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Essays on art, theatre and politics

The question of whether art produces politically transformative effects has been intensely debated within critical discourses concerned with art, literature, and performance practices. The Aesthetic Exception reopens the fundamental questions that underpin these debates and examines the entrenchments they produce within critical circles. It does so for the purposes of developing a new approach that circumvents longstanding theoretical impasses, while emphatically embracing the idea that art can make meaningful interventions in the social world that enriches our political life, without collapsing into well-known contradictions. Offering wide-ranging perspectives that encompass the historical avant-garde, political activist street theatre in India, contemporary critical art practices, and postdramatic performance, among others – the book tracks three structural impasses that continue to benight debates on art’s relation to the political: the problem of aesthetic autonomy which separates art from the social world; how art can communicate political effects while remaining ‘art’; and the problem of how art relates to the terrain of real political struggle. Drawing on the classical debates of Adorno, Lukács, and Sartre, the more recent interventions of Habermas and Rancière, and the political theory of Gramsci, Althusser, and Stuart Hall – the book proposes a ‘conjunctural’ way of understanding the aesthetic possibilities that underpin political art practices. It invites readers to consider the stakes for political art today in an age plagued by widening inequalities, and the saturation of the world by the expropriative logics of globalisation. The book concludes with a call to rethink political art around the figure of the planetary conjuncture.

Conceptualism and the political referent in contemporary art

This book examines the impact of Civil Rights, Black Power, the student, feminist and sexual-liberty movements on conceptualism and its legacies in the United States between the late 1960s and the 1990s. It focuses on the turn to political reference in practices originally concerned with abstract ideas. The book traces key strategies in contemporary art to the reciprocal influences of conceptualism and identity politics. The central concept is a reversal of the qualitative assessment made by artist and theorist Joseph Kosuth in 1969. The book overviews the 1960s-1970s shift from disciplinary-based Conceptual Art to an interdisciplinary conceptualism, crediting the influence of contemporaneous politics dominated by identity and issue-based politics. It offers a survey of Adrian Piper's early work, her analytic conceptual investigations, and her transition to a synthetic mode of working with explicit political reference. The book explores how Conceptual Art is political art, analysing several works by synthetic proposition artists. It then surveys several key 1980s events and exhibitions before taking in depth the 1993 Whitney Biennial as its central case study for understanding the debates of the 1980s and the 1990s. Examining the ways in which Hans Haacke's work referenced political subject matter, simultaneously changing the conception of the processes and roles of art-making and art, the book argues against critics who regarded his work to be "about" politics. It also looks at the works of Charles Gaines, David Hammons, Renée Green, Mary Kelly, Martha Rosler, Silvia Kolbowski, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Lorna Simpson, and Andrea Fraser.

Many people in the West can recognise an image of Mao Zedong (1894–1976) and know that he was an important Chinese leader, but few appreciate the breadth and depth of his political and cultural significance. Fewer still know what the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–76) was, or understand the extent of its influence on art in the West or in China today. This anthology, which is the first of its kind, contends that Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution were dominant cultural and political forces in the second half of the twentieth century – and that they continue to exert influence, globally, right up to the present. In particular, the book claims that the Chinese Cultural Revolution deserves a more prominent place in twentieth-century art history. Exploring the dimensions of Mao’s cultural influence through case studies, and delineating the core of his aesthetic programme, in both the East and the West, constitute the heart of this project. While being rooted in the tradition of social art history and history, the essays, which have been written by an international community of scholars, foreground a distinctively multidisciplinary approach. Collectively they account for local, regional and national differences in the reception, adoption and dissemination of – or resistance to – Maoist aesthetics.

Eric Triantiafillou

cross-section of ideas and practices that together form a loose aggregate that we could call ‘left political art’. However, viewing all these images next to each other can give the appearance of political unity when there may actually be none. As printmakers, most of us produce our work with an understanding that we are contributing to and continuing the tradition of politicized

in Perspectives on contemporary printmaking
Conceptualism as political art
Nizan Shaked

The synthetic proposition: conceptualism as political art What began in the mid-sixties as an analysis of the context of specific objects (or propositions) and correspondingly the questions of function, has forced us now, ten years later, to focus our attentions on the society and/or culture in which that specific object operates. Our “radicalization” has, rather coldbloodedly, evolved from our work. (Joseph Kosuth (1975))1 There was the formation of the Art Workers’ Coalition as well as the Leftish (albeit simple-mindedly so) aspirations of some of what has

in The synthetic proposition
Sartre, Brecht, Adorno
Tony Fisher

of Maya. To the extent that it claims to know what reality is, political art is essentially ‘realist’ by nature; while, correlatively, it is realism that provides art with a critical arsenal, a set of aesthetic techniques and reasoned protocols, to combat the illusions and mystifications of bourgeois ideology. The classical expression of this position was first fully

in The aesthetic exception
Identity, difference, representation
Nizan Shaked

, ushering de-regulation, privatisation, and military expansion. Yet, while the 1980s object-based practices continue to do well on the market, the greater part of critical and historical attention to late twentieth-century art has focused on the second set of debates—those concerned with the methods of political art and the positions they reflect. This chapter focuses on the second divide, offering a specific set of distinctions made in the debates about political art in the 1980s and 1990s by observing a constellation of anthologies, symposia, and exhibitions as a The

in The synthetic proposition
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Nizan Shaked

theorist Joseph Kosuth in 1969. One of the first practitioners to define Conceptual Art, his writings on the subject, even when contested, were of primary significance. His foundational distinction of art as either universal or particular was echoed in debates throughout the 1980s and 1990s about the legacies and strategies of political art. In the now canonical article “Art after Philosophy,” Kosuth contrasted Conceptual Art engaged in analytic propositions, which tautologically used art to define art, against synthetic proposition works that were contingent upon

in The synthetic proposition
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Rebecca Binns

impact she'd had in these milieus. This was despite a historicisation process being well underway with regards to communal and radical political art, the counterculture and punk. Comparators of hers, such as the performance art and music collective, COUM Transmissions (1969–76), and political photomontage artists Peter Kennard and Martha Rosler, have all been more feted. Her work was omitted from publications concerned with radical art production in the 1970s, despite the fact it makes a major contribution in this area. 3

in Gee Vaucher
Abstract only
Mechtild Widrich

’s demand for (official) political art since the 1970s. Art and Politics Under Modern Dictatorships: A Comparison of Chile and Romania (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) . See also Amy Bryzgel, Performance Art In Eastern Europe Since 1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017) , 241–5; Klara Kemp-Welch, Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965–1981 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018) , chapter 3; Ileana Pintilie, “Questioning the East. Artistic Practice

in Monumental cares