Through a series of provocative conversations, Frederick Luis Aldama and Herbert Lindenberger, who have written widely on literature, film, music, and art, locate a place for the discomforting and the often painfully unpleasant within aesthetics. The conversational format allows them to travel informally across many centuries and many art forms. They have much to tell one another about the arts since the advent of modernism soon after 1900—the nontonal music, for example, of the Second Vienna School, the chance-directed music and dance of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, the in-your-faceness of such diverse visual artists as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Egon Schiele, Otto Dix, and Damien Hirst. They demonstrate as well a long tradition of discomforting art stretching back many centuries, for example, in the Last Judgments of innumerable Renaissance painters, in Goya’s so-called “black” paintings, in Wagner’s Tristan chord, and in the subtexts of Shakespearean works such as King Lear and Othello. This book is addressed at once to scholars of literature, art history, musicology, and cinema. Although its conversational format eschews the standard conventions of scholarly argument, it provides original insights both into particular art forms and into individual works within these forms. Among other matters, it demonstrates how recent work in neuroscience may provide insights in the ways that consumers process difficult and discomforting works of art. The book also contributes to current aesthetic theory by charting the dialogue that goes on—especially in aesthetically challenging works—between creator, artifact, and consumer.
In this landmark collection, world-renowned theorists, artists, critics, and curators explore new ways of conceiving the present and understanding art and culture in relation to it. They revisit from fresh perspectives key issues regarding modernity and postmodernity, including the relationship between art and broader social and political currents, as well as important questions about temporality and change. They also reflect on whether or not broad categories and terms such as modernity, postmodernity, globalization, and decolonization are still relevant or useful. Including twenty essays and seventy-seven images, Antinomies of Art and Culture is a wide-ranging yet incisive inquiry into how to understand, describe, and represent what it is to live in the contemporary moment.
In the volume’s introduction the theorist Terry Smith argues that predictions that postmodernity would emerge as a global successor to modernity have not materialized as anticipated. Smith suggests that the various situations of decolonized Africa, post-Soviet Europe, contemporary China, the conflicted Middle East, and an uncertain United States might be better characterized in terms of their “contemporaneity,” a concept which captures the frictions of the present while denying the inevitability of all currently competing universalisms. Essays range from Antonio Negri’s analysis of contemporaneity in light of the concept of multitude to Okwui Enwezor’s argument that the entire world is now in a postcolonial constellation, and from Rosalind Krauss’s defense of artistic modernism to Jonathan Hay’s characterization of contemporary developments in terms of doubled and even para-modernities. The volume’s centerpiece is a sequence of photographs from Zoe Leonard’s Analogue project. Depicting used clothing, both as it is bundled for shipment in Brooklyn and as it is displayed for sale on the streets of Uganda, the sequence is part of a striking visual record of new cultural forms and economies emerging as others are left behind.
Contributors: Monica Amor, Nancy Condee, Okwui Enwezor, Boris Groys, Jonathan Hay, Wu Hung, Geeta Kapur, Rosalind Krauss, Bruno Latour, Zoe Leonard, Lev Manovich, James Meyer, Gao Minglu, Helen Molesworth, Antonio Negri, Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, Nikos Papastergiadis, Colin Richards, Suely Rolnik, Terry Smith, McKenzie Wark
When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, Eastern Europe saw a new era begin, and the widespread changes that followed extended into the world of art. Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe examines the art created in light of the profound political, social, economic, and cultural transformations that occurred in the former Eastern Bloc after the Cold War ended. Assessing the function of art in post-communist Europe, Piotr Piotrowski describes the changing nature of art as it went from being molded by the cultural imperatives of the communist state and a tool of political propaganda to autonomous work protesting against the ruling powers.
Piotrowski discusses communist memory, the critique of nationalism, issues of gender, and the representation of historic trauma in contemporary museology, particularly in the recent founding of contemporary art museums in Bucharest, Tallinn, and Warsaw. He reveals the anarchistic motifs that had a rich tradition in Eastern European art and the recent emergence of a utopian vision and provides close readings of many artists—including Ilya Kavakov and Krzysztof Wodiczko—as well as Marina Abramovic’s work that responded to the atrocities of the Balkans. A cogent investigation of the artistic reorientation of Eastern Europe, this book fills a major gap in contemporary artistic and political discourse.
