ARC Research Seminar: ‘Political Thought in Contemporary Art’ (23/05/2018)

The Aesthetics Research Centre invites you to a research seminar with:

Dr. Vid Simoniti, Churchill College, University of Cambridge

‘Political Thought in Contemporary Art’

Wednesday 23rd May 2018 at 5pm in Keynes Seminar Room 1, University of Kent

Political Thought in Contemporary Art

Much of contemporary visual art presents us with a specific political commitment.

Indeed, of all the arts today, visual art comments on pressing political issues most explicitly: on issues such as the deterioration of the environment (e.g. Mark Dion, Agnes Denes),

racism (e.g. Adrian Piper, Kara Walker), or the refugee crisis (e.g. Ai Weiwei, Wolfgang Tillmans). However, when do political messages in art hit home, and when do such works

merely rehearse public pieties? Or, to put the question more philosophically: can art contribute something unique to political discourse, or does it at best reflect what politicians,

pundits and philosophers come up with independently? Here I argue that art can indeed contribute something indispensable to political discourse.

My defence requires an update of some of the accepted tenets of aesthetic cognitivism (the view that art is a source of knowledge), but I hope to make these revisions plausible.


I’m the inaugural Jeffrey Rubinoff Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

​My academic work is in contemporary aesthetics, especially on the question of how art can bring about social and political change. I publish both in Philosophy and in History of Art venues, and occasionally collaborate on art projects. Topics of research include philosophy of art, history of American conceptual art, biotechnological art and, increasingly, art in the digital age.

​At Cambridge, I’m also a visiting lecturer in both History of Art and Philosophy faculties. Before coming to Cambridge, I obtained my D.Phil. (doctorate) at the University of Oxford in 2015.

Everyone is welcome!