Booklist: Artists, Activism, and Civil Life

Booklist: Artists, Activism, and Civil Life


The Artist in Society: Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities
Carol Becker, editor
New Art Examiner Press, 1995
ISBN: 0964785501

Book Description: A collaboration between the New Art Examiner and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this publication gathers together---in book form---selected papers from "The Artist in Society, Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities,” an October 1994 conference organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Featured authors: Kathy Acker, Carol Becker, Homi K. Bhabba, Page du Bois, Michael Brenson, Michael Eric Dyson, and Henry Giroux. Chapters include: Borderline Artist, Cultural Workers, and the Crisis of Democracy; Democracy and the Idea of the Artist; The Enchantment of Art; Proposition One; Gangsta Rap: Representation, Transgression, and the Race Artist; Survival of the Artist in the New Political Climate; and Where Do We Go From Here: Securing a Place for the Artist in Society.

The Subversive Imagination: Artists, Society, and Social Responsibility
Carol Becker, editor
Routledge, 1994
ISBN: 0415905923

Book Description: What are the mutual responsibilities between artists and the societies in which they live? How can we look beyond First Amendment issues---the bane of today’s censorship debates---to a more productive discussion of artistic freedom within an historical context? In The Subversive Imagination, Carol Becker argues that the North American art world has failed to ask these serious questions, and she challenges an international group of artists and intellectuals to explore the controversy in a truly meaningful way through an exploration of their identities, experiences, and artistic and political commitments. The contributors look beyond censorship and free speech issues and instead emphasize the subject of freedom. More specifically, the contributors question the ethical, mutual responsibilities between artists and the societies in which they live. The original essays address an eclectic range of subjects: censorship, multiculturalism, the transition from communism to capitalism in Eastern Europe, postmodernism, Salman Rushdie, and young black filmmakers' responsibility to the black community. Contributors include: Kathy Acker, Carol Becker, Page duBois, Michael Eric Dyson, Felipe Ehrenberg, Elizam Escobar, Coco Fusco, Henry A. Giroux, Guillermo Gómez-PeÑa, Eva Hauser, Ewa Kuryluk, Njabulo S. Ndebele, B. Ruby Rich, Martha Rosler, and Ahmad Sadri.

Key Points from the Introduction: “In the United States at this moment there is a new sense of possibility and a revitalized democracy. The entire fabric of society is in a process of reevaluation. Serious debates are under way around identity---gender, class, race, sexuality, age---categories that layer and overlap to create distinct points of view…The visual art apparatus---artists, museums, publications---is also rethinking itself. There is much talk about community-based work, but as yet insufficient debate around what community is, which communities artists should relate to, and who constitutes the community we all generically call the art world.”

But is it Art? The Spirit of Art as Activism
Nina Felshin, editor
Bay Press, 1995
ISBN: 0941920291

Book Description: This groundbreaking anthology documents the recent explosion of art that agitates for progressive social change. Leading art critics, historians, and journalists explore the provocative methods of activist artists who reject conventional art practices in favor of public sites and community participation. Twelve critically and visually engaging essays examine the work of the Guerilla Girls; Gran Fury; Group Material; the Women’s Action Coalition (WAC); the American Festival Project; the Artist and Homeless Collaborative; Helen and Newton Harrison; Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge; Peggy Diggs; Suzanne Lacy; Mierle Laderman Ukeles; and David Avalos, Louis Hock, and Elizabeth Sisco.

Key Points from the Introduction: “…through the careful scrutiny and critical analysis of twelve exemplary individual and group practices originating from the mid-seventies to the present, the essays in But is it Art? define the essential parameters of this hybrid cultural form and reveal its richly various character...The twelve practices examined are characterized by the innovative use of public space to address issues of sociopolitical and cultural significance, and to encourage community or public participation as a means of effecting social change. While the specific issues vary, the artists share similar methodologies, formal strategies, and intentions, so that what most sets this kind of work apart from other political art is not its content, but its methodologies, formal strategies, and activist goals.”

Democracy: A Project by Group Material (Discussions in Contemporary Culture #5)
Brian Wallis, editor
Bay Press in association with the Dia Center for the Arts, 1990
ISBN: 1565944998

Book Description: This collection of essays, discussions, critiques, images, and texts examine the state of health of the democratic process and democratic ideals in American culture. Contributors include: Yvonne Rainer; Group Material; Brian Wallis; David Deitcher; Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Catherine Lord; Ira Shor; Mark P. Petracca; Bill Moyers; Barbara Ehrenreich; Gary Indiana; Alexander Cockburn; bell hooks; Deirdre English; Polly Thistlewaithe; Lisa Duggan; Erma Bombeck; Stuart Ewen; Tom Stoddard; William Olander; and Vito Russo. “Discussions in Contemporary Culture” is an award-winning series co-published with the Dia Center for the Arts in New York City. These volumes offer rich and timely discourses on a broad range of cultural issues and critical theory. The collection covers topics from urban planning to popular culture.

Excerpted Book Review: Establishes a provocative dialogue and demonstrates how activist groups use an expanded concept of art to effect social change…(Library Journal)