At first glance, art and politics seem like they couldn't be more separate, with politics focused on the grubbiness of everyday reality and art busily creating a fantasy world of creative expression. Yet the two realms frequently come together, and the collision can be fiery. [-]This book explores the position of art and artists under a number of different political regimes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, traveling around the world to consider how art and politics have interacted and influenced each other in different conditions. Joes Segal takes us to the Third Reich, where Emil Nolde painted under pressure; shows us Diego Rivera creating Marxist murals in Mexico and the United States; ties Jackson Pollock's drip paintings to their Cold War context; and considers the countless images of Mao Zedong in China. In each case, he analyses the inherent tension between free expression and ideology, the aims of the artist and the exigencies of politics.
From 1952 to 1981, South Africa’s apartheid government ran an art school for the training of African art teachers at Indaleni, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal. The Art of Life in South Africa is the story of the students, teachers, art, and politics that circulated through a small school, housed in a remote former mission station. It is the story of a community that made its way through the travails of white supremacist South Africa and demonstrates how the art students and teachers made together became the art of their lives.
Daniel Magaziner radically reframes apartheid-era South African history. Against the dominant narrative of apartheid oppression and black resistance, as well as recent scholarship that explores violence, criminality, and the hopeless entanglements of the apartheid state, this book focuses instead on a small group’s efforts to fashion more fulfilling lives for its members and their community through the ironic medium of the apartheid-era school.
There is no book like this in South African historiography. Lushly illustrated and poetically written, it gives us fully formed lives that offer remarkable insights into the now clichéd experience of black life under segregation and apartheid.
Once the manufacturing powerhouse of the nation, Detroit has become emblematic of failing cities everywhere—the paradigmatic city of ruins—and the epicenter of an explosive growth in images of urban decay. In Beautiful Terrible Ruins, art historian Dora Apel explores a wide array of these images, ranging from photography, advertising, and television, to documentaries, video games, and zombie and disaster films.
Apel shows how Detroit has become pivotal to an expanding network of ruin imagery, imagery ultimately driven by a pervasive and growing cultural pessimism, a loss of faith in progress, and a deepening fear that worse times are coming. The images of Detroit’s decay speak to the overarching anxieties of our era: increasing poverty, declining wages and social services, inadequate health care, unemployment, homelessness, and ecological disaster—in short, the failure of capitalism. Apel reveals how, through the aesthetic distancing of representation, the haunted beauty and fascination of ruin imagery, embodied by Detroit’s abandoned downtown skyscrapers, empty urban spaces, decaying factories, and derelict neighborhoods help us to cope with our fears. But Apel warns that these images, while pleasurable, have little explanatory power, lulling us into seeing Detroit’s deterioration as either inevitable or the city’s own fault, and absolving the real agents of decline—corporate disinvestment and globalization. Beautiful Terrible Ruins helps us understand the ways that the pleasure and the horror of urban decay hold us in thrall.
We live in a politicized time. Culture wars and increasingly partisan conflicts have reduced public discourse to shouting matches between ideologues. But rather than merely bemoaning the vulgarity and sloganeering of this era, says acclaimed author and editor Gregory Wolfe, we should seek to enrich the language of civil discourse. And the best way to do that, Wolfe believes, is to draw nourishment from the deepest sources of culture: art and religious faith.
Wolfe has been called “one of the most incisive and persuasive voices of our generation,” and this penetrating and wide-ranging book makes a powerful case for the importance of beauty and imagination to cultural renewal. He begins by tracing his own journey from a young culture warrior bent on attacking the modern world to a career devoted to nurturing the creation of culture through contemporary literature and art that renew the Western tradition. Along the way, Wolfe finds in Renaissance Christian humanists like Erasmus and Thomas More—and their belief that imagination and the arts are needed to offset the danger of ideological abstractions— a “distant mirror” in which to see our own times.
