Next up, from the intro to Art and Social Change – Bradley and Esche
‘Practices that – from a Western modernist viewpoint might appear as the rejection of art or its subjugation to politics – have been theorised or defended by artists in many complex and far-reaching ways. The idea of art itself has been invoked as representing, among many other things, an ideal of personal liberty, a utopian condition to which society might aspire, or a common right to participate in the creation of everyday culture. Concepts drawn equally from both modernist and older traditions have been incorporated into hybrid practices of all kinds, from propaganda and grassroots community action to media subversion and real experiments with social relations. In recent years, a new hybrid practice has arisen at the intersection of art, political activism and the forms of organisation enabled by the Internet.
‘To William Morris, on the other hand, the valorisation of individual artists and the sphere in which they work is a new and temporary phenomenon produced by the rise of capitalist social relations. The working population, the artisans of the past, are deprived of the opportunity for expression by industrial production, while a new kind of fine artist is employed to sell back to the bourgeoisie commodified versions of their own vision of themselves.’