Clockwise from top left: Basma al-Sharif, Anselm Franke, Juliano Fiori, and Alex Hochuli

Denk ich an Deutschland: Basma Al-Sharif, Juliano Fiori & Anselm Franke

Is Western liberalism really on its deathbed? Four voices in art and politics convene for a roundtable on censorship, what the hell is happening in Germany, and art’s role on the precipice of doom.

Alex Hochuli: Polycrisis, over a relatively short time, has come to be a general category through which a lot of our problems are conceived on a global scale. In its crudest sense, it conveys that everything is getting crazy at once, a feeling that has filtered down into general consciousness beyond theorists like Adam Tooze, the historian who has done the most to popularize this term. He first encountered it in conversation with former European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014, and found that “poly” effectively directed attention to a diversity of challenges, without specifying a single, dominant contradiction or source of tension or dysfunction. For Tooze, polycrisis is different from conceptions of crisis that existed up through the 1970s, which would have attributed all of your troubles to a single cause, be it capitalism or industrialism or modernity, depending on your ideological perspective. Today we seem incapable of making such judgments.

Do you understand our time as one of crisis? And what have been your own particular experiences of this universal phenomenon?

Anselm Franke: I want to express a certain reservation towards the way in which crisis discourses implicitly establish a notion of normality, and to try to think productively about what normality is implied. In a book about the notion of crisis we are publishing together, Singaporean artist Ho Rui An recounts an episode from 2015 when Mark Carney, then the Governor of the Bank of England, suggested that the financialization of the energy industry meant that any attempt to restrict fossil fuel extraction to avert planetary catastrophe would immediately destabilize financial markets – any abrupt resolution to the tragedy of horizons is, in itself, a risk to financial stability. To put it another way, crisis discourses imply the stabilization of systems that are geared towards maintaining themselves ...

– This text appears in full in Spike #79 – The Pessimist Issue. You can order your copy in our online shop