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Identities & Inequalities & the Arts. access to careers in the arts arts activism tastes and status, class distinctions of art publics (later). The Arts & Identity Issues of Art World participants. Identity issues for participants Labeling (who is considered an “artist”?)

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Identities & Inequalities & the Arts

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Identities & Inequalities & the Arts

access to careers in the arts

arts activism

tastes and status, class distinctions of art publics (later)

The Arts & Identity Issues of Art World participants

  • Identity issues for participants

    • Labeling (who is considered an artist?)

    • representations of identities in art (ex. ambivalence in artists discourse, presentation of self)

    • status distinctions (within & between art worlds)

      • symbolic boundaries

      • material constraints

    • biases & values imbedded in practices & institutions

    • participation of minorities & the dispossessed in art worlds

Discriminatory Dimensions of Artistic Practices & Institutions

  • Institutionalized sexism & racism

  • Gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, religion, national affiliations, geography

  • Tensions between artistic freedom and socio-cultural conventions

Recall: the triple game of contemporary art

  • Sociologist Nathalie Heinichs theory of how the arts push the boundaries of what is acceptable

    • Transgression (of norms, tastes & values by artists)

    • Rejection (of artworks by publics)

    • integration (of new art endowed with the critical acclaim of art world insiders)

  • Theory that contemporary artists must push Boundaries pertaining to aesthetic values & other socio-cultural values ( by Robert Mapplethorpe)

Examples of Critical Discourse Analysis of Women in the Arts:

  • DeNora on Performing gender in history of piano performance

  • Guerilla Girls--

    • Aim of exposing hegemony of white males of European heritage in contemporary Art Worlds

Guerrilla Girls Poster advantages of being a woman artist

Guerrilla Girls PosterBus companies

GG poster: Hormone imbalance, melanin deficiency

GG poster about collectors

GG Poster: Helms

Guerrilla Girlsoriginally covered skin to hide identity further

King Kong

Kong and Faye Wray

  • Beauty & the beast imagery

  • Plus word play (Guerrillas as underground fighters too)

GG poster INGRES


Another approach to resisting hegemonic restrictions on participation in art worlds: Studies of exceptions (success stories)

Jacob Lawrence, Ironers 1943.

Rewriting the canon

  • Germaine Greer The Obstacle Race. The Fortunes of women Painters and their work, 1979

  • Ex. Marcia Tucker et al. Out there. Marginalization and Contemporary cultures New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1992.

  • Griselda Pollock Differencing the Canon-- Feminist Desire and the Writing of Arts Histories, routledge, 1999

  • Boim, Albert. The Art of Exclusion. Representing blacks in the nineteenth Centuryk, Smithsonian 1990

  • Trinh T. Minh-ha, Cornell West etc.

Teaching the Arts as a form of action research & communication


Video clip


Artistic Activities for Social Change

  • Artists as members of social/cultural avant garde

    • anticipate social change

    • provoke resistance (ex. anti-war, AIV AIDS benefits etc.)

    • inspire trends (ex. fashions)

    • support charitable causes (ex. AIDS activism)

    • provide leadership

    • But-- critics sometimes doubt sincerity

    • Recall- spoof of artists pleas for African aid


Artistic Practice as Social Action: Samuel Mockbees Architecture of DecencyRural Studio

  • Architecture students in Alabama work on buildings for rural poor: homes, childrens centre, marketplace, sports facilities

  • sustainable architecture, social welfare, practical experience

Masons Bend

  • Small, very poor rural community living in makeshift housing

Bryant (Hay Bale House)

1994 & 2000 (r)

Views of the Hay Bale House

Addition for grandchildrens sleeping quarters


Other Projects

Links between social conscience & high culture aesthetics

  • Modernism/postmodernism

    • High tech materials & tastes but low tech & low cost building solutions

    • Interaction with clients & feedback from them

    • Community-based projects

    • Note references to architectural traditions in introduction

Judith Levine: Theatre for the Forgotten

  • Theatre in prisons & with social outcasts

  • Benevolence & art different than art for arts sake

  • Historic example: Becketts End Game

Theatre for the Forgotten

  • Funding issues:

    • Volunteers at the beginning

    • Touring inmates as part of theatre

    • Money for training, for arts diffusion

    • Funding for social support (education, employment readiness, counselling components)

    • change in emphasis theatre professionals replaced by social workers & arts therapists

    • In 1970s end of growth of guerrilla theatre movements


  • Arts for art sake vs. arts as social-political action

  • Arts as normative (teaching shared values) like debates about the arts & citizenship

  • Using other funding as a pretext to fund the arts

  • Use of arts funding for social programmes

  • Definition about what is art?

  • who can teach the arts?

Impact of Arts as Social Service

  • Organizational identity

  • Survival strategies

  • Changes to the actual way in which the art is done

  • Other types of activist theatre: ex. Augusto Boals Theatre of the Oppressed

Gran Fury and AIDS activism

  • Gran Fury name for an artists collective (1988-1992)

  • AIDS awareness

    • public advertisement campaign (silence=death)

    • Article about Quebec campaign

Political Art and Action,

  • Grand Fury--Against indifference to AIDS & against homophobia

  • Link to images of work

  • But did not do <homework> in Quebec context (health coverage better there than in US, language differences)

Artistic work, Consciousness-raising & Recognition Processes

Filmmaker Sylvia Hamiltons work about African Canadian experiences

Film screening of The Little Black Schoolhouse and talk by Dr. Hamilton

Note to Users of these Outlines--

  • not all material covered in class appears on these outlines-- important examples, demonstrations and discussions arent written down here.

  • Classes are efficient ways communicating information and provide you will an opportunity for regular learning. These outlines are provided as a study aid not a replacement for classes.

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