Beauty Will Save the World offers a revealing introduction to the artists and thinkers who are the Christian humanists of the modern era, from well-known figures like Evelyn Waugh and Wendell Berry to lesser-known authors like Shusaku Endo, Andrew Lytle, and Geoffrey Hill. A section on visual artists Mary McCleary, Fred Folsom, and Makoto Fujimura (accompanied by reproductions of their works) demonstrates that there are artists who can reimagine the Western tradition in strikingly contemporary terms. Finally, Wolfe pays tribute to the conservative thinkers who served as his mentors: Russell Kirk, Gerhart Niemeyer, Marion Montgomery, and Malcolm Muggeridge— all of whom rejected rigid ideology and embraced culture and tradition.
At a time when our public discourse has come to be dominated by warring factions with little regard for truth, Wolfe’s affirmation of beauty as a redemptive force is both refreshing and encouraging.
The Caribbean has been traditionally associated with externally devised mappings and categories, thus appearing as a passive entity to be consumed and categorized. Challenging these forces and representations, Carlos Garrido Castellano argues that something more must be added to the discussion in order to address contemporary Caribbean visual creativity. Beyond Representation in Contemporary Caribbean Art arises from several years of field research and curatorial activity in museums, universities, and cultural institutions of Jamaica, Trinidad, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States. This book explores the ways in which Caribbean individuals and communities have recurred to art and visual creativity to create and sustain public spaces of discussion and social interaction. The book analyzes contemporary Caribbean art in relation to broader discussions of citizenship, cultural agency, critical geography, migration, and social justice. Covering a broad range of artistic projects, including curatorial practice, socially engaged art, institutional politics, public art, and performance, this book is about the imaginative ways in which Caribbean subjects and communities rearrange the sociocultural framework(s) they inhabit and share.
Black Movements analyzes how artists and activists of recent decades reference earlier freedom movements in order to imagine and produce a more expansive and inclusive democracy. The post–Jim Crow, post–apartheid, postcolonial era has ushered in a purportedly color blind society and along with it an assault on race-based forms of knowledge production and coalition formation. Soyica Diggs Colbert argues that in the late twentieth century race went “underground,” and by the twenty-first century race no longer functioned as an explicit marker of second-class citizenship.
The subterranean nature of race manifests itself in discussions of the Trayvon Martin shooting that focus on his hoodie, an object of clothing that anyone can choose to wear, rather than focusing on structural racism; in discussions of the epidemic proportions of incarcerated black and brown people that highlight the individual’s poor decision making rather than the criminalization of blackness; in evaluations of black independence struggles in the Caribbean and Africa that allege these movements have accomplished little more than creating a black ruling class that mirrors the politics of its former white counterpart. Black Movements intervenes in these discussions by highlighting the ways in which artists draw from the past to create coherence about blackness in present and future worlds.
Through an exploration of the way that black movements create circuits connecting people across space and time, Black Movements offers important interventions into performance, literary, diaspora, and African American studies.
Cultural Revolution Culture, often denigrated as mere propaganda, not only was liked in its heyday but continues to be enjoyed today. Considering Cultural Revolution propaganda art from the point of view of its longue durée, Mittler suggests that it built on a tradition of earlier art works, which allowed for its sedimentation in cultural memory.
A Decade of Negative Thinking brings together writings on contemporary art and culture by the painter and feminist art theorist Mira Schor. Mixing theory and practice, the personal and the political, she tackles questions about the place of feminism in art and political discourse, the aesthetics and values of contemporary painting, and the influence of the market on the creation of art. Schor writes across disciplines and is committed to the fluid interrelationship between a formalist aesthetic, a literary sensibility, and a strongly political viewpoint. Her critical views are expressed with poetry and humor in the accessible language that has been her hallmark, and her perspective is informed by her dual practice as a painter and writer and by her experience as a teacher of art.
In essays such as “The ism that dare not speak its name,” “Generation 2.5,” “Like a Veneer,” “Modest Painting,” “Blurring Richter,” and “Trite Tropes, Clichés, or the Persistence of Styles,” Schor considers how artists relate to and represent the past and how the art market influences their choices: whether or not to disavow a social movement, to explicitly compare their work to that of a canonical artist, or to take up an exhausted style. She places her writings in the rich transitory space between the near past and the “nextmodern.” Witty, brave, rigorous, and heartfelt, Schor’s essays are impassioned reflections on art, politics, and criticism.
