Past Event Tate Modern Talk

Global communities and critical citizenship: Citizenship and public institutions

24 March 2014 at 18.30–20.30

The global financial crisis in 2008 and the continuing rise of neo-liberalism as a global phenomenon has seen the public sphere diminish and be re-drawn. Resulting cuts to many areas of daily life, including the arts, health, education and community provision, have also shifted the perceived roles and responsibilities of cultural institutions. Pressure has grown on arts institutions to play a more dominant role in the maintenance of a public sphere, to play more active roles in their understanding of community, and to respond to the decrease in provision for marginalized and vulnerable members of society. 

In parallel, institutions have pushed our understanding of art publics, of the role of art and artists in relation to the public sphere, and of the responsibility of the art institution in initiating public debate.

This panel examines how some institutions are responding to pressures to be more active agents within their communities.

This event will be of interest to those working in wide ranging public policy contexts, including culture, health, education, social care and researchers and activists in these fields.

Speakers include

Senior NHS Art Psychotherapist Sheila Grandison,  Director of the Showroom gallery Emily Pethick, curator Wiebke Trunk, and artist Nanna Luth.

Wiebke Trunk

Wiebke Trunk is an artist, lecturer, curator and representative at the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations. After studying stage design (Stuttgart) she went on to study philosophy and art history. Her focal working points are different forms of art education based on questions of cultural diversity and broadly conceived accesses to art. 

Changing the definition of the word: cultural diversity 

Definitions of overarching concepts in cultural discourse outline the different forces influencing our relationship to the field of arts and culture. Political and institutional  interests and power relations prevent the evolution of definitions and their perceived meaning. Taking Germany as a case study, through discussing examples of international art education projects I will show how the term cultural diversity can be opened up to reflect actual social developments. 

Emily Pethick

Emily Pethick has been the director of The Showroom, London, since 2008. She has been responsible for initiating an ongoing programme of local participation work, Communal Knowledge, as well as producing numerous acclaimed artist commissions such as Petra Bauer’s film Sisters! (2011), in collaboration with Southall Black Sisters. Previously, she was Director of Casco, Office for Art, Design and Theory, in The Netherlands, and curator at Cubitt, London. She has written for magazines such as Artforum, Afterall and Frieze and edited books including Circular Facts (2011) with Binna Choi and Mai AbuEIDahab, and Hidden Curriculum (2008) by Annette Krauss.

Nanna Lüth

Nanna Lüth works as artist/mediator and is engaged into the expansion of inclusive and deconstructive pedagogical practices. From 2008 to 2012 she was responsible for the gallery education at the Edith Russ Haus for Media Art in Oldenburg. In 2012 she co-initiated the Salon for Critical Art Mediation in Berlin. 2012-13, she was a member of a research team at the ZHdK Zurich, which focused on the representation of gallery education in museums of contemporary art. Since November 2013, she teaches as Junior Professor for Art Didactics/Gender Studies at the University of the Arts Berlin. 


Gayle Rubin stated in 1984; ‘A radical theory of sex must identify, describe, explain, and denounce erotic injustice and sexual oppression.’ During the seminar Sexuality in the diagram held last autumn at the Carl-von-Ossietzy-University in Oldenburg it became clear that there is an extra step needed to translate critical thinking on one's own life and social context and that there is a need to still further to develop this type of thinking as part of an education towards critical citizenship. A diagrammatic exercise at the end of the seminar acted as a way to provoke this transfer and to represent ideas on what sexual oppression or discrimination might mean in the global context right now. 

Wiebke and I will conclude by speculating upon which situations and mentalities are favourable or disadvantageous for the institutionalization of such a (self)critical education.

Sheila Grandison 

Sheila Grandison is an art psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working in NHS adult mental health. She is currently based in Newham where she is Lead Art Psychotherapist and Head of Arts Therapies at the Specialist Psychotherapy Resource Unit, East London NHS Foundation Trust. Her specialist area is psychosis and trauma. Since 2008 she has worked in partnership with Community Learning, Tate Modern, on projects related to social justice, mental health and art. She is a founder member of ISPS UK (International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis) and is an Hon. Lecturer in the School of Health Studies, City University. 


Starr Cinema

Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

24 March 2014 at 18.30–20.30