JSTOR: Viewing Subject: Anthropology

Jan 29, 2017 · History of Art - Open College of the Arts

artists (modern) | Fans of Theodore Dalrymple

There could have been another departure point, however: the 1848 revolutions, a fully-fledged cycle of struggles stretching all over Europe. In France, 1848 marked the first time urbanised workers recognised themselves as a class subject to unemployment, homelessness and starvation, and the first time they forced themselves onto the public stage of representative democracy. It's the archetypal contemporary conflict, experienced by factions of the entitled classes as a crisis of legitimacy that drove them into new political solidarities and utopian aesthetic experiments. It's clear why the editors of the anthology didn't want to sift through the flood of romantic idealism produced by that brief outburst of bourgeois experimentation. Yet here is a problem I see throughout the post-'68 left: a refusal to deal with the full complexity of social relations, and with the ambiguous or even disfigured forms they inevitably leave behind.

Animated puppet theater! Laura Heit’s work at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Art as a kindergarten activity for adults who want to feel special

Later developments can be glimpsed in the glossary of net-culture terms by the Raqs Media Collective or the interview with Ricardo Dominguez, one of the founders of the Electronic Disturbance Theatre. His work resonates with the hybrid border-crossing art of Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña, and with the ‘invisible theatre' of Augusto Boal in 1970s Brazil, which shifted Brecht's alienation-effect into everyday spaces of performance. Figures like Boal are sources for the performative politics of the Zapatistas, with whom Dominguez has closely cooperated. So even in the most high-tech, networked performance there is a transformation of an aesthetic and revolutionary history stretching back to the Third World movements, which themselves reworked the internationalist struggles against fascism. If the anthology had included some links between the 1970s in Italy and the counter-globalisation movements, then we could trace similar lines of development in and around Europe. Unlike Boltanski and Chiapello, I don't see how cultural issues can be disentangled from the politics of life and labour. Yet there has been a real decline in the capacity of artists to arouse outrage at both alienation and exploitation. The ideological force of neoliberal culture has been amazingly effective.

There are so many degraded urban spaces that will take years of money and political wrangling to fix up (if ever). Through temporary art and garden projects, public could make good use of undervalued land, physically and psychologically improving blighted areas. Temporary creative structures that enhance the health and aesthetics of neighborhoods also enhance the potential of new economic investment.