Neue Sachlichkeit, Political Music, or Vernacular Avant-garde? – University of Copenhagen



International conference organized by the International Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft, Berlin, the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen and The Royal Library, Copenhagen.

The purpose of the conference is to address the basic question of how modern art can achieve an impact on social reality and to discuss whether concepts and terms used are adequate. The focus of the discussion will be to reconsider those trends since the 1920s which were labelled Neue Sachlichkeit, Gebrauchsmusik or applied art in most of Europe and kulturradikalisme in the Nordic countries. This is an important trend in European cultural life which still influences ways of thinking. The approach will highlight similarities as well as the diversity of manifestations of this trend in different European countries and contexts. These trends incorporated the desire of a wide range of artists and musicians to have an impact on social reality and thus implied a large-scale attempt to reformulate basic assumptions concerning the relationship between art and its audience, between notions of artistic value and function, and between modernity and accessibility. Labelling these efforts ‘political’ art limits the focus to openly political genres or only to certain aspects of the works in mind. The conference will focus on music but will work cross-disciplinary into adjoining areas such as literature, theatre studies and sound studies.