Democracy is the form of government in which democratic freedom not only applies to its political institutions and procedures, but rather, in its aesthetic-political sense, to the way of life as a whole. Democracy is always and everywhere – yet it is nowhere and never if it is not embodied and lived. The ruling ‘demos’ is always a contested construction, staged and performed. How does the democratic power of the people materialize in the reality of our lives? What are forms of coexistence that challenge us to recognize the freedom and equality of others? And where do these formations remain in need of improvement, only the promise of a democracy yet to come?
During the Frankfurt Days of Democracy Mañana Bold explores the material and bodily side of democracy in an interdisciplinary performance programme. A plurality of artistic and non-artistic approaches, from theater to AR illustrations, and dance, challenges the accessibility of democratic and artistic institutions. Who normally takes part in these processes? Whose body counts as being part of the people? And who is allowed to take part in the co-creation of our societies? Even though democracy itself is mainly perceived through its processes and institutions, it is lived and embodied through our active engagement with it: If we raise our voice, if we assemble together with others, if we put our bodies visibly on the streets in protest. The hardness of existing structures of power is met with the ever changing shape of the body of the people, with the softness of our own physical and vulnerable bodies, as Judith Butler points out in her Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015). With the presence of our bodies, that become more than just physical materiality, we can force these structures to change and include those voices that were excluded from the distribution of the sensible before, as philosopher Jaques Rancière has described it in (2014). Yet at the same time it is our body, our performance, that is called upon by what Paul Preciado has coined pharmacopornographic capitalism (2013). Our bodies, their work force and their performance have become the raw materials of today’s production process of excitation and relaxation, self-satisfaction and omnipotent control. If our bodies are absorbed and exhausted for this new psychosomatic capitalist production process, what is left for democracy?
Formations of Power tackles questions of participation, emotional and bodily engagment with politics, mechanisms of exclusion and gatekeeping, and performative aspects of democratic processes. But democracy is not only negotiated within the hyper-secure borders of the European Union. Democracy, the rights of freedom and equality, are fought for all over the world. Although democracy is a contested concept that is either abused or disregarded by authoritarian regimes, there are people who fight for democracy on the streets – with their bodies. Mañana Bold wishes to include these voices in the Frankfurt Days of Democracy and will invite visual artists from Iran, Ukraine and other countries in the struggle for democracy to voice their messages.