In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the relationship between art and politics, with several key texts published on the subject and major exhibitions, festivals and biennales addressing the issue. Much has been written on the topic, with critics for the most part lining up on two opposing sides; on the one hand we have those commentators critical of “activist art”, scathing of its apparent lack of aesthetic consideration, and on the other we have those who advocate socially-engaged, relational or participatory art practices as a means to challenge existing social norms. This issue of Das Superpaper could be considered a propositional publication, navigating the terrain between and around these competing positions. Most of the artists featured in this issue would not consider themselves to be activist artists – with a few notable exceptions – but nevertheless their work encourages political analysis.
What connects these artists is their engagement with the body as a site of encounter, whether this is through bodies on display or through implied bodies (either within the artwork or those of the audience). Many of the selected works address the politics of representation, directly exploring how artists engage with questions of gender, sexuality and race; markers of identity that are anchored in various ways to the body and which can see the body become a site of contestation. But can this kind of art effect change, in particular in relation to sexism, homophobia and racism?
Question For My Friday 2pm - 5pm class
how do we document?
Weeks 4/5: 19/08/13 – 30/08/13
TOPIC: Thinking Through Media
Aims of the class:
Why do we use certain media to represent ideas? In these two weeks we are thinking about why certain materials are used to represent ideas and concepts in art, design and media. How can we re-think these connections? Can we use an antithetical material to describe a concept?
• Why are certain materials used to represent concepts (describe certain things)? (eg a feather for lightness and an anvil for heaviness)
• What happens when we use the wrong material?
What happens when we use the wrong material? For the next two weeks (4 & 5) you will be given tasks that will challenge ingrained understandings about materials and what they represent. You will be asked to choose materials for their concepts and ideas NOT their literal connection to the object.
Class Learning Resource prepared by Clare Milledge and Sarah Newall
Introduction and Resources
When an alternative material is used to replace part of an image or to stand in for the thing itself that thing/object has a history.
In 1912 Pablo Picasso placed the first ‘real’ object as part of an image, Still-Life with Chair-caning, Paris (1912).
This shift in form and materials reflects the wider renegotiations between art and theory and the breakdown of the traditional art hierarchies in which an art form was defined by its materials.
This change was commented on by Clement Greenberg in this 1967 catalogue essay Recentness in Sculpture he wrote, ‘The borderline between art and non-art had to be sought in the three-dimensional, where sculpture was, and where everything material that was not art also was.’ This borderline has been continually stepped over and challenged by artists since 1912. What has remained consistent, however, is the use of low art and everyday materials, which are already imbued with a rich reference. What this means is that meaning can be added by the artist’s hand – in making the artwork and through choice of materials.
Artists that use low art materials in different ways
Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
Dropbox for class
Lionel Richie’s Head | Bestival 2013
This will be a fully immersive, slightly surreal and very personal experience. As people enter one at a time, they will discover at the core of Lionel’s Head lies a telephone. When a person answers the phone, they hear ‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for?’