The High Line, an innovative promenade created on a disused elevated railway in Manhattan, is one of the world’s most iconic new urban landmarks. Since the opening of its first section in 2009, this unique greenway has exceeded all expectations in terms of attracting visitors, investment, and property development to Manhattan’s West Side. Frequently celebrated as a monument to community-led activism, adaptive re-use of urban infrastructure, and innovative ecological design, the High Line is being used as a model for numerous urban redevelopment plans proliferating worldwide.
Deconstructing the High Line is the first book to analyze the High Line from multiple perspectives, critically assessing its aesthetic, economic, ecological, symbolic, and social impacts. Including several essays by planners and architects directly involved in the High Line’s design, this volume also brings together a diverse range of scholars from the fields of urban studies, geography, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies. Together, they offer insights into the project’s remarkable success, while also giving serious consideration to the critical charge that the High Line is “Disney World on the Hudson,” a project that has merely greened, sanitized, and gentrified an urban neighborhood while displacing longstanding residents and businesses.
Deconstructing the High Line is not just for New Yorkers, but for anyone interested in larger issues of public space, neoliberal redevelopment, creative design practice, and urban renewal.
Guisela Latorre’s Democracy on the Wall: Street Art of the Post-Dictatorship Era in Chile documents and critically deconstructs the explosion of street art that emerged in Chile after the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, providing the first broad analysis of the visual vocabulary of Chile’s murals and graffiti while addressing the historical, social, and political context for this public art in Chile post-1990.
Exploring the resurgence and impact of the muralist brigades, women graffiti artists, the phenomenon of “open-sky museums,” and the transnational impact on the development of Chilean street art, Latorre argues that mural and graffiti artists are enacting a “visual democracy,” a form of artistic praxis that seeks to create alternative images to those produced by institutions of power. Keenly aware of Latin America’s colonial legacy and deeply flawed democratic processes, and distrustful of hegemonic discourses promoted by government and corporate media, the artists in Democracy on the Wall utilize graffiti and muralism as an alternative means of public communication, one that does not serve capitalist or nationalist interests. Latorre posits that through these urban interventions that combine creativity with social action, Chilean street artists formulate visions of what a true democracy looks like.
Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries is the first edited volume of its kind, featuring the works of leading scholars, artists, and activists who reflect on the contributions of queer Filipinos to Canadian culture and society.
Addressing a wide range of issues beyond the academy, the authors present a rich and under-studied archive of personal reflections, in-depth interviews, creative works, and scholarly essays. Their trandsdisciplinary approach highlights the need for queer, transgressive, and utopian practices that render visible histories of migration, empire building, settler colonialism, and globalization.
Timely, urgent, and fascinating, Diasporic Intimacies offers an accessible entry point for readers who seek to pursue critically engaged community work, arts education, curatorial practice, and socially inflected research on sexuality, gender, and race in this ever-changing world.
Today, nearly any group or nation with violence in its past has constructed or is planning a memorial museum as a mechanism for confronting past trauma, often together with truth commissions, trials, and/or other symbolic or material reparations. Exhibiting Atrocity documents the emergence of the memorial museum as a new cultural form of commemoration, and analyzes its use in efforts to come to terms with past political violence and to promote democracy and human rights.
Through a global comparative approach, Amy Sodaro uses in-depth case studies of five exemplary memorial museums that commemorate a range of violent pasts and allow for a chronological and global examination of the trend: the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC; the House of Terror in Budapest, Hungary; the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda; the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile; and the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York. Together, these case studies illustrate the historical emergence and global spread of the memorial museum and show how this new cultural form of commemoration is intended to be used in contemporary societies around the world.
