This article seeks to challenge and in so doing recalibrate Jacques Rancière's political aesthetics, the motivation to do so springing from the recognition that his theory has disciplinary effects. The author objects specifically to the way that artistic commitment is traduced and, ultimately, excluded from his formula of art-politics, and attempts to stretch Rancière's definition of aesthetic experience so as to accommodate the art practice of Agitprop. His claim is that any of the materials or actions produced by a genuinely egalitarian activist group can be strategically read as exhibiting aesthetic properties. Perhaps counter-intuitively the definition of egalitarian politics is also drawn from Rancière. The author therefore uses one part of his philosophical system to expose the unnecessary restrictiveness of another. Examples are drawn from the collective practice of Arts against Cuts which formed part of the broad UK anti-austerity activism of winter and spring 2010/2011.
During the second half of the 1970s a monochromatic style of painting emerged in South Korea called Dansaekhwa, which means literally ‘monochrome painting’ in Korean. An exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul in early 2012 served to connect the art of that period to contemporary practices. Dansaekhwa emerged in a period in which the need for strong social and political control and the wish to guarantee the nation's protection by the United States from a belligerent neighbour co-existed uncomfortably with the powerful drive to sanction and encourage rapid economic development. Dansaekhwa seems to present itself visually as a site of rupture with its culture's past, and the emergence of this new stylistic tendency in the 1970s, and in South Korea in particular, suggests a context within which Korean artists encountered the liberating example of Western modernism and sought to break with their own heritage and to assimilate and emulate Western modernism's styles. But a reading of Dansaekhwa in terms of influence and appropriation from Western models involves superficial stylistic comparisons and the assumption of a single master chronology. It fails to take into account the differentials within the temporality of modernity as it impacted on, and unfolded within East Asia itself, and South Korea in particular.
This article examines Henri Lefebvre's concept of revolution-as-festival, its textual sources and its relationship to contemporary notions developed by Georges Bataille and the Situationist International. It is a companion-piece to the examination of Bataille's revolution-as-festival in Third Text 104, vol 24, no 3, May 2010. The author argues that Lefebvre's revolution-as-festival embodies the multiple methodological ambiguities of his ‘open’ dialectical approach, and his attempt to transplant Surrealist and Dadaist concerns into a Marxian framework. It is, paradoxically, these ambiguities that allow his revolution-as-festival to become a useful concept: firstly as a discursive making-visible and valorization of the art and culture of social movements; and secondly as a term through which to critically re-imagine this art and culture's limits and possibilities. This potential is borne out, not least, in the influence of Lefebvre's essay ‘Revolutionary Romanticism’ on the founding debates of the Situationist International.
From 1978 to 1982, groups of college-age youth took to the streets of São Paulo and other Brazilian cities performing works of art that they referred to as ‘urban interventions’. Mixing aspects of performance, conceptualism and street art, they constituted a repossession of public space during the abertura, or opening period of Brazilian history, when the military regime that had been in power since 1964 made a slow transition to democracy. Newspaper articles constitute one of the most important sources of information on the urban interventions, however, at the same time these articles tend to criticise and dismiss them for their amateurism, effectively excluding them from the history of contemporary Brazilian art. Such an attitude reveals a lack of awareness of the fact that this generation, known loosely as the independents, created works that deliberately lacked polish as a way of criticising mainstream cultural production. This article outlines analyses the traits of the independent aesthetic through consideration of several urban interventions in the areas of visual arts, performance and literature.
This article discusses the artwork of Greenlandic-Danish Pia Arke (1958–2007), and the ‘India Cycle’ by Marguerite Duras. It suggests that Duras' and Arke's respective works constitute global narratives, and that both approach what may be termed ‘the essential trait’ of contemporary global history. This essential trait is made present through the pertinent figure of a subaltern female subject, occupying a ‘decolonial position’ at the margin of the global order. The article presents a model through which this figure may be understood and emphasizes the figure's importance for urgent political and theoretical problems, such as the veil and Islamophobia. The author also discusses Arke's striking originality, which has not achieved the attention it deserves. Through calculated ambiguity, meticulous research practices and incorporation of oral history, Arke provided a visual record of the construction of the Arctic native and the role of ethnography and photography in colonial conquest.
This article examines how Chouikh's groundbreaking trilogy of films – The Citadel (1988), Youssef (1993), The Ark of the Desert (1997) – critically comment on the deepening crisis of state-sponsored Algerian cinema. Situating them in a lineage of post-independence Algerian film-making, it traces how the films of Chouikh's trilogy depart from both the social realist and commercial conventions of state-sponsored Algerian cinema by borrowing from regional popular culture and Islamic artistic heritages. The article argues that Chouikh's films foreground the enduring influence of earlier Algerian cinema while seeking to defuse its often mythical articulations of Algerian citizenship in an era of both changing political engagements and new media proliferation. As such, Chouikh's films both foreshadow the five-year blackout of Algerian cinema from 1997 to 2002 and pave the way for its renewal in the hands of an innovative group of twenty-first century Algerian film-makers.
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