Subversive Imagination: Artists CL

Richard Ed. Becker, Author, Carol Becker, Editor
Richard Ed. Becker, Author, Carol Becker, Editor Other $49.95 (258p) ISBN 978-0-415-90591-6
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-415-90592-3
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Debate about how artists express political content in their work ``has been disappointingly constrained'' in America, according to Becker in her introduction to this collection of essays by intellectuals and artists from a number of different nationalities and perspectives. Highlights of part one, ``Personal Responsibility and Political Contingencies,'' include Page Dubois's discussion of autonomous art (as opposed to political art) as a relatively new idea and Kathy Acker's brassy parable of a post-modern writer struggling with her loss of belief in the possibility of ``art in this culture.'' Part two, ``Decolonizing the Imagination,'' features Becker's own prescription to read Marcuse as a ``stronghold against the nihilism and denigration that at times threaten to engulf'' our current sensibility; and Michael Eric Dyson's consideration of the ``new black cinema'' and its potential for effecting social change. The book ends in a section titled ``Theorizing the Future,'' in which Henry Giroux's discussion of the false image of progressiveness in Benetton ads and B. Ruby Rich's first-person meditation on how the ``old models for political engagement in art are not working'' project views of an art world to come. While much of the language here is academic (``Rap developed as a relatively independent expression of black male artistic rebellion against the black bourgeois Weltanschauung ''), the overall subject matter extends well beyond academe to post-revolutionary Czechoslovakia, an activist's prison life and struggling artists in Mexico City. (May)
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