Harry Furniss (1854–1925), a leading contributor to Punch and other important illustrated magazines, was arguably the most significant political caricaturist and illustrator of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. He was widely celebrated in his time, and his cartoons helped to define the political world in the public mind. The Humours of Parliament was Furniss’s hugely successful illustrated lecture that he staged throughout the U.K., North America, and Australia during the 1890s. Entertaining his audiences with anecdotes, mimicry, and jokes—along with the spectacle of more than 100 magic lantern slides—Furniss gave his audiences an insider’s view of the mysterious workings of Parliament and the leading political personalities of the day, such as Gladstone, Balfour, and Chamberlain.
Reproducing some 150 images drawn from Furniss’s extensive graphic work, The Humours of Parliament: Harry Furniss’s View of Late-Victorian Political Culture, edited and with an introduction by Gareth Cordery and Joseph S. Meisel, presents Furniss’s unpublished lecture text for the first time. The extensive introduction places the show in its biographical, political, and performative contexts. Cordery and Meisel’s volume therefore both documents a pivotal moment in British political and social history and provides a rare case study of an important yet little studied nineteenth-century performance genre: the illustrated platform lecture.
Slaves and Liberators looks at the political implications of the representation of Africans, from the morality of slavery, through abolitionism, to European imperialism in Africa. Popular imagery and great works, like Turner’s Slave Ship, cast light on widely differing European responses to Africans and their descendants.
Black Models and White Myths examines the racial assumptions behind representations of Africans that emphasized the contrast between “civilization” and “savagery” and the development of so-called scientific and ethnographic racism. These works often depicted Africans’ allegedly natural behavior as a counterpoint to inhibited European conduct.
The Indecent Screen explores clashes over indecency in broadcast television among U.S.-based media advocates, television professionals, the Federal Communications Commission, and TV audiences. Cynthia Chris focuses on the decency debates during an approximately twenty-year period since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which in many ways restructured the media environment. Simultaneously, ever increasing channel capacity, new forms of distribution, and time-shifting (in the form of streaming and on-demand viewing options) radically changed how, when, and what we watch. But instead of these innovations quelling concerns that TV networks were too often transmitting indecent material that was accessible to children, complaints about indecency skyrocketed soon after the turn of the century. Chris demonstrates that these clashes are significant battles over the role of family, the role of government, and the value of free speech in our lives, arguing that an uncensored media is so imperative to the public good that we can, and must, endure the occasional indecent screen.
Peter H. Wood Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress ND237.H7A73 2010 | Dewey Decimal 759.13
Wood delves into the strange history and rich context of a long-neglected work of the great American artist Winslow Homer. Though Homer completed the picture in 1866, it was lost from public view for a century, and its true title, Near Andersonville, was not discovered until 1987. In focusing on this painting, Wood also revisits the history of the notorious wartime prison that became an enduring cultural icon, takes a closer look at the artist’s war experiences, and discusses other key images of African Americans that Homer generated during the war years.
In The Migrant Image T. J. Demos examines the ways contemporary artists have reinvented documentary practices in their representations of mobile lives: refugees, migrants, the stateless, and the politically dispossessed. He presents a sophisticated analysis of how artists from the United States, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East depict the often ignored effects of globalization and the ways their works connect viewers to the lived experiences of political and economic crisis. Demos investigates the cinematic approaches Steve McQueen, the Otolith Group, and Hito Steyerl employ to blur the real and imaginary in their films confronting geopolitical conflicts between North and South. He analyzes how Emily Jacir and Ahlam Shibli use blurs, lacuna, and blind spots in their photographs, performances, and conceptual strategies to directly address the dire circumstances of dislocated Palestinian people. He discusses the disparate interventions of Walid Raad in Lebanon, Ursula Biemann in North Africa, and Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri in the United States, and traces how their works offer images of conflict as much as a conflict of images. Throughout Demos shows the ways these artists creatively propose new possibilities for a politics of equality, social justice, and historical consciousness from within the aesthetic domain.
During the late Soviet period, the art collective known as the Mitki emerged in Leningrad. Producing satirical poetry and prose, pop music, cinema, and conceptual performance art, this group fashioned a playful, emphatically countercultural identity with affinities to European avant-garde and American hippie movements.
