De-Idealizing Democracy: On Thomas Hirschhorn’s Postsocialist Projects
“I want to give form to the end of the Idealization of Democracy,” claims one of Europe’s leading artists, Thomas Hirschhorn. The statement may seem surprising, given Hirschhorn’s status as a poster-boy for promoting democracy through art, yet the drive to de-idealize democracy has long been crucial to his practice. This article examines how de-idealization has emerged in such projects as Swiss Swiss Democracy and Chalet Lost History, as a critique of art theory’s promotion of Democracy during the “War on Terror,” and by remobilizing critiques of Democracy seen in earlier, late-communist practices. The coalescence of these two factors is central to understanding Hirschhorn’s work in terms of postsocialism as distinct from postcommunism: as a remobilization of past nonconformism outside the space and time of late-communist Europe, and as the overlooked core to Hirschhorn’s practice of “making art politically.”
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