Challenging art is essential for sparking difficult conversations, but two museum directors — both women — have recently stepped down after championing politically engaged programming.
As Western Civilization, as we have known it, seems to be unraveling, what are artists to do?
PHILADELPHIA — It should come as no surprise that there are many ways one can experience art.
A few years ago I was covering a panel discussion for Hyperallergic featuring members of Gran Fury, an ACT UP affinity group focused primarily on producing what group members themselves called “propaganda” against a government hellbent on isolating, vilifying, and smugly looking on as tens of thousands of their citizens died of AIDS.
Agitprop! ought to be an outstanding exhibition of politically engaged art. A feverish amalgam of historic and contemporary artwork, the exhibition is undermined by an ambitious but poorly executed curatorial strategy.
A Russian police investigator interrogates a detained political artist, with the end result being that the detective — his eyes opened to the state’s abuses of power — renounces his badge.
The oldest public collection of radical history completed a digital archive of over 2,000 posters.
“Art has relevancy, whether it’s to exploit you or pacify you, or to enlighten and inform you. It’s a language, that’s the power of it,” says Emory Douglas, the artist who drove the graphic identity of the Black Panthers.
When artist Titus Kaphar began searching for his father’s prison records in 2011, he found the mugshots of 99 other black, incarcerated men who shared his dad’s first and last name.
MILWAUKEE — When a story, an image of a work of art, or an essay goes viral, it has struck a cultural nerve, somewhere, and people can’t stop passing it on. The work itself becomes freed of the space where it was first realized; it is taken over by global internet culture and social networks, co-opted by BuzzFeed, threaded on reddit, and then picked up by mainstream media outlets.
It’s hard to tell how many young Americans know the name John Dewey today. Those who attended New York City’s New School might know of him as a co-founder and one of the minds behind the progressive agenda that formed the intellectual and social foundation of the school’s early years. Others might recognize the name because of his most well-known work, as an early theorist and proponent of progressive education for students of all ages. And some might be aware of him as a thinker who, in some ways, was discussing post-modern ideas about a hundred years before post-modernism. For those to whom his name is very familiar, he is said to be one of the most, if not the most, influential American philosophers. But here I want to talk about one of his lesser-known works, Art as Experience, which brings together some of his larger political and philosophic ideas in a discussion of aesthetics and culture, and their role in a robust society.
Sharon Hayes can be a difficult artist to like. Her work often centers around “speech acts,” which the wall text in her current exhibition at the Whitney defines as “when speech functions not only as communication but as action.” Just beyond that text is an example: a barren area containing only a black platform of steps, a poster and a speaker that blares out one of Hayes’s speeches. In other words, there’s not always much to look at.