More broadly, Alexandar Mihailovic shows, the Mitki pioneered a form of political protest art that has since become a centerpiece of activism in post-Soviet Russia, most visibly today in groups such as Pussy Riot. He draws on extensive interviews with members of the collective and illuminates their critique of the authoritarian state, militarism, and social strictures from the Brezhnev years to the present.
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, this collection—which gathers scholars in the fields of race, ethnicity, and humor—seems especially urgent. Inspired by Denmark’s Muhammad cartoons controversy, the contributors inquire into the role that racial and ethnic stereotypes play in visual humor and the thin line that separates broad characterization as a source of humor from its power to shock or exploit. The authors investigate the ways in which humor is used to demean or give identity to racial, national, or ethnic groups and explore how humor works differently in different media, such as cartoons, photographs, film, video, television, and physical performance. This is a timely and necessary study that will appeal to scholars across disciplines.
The epic Metamorphoses, Ovid’s most renowned work, has regained its stature among the masterpieces of great poets such as Vergil, Horace, and Tibullus. Yet its irreverent tone and bold defiance of generic boundaries set the Metamorphoses apart from its contemporaries. Ovid before Exile provides a compelling new reading of the epic, examining the text in light of circumstances surrounding the final years of Augustus’ reign, a time when a culture of poets and patrons was in sharp decline, discouraging and even endangering artistic freedom of expression.
Patricia J. Johnson demonstrates how the production of art—specifically poetry—changed dramatically during the reign of Augustus. By Ovid’s final decade in Rome, the atmosphere for artistic work had transformed, leading to a drop in poetic production of quality. Johnson shows how Ovid, in the episodes of artistic creation that anchor his Metamorphoses, responded to his audience and commented on artistic circumstances in Rome.
Though we think of the 1960s and the early ‘70s as a time of radical social, cultural, and political upheaval, we tend to picture the action as happening on campuses and in the streets. Yet the rise of the underground newspaper was equally daring and original. Thanks to advances in cheap offset printing, groups involved in antiwar, civil rights, and other social liberation issues began to spread their messages through provocatively designed newspapers and broadsheets. This vibrant new media was essential to the counterculture revolution as a whole—helping to motivate the masses and proliferate ideas. Power to the People presents more than 700 full-color images and excerpts from these astonishing publications, many of which have not been seen since they were first published almost fifty years ago.
From the psychedelic pages of the Oracle, Haight-Ashbury’s paper of choice, to the fiery editorials of the Black Panther Party Paper, these papers were remarkable for their editors’ fervent belief in freedom of expression and their DIY philosophy. They were also extraordinary for their graphic innovations. Experimental typography and wildly inventive layouts reflect an alternative media culture as much informed by the space age, television, and socialism as it was by the great trinity of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Assembled by renowned graphic designer Geoff Kaplan, Power to the People pays homage in its layout to the radical press. Beyond its unparalleled images, Power to the People includes essays by Gwen Allen, Bob Ostertag, and Fred Turner, as well as a series of recollections edited by Pamela M. Lee, all of which comment on the critical impact of the alternative press in the social and popular movements of those turbulent years. Power to the People treats the design practices of that moment as activism in its own right that offers a vehement challenge to the dominance of official media and a critical form of self-representation.
No other book surveys in such variety the highly innovative graphic design of the underground press, and certainly no other book captures the era with such an unmatched eye toward its aesthetic and look. Power to the People is not just a major compendium of art from the ’60s and ’70s—it showcases how the radical media graphically fashioned the image of a countercultural revolution that still resounds to this day.
Throughout its modern history, Russia has seen a succession of highly performative social acts that play out prominently in the public sphere. This innovative volume brings the fields of performance studies and Russian studies into dialog for the first time and shows that performance is a vital means for understanding Russia's culture from the reign of Peter the Great to the era of Putin. These twenty-seven essays encompass a diverse range of topics, from dance and classical music to live poetry and from viral video to public jubilees and political protest. As a whole they comprise an integrated, compelling intervention in Russian studies.
Challenging the primacy of the written word in this field, the volume fosters a larger intellectual community informed by theories and practices of performance from anthropology, art history, dance studies, film studies, cultural and social history, literary studies, musicology, political science, theater studies, and sociology.
