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Passages Nr. 50: Strange Bedfellows – Culture and Politics in Conversation

Passages Nr. 50

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Are they a dynamic duo, or just a marriage of convenience? Do they cross-pollinate, or are they merely co-dependent?

Culture and politics maintain a symbiotic relationship that is as remarkable as it is idiosyncratic. In Strange Bedfellows: Culture and Politics in Conversation, we give politicians and artists the floor by polling young parliamentarians for their opinions on Swiss cultural policy and by inviting artists to share their views and visions using the form of their choice, and present contributions by Franz Hohler and Vanni Bianconi, by video artist Pipilotti Rist and Stress, the Swiss rapper.

Whenever politics and culture intersect, you may be sure there’s money involved – or at least talk of money. What kind of art merits state support? And why? There is no consensus on these questions, whether among politicians or makers of culture. Artistic licence, too, is guaranteed to supply fuel for controversy. Indeed, a cursory glance at the century that separates Hodler from Hirschhorn proves that censorship has been modern Swiss art history’s constant companion.

On 5 September 2009 Pro Helvetia kicked off Ménage – Culture and Politics in Conversation, a programme that offers a platform for an exchange of views. As Switzerland debates the merits of a law on the promotion of culture, the programme analyses the relationship between culture and politics, with examples drawn from crises past and present.