author and Performer,

Marlene McCarty (Artist, New York)

Zanele Muholi (Photographer, Johannesburg)

Chair: Jennifer Kabat (Writer, New York)

Political theorist Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) drew a strict
distinction between ‘labour’ (‘animal laborans’) – the biological processes of
the human body: spontaneous growth, metabolism, and eventual decay; ‘work’ (‘homo
faber’) – once you start employing implements and separating yourself from
nature, creating an artificial world of things; and ‘action’ (‘vita activa’) –
political acts, such as speech acts, which separate and distinguish one man
from another, but which take place directly between men without the
intermediary of things or matter. As such, she placed art firmly within the
realm of work, not action, since, generally speaking, it creates a tangible

Obviously, however, things are not quite this clear cut. For
starters, art, if you allow for performance art in particular, does not always
leave behind a tangible trace. Moreover, however, art is very commonly employed
for political purposes: to express a particular viewpoint, or to protest
against the status quo. 

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