2017 American Book Award Winner from the Before Columbus Foundation
In 1911, a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City took the lives of 146 workers, most of them young immigrant women and girls. Their deaths galvanized a movement for social and economic justice then, but today’s laborers continue to battle dire working conditions. How can we bring the lessons of the Triangle fire back into practice today? For artist Ruth Sergel, the answer was to fuse art, activism, and collective memory to create a large-scale public commemoration that invites broad participation and incites civic engagement. See You in the Streets showcases her work.
It all began modestly in 2004 with Chalk, an invitation to all New Yorkers to remember the 146 victims of the fire by inscribing their names and ages in chalk in front of their former homes. This project inspired Sergel to found the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, a broad alliance of artists and activists, universities and unions—more than 250 partners nationwide—to mark the 2011 centennial of the infamous blaze. Putting the coalition together and figuring what to do and how to do it were not easy. This book provides a lively account of the unexpected partnerships, false steps, joyous collective actions, and sustainability of such large public works. Much more than an object lesson from the past, See You in the Streets offers an exuberant perspective on building a social art practice and doing public history through argument and agitation, creativity and celebration with an engaged public.
Icon of freedom and multiethnic democracy, memorial to Franco-American friendship—the lofty meanings we accord the Statue of Liberty today obscure its turbulent origins in 19th-century politics and art. Francesca Lidia Viano reveals that vibrant history in the fullest account yet of the people and ideas that brought the lady of the harbor to life.
Avant-garde films are often dismissed as obscure or disconnected from the realities of social and political history. Jeffrey Skoller challenges this myth, arguing that avant-garde films more accurately display the complex interplay between past events and our experience of the present than conventional documentaries and historical films. Shadows, Specters, Shards examines a group of experimental films, including work by Eleanor Antin, Ernie Gehr, and Jean-Luc Godard, that take up historical events such as the Holocaust, Latin American independence struggles, and urban politics. Identifying a cinema of evocation rather than representation, these films call attention to the unrepresentable aspects of history that profoundly impact the experience of everyday life. Making use of the critical theories of Walter Benjamin and Gilles Deleuze, among others, Skoller analyzes various narrative strategies - allegory, sideshadowing, testimony, and multiple temporalities - that uncover competing perspectives and gaps in historical knowledge often ignored in conventional film. In his discussion of avant-garde film of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Skoller reveals how a nuanced understanding of the past is inextricably linked to the artistry of image making and storytelling.
The Sixties, Center Stage offers rich insights into the innovative and provocative political underpinnings of mainstream and popular performances in the 1960s. While much critical attention has been focused on experimental and radical theater of the period, the essays confirm that mainstream performances not only merit more scholarly attention than they have received, but through serious examination provide an important key to understanding the 1960s as a period.
The introduction provides a broad overview of the social, political, and cultural contexts of artistic practices in mainstream theater from the mid-fifties to mid-seventies. Readers will find detailed examinations of the mainstream’s surprising attention to craft and innovation; to the rich exchange between European and American theatres; to the rise of regional theaters; and finally, to popular cultural performances that pushed the conceptual boundaries of mainstream institutions. The book looks afresh at productions of Hair, Cabaret, Raisin in the Sun, and Fiddler on the Roof, as well as German theater, and performances outside the Democratic National Convention of 1968.
Sovereign Acts explores how artists, activists, and audiences performed and interpreted sovereignty struggles in the Panama Canal Zone, from the Canal Zone’s inception in 1903 to its dissolution in 1999. In popular entertainments and patriotic pageants, opera concerts and national theatre, white U.S. citizens, West Indian laborers, and Panamanian artists and activists used performance as a way to assert their right to the Canal Zone and challenge the Zone’s sovereignty, laying claim to the Zone’s physical space and imagined terrain.
By demonstrating the place of performance in the U.S. Empire’s legal landscape, Katherine A. Zien transforms our understanding of U.S. imperialism and its aftermath in the Panama Canal Zone and the larger U.S.-Caribbean world.
