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Art and politics at the Hammer Museum

June 11, 2011 | 10:00 am

“Art must be revolution,” the celebrated French philosopher Alain Badiou said Sunday afternoon at the Hammer Museum. He was the last speaker at the two-day UCLA conference “Can Art and Politics Be Thought?” a sort of sequel to the Wagner conference a year ago at the Hammer, which also featured Badiou.

For Wagner, who happened to be a big thinker (when he wasn’t being a big bigot or big bully), art and revolution went hand in hand. These days thing are more complicated. But in a series of papers and performances and presentations, the Wagnerian ideal and scale was often evoked, if in a manner keeping with out time.

Especially impressive was an excerpt from Matthew Barney’s film/opera/performance piece/installation/whatever work-in-progress based on Norman Mailer’s novel, “Ancient Evenings.” This is about as Wagnerian a project as can be imagined. A Sunday critic’s notebook on the conference can be found here.

— Mark Swed


Photo: Alain Badiou speaking at the Hammer Museum. Credit: Mark Swed/Los Angeles Times.