Art and Politics Now includes almost 80 artists, as well as discussion of curators and analysis of art exhibitions in the United States that address particular issues such as The Disappeared ( Dakota Museum of Art, travelled extensively)and Only Skin Deep,Changing Visions of the American Self, ( International Center of Photography.It also looks at selected exhibitions in New York City particularly at the Asia Society Conversations with Tradition, and the Queens Museum of Art ( Tajima (Translation). Another theme is the way in which curators can choose to shape an exhibition as at the 2006 Whitney Biennial Peace Tower, project or Dan Cameron s Istanbul Biennial (2003). The book is based on extensive research and careful documentation as well as interviews with many of the artists. The author visited the studios of most of the artists included. It discusses Native American, African American, Asian American Latino, and White artists The artists are grouped by thematic chapters: grassroots collaborations which begins with the anti WTO protests in Seattle in 1999 and ends with the 2008 presidential campaign, opposition to police states which begins with Antoni Tapies as a deep link to mid twentieth century political art, then includes Latin American dirty wars, Turkey in the 70s and 80s, and US Atrocities. Women, War and Imperialism includes artists like Martha Rosler and Coco Fusco who dramatically bring together women and war and Dominic McGill who traces the history of imperialism. The Middle East as site of cultural activism documents the change from small little seen exhibitions by artists from the Middle East to major museums and prominent funding.It discusses many specific artists as part of this trajectory , including Larissa Sansour and Iraqi émigré Hana Mal Allah. In Cultural Osciallations Asia /United States, artists like Masami Teraoka and Hung Liu are analyzed as combining different cultural vocabularies to make strong political statements. Borderlands focuses on the artists addressing the US/ Mexico border. The final chapter addresses ecology and begins by contrasting Indigenous perspectives on the environment with Enlightenment philosophy. It begins with well known indigenous artists like Jaune Quick -to-See Smith and concludes with the Confluence Project by Maya Lin Each chapter begins with a theoretical introduction that suggests a way to analyze the material for students, scholars or the general public. The book is intended to begin a discussion of the ways in which contemporary artists in the last ten years have addresses social issues through choice of media, venue, and topics. The purpose of the book is to demonstrate the many different ways in which artists and curators have chosen to address social and political issues. In the case of recent art there is little affiliation with specific political parties (as in the 1930s), but rather a deep seated concern about the state of the world, based on individual perspectives as well as collective actions.
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Susan Noyes Platt was born in New York City. She received a BA from Mount Holyoke College,an MA from Brown University and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. She became interested in contemporary art when working at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, with the brilliant contemporary art historian, Daniel Robbins. Their biggest project was a retrospective of Joaquin Torres-Garcia that was shown at the Guggenheim Museum.As a Professor of art history with an emphasis on the history of twentieth century art criticism and American art, she taught at Mills College in Oakland, California, Washington State University in Pullman, Washington and the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. She was given tenure at both Washington State University and the University of North Texas. In 1999 she moved back to Washington State and for the next ten years had affiliations with the University of Washington, The Evergreen State College and Seattle Central Community College. Her dissertation was published as Modernism in the 1920s UMI Research Press, 1985. Her second book, Art and Politics in the 1930s, Midmarch Arts Press, 1999, led her from modernism into an interest in the connection of politics and art. In the mid 1990s she served on the board of the national Women s Caucus for Art. She also helped to organize a delegation of 100 women to China s NGO conference in 1995. After publishing many articles that focused on the history of art criticism in the US she made an abrupt change of direction as a result of receiving a Fulbright Fellowship to teach American art in 1999 in Istanbul Turkey. In Istanbul she met many artists and began to write about contemporary art in the Middle East as well as global art at Biennials. Today, she is based in Seattle, Washington and her main interest is in writing about art that engages social issues. That is the subject of her new book Art and Politics Now, Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis. Midmarch 2011. The book includes art from throughout the world, reflecting her own migration from studying art in the US to writing about contemporary art from all over the world. She has also curated three exhibitions, The Global Art Coalition, The Art of Selma Waldman and Cultural Activism in at Time of Crisis at the M. Rosetta Hunter Gallery, Seattle Central Community College directed by Ken Matsudaira. She currently writes for Sculpture Magazine, and several online publications as well as her own blog at artandpoliticsnow.Review:
Susan Platt s Art and Politics Now presents a survey of contemporary social activism in the arts by cataloguing the range of opposition movements aroundthe globe, beginning in the 1970s, but with emphasis on the past decade.The Arab Spring and the proliferation of art exhibitions, spaces and curatorship in the contemporary Arab and broader Middle East are proof of a widened horizon of the arts to which Platt s book provides a valuable introduction. --Patrick Kane Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey
I don t think this book could have come to our attention at a more important time. With the good people of America in the streets fighting for the republic and the art machine of this country behaving in a no less corrupt manner than our government, Susan Noyes Platt s Art and Politics Now is a breath of fresh air. We need to start talking about and creating art that portrays the fact that this country is in incredibly deep trouble. God knows,somebody has to paint, sculpture, draw, and make our deepest fears and most wretched frustrations into something we can look at, hang on our refrigerators, and talk about. People need to look at their frustrations outside their own heads, and political art does that. --Elizabeth Myhr Raven Chronicles vol 16, no 1-2
'Art and Politics Now': A Book and a Call to Action by Susan Noyes Platt Seattle freelance art critic and author Susan Noyes Platt has heard the arguments that political art is preachy and heavy-handed, or that politics and aesthetics are separate, or that if you want to make a real difference, well, art isn't the best way, anyway. But she's also seen how easily those arguments are adopted by those who want to maintain the status quo, how allergic art power brokers can be to content, and how art and artists can make observable differences. Art and Politics Now: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis focuses mainly on art made in the first decade of the 21st century that conflicted Bush-dominated, then Obaminated time and includes several nationally underappreciated Seattle artists. It's a follow-up to her book Art and Politics in the 1930s, published in 1999 also by Midmarch Arts Press and praised by luminary art theorist Lucy Lippard, which provided a counterpoint to the usual avant-garde parade of modernism. As an author, her strength is that she is not preachy, and she does not limit herself to any single style or type of art, any dogma of her own. Art and Politics Now begins with protest-march puppets, moves to abstract painting, and ends with a landscape installation by the architect Maya Lin, stopping along the way at pretty much every known medium and approach. What makes each of these artists worth including? They are all devoted to social engagement, and not just in the short term; they respond to political concerns for years on end . . .Platt's reach is broad she's very good at contrasting two very different Istanbul biennials, for instance, and also at describing what artists such as Abu Ghraib documentarian/artist Daniel Heyman are up to and no book on politics and art in the last ten years could possibly be comprehensive. Plus, her low-conflict approach feels in keeping with her ideals of pacifism. --Jen Graves WED, JAN 19, 2011 on The Stranger slog
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