Cartoonists make us laugh—and think—by caricaturing daily events and politics. The essays, interviews, and cartoons presented in this innovative book vividly demonstrate the rich diversity of cartooning across Africa and highlight issues facing its cartoonists today, such as sociopolitical trends, censorship, and use of new technologies. Celebrated African cartoonists including Zapiro of South Africa, Gado of Kenya, and Asukwo of Nigeria join top scholars and a new generation of scholar-cartoonists from the fields of literature, comic studies and fine arts, animation studies, social sciences, and history to take the analysis of African cartooning forward. Taking African Cartoons Seriously presents critical thematic studies to chart new approaches to how African cartoonists trade in fun, irony, and satire. The book brings together the traditional press editorial cartoon with rapidly diverging subgenres of the art in the graphic novel and animation, and applications on social media. Interviews with bold and successful cartoonists provide insights into their work, their humor, and the dilemmas they face. This book will delight and inform readers from all backgrounds, providing a highly readable and visual introduction to key cartoonists and styles, as well as critical engagement with current themes to show where African political cartooning is going and why.
What is the role of pleasure and pain in the politics of art? In Touched Bodies, Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra approaches this question as she examines the flourishing of live and intermedial performance in Latin America during times of authoritarianism and its significance during transitions to democracy. Based on original documents and innovative readings, her book brings politics and ethics to the discussion of artistic developments during the “long 1980s”. She describes the rise of performance art in the context of feminism, HIV-activism, and human right movements, taking a close look at the work of Diamela Eltit and Raúl Zurita from Chile, León Ferrari and Liliana Maresca from Argentina, and Marcos Kurtycz, the No Grupo art collective, and Proceso Pentágono from Mexico. The comparative study of the work of these artists attests to a performative turn in Latin American art during the 1980s that, like photography and film before, recast the artistic field as a whole, changing the ways in which we perceive art and understand its role in society.
Although largely forgotten now, the 1885 trial of German artist Gustav Graef was a seminal event for those who observed it. Graef, a celebrated sixty-four-year-old portraitist, was accused of perjury and sexual impropriety with underage models. On trial alongside him was one of his former models, the twenty-one-year-old Bertha Rother, who quickly became a central figure in the affair. As the case was being heard, images of Rother, including photographic reproductions of Graef’s nude paintings of her, began to flood the art shops and bookstores of Berlin and spread across Europe. Spurred by this trade in images and by sensational coverage in the press, this former prostitute was transformed into an international sex symbol and a target of both public lust and scorn. Passionate discussions of the case echoed in the press for months, and the episode lasted in public memory for far longer.
The Graef trial, however, was much more than a salacious story that served as public entertainment. The case inspired fierce political debates long after a verdict was delivered, including disputes about obscenity laws, the moral degeneracy of modern art and artists, the alleged pernicious effects of Jewish influence, legal restrictions on prostitution, the causes of urban criminality, the impact of sensationalized press coverage, and the requirements of bourgeois masculine honor. Above all, the case unleashed withering public criticism of a criminal justice system that many Germans agreed had become entirely dysfunctional. The story of the Graef trial offers a unique perspective on a German Empire that was at the height of its power, yet riven with deep political, social, and cultural divisions. This compelling study will appeal to historians and students of modern German and European history, as well as those interested in obscenity law and class and gender relations in nineteenth-century Europe.
The Visual is Political examines the growth of feminist photography as it unfolded in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s. This period in Britain was marked by instability following the collapse of the welfare state, massive unemployment, race riots, and workers’ strikes. However, this was also a time in which various forms of social activism emerged or solidified, including the Women’s Movement, whose members increasingly turned to photography as a tool for their political activism. Rather than focusing on the aesthetic quality of the images produced, Klorman-Eraqi looks at the application of feminist theory, photojournalism, advertising, photo montage, punk subculture and aesthetics, and politicized street activity to emphasize the statement and challenge that the photographic language of these works posed. She shows both the utilitarian uses of photography in activism, but also how these same photographers went on to be accepted (or co-opted) into the mainstream art spaces little by little, sometimes with great controversy. The Visual is Political highlights the relevance and impact of an earlier contentious, creative, and politicized moment of feminism and photography as art and activism.