Transgression—the challenging of what can be said, of social conventions, and of what is perceived as morally and aesthetically legitimate—has become an essential strategy of the new right. The “meta political” rightward shift of the Overton window (the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time) can be seen as a prelude to the establishment of an authoritarian society, and these changes have been reflected in popular culture too.
Can useful analyses of these trends be developed? How can progressive artists and critics understand this phenomenon and resist it? Must acts of transgression be renounced on aesthetic and strategic fronts? After all, breaks with social conventions and acts of provocation have always been part of progressive cultural traditions. How can transgressive acts with progressive motivations be distinguished from their reactionary counterparts? In the face of the right-wing hegemony emerging today, how can we understand provocative “play” with right-wing symbols—symbols that shaped parts of the electronic avant-garde in the 80s, whose traditions CTM are also engaged in? How can criticism of reactionary transgression be formulated without falling into hostile moralism, or is moral stability more important today than aesthetic provocation?
Aida Baghernejad is a freelance journalist and ethnographer. She writes on music and food for a number of regional, national, and international publications—and sometimes about both at the same time. Mostly, however, she searches for the political in the sound, on the stage, or on a plate.
Artist, DJ, writer, and performer Juliana Huxtable is one of the most singular voices in the contemporary art world, drawing inspiration from the white cube as much as the dancefloor to explore complex socio-political issues, and using her body to pose questions to historical structures.
Jens Balzer is an author and journalist for German weekly paper DIE ZEIT. His most recent books are Pop. Ein Panorama der Gegenwart (2016), Das entfesselte Jahrzehnt. Sound und Geist der 70er (2019), and Pop und Populismus (2019). He lives in Berlin.
Daniel Miller is the founder of Mute. He launched the label in 1978 with his own 7” single, "Warm Leatherette," shared under the name The Normal. Since then, Mute has grown into a global group of companies and today, as ever, Miller remains heavily focussed on Mute’s creative output.
Malcolm Ohanwe works as a multimedia journalist for various editorial offices of the Bayerischer Rundfunk. His work often deals with socio-political topics such as cultural identity, feminism, and education, though he also covers music business and network issues.