We often talk of the power of art to 'make us more human', but at times this phrasing feels like a brush off or failure of imagination—as though the upholding of human values, vaguely and idealistically expressed, has been passed onto art because no one else wants the job or knows exactly what it is, and as though art itself holds our humanity like a distant seed bank preserving its archive at temperatures below zero.
Media and political language around art seems to be trapped either in the making of defensibly vague statements, or in detailed appraisals, pound for pound, of the financial return on culture as a public investment, yet in between these two poles must be an approach that's rigorous and ambitious, intolerant of self-valorisation (art saves the world) or self-pity (everything's worse than it used to be), and clear on the ability of art to transform the lives of individuals and communities.
The Adjacent Possible is a series of conversations with artists and thinkers on four big themes: Presence, Society, Ageing & Death, and The Unknown. Each of these themes takes a view on the purpose of art in relation to important contemporary movements, and tries to think about how these ideas can illuminate the fundamental nature of the circus form.
Image: Yves Klein, 'Leap into the Void'
Audio: Roberto Unger, 'Freedom, Equality and a Future Political Economy'