Bashed on the Head: Global and Local Tensions in the Life of an Artist

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Lanfranco Aceti, Artist, Curator and Visiting Professor, Goldsmith College, UK and Sabanci University, Istanbul; Director, Arts Administration, Boston University; and Editor-in-Chief, Leonardo Electronic

Lanfranco Aceti’s presentation at TransCultural Exchange’s 2016 International Conference on Opportunities in the Arts addressed the conflict and the differentiation between “this humanity” and “that humanity,”1 discussing the possibility or impossibility of establishing cultural dialogues in contexts of religious and political conflict, where freedom of speech and artistic expression are constantly denied and forced to be constructed within a socio-political discourse of global institutional and collective consensus.2

[1] Conflict, ideologies and identities divide humanity in acceptable and unacceptable groups, acceptable and unacceptable deaths. “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shed tears live TV on Aug. 22 over an Egyptian father's letter to his daughter, who was killed by the security forces in Cairo.” No tears were shed over the hundreds of Yadizis being killed in Iraq. Turkish PM Erdogan Sheds Tears on TV over Egyptian Father's Letter to Slain YoungGirl,” HurriyetDaily News, August 22, 2013, accessed January 3, 2015, Also: Rya Jalabi, “Who Are the Yazidis and Why Is Isis Hunting Them?,” The Guardian, August 11, 2014, accessed January 1, 2015,

[2] “Many in authority regarded the cinema as a potential breeding ground for radicalism on the understanding that the lower classes were more gullible and open to political persuasion.” Tony Shaw, British Cinema and the Cold War: The State, Propaganda and Consensus (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006), p. 11.

Also: “At its peak, the Congress for Cultural Freedom had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, published over twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances. Its mission was to nudge the intelligentsia of Western Europe away from its lingering fascination with Marxism and Communism towards a view more accommodating of ‘the American way.’” Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Art and Letters (New York: The New Press, 1999), p. 1.