13 February 2016 3-6pm

D&D Vault Fest Satellite: Building On The Ruins Of The Left –

Working Together To Find A New Voice For Progressive Politics

The Vaults Leake Street, South Bank, London SE1 7NN


Invitation from Nik Wakefield: artist and writer, Teaching Fellow at Royal Holloway and

lecturing at King's College.

As an artist and as a more or less young person coming from more or less the left, I am

often disturbed by the lack of persuasiveness of a progressive voice in contemporary

society. It seems like our generation lacks a unifying voice, some ideology to hold us

together. Art can help us with that. Basically, I am wondering if there’s some solution to

our disenchantment, our jadedness with politics, our feeling that nothing we do will

matter very much. I guess I am wondering if a broad idea of equality through art might

help us on the left produce someone as loud as Donald Trump.

What if we made our voice and our art about equality? Not equality for just one group,

but for all. I suggest that intersectionality might be a possible solution. Intersectionality is

a way to think about the world in more than just one way. Instead of being only about

race, gender, ability, religion, age, class and so on, an intersectional perspective seeks to

deal with the complex ways those multiple identities intertwine in issues. Intersectional

equality would be in the interest of everyone because it perceives the complexity of

contemporary identity in society. Not only that, but it might even take us beyond only the

human and help us be able to talk about ecology and climate change with a lot more heft.

Maybe some examples will help. In the two below, I use intersectionality to think through

two celebrities for how they might be empowering and problematic. I love what Kanye

West has to say about American racism in the way that he makes space for black people

to be confident and strong in a culture that seeks to force black people to be polite or

weak, and yet Kanye has admitted that the misogyny of his and other rappers’ lyrics are a

problem but continues to use such language, which is inexcusably sexist. I love that

Taylor Swift makes feminism appealing to so many people who would be otherwise

turned off by a movement that seeks gender equality, and yet I find her wilful ignorance

of issues around cultural appropriation of certain kinds of dance or whitewashing colonial

Africa as super racially harmful. So in the two above examples there’s a way that race

and gender shows how these figures might be helpful and harmful. Each deserves to be

championed and chastised. Occupy failed on the basis that it tried to reinvent the system

from the ground up. I’m saying we talk about ways to work within the system to recreate

it from the inside, with a set of long term goals that a lot of people can get behind.

What will those goals be?

What are the kinds of equality we need?

What kind of theatre, music, painting, sculpture and writing will help us understand our

world better?

How might intersectionality being us together in specific ways, making people from

different groups more able to come together through their differences?

What other solutions do people feel passionate about?

What historical precedents do we already have to work with?

Let’s get together to work on how our differences are exactly what might help us. Our

different viewpoints put together become stronger and make more sense of the world.

Our differences are exactly what we share. They help us create great art. These things

might at least help us to get a better political outlook.

Booking for